Spreading more seeds for success
By Samantha Egan
Photos by Emma Highfill, Rose Wheat Photography
Greg Gathers, owner of Custom Tree Care, made headlines in 2017 for taking a crew to Florida to help clean up tree debris in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. That venture spurred significant growth for the company and allowed him to invest more resources into his local business.
His latest venture capitalizes on this reinvestment, this time in the form of mulch. Gathers plans to add a new revenue stream to his 20-year- old business by opening a green waste recycling center on a 12-acre plot of land off of 21st and Rice Road, set to open in 2019.
The center will take tree materials, both from business and homeowners, and pull usable materials to make lumber and firewood, which Custom Tree Care will then resell. Leftover tree will be ground up for mulch, which will also be sold to consumers.
For Gathers, the new venture fulfills a longtime goal.
“I’ve always wanted to own and operate our own recycling site,” he said.
Another plus—the recycling center will give Custom Tree Care a place to dispose of their own tree debris for free. In addition, new equipment they are purchasing for the recycling center will allow them to offer tree-grinding services for communities cleaning up tree damage from natural disasters, a service Custom Tree Care has previously sub-contracted to other vendors.
The new site, and its growth potential, is a product of Gathers’ perpetual growth mindset.
“I just want to keep pushing and get to the next level,” he said. “Once you hit a target, you set a bigger target. It keeps it exciting.”
That “keep pushing” mentality has paid off for Gathers. Since opening, Custom Tree Care’s sales have increased every single year, topping $5.4 million in 2018.
“A big reason why we’ve been successful is we keep driving forward,” Gathers said. “In this industry—and others—some businesses hit one level and just stay there. They don’t chase new opportunities.”
Gathers continues to look for those opportunities to pursue. In fact, Gathers is already thinking of new business lines for the recycling center. He plans to buy additional equipment to dye and color the mulch, and bundle and wrap firewood to sell in smaller quantities. Looking even farther down the road, Gathers said he hopes to eventually open a truck repair shop to service Custom Tree Care’s fleet and equipment, and then solicit that business to other truck owners.
“I think it’s our duty to be the best we can be and maximize every opportunity we have,” Gathers said. “I’d be bored if we weren’t pushing and growing.”
Gathers said finding ways to grow a business is not a magic formula. It is about being willing to keep moving forward.
“It’s just about doing it, really,” he said. “Do your research, know what you’re doing. But you just have to be committed to what you want to do. You don’t have to have all the answers right away, you just have to know where you want to go.”