Tree Health Underscores Value of Technology

Even in an unlikely industry, tech tools reign supreme for Bartlett Tree Experts

STAMFORD, Conn. — When Francis A. Bartlett received his degree from the University of Massachusetts (née Massachusetts Agricultural College) in 1905, the world was at a technological crossroads. Electricity was a relatively recent advancement, the Model T was in development, and the Wright Brothers became the first in flight. A mere two years after graduating, he founded Bartlett Tree Experts as a way to respond to a large quantity of sick and dying trees in New York State. But he never could have foreseen the gizmos used to care for trees today.

For 80 years, The Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories has created innovations and integrated state-of-art technology into the organic business of tree care. The company Bartlett founded, which is still owned and operated by the Bartlett family, was forged on the principle of scientific entrepreneurship, a key facet of the company to this day. Now located in Charlotte, N.C., the 350-acre research facility employs scientists to study more than 2,000 species of tree and plants, as well as a roster of diseases and insects. Scientists at the lab work with arborists to evaluate plant samples; culture and identify disease-causing organisms; identify insects; and perform complete soil analysis services, all in an effort to supply Bartlett specialists with the skills and knowledge to better serve property owners. Each innovation the company develops for use in the field is tested for effectiveness at the lab, making it the epicenter of tree care technology.

“On the eve of our 100th anniversary, it’s important to acknowledge that curiosity and the pursuit of science has brought us to where we are today,” says Robert A. Bartlett Jr., chairman, Bartlett Tree Experts. “It has been our vision since inception that technology enables us to keep trees healthier and more beautiful. In a world of corporate consolidation, it’s refreshing to know that our family-owned company continues to grow and promote the values of responsible stewardship and the benefits of technology.”

Today, Bartlett Tree Experts is at the forefront of an industry that does not, at first glance, require many tools, save a saw and a ladder. But in reality, the tree care business is embracing equipment that has revolutionized the automobile industry, military operations, and business logistics.

GPS technology, part of Bartlett Inventory Solutions, allows arborists to map landscapes, documenting tree locations, site characteristics — including the presence of pests and diseases — and more. This allows both arborists and landscapers to identify priorities and supply customers, which include homeowners and entities such as universities, with the most appropriate service.

“It’s been fascinating integrating technology like GPS into our service offerings. Bartlett Inventory Solutions is a unique tool that gives landscapers and homeowners an innovative way to monitor and care for their trees,” says Mike Sherwood, technology support manager, Bartlett Tree Experts. “We have been very successful throughout our history at using science and technology to further our treatment methods.”

Advances in equipment also help Bartlett Tree Experts in promoting the healthy growth of trees and shrubbery. A service called Root-Rx blasts air at supersonic speed into the ground, tilling soil and stimulating root growth. The first patented root maintenance process in the arboricultural industry,Root-Rx helps declining trees and shrubs to recover their health and beauty.

Bartlett Tree Experts, which now has nearly 100 locations in four countries, has benefited from a diet of steady, but conservative growth. Despite the trend of companies bucking family entities for public ownership, Bartlett Tree Experts has remained family-owned, perhaps contributing to its forward-thin

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Tina McNulty

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