High-tech trucks and telematics help give Tree Tech an edge, says founder Andy Felix.

Vocational profile: Competitive advantage

Aug. 14, 2017
Tree Tech is embracing technology to improve efficiency and productivity

A lot has changed in the 31 years since Andy Felix founded Tree Tech, Inc. Back then, says the president of the Foxborough, MA-based tree service company, he was working on job sites all day, looking at new work and providing estimates in the evening, and keeping up with the management needs of his fledgling company as well.

Today, Tree Tech employs 100 people, from crews to office personnel and four full-time mechanics. With 60 trucks and a wide range of equipment, the company provides services within a 35-mile radius of Foxborough, a community about 30 miles southwest of Boston. About 50% of its business is residential work, 30% is for commercial customers and 20% includes tree service contracts with electric utilities.

“We’ve been able to grow and continue to provide high quality customer service because we embrace technology,” Felix says. “We’re fielding the latest Freightliner trucks, Altec aerial units, cranes and tools and equipment to help crews be more productive and jobs less dangerous. Safety is always number one. Everything we do — from our equipment choices to inspections and training — is aimed at keeping crews out of harm’s way.”

Behind the scenes, having the right information at the right time has been essential to Tree Tech’s safe and steady growth, Felix notes, and to building long-lasting relationships with customers. Since 2008, the company has been using the Fleetmatics tracking and management solution.

“As our business expanded, keeping track of everything we were doing became a growing challenge,” Felix says. “We needed a way to have better oversight without being intrusive. Today, the fleet tracking system is a key part of how we do business, and it’s paying dividends in several ways.

“For example,” Felix continues, “we’re able to minimize travel time by providing crews with more efficient routes. That’s especially critical in the heavily congested Boston area. The solution shows us where traffic is going to be a problem, and by knowing where our trucks are at all times and if there a will be traffic-related delays, we can provide customers with more accurate arrival times.”

While he says it’s hard to quantify an exact amount, Felix believes the Fleetmatics solution is also helping save fuel. “Aside from ensuring our crews follow the most efficient routes to a job, we use the system to monitor idle time,” he states. “Idling is a necessity in this business because our trucks use PTO-driven cranes, buckets and other equipment, but with up-to-the-minute information we can reduce excessive idling.”

The solution also helps eliminate speeding and vehicle misuse, such as using a company truck for personal reasons, and to quickly resolve customer issues. For instance, Tree Tech can document when a crew arrived and departed a job location, and when storms hit the company can easily see where damage is widespread and which crews can respond the quickest.

Another benefit, Felix says, is the ability to more quickly respond to vehicle or equipment breakdowns because the company’s mechanics can pinpoint the repair location without communicating with the crew.

“All of these capabilities strengthen our reputation as a reliable company and provide a competitive advantage,” Felix says. “Keeping track of trucks and crews on jobs across Massachusetts and Rhode Island is challenging enough. With better information, a higher level of oversight and the ability to address efficiency and productivity issues, we can keep growing safely and effectively.”

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