Having a Plan, Not Just Winging It

Brandon Bogus, owner of A-Plus Tree Service, an eight-year TCIA member company based in Fremont, Nebraska, earned TCIA’s Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP) credential a few years ago.

A-Plus Tree Service
Brandon Bogus, far right, with his crew members, from left, Joe Kuntz and Will Moore, equipment operators; Seth Frame, crew leader and equipment operator; and Mark Bogus, foreman and sales arborist. All photos courtesy of Brandon Bogus.

As a result, “I am more competent and confident when training my employees,” he says. “It’s a matter of being more prepared, instead of just winging it, taking a more formal approach to training. The certification has helped me communicate clearly our safety protocols and to emphasize their importance to the entire crew, who, in turn, have become more receptive during safety meetings.”

The CTSP training teaches methods intended to help arborists and company owners develop and nurture a culture that fosters a safe work environment at their companies. Bogus notes that having some formal methods in place is preferable to relying solely on previous experience or “just doing one’s best.”

Bogus was motivated to get the certification when he took over the business from his father, Mark Bogus, in 2020. “My dad still works with me,” Bogus adds.

Brandon Bogus
Brandon Bogus

On-the-job training he had plenty of. He grew up immersed in the field of arboriculture. He was helping his father out at age 14, then through high school in summers. He went from groundie to operating out of the bucket truck to doing a bit of climbing.

Just before graduating from the University of Nebraska in 2015 with a degree in psychology, Bogus had a life-changing study-abroad stint in Costa Rica. After graduating, he moved to Costa Rica. A couple of years later, he and his then-girlfriend, now-wife, Ania, did a five-month backpacking trip to South America before returning to Nebraska to settle down.

“In 2018, I started getting serious about becoming an arborist. I got my certifications (both ISA’s and the Nebraska Arborists Association’s Certified Arborist credentials) real quickly. I went through all the Tree Care Academy manuals TCIA has and some of its other resources – various videos, books, anything I could get my hands on,” he says.

While Bogus had field experience, he knew he was lacking in other areas. “I didn’t have the understanding of trees and how they respond with different pruning cuts and things like that,” Bogus says. “I got myself up to speed, so I was very prepared when I took over in 2020.”

Handling the chain saw during a training session.
Michael Dolejs, equipment operator and a new A-Plus crew member, handles the chain saw during a training session.

He decided on the CTSP training “to increase my effectiveness as a leader, trainer and safety director.” In quick succession, he added TCIA’s Qualified Crew Leader credential and the CTSP. He is also an NCCER Certified Crane Operator.

One thing Bogus has implemented at A-Plus Tree Service from his CTSP training is asking questions. For example, during the chain-saw-safety segment, he gained useful insight on how to train arborists. “Asking questions is a lot more effective than making a lot of statements to those you are teaching,” he observes.

Demonstrate and teach how to do a task or operate a piece of equipment
In having an employee demonstrate and teach him how to do a task or operate a piece of equipment, they have to really think about what they are doing and all the actions they are taking, says Brandon Bogus.

“Having them show me, demonstrate and teach me how to do it, they have to really think about what they are doing and all the actions they are taking in operating the chain saw.”

In all, TCIA has helped him transition into his ownership of a tree care company. And who knows, maybe his two sons, currently ages 2 and 4, might take over the business someday. His wife already brings them to the work site, Bogus says.

Tree care Safety Professional changes

For more information on the CTSP credential and upcoming workshops, go to www.tcia.org and, in the pull-down menu at top right, select Education/CEUs, then click on CTSP & Qualifications. Or, in the digital version of this issue, click here [Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP) – Tree Care Industry Association LLC].

Tamsin Venn is founding publisher of Atlantic Coastal Kayaker magazine and author of the book “Sea Kayaking Along the New England Coast,” and has been a contributing writer to TCI Magazine since 2011. She lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

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