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Meet David Steadman of Northeast Shade Tree in Portsmouth

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Steadman.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
After spending my young adult life working in concrete construction, I wanted to seek a healthier career to support my growing family. In 1999 I stumbled across a help wanted add, listed in a local newspaper, looking to hire a Climbing Arborist apprentice. My first thought was “I can get paid to climb trees!?” Needless to say, I made the phone call. The day I went for an interview was the day that I met the man who, little did I know at the time, would become one of my closer friends and mentor, Jeffrey Ott. I eventually started with the company in the spring of 2001.

Jeff had started Northeast Shade Tree in 1978, with the intention of providing the opportunity to preserve and protect the ancient trees scattered around the New Hampshire coastal area. This, accompanied by residential clients who had a love for their trees, is what the company has thrived on. I learned early on that the tree was more the client than was the human that was charged with its care. The first few years were spent working and learning. Everything from tree climbing, proper pruning and cabling, to beneficial micro fungi that trees count on to be resilient to environmental stress. We were lucky enough to host educational seminars with Dr. Alex Shigo, a Biologist and Plant Pathologist with the US Forestry Service. (Who also happened to be a good friend of Jeff’s.)

I became an ISA certified arborist in 2006. At that time I was acting foreman for our climbing crew. I would continue to hold this position and others as the years went on. Jeff approached me with the opportunity to buy the company in 2013, to pass the torch as it were, and I took him up on the offer. Heartbreakingly to all of us, and many others within the tree care community, Jeff passed away on June 20th, 2014.

Has it been a smooth road?
As smooth as any small business goes. Taking into account drought, snow, rain and maintaining insurance on an extremely difficult-to-insure industry, we power through. Aside from myself we are on average a three person team. All of our work is done with care, by hand.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Northeast shade tree – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We focus on the art of art of climbing. I truly believe that is what sets us apart from other companies. We very strongly believe in long term relationships with our clients and our trees. Generally speaking, we will do anything to save a healthy, productive tree. We are not the people to call to remove a tree for any reason other than safety or disease. Usually in those cases, we will recommend a company within our community better suited for that job. Our focus is preservation and stewardship. For better or worse, we do have the reputation of trying to talk people out of removing healthy trees!

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
When I have the opportunity to visit Boston during non-work hours, it’s to catch some live music and eat some amazing food!

What I least appreciate, is trying to find a place to park our fertilizer truck without someone honking at us.

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