Opportunity knocked, and he answered

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Darin Willder checks out the health of an 80-year-old maple tree at a home in south Chatham. Willder’s new company, Precision Tree Service, aims to help tree health through proper maintenance.
Darin Willder checks out the health of an 80-year-old maple tree at a home in south Chatham. Willder’s new company, Precision Tree Service, aims to help tree health through proper maintenance.

Many people say they can hear the wind whispering in the trees. Darin Willder not only hears it but he can tell you what it means.

Willder opened Precision Tree Service in April with help from the Starter Company program operated by the Chatham-Kent Small Business Centre.

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His aim is to change the way people think about tree maintenance.

“Many people don’t think about tree maintenance other than when they want to cut one down. There is so much more which can be done to save trees and by doing that, save the cost of removal or insurance if it falls on your home or car.”

Willder is a graduate of Sir Sanford Fleming’s Forestry and Arborist programs and spent three years working for Davey Tree Service in London before returning home to Chatham to start his business.

“I’m so glad I got in touch with the Starter Company program,” he said. “I’m confident about the service part of my business because of my education and experience but I had no idea what it actually takes to operate a business.”

He said Dean Hale and Rosemarie Miller helped him form and then fine tune his business plan.

“Everything from startup costs, to cash flow to marketing, it all has to be addressed,” he said.

Willder said proper pruning, thinning and shaping trees and removing dead branches can prolong the life and increase the health of a tree.

“Growing a tree is like a lifelong investment,” he said. “If you take care of the tree and address any minor issues, in many cases you can avoid removing them.”

He said even in the case of a tree with a major break near the trunk, he can perform a process known as cabling in which the trunk has wires placed strategically among the branches to help it support its crown.

He has a working relationship with Ross’ Flowers that he said has made a difference for his new business.

“Ross has been here forever and the fact that they’re recommending me has meant a lot.”

Rosemarie Montgomery, small business consultant with the centre, said there has been a strong response to the Starter Company program, so much that it has been extended.

“We’re just completing our first year as a pilot program and it’s worked so well we will be extending it for another year,” she said.

Under the program would-be business owners attend several weeks of training in which they prepare a business plan to determine the viability of their idea. Those whose ideas are deemed worthy receive a $5,000 grant to help with start up costs.

“We’ve had people who have come to us who have gone on to start their business and others who have decided that it’s not the thing for them,” she said. “Not everyone is cut out to be a small business owner.”

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