At J.L. Matthews, we are a family-owned business since 1946 and are your one-stop shop for linemen, ironworkers, and arborists. We get it that every project is unique when you're living life at height. In this blog series, we will cover everything from the craziest storms arborists or ironworkers have worked to how they keep in touch with loved ones while they are away. We'll even ask them to offer tips to those who are interested in a budding career as an arborist or ironworker.
If you want to nominate someone whose story we should tell next in our Life at Height series, email firstname.lastname@example.org or have them complete this form.
Meet Justin Devasthali, an arborist with over 15 years of experience and the owner of Spartan Tree Solutions, located in Clarksville, TN.
Here's a little about Justin and how he got into the industry:
"As a teenager, I got into a lot of trouble. When I was 16, my older brother worked for a local tree company and I thought joining a crew would give me something productive to do. The owner of the company, one of the most skilled tree climbers I have ever worked with, trained and mentored me as a climber and trimmer. He invested time, energy, money, and patience into my future.
After nearly 15 years in the industry and with much planning, we established Spartan Tree Solutions, LLC in 2020. After enlisting in the Army in 2019 and being stationed at Fort Campbell, I saw a huge need for a tree care in the area and very few offering the service. We took advantage of that and hit the ground running operating in Clarksville and Nashville, TN and Fort Campbell, KY.
Justin shares what he's most proud of when it comes to his job.
"I am proud of the peace of mind we give our clients when we remove a hazardous tree that they have been worried about for years. When the homeowner expresses gratitude and says things like, “thank you so much! Now I can sleep peacefully at night." is so satisfying.
Not everyone can say they put themselves in risky and hazardous situations everyday. It’s an ingredient that fuels the desire and passion behind what I do. After a tree is properly pruned or removed is like seeing a finished canvas. I love to just step back and think of it as a masterpiece."
We asked Justin to share how he manages the crazy schedule and calls where he often has to drop everything.
"Scheduling, planning, organizing, and administrative work is probably the most stressful part of the industry. My wife, Anna, has been instrumental in the success of the operation of Spartan Tree Solutions. Being active duty Army, I can’t always take phone calls right away, run estimates, or schedule, and she has been an incredible asset to me even through the chaotic schedules of multiple weeks without any days off. She has always known that it has been my dream to be a small business owner and start my own tree care operation. The fact that we’ve been able to fill and swap multiple roles while being gone has allowed us to succeed and grow."
Justin shares how he stays connected to his wife Anna while being away for long periods of time.
"When I enlisted in the Army, I was away for 6 months and had very little access to my phone. We began writing letters, something we still do now, and it was really a great way to communicate, encourage, and grow while apart. We also love to read books, so while I am away we often order the same book and go through it together reading a chapter then writing a letter about our thoughts and what we learned from it. It has deepened our roots, our bond, and our connection."
Justin shares his craziest storm and outage story and the longest duty streak that he had to work.
"The craziest storm job I’ve done to date was about 5 years ago now in Akron, OH. An enormous cherry tree had uprooted in the back of a house and was hung up in another tree. Directly under it was a boathouse surrounded by beautiful terrace, gardens, and walkways with absolutely ZERO drop zone. Three other companies came out and said that they needed a waiver signed and damage was guaranteed, and I thought the same as well. The job was bid at $8,500 and the customer chose to go with us. My team and I game planned and setup up for nearly 2 hours. Once it was completed, we pieced this gnarly beast down tactically and strategically without causing any damage in the process."
We asked Justin to tell us about some of his favorite products from J.L Matthews that helps him to get work done.
"My favorite products would have to be the chainsaws. It’s funny. Anytime I buy a new chainsaw my wife will say “So, is that your new favorite now?” My newest acquired one is always my favorite. The Husqvarna 540XP is a great climbing saw which is instrumental in the success of each job.
Lastly, Justin concludes with advice for anyone who is interested in joining the arboriculture industry.
"The biggest piece of advice I can give is to educate yourself—learn the safest and most efficient techniques and tactics of the industry. There are way too many fatalities due to unsafe practices. I highly recommend pursuing an ISA certification. Find an ISA exam prep course and it will be extremely beneficial. It involves a variety of topics in the industry and will give a great wealth of understanding and a certification. NEVER SACRIFICE SAFETY.
Lastly, this industry is awesome! You might as well buy a GoPro and take some dope pictures and videos so you can show everyone how cool you are."
Thank you again for participating in our Life at Height feature. If you or someone you know is an ironworker or arborists and you want to tell us a little bit about what your life is like working in the industry - please reach out.
J.L. Matthews has over 2,000 products from top brands like RudeDog USA, Bashlin, Hastings, and more. We provide same day shipping for orders before 3 pm CDT over the phone and free shipping to first time customers who spend over $75.