Mike Galvin, who lives and works in Washington, D.C., is the director of the consulting group at SavATree, an East Coast-based professional tree care company employing ISA Certified Arborists. Galvin is committed to the urban tree canopy, an effort he spearheaded in our nation’s capital and in nearby Baltimore, Maryland, to help cities use trees to meet clean air standards.
We caught up with Mike to find out what he’s been up to since being honored as an ISA True Professional of Arboriculture.
One year ago you were among seven ISA members chosen as the 2011 ISA True Professionals of Arboriculture. What has changed in your life during the past year?
The biggest change, by far, was when I was named director of the consulting group at SavATree last September, shortly after being named a True Professional. SavATree’s consulting group has experienced tremendous growth in the past year. In addition, we worked for a number of notable clients on a variety of priority landscape projects. The assignments are diverse-from inventory to tree management during construction to expert witness services-so it has been exciting for me to be a part of it all.
So how has being a True Professional impacted your work as an ISA Certified Arborist?
I am always an ISA Certified Arborist, but telling others I am also an ISA True Professional of Arboriculture has been incredibly helpful to me when I am introduced to others, especially those outside of the tree care industry. I use the True Professional logo on my emails and in presentations. My goal is to let them know more about me as well as the honors program.
Knowing I am a True Professional also creates a certain comfort level with a prospective partner or client. It lets them know they are talking to someone credible. I am received even more warmly by people in the arboriculture industry who never knew me in the past. It’s a great networking tool.
If you could pinpoint the greatest threat facing arborists right now, what would it be?
When economic conditions are challenging, it is always tempting for customers to go with the lowest price to save money. Unfortunately, turning a blind eye to cost could mean the person on the job doesn’t have insurance or isn’t properly trained as an arborist. It can be tough for practitioners, too. They may wonder why it’s necessary to carry a lot of overhead when they can’t compete because others are playing a different game with a different set of rules.
I believe arborists should always commit to being the best. It is tough to keep that thought sometimes, especially when the phone is not ringing with potential jobs. But the day will come when the offer will be there to care for those specimen trees on some priority landscape and your credentials and commitment will be the deciding factor that got you there. Nothing is more satisfying than knowing that.
What are you most proud of having accomplished in your career?
I would say because of the scope and effect, my work on the urban tree canopy assessment and setting goals for cities trying to achieve clean air standards has been the biggest source of satisfaction. It is premised on the fact that more trees in better condition can make cities more sustainable and viable. It is critical that this idea resonates with people in order for it to be a success.
What is the best advice you can give other arborists and tree care experts on how to improve their image with customers?
The most important tool that an arborist can have is credibility. The first aspect of being credible is becoming a master at your craft. Learn all that you can about arboriculture. Secondly, offer to others what one writer calls the “say-do” principle. This means being able to clearly communicate your intentions, and then simply following through on your commitment. This builds trust and confidence.
What projects are on the table for Mike Galvin in 2012?
First and foremost, my goal is to expand the client base and relationship network for the consulting group at SavATree. The relationship between people and trees in cities has long been a favorite subject of mine, and we are fostering some real solutions to help both people and trees. I’ll keep working on the editorial boards of the American Society of Consulting Arborists’ (ASCA) Consultant and the Society of Municipal Arborists’ (SMA) City Trees publications, and I am slated to be program chair for the Mid-Atlantic Chapter International Society of Arboriculture (MAC-ISA) annual meeting. In addition, I am a co-principal investigator for the National Science Foundation (NSF), and a grant is allowing me to take a closer look at urban ecosystems. An active and exciting year lies ahead and I am looking forward to it.
To learn more about Mike and the SavATree Consulting Group, click here