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 email@example.com or have them complete this form.
Arborists' name: Steve Cabrera
A little about Steve and how he got into the industry:
Steve owns Paul Bunyan Tree Service and serves the Greater Dallas, Texas area. After overcoming a series of consequences as an adolescent, by the age of 17 years old, Steve needed to figure out a plan to earn income and a way to remain out of trouble, which led him to the industry as an arborist.
He purchased a chainsaw and started knocking on doors, asking people if they needed any tree work, an idea that came from a friend of his biological father. Together with his biological father and his friend, they sold door to door and from their first job for a full day of limb dragging mayhem in the Texas heat, they earned $400. He quickly realized the potential income possibilities and very shortly after, he started his business.
Steve shares what he's most proud of about his job:
"I'm most proud about turning my business into a professional source for tree care to thousands of happy customers across the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex.
I love this job. I wouldn't change anything about it. Every day brings a new journey on this beautiful earth. We get to experience life through the atmospheres of each individual property owner. Sometimes it's a high end, upper scale estate in Highland Park. Sometimes it's a section 8 government housing property in South Dallas. We meet unique people from different cultures and variating walks of life. Every tree is different. I LOVE trees. I love to make them happy and healthy. I also love the crazy beat down Summer working days when it's a struggle to stay hydrated..I love ALL of it."
We asked Steve, how do you manage the crazy schedule and calls where you often have to drop everything? Who helps you to take care of life at home while you're away?
"Here's where the real star, my wife, Misti, comes in. We me when we were both 25. She was a GM at Taco Cabana, and I was a struggling business owner who still managed to get into trouble from time to time. Long story short, she helped me raise my 4 biological sons and her son while I manifested my dreams. We both realized that I couldn't keep up with all the growth business wise, so Misti became the full time Office Manager for Paul Bunyan Tree Service. She also somehow managed to get 5 boys to school, sports activities, and back home safely everyday."
We asked Steve to share if there are any special ways he stays connected to Misti, family, and friends while working for long periods of time?
"When I worked Ice Storm 2020 in Oklahoma City, OK, I stayed connected back home through my Protos helmet most of the time. There were times when a call from back home in Texas through my Sena Bluetooth would bring me back to grips with reality. Working sun up to sun down on those huge spread out Pin Oaks would wear down on my spirit, especially when there's only enough time to shower, eat, wake up and do it again. Those phone calls into my helmet really came in clutch."
Steve shares his craziest storm and outage story and the longest duty streak that he had to work.
"The craziest storm job I did was a Red Oak on a house in Bishop Arts, Dallas in 2019. One of the leads had smashed through a bedroom and across an unoccupied bed. The child happened to be sleeping over at a friend's house. Or, maybe the time I had to use my escape route to evade a rogue branch on a crane removal. We've had some crazy moments.
The longest period of storm work I've done would have to be Ice Storm 2020 in OKC. We were there November through December contracting for R and B Trees out of Yukon, Oklahoma. Great group of guys doing great things for the city."
Steve offers advice to anyone who is considering joining the arborist industry.
"I strongly recommend to anyone starting out to buy the Arborist Handbook by Sharon Lilly. Oh.. aaand to get into social media ASAP! Social media has helped me out big time. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and don't be afraid to post your experiences. But most importantly of all, learn the arborist side of tree work. Build a quality brand and it will bring you quality customers. The only secret ingredient is to get better everyday. Feel free to DM me anytime @paulbunyantx."
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.
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