Shawn Abler has been climbing and cutting trees for almost his entire life. But it's only lately that, when he and his brother Travis go to work, they draw a crowd.
"We usually have people coming to watch us work every day," he said. And he understands the attraction. "When you see how we cut a tree down and how fast we do it and how we swing the wood right into the chipper, it's impressive."
Seeing is Believing
Shawn began working in the tree care business while still in his teens. He founded Abler Tree Company LLC 30 years ago, and Travis joined him soon after that. They are both seasoned pros, experienced at the traditional arborists skills of sizing up, climbing, trimming and cutting trees. But everything started to change after he read about the Sennebogen 718 tree care handler in an industry magazine, then watched some videos of the 718 in action on Sennebogen's website.
It's the 718 that brings out the crowds and, according to Shawn, the crowds are good for business.
"People are videotaping, they're putting our name out there. We had one customer a couple weeks ago who was so impressed that he kept adding more work for us to do. He was amazed. He said ‘I've watched this stuff on YouTube; now it's in my yard.' Another customer came out and recorded the whole project, then sent it off to somebody else. That's how we get more work."
A "Top Notch" Machine
The Ablers said that their new approach to cutting and clearing trees was a bit slow to take off.
"We received the 718 in January," said Shawn, "but there was too much snow for this kind of work. We spent some time getting to know the machine, but we didn't really put it into service until March. Since then, we've had one of Wisconsin's wettest years on record, which also tends to dampen our business."
The brothers look forward to busier days ahead for the 718 and have no reservations about the decision to purchase such a unique machine.
"It's a top notch piece of equipment," Shawn said. "We're always up for the best gear out there. We considered other equipment, such as a crane truck fitted with a saw. But the 718 was the best fit for us."
A Specialist Tool for Arborists
The Sennebogen 718 M is a 47,180 lb. (21,400 kg) purpose-built tree care machine equipped with a hydraulic tree saw and grapple attached to its 43 ft. (13 m) telescoping boom. Its high-rise and tilting Maxcab operator station elevates the operator for an unobstructed view into the work zone.
With a lifting capacity of up to 3,700 lbs. (1,700 kg), its powerful hydraulics are fine-tuned for delicate tree surgery. Its grapple can grip branches as cuts are made, then clear away the cut limbs, stack logs or brush and feed the material into a chipper or grinder.
Shawn Abler said he's happy to let the 718 take over the heavy lifting.
"We've been doing this a long time and have done it all by hand. Now we're at a point the work takes a toll on the body. The 718 lets us work all day then go home without being tired. We'll continue doing the same work we've always done. Just the two of us can do it all but we won't be climbing anymore.
"You still have to know what you're doing. If you can't run a chain saw, then forget this machine because you're still not going to know what to cut; how it's going to fall, where the pinch points are, the effect of the wind."
Land Clearing, Roadsides, Storm Damage
Customers are warming up to this new way of dismantling trees, too. The Ablers' customers are primarily construction companies and municipalities.
"Our jobs typically are clearing jobs but we've done roadside work as well. When I tell someone about the new machine, I push its safety and efficiency as well as cost-savings. It's safer for us and safer for you and your property. It's definitely faster; you can do more work in a day's time.
"There's a lot of storm work, too, pulling trees off of houses. Summer and winter. This machine is incredible at doing that. We used to climb up there on the roof with a chain saw, pick it and cut it four or five times to pull it off the house. With the 718, you can get right up in the cab and see over the house. You see what's going on, make your cuts from the cab and you can have the tree off the house in an hour."
As the watching crowds testify, the 718 is proving to be its own best advertising for Abler Tree Company.
"Just getting out into the neighborhood, people know we have it and, as word gets out, they are coming to us for the machine," Shawn Abler said. "We take jobs anywhere in Wisconsin. We had a call from another tree guy three hours away. I told him it's a game-changer. It will up your production a lot and makes your work safer and it's reliable.
"With all the equipment we have in the yard, this is the one that we least have to work on. You start it in the morning, go cut trees down then put it away. The next day, you do it all over again and you know it's going to work for you, just like it did the day before."
For more information, visit www.sennebogen-na.com.