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A Devil of a Tree Service – Tasmanian Tree Devil Partners with Salsco for Chippers
Ed Adams, owner of the Tazmanian Tree Devil worked with Sal Rizzo of Salsco to design and develop the new Taz-Track Chipper, a self-propelled chipper that is less than 36 inches wide. It can easily move from one pile of brush to another as it clears an area.
By Tim Cox
Date Posted: 8/1/2012
Edwin Adams, who named his tree service company Tazmanian Tree Devil, also has the distinction of a new piece of chipping equipment brought to the market by Salsco, Inc. that borrows from his company’s name. Salsco named the new compact, self-propelled machine the Taz-Track Chipper. It was developed with input from Adams.
Adams, 52, lives in Plainfield, Connecticut, which is in the eastern part of the state. The town is located near Rhode Island along Interstate 395 which goes north-south near the state line. He grew up in Providence, RI in the foster-care system, but moved to Connecticut when he was a teenager to work for a chain of convenience stores and gas stations. With only a GED for education, he worked his way up to assistant manager of a store and finally became an assistant field supervisor, training other managers.
The company was unable to keep a manager in place at a store, and Adams was forced to spend many a night in a hotel, filling in temporarily. “I felt I had my back against the wall,” he said, and had to move on. Adams had exhausted his ability to grow with the company and was not going to advance further.
At one of the stores he supervised, Adams noticed an employee of Asplundh Tree Expert Company trimming tree branches away from the utility lines serving the building. Adams talked to him about opportunities with the company, and he suggested that Adams call his supervisor. Adams called the supervisor and met with him. Adams was offered a job on the spot and gave his employer two weeks’ notice. Adams took an entry level position with Asplundh in the mid-1980s as a ground man. He quickly worked his way up to foreman, operating a bucket truck and supervising a crew, then was overseeing two crews. At 22 years of age, Adams took a break and enlisted for one tour in the
Air Force. When he came out of the Air Force, Adams worked briefly for the convenience store chain again and then with Asplundh again.
In his second time working for Asplundh, Adams was a foreman of a bucket truck crew, clearing power lines. At that time, he learned quickly that he could pick up extra money doing work for the private sector. Customers would ask if we could come back after a job was finished and do additional work for them on his own. Adams jumped at the opportunity, bought a chain saw, and began doing extra work.
Adams built a good reputation as he continued to do work in his free time. Customers began asking when he was going to go in business for himself. “I kept saying, I don’t know.” He was afraid of failure he said. Adams did not want to be in a position of failing and having to knock on someone’s door and ask for a job.
Adams was then laid off by Asplundh; the company lost a lot of work to competitors that bid lower. Adams was not laid off immediately because he was serving a small utility. However, when the utility reduced its budget for maintaining power lines, Adams lost his job with Asplundh in 2006. He had just ordered a new bucket truck.
Tasmanian Tree Devil now has seven employees. The company’s services include tree trimming, tree removal, stump grinding, and stump removal. Adams, who is a member of the Connecticut Tree Protective Association, is a state-licensed arborist and also is licensed to apply pesticides and other chemicals, although he chooses not to.
Most of his company’s work is within 100 miles, which keeps him in the eastern part of Connecticut, but Adams does not limit himself to a certain area. He will drive as far as two hours to visit a customer, look at the work they need done, and give an estimate.
He has a yard at his home to collect wood material – most of it is chips –but he has outgrown the property and has begun leasing space elsewhere for his equipment. He sells some wood material in bulk and sells some wood to firewood businesses and to homeowners. In dealing with customers, Adams points out they may have friends or neighbors who would like wood for fuel; making that connection allows him to dispose of the wood on site and avoid hauling it, for which he charges a fee.
Since he has been in business, Adams has assembled a variety of equipment worth over a half million dollars, including a tree pusher, log-loading trailer, skid steer with a grapple, dump trailer, log grapple truck, stump grinder, and more.
When he goes out to give estimates, Adams drive a pickup truck that is ‘wrapped’ with pictures of trees all around it. “It’s eye-catching,” said Adams. “A lot of the equipment I have is a little different than the ordinary.”
His inventory of equipment includes four chippers from Salsco, a company he has been doing business with for about six years. Adams owns a six-inch model, a ten-inch, and a 13- inch. The latest addition is the Taz-Track Chipper, which Salsco developed at his request.
The idea for this machine grew out of Adam’s work for his most important customer, Bozrah Light and Power, a small utility that services the town of Bozrah, located about 20 miles southeast. Tazmanian Tree Devi maintains the utility’s power line rights-of-way. Adams had worked for Bozrah Light and Power as an employee of Asplundh. When the utility contacted Asplundh about resuming work, it also contacted Adams. “I needed to think about it,” he said. They proposed a schedule of working three months on and three months off. Adams suggested a different schedule: two days a week, ten hours a day. Even though it was fewer hours a week, it would enable the utility to have the presence of a tree trimming crew every week. They liked the innovative suggestion so much and liked the experience of working with Adams when he was an Asplundh employee, so they went one better and gave him a contract for four days a week, 10 hours a day.
The utility crew uses his dedicated Salsco six-inch chipper, but when the machine was out for service, Adams would bring in a larger machine in order to keep working. So, Adams began thinking about investing in a second, six-inch capacity chipper solely to keep in reserve. If he was going to buy another chipper, Adams decided he wanted a machine that he would get the most benefit from, so he began thinking in terms of a custom machine
Adams wanted a track, self-propelled machine with a smaller width, only 35 inches, and a six inch chipping capacity. He wanted a narrow machine in order to be able to take it through gates in a homeowner’s yard. So, he called Salsco president Sal Rizzo to explain his idea, but Sal wasn’t interested at the time. Adams called him again three months later. By this time Adams had envisioned a model name for the machine – the Taz-Track Chipper, but Sal still seemed to be not interested in developing this machine.
In November 2011, the two men met at a trade show in Hartford. Adams noticed that another company was exhibiting a track chipper similar to the one he had proposed, but with a larger, 12-inch capacity. So, he showed the machine to Sal and explained his idea again. Sal agreed to make one.
Adams got the first machine about two months ago. He sent it back for a modification and has since used it on a few jobs. The machine has performed as he envisioned. Its compact size and maneuverability has enabled him to use it on jobs where a conventional chipper would not have been able to access the site. “People see it, and it gets all kinds of great comments” said Adams.
In a tip of the hat to Adams, Salsco named its new machine the Taz-Track Chipper, the first model 8635TK. At only 35 inches wide, it will fit through just
about any backyard gate. It has the
capacity for six-inch round wood and features a six-inch high by 12 inch wide in-feed. With its tracks, the machine can go virtually anywhere. Powered by a Kubota 35 hp diesel engine, other features include a 360 degree exhaust, easily adjustable
directional flap, and optional speed sensing. According to research by Sal, there are no other self-propelled chippers manufactured less than 36 inches wide. The machine can easily move from one pile of brush to another, he noted. One of the important selling points is that the machine can reduce workers compensation claims because it eliminates a lot of the physical labor associated with dragging material to a chipper, which was another reason behind Adam’s plan for the machine to be self-propelled.
Four videos of the machine in action are available on the popular You Tube video broadcast site. Visit www.youtube.com and use the search window to look for Taz-Track Chipper.
Adams has been satisfied with the performance of his Salsco chippers as well as the manufacturer’s service. “I like them” he said. “I haven’t seriously looked at anything else. The quality of the machines and the company’s support keep me from needing to look elsewhere.”
When the fall 2011 storms hit with widespread tree damage, he had over 500 calls for work. His devotion and extremely excellent work ethic led him to shut down one of his crews that does residential work for his company in order to devote two crews to service his number one customer Bozrah Light and Power for storm duty. He felt an obligation to take care of the utility’s needs.
The older he gets, the more Adams says he believes in doing the right thing. Adams uses a number of different methods to market his business. The name came from the animated character featured in many cartoons in the late 1960s that gained new popularity in the 1990s. Adams liked the way “Tazmanian Tree Devil” rolled off the tongue. He said, “I thought it sounded like a natural for a tree business.” He has promoted his business with business cards, stickers, an a-frame type sign, advertising in a newspaper and four radio stations, placemats in eight restaurants, lawn signs that say ‘Taz was Here.’, pens, and a website. He is a listed contractor on Angie’s List website and also advertises on the site.
Adams has three daughters, the youngest being 21. He and his fiancé don’t get enough down time but enjoy occasional rides on their Victory motorcycle and also like to play chess.
Adams is planning a vacation with his fiancé to Bar Harbor, Maine in July. The two met online. “I went fishing on e-harmony,” he said, “and I caught a good one.” Adams tried the Internet dating service when ‘it wasn’t cool,’ he added.
Adams has been talking to Sal about another idea for a machine. He said, “I have another idea for him to build something, but he has not taken me up on the challenge yet.”
Salsco Serves Forest Products Industry
Connecticut-based Salsco Inc., which has been in business since 1979, manufactures equipment to serve several different industries, including the forest products industry.
Salsco manufactures wood-brush chippers, both PTO and engine-driven models with up to 205 hp and capacity to 18 inches round wood, as well as wood shaving mills and related processing equipment.
The company’s products are designed and manufactured at its newly expanded facilities in Cheshire, Conn. All manufacturing processes are performed on site, including the application of a baked, polyester, powder coat finish.
The family business was founded by Sal Rizzo. The company employs more than 60 people and markets over 40 products.
Salsco sells direct through its own staff and also through a network of over 200 dealers and representatives worldwide.
The company’s other product lines include machinery for the golf course industry, landscaping and grounds maintenance, agriculture, and paving and curbing.
For more information on the company or its products, visit its website at www.salsco.com or call (800) 872-5726.