A Passion for Tree Work Leads to Accreditation for Trees by Jake

As the home page of its website so clearly points out, Trees by Jake, LLC – a second-year TCIA member company located in Tulsa, Oklahoma – is one of only three accredited tree services in Oklahoma. And they’re proud of it!

Jake Emanuel piecing down a tree. All photos courtesy of Trees by Jake.

Jake Emanuel, CTSP and ISA Certified Arborist, and his wife, Allison, also a CTSP, are owner and operations manager of Trees by Jake respectively, and they decided to feature their Accreditation status prominently on their website. It says, “This accreditation recognizes the company as one of the top in the industry and helps consumers identify tree services that adhere to the highest standards when it comes to safety, legal compliance, ethics, quality and consumer satisfaction.”

The Emanuels say that taking their company to another level of professionalism was a top priority for them as they began to grow the business. Jake officially launched Trees by Jake in 2013, having worked for years for another Tulsa tree service. Allison explains, “His former boss was an arborist with decades of experience in the Tulsa tree industry. He helped teach Jake a lot about the science of trees and great leadership. He’s the smartest person we know as far as his knowledge of trees goes. We still talk to him on a regular basis.”

Allison and Jake Emanuel

As for Jake’s climbing ability, Allison says, “There was another employee there who taught him the basics, but he’s basically self-taught. He spent a lot of weekends climbing trees and trying out new equipment that he bought at his own expense. Along the way, he had a client base he had built up, and that was when he decided to go out on his own. He had an F-150, a 16-foot utility trailer and a chain saw. Honestly, I look back at some of his early jobs and wonder, ‘How did he manage to get that job done?’”

The couple met in 2009 when Jake was hired to remove a tree at Allison’s condo complex, and they were married three years later. Allison has a law degree and was a criminal defense lawyer for five years. “I really wasn’t enjoying my job anymore, and Jake’s business had exploded by 2016, so we made the decision to have me take over management full time,” she notes. “Each year the business has grown, because of Jake’s dedication to the field and his ability to deliver – his work ethic is unmatched. I think what sets us apart (in the Tulsa area) is our level of customer service, our investment in new and custom-built equipment and the climbing abilities of Jake and our crew members. They all come together to create a perfect storm.”

Trees by Jake has seven full-time employees, and Jake and Allison, center, pride themselves on never having to lay anyone off during the winter.

Trees by Jake has seven full-time employees, and Allison and Jake pride themselves on never having to lay anyone off during the winter. “A lot of tree services in our area do,” Allison explains. She adds that they specialize in “large and complex tree removals. Safety is our main priority on every job. Clients know that when they hire us, we’ll get the job done right.”

Jake notes that another thing that sets them apart is the company’s pricing structure. “From early on, we were known for our fair pricing,” he says. “I would look at what that job meant to me and what my profit would be, rather than what others were charging. And we still consider ourselves reasonable and competitive.”

According to Jake, he was a crew leader at his previous job when that company went through the TCIA Accreditation process. “So I was already familiar with it,” he says, adding, “I got the vibe that this was a really good thing to go after when I looked at other companies I wanted to model mine after and saw that they were all accredited.”

Allison concurs. “I really liked what I saw (about Accreditation) online. I thought we’d established enough of a reputation that this was worth doing.” So, shortly after they became members in the fall of 2020, Allison dove into the Accreditation process, explaining that, unfortunately, it took much longer than she had wanted due to staffing issues at the time and one major mishap.

“We had a very large setback in the spring of 2021,” Jake explains. “In 2020, we invested in a custom-built grapple truck. We had only had it for about six months when one of our CDL drivers tipped the truck on the highway with a full load. Thankfully, Allison was totally on top of the insurance and we got it replaced, but that took a while, too.”

“With the custom build, every piece of the grapple truck had to be insured separately,” Allison adds. “The accident definitely reiterated for us the importance of being properly insured. To replace our quarter-of-a-million-dollar truck, we only paid the $1,000 deductible. While it was devastating at the time, we think it speaks to our ability to handle the challenges of running a small business, and we actually ended up gaining some good insight from the experience.”

Allison says when she looked at the initial Accreditation checklist, “a lot of it was basic stuff that was already being done. The biggest challenge was completing the handbook. We spent a lot of time going over procedures and creating policies that our employees would think were fair and that were in full legal compliance. I also streamlined everything and made it all software based. That was another challenge – researching software and then training myself and employees on how to use it. Everything we use to manage the business is software-based, from timesheets, to HR, to safety meetings, to client proposals, etcetera.

Jacob Cox performs a bucket removal.

“The Accreditation process kind of facilitated our focusing on how we could be more efficient, and we definitely see the benefits from that. We get really good feedback from both employees and clients on the software we use, so we feel good about our investment. Plus, it definitely helps keep things organized, and it’s a major plus that everything is accessible from the field.

“The safety aspect (of Accreditation) was eye opening,” she continues. “We’ve always been very safety oriented, but now we know that everything has to be in writing. I became a CTSP (Certified Treecare Safety Professional) because I was going to be writing the safety policies and handbook. I think the safety aspect also is a big part of employee recruitment and retention, when they see that you care about them and want them to get home safely at night.”

As far as their five-year plan goes, Jake says he expects to be well underway with a new PHC program they hope to launch soon. “We’ve even considered opening a second location in a nearby city or state,” he notes. “Seeing how we’ve grown in the past five years, I can’t even imagine how we’ll grow over the next five.”

Allison adds, “We’ve seen the benefit of hard work and dedication. We do feel the sky is the limit.”

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