Launching a Business to Fill a Need

Every business comes to an inflection point where it must pivot from legacy methods to a more modern approach, the proverbial fork in the road. Stanley Tree Service recently came to one such fork.

Tri State Power Equipment
While Tri State Power Equipment sells landscaping equipment as well, it focuses heavily on tree care, including lots to choose from in climbing gear. All photos courtesy of the author.

Stanley Tree Service is a dual-accredited, 34-year TCIA member company based in Smithfield, Rhode Island. Operating in the arbor-care industry since 1986, the company has experienced exponential growth over the last decade, during which it made the transition from privately owned to 100% employee owned. These changes motivated the company to become more nimble and cost conscious, and eventually highlighted the need to streamline its purchasing processes.

As a company, Stanley Tree Service evaluated who we purchased product from, where the product was sourced from and what we paid for that product. Being in the arbor-care industry, I know some of the biggest expenses come from outdoor power equipment and arborist supplies. These items are vital to our employees, and work becomes impossible without the proper tools or the ability to repair those tools.

Digging into this further, we identified duplicate vendors, unreasonable pricing and inventory issues that threatened our ability to go to work on a daily basis. As a business, you can become more profitable simply by controlling costs. Taking initiatives to do so creates a company that is better positioned, leaner and more profitable.

Making a move

Tri State Power Equipment
Cameron Martins, store manager, in Tri State Power Equipment’s retail space.

The leadership team at Stanley Tree Service is inherently entrepreneurial, never letting an opportunity go unexplored. So, when one of our directors presented the idea of expanding into the retail-arborist and outdoor-power-equipment space, we were immediately all in. The ability to source our own product, access in-depth training on tools and create an additional revenue source was the perfect solution to position us for continued success. Tri State Power Equipment was born, and officially opened its doors in September 2022.

The new business is housed in Stanley Tree’s existing location. We were fortunate to be able to renovate an existing portion of our building that previously housed Stanley Tree’s small-engine service department and a storage area for supplies, avoiding the costly expense of building new or relocating.

Tri State Power Equipment operates

6 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a staff of four. Most of Tri State’s staff has worked in the tree care industry, with experience on the ground, climbing, working with cranes, working in rights of way, selling tree work and more. They are familiar with the products and can make recommendations on outdoor power equipment and arborist supplies with confidence and, more important, real-world experience.

Learning curve

The balance of inventory is delicate
The balance of inventory is delicate, but, when managed appropriately, it can strengthen your margins company wide, says the author.

Running a retail business is very different from running an arbor-care business. We are fortunate to have retail and supply-chain experience in our leadership team. Also, the ability to combine retail with arbor care is crucial to those considering a similar venture. Some important considerations are that you must maintain an appropriate assortment of goods; one cannot only sell products that they like personally. The customers dictate your offerings, and the market dictates your volume. The balance is delicate, but when managed appropriately it can strengthen your margins company wide.

We run a tight ship. The store isn’t overly large, our inventory is exactly what you need and our pricing is aggressive.

A rising tide

Stanley Tree
Launching the new business has enabled Stanley Tree to better control equipment costs.

Aside from the benefit to the supply side, one of the most advantageous outcomes from this has been the collaboration with other tree care providers. While Tri State Power Equipment is wholly owned by Stanley Tree Service, it extends an olive branch to competing companies, opening up new lines of communication and creating opportunities for all businesses.

There is enough tree work for everyone, but elevating the industry to a higher standard has always been a goal of mine and of Stanley Tree Service. Providing the correct tools to perform the job safely at a reasonable cost and with ease of access is the next step in our pursuit of just that.


The future is bright for both Tri State Power Equipment and Stanley Tree Service. By launching this new business, we are now able to adjust in real time to changing conditions, allowing both companies to grow and support one another.

Employees can take advantage of additional opportunities as they grow older or their interests change. Stanley Tree Service is 100% employee owned, and our goal has been, and always will be, the betterment of our employees, our business and our community.

Paul Lozeau, CTSP, is director of safety and operations for Stanley Tree Service, a dual-accredited, 34-year TCIA member company based in Smithfield, Rhode Island.

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