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Kelly’s Tree Care has over 50 % women on staff

May 18, 2018

World wide rarity:

As the Immediate Past President of the Ontario Chapter for the International Society of Arboriculture I recently attended International Tree Climbing Competition and Conference in Columbus, Ohio. At this conference I had the opportunity to speak with Arbroists from all over the world.

During this event it was pointed out to me that our Kelly’s Tree Care Ltd. is rare in the international and Canadian scene for employing women as over half of our staff. I was then asked what it is like to employ so many women and why we have chosen to do this.  I often find it surprising more companies do not hire women. We have found several advantages to having women working in Arboriculture in our company.

Women’s roles in our company:

It still seems women struggle in our industry to get out of the office or off the ground throughout the world. This seems to be more due to the attitudes of those individuals around them, more than  the women’s abilities to learn and perform the tasks at hand as an Arborist. In our company the women pretty much perform every role in our company. They have worked or are working as grounds people, climbers, lead hands, estimators, consultants and co-owner. There is no special treatment or favoritism, as it is not needed.

We have found most women to be very hard working and driven. The women I have worked with just seem to want to get task at hand completed in a safe and efficient manner: generally they will not stop until it is completed. This is self-motivation at it’s best. The by product of this is that most women tend to motivate the men through this process. I myself have taken a nice sit down break and decided if the women are not going to be drawn into my break I better get back to work and carry my own weight on the job.

There are some other advantages to having women on the site with the men. One trend is the men tend to behave in a more professional manner in front of the women, at least until they get to know them better, but by then they are into a nice rhythm that continues from then on.

I can’t say we planned to hire a majority of women, it just materialized that way, as we had more and more women on staff more applied knowing we were accepting and encouraging. The bonus of this situation is, when we are looking for new employees we get a majority of the applicants being women We seem to have the pick of all of the best women as they want to work with other skilled staff they can learn from. I feel our overall level of skill and knowledge has risen due to this situation.

How does this relate to our customers?

Another big concept we tripped across is that most of the time we are dealing with the woman of the house, not stereotyping but women as client contacts actually fit our client demographic profiles. They want to know what we will be doing, why, and how knowledgeable we are when questioned about the work.  Women ask for our industry related education levels, qualifications, safety training, and insurances. This is inevitably why many of them hire us and trust us on their properties.

It seems a lot of the male clients I speak with have two main goals in mind: how cheap is it going to be and how soon can you do the work done. I had not noticed this until we hired a business consultant a few years ago to review our business and help us determine how to find our client demographics, and attract that demographic to Kelly’s Tree Care.

Since we are not a discount tree care company, and we charge a respectable price for our high skill level, it became clear where we were succeeding by coincidence and we could start to consciously use this information to build our business stronger. We have found that the customers we enjoy working for are the ones who enjoy learning about what we do for them and their trees.

Can women really do the hard work?

I have been told by others women can’t do the larger removals, or that they are not physically strong enough for certain jobs. I do not agree with this statement at all. s an older climber with several nagging chronic injuries as a result of bad past practices I now encourage our workers to work smarter.

Through the use of new climbing systems, gear, and other advanced tools and techniques you can reduce the strain and stress on your body substantially making the tasks of climbing less physically demanding. Also there has been a tendency in the past to manually cut and toss a lot of brush and wood material in tree work, I prefer to rig material with ropes and equipment and we encourage this practice in our company.

This has several side effects not the least of which is less strain and stress on the body. The others being just as important to you; less damage to your property, more energy at the end of the day, our clients are impressed with our respect for their property, and there is improved safety for all involved.

What does the future hold?

As we utilize more of these tools and techniques we are becoming more advanced and more attractive to our client’s needs as well as to the skilled Arborists seeking employment in our area. I can’t see any reason not to continue with the structure of Kelly’s Tree Care Ltd. being half women, it has benefited us in so many ways. I believe we will just continue to hire the best person for the job and see how it continues to work out. I strongly encourage all other companies to give women an opportunity to help care for trees.


Mike Watson


Kelly’s Tree Care Ltd.



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