Alex Llamas and I met at Winter Management Conference (WMC) 2022 in Hawaii. His company, Ceibas Enterprises, Inc., dba SexyTrees.com, a nine-year TCIA member, is about 40 miles from me, and we’ve been able to support each other through thoughtful and productive conversations.
Alex and his office manager recently came to tour our facility. Little did I know how important his visit would be for both of us. At the end of our visit, he shared with me an intense story of one of his crew members coming into electrical contact while removing a tree near power lines. He showed me the video, and as we watched it together, we both found ourselves in tears. We watched his climber get shocked, go unconscious and then get rescued by his own brother. While all this was happening, the fire department was less than a half-mile away.
The climber, fortunately, was able to return to work within a few days, but the experience for all will last a lifetime.
After his time at our facility, Alex felt it necessary to bring his entire company back to our shop to see our operations firsthand. I agreed and shared with him that his story was so impactful that my team needed to hear it in person. At that moment, we both looked at each other and knew this couldn’t wait and that his team would be in my shop the next morning.
I’ve held safety meetings for more than three decades and have never seen a group of people so engaged. During the meeting, my team listened intently as the climber shared his experience of electricity going through his body, his brother shared his story of climbing up to rescue him and Alex shared his thoughts while witnessing his team member unconscious in a tree, out of reach, and his being unable to help him.
After listening and taking in this experience, I realized that the details of the incident are not what’s important – and that’s not what this column is about. It was clear the team had an appropriate plan for the tree. Everything should have worked. In my opinion, the subcontracted crane operator didn’t lift as requested and the piece started rotating, wrapping around 180 degrees and touching a 220-volt line. Even with my 35 years of field experience and owning and operating our own cranes for more than 30 years, I would not have foreseen the issue occurring.
After the meeting, there was such an immediate sense of camaraderie between both crews that they hugged each other once the meeting ended. I am grateful to Alex for taking the time to meet with me and my team. Today, we are a different company because of this shared experience.
This story is about more than Winter Management Conference, TCI EXPO or any other specific programs, products, services or events TCIA hosts or offers; it’s about TCIA connections that build businesses and help save lives. Thank you to TCIA and Alex. Because of this meeting, both of our companies have grown from this experience and are power-full to seize every project with a new awareness and confidence.
Tad Jacobs, CTSP, QCL, is president of Treemasters, an accredited, 15-year TCIA member company based in San Rafael, California, and is a member of TCIA’s Board of Directors. He also is a former member of TCIA’s Peer-to-Peer Networking Group.