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Tree trimmer says his trade is an art

Staff writer

According to Josh Mackey of Peabody, owner and operator of Esthetic Tree Service, his business is more than cutting down trees; it’s a service that seeks to enhance appearance and create beauty.

In other words, it’s a form of art, and thus, the name, which means “pleasing to the senses.” According to Webster’s Dictionary, “esthetics” is a secondary spelling of “aesthetics.”

Mackey purchased the business a year ago last August from a friend, Robert Schmidt. He had been working part-time for Schmidt and discovered that he liked the work. When Schmidt offered to sell the business to him, Mackey accepted.

He quit his 17-year-old job at AGCO in Hesston to go full-time into tree cutting. Schmidt provided the necessary training.

“This has been the funnest job I’ve ever had, and probably the most meaningful,” Mackey said.

The 43-year-old Mackey is a high school dropout. He’s not proud of it but said he was eager to be on his own and join the work force.

Now that he owns his own business, he finds doing a good job and hearing that people are satisfied with his work rewarding.

He said the challenge of running his own business has strengthened his faith in God. Whenever he had a problem that looked insurmountable, things worked out, he said.

He and his crew of two full-time employees service an area that includes Wichita, Newton, and Moundridge.

“We’re getting so busy in Marion County,” he said “I’d love to never leave the county.”

The job is simpler in the county, where he doesn’t have to drive miles to a landfill and travel far to get to a job site.

“It’s much more time consuming in Wichita,” he said.

In Marion County, tree debris is taken to a town burn site or piled in a spot selected by the owner.

Tree trimming either has Mackey and his crew climbing, working from a bucket truck, or cutting on the ground. He bases his bids on the time he expects jobs to take.

“I’ve never raised a bid,” he said, “but I can lower the price if the job is less time-consuming than I expected.”

Groundwork can include mowing grass, grinding stumps, and using a pole saw to cut out low-hanging branches. Mackey had a contract with Florence this past year to mow Hillcrest Cemetery.

Mackey’s work is insured. His employees, Isaac Hilliard and Andrew Sheffler, get paid holidays and are covered by workmen’s compensation. He hopes to offer health insurance.

“I have two great employees,” he said.

Esthetic Tree Service has at least three weeks of work lined up. Mackey said the bucket truck doesn’t operate very well in cold weather, so that limits how much they can do in the winter. February is his slowest month.

“I like working one-on-one with people,” he said, “and if things aren’t done to their satisfaction, I work to make things right.”

Side benefits of his business include getting unexpected tips or being treated to cookies, brownies, or cold water when it’s hot.

Mackey is married to Brandy and has two teenage daughters from a previous marriage who live in Florence.

Last modified Nov. 14, 2019

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