Eastern Tree Service is steeped in rich history…and owner and operator Ryan Dodson is proud of that history. Ryan’s grandfather, Robert M. Dodson Sr. (“Pops”) is the man that started the family in the tree business. Here is the story, as related to Ryan, by his father.
My father, Robert M Dodson, Sr., ran a tree service business in the 1960s and 70s. He had three tree climbers working for him. Russell and Ira Wharton, who were brothers, and Pops’ nephew Hamilton Scott (whose son Mike Scott has his own tree service business in Culpeper, Virginia, in operation today). They worked monthly in Northern Virginia, in the areas of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church and Springfield.
In those days, bucket trucks were not very popular in the business, therefore the need to climb trees. Pops also didn’t have a chipper so they had to load the branches and wood on the trucks. They hauled the branches to the landfill and the wood back home for cutting and splitting into firewood, both for personal use and for sale, during the fall and winters. His company was one of the few that was fully insured and bonded.
His favorite two brands of saws were McCullough and Homelite. His truck was a blue mid-60s model Chevrolet flatbed with stake body sides. Brush had to be unloaded by hand as the truck did not have dumping capability. He would sometimes take one of his six sons to help with clean-up. For his boys it was sort of a treat as they got out of school and usually got to eat a Big Mac from McDonald’s…there was no McDonald’s in their home of Fauquier County, Virginia.
Pops was the owner of the tree business, therefore handled all the estimating, recommendations of what needed to be done, payroll, record keeping, etc. He also was what we call the “groundman” as he did not climb any tree himself, but did supervise the climbs and directed how he wanted the tree trimmed and topped. He also would get the tools, supplies, snacks and beverages up the tree for the climbers by the use of ropes, the same ones that were used for safety of the climbers.
By the mid-70s, Pops and his oldest son Robert Jr. formed Robert Dodson and Son Trucking with two new dump trucks. This business grew, expanded and became successful. This, along with the fact that the three climbers had now gotten to be in their 50s, prompted the decision to forgo the tree service business and concentrate solely on the trucking business.
Pops left his mark in the Virginia area with his successful and widely respected tree business. This also left an impact on me, not only providing me with first-hand experience on how to run a good tree company, but also a desire to walk in the shoes of a great treeman…my Pops, Robert Dodson Sr.!