Mowbray’s Commits To “Future Of Tree Removal” With New Fleet Of SENNEBOGEN Tree Care Handlers
San Bernardino, CA – An army of arborists and tree care specialists have spread throughout California to clean up the debris and charred remains from this past years’ record wildfires. The recovery effort has taken a big step forward with the delivery of a new fleet of SENNEBOGEN tree care handlers, signaling the arrival of mechanized equipment for tree removal.
At the forefront of this clean-up is Mowbray’s Tree Service, which is based in San Bernardino and manages skilled crews throughout the state. Richard Mowbray, along with his father and grandfather before him, built their business providing vegetation and tree maintenance services for California’s largest energy utilities.
This year Mowbray’s has deployed crews totaling 1500 tree care workers plus up to 30 subcontractors with another 800 employees. “Utility customers represent pretty much the entirety of our business, says Richard Mowbray, CEO and President of the company. “We’re known for vegetation management, right-of-way maintenance and high-hazard tree removal.”
A new mechanized service division:
In January of 2020, Mowbray’s launched a new service division dubbed Mechanized Tree Removal. This newest division of Mowbray’s is built around the unique capabilities of the SENNEBOGEN tree care handlers, primarily the 718 M model. Mowbray’s is well accustomed to using specialized tree care equipment, including a fleet of 75-foot aerial lifts, cranes, and grapple trucks. But with the 718, Richard Mowbray sees a new level of productivity and safety emerging in the industry.
“As soon as I saw it, I knew that this was the future and we needed to get our hands on some of that equipment, immediately,” he recalls. His first encounter with the 718 came, at SENNEBOGEN’s invitation, on a trip to Boston the previous November. There he met with one of the first professionals to put a 718 to work, Jason Yerke of Distinctive Tree Care.
His mind was quickly made up. “As soon as we got back, I met with Robert Amadore, our Asset Manager, and we ordered our first one. We started running it in in January and saw what our first operator could do with it. Then we looked at all the work coming up in fire response and started ordering more SENNEBOGENs.”
A full line-up:
Based on SENNEBOGEN’s extensive line of log handling and material handling machines, the 718 is a 21-ton unit equipped with a 43 ft. (13 m) telescoping stick with a grapple saw attachment. Its powerful hydraulics are tuned for delicate tree trimming as well as heavy cutting. With its 3,700 lbs. (1,700 kg) lifting capacity, the 718 easily grasps, cuts, moves and stacks whole trees and large limbs in a single smooth movement. Seated in SENNEBOGEN’s enclosed Maxcab, the operator can hydraulically elevate to an eye-level of 18 ft. (5.5 m), and adjust the cab’s tilting mechanism to improve visibility into work zones. With its clear line-of-site, powerful grip and agile saw head, the 718 is often able to extract trees adjacent to high-voltage lines without requiring the cables to be de-energized.
SENNEBOGEN also offers two larger machines in the tree care line-up. Like the 718, the new 728 is a rubber-tired model with a slightly heavier base and another 22 ft. (7 m) of reach. The 738 is even larger with a total reach of 75 ft. (22.8 m) and is designed for larger trees and more challenging terrain.
An industry game-changer:
Since then, Mowbray’s Mechanized Tree Removal fleet has grown to 11 machines, with two more on delivery and the first 728 M expected to arrive in the Spring of 2021. “The 718 is a good size for us,” says Mowbray. “It’s a small package, easy to move around. The 728 will give us a little more reach; we get a lot of trees that are 100 ft. plus, so we’ll be getting more of those. I really like the 738 too; it’s much bigger and heavier and I know we’ll eventually have one.”
Previous SENNEBOGEN customers have claimed that the 718 is a “game changer” for their industry and Mowbray agrees. “We recently worked on a project to take down nine large trees around a SMUD substation; with obstacles to work around down below. The operator was able to go in there like a surgeon and piece out and dismantle the nine trees safely in a day. A competitor was there last year, using the old ways, and it took him 4 days to bring down 2 trees. We had the first two trees down in 26 minutes!”
Along with their astonishing productivity, the 718 and 728 (coming soon) are easy to transport quickly from site to site. Both machines are within the size and weight limits allowed to be moved on state highways without special permits. The crew can simply drive the machine onto to a flatbed trailer, lash it down, and go.
Safety above all:
But productivity was not the sole factor behind Mowbray’s commitment to the SENNEBOGEN way of doing things. “The driving factor for us was reducing human exposure and providing a safer working environment. Other machines can do the work, but the SENNEBOGEN takes the employee out of the danger zone.”
Richard Mowbray is well aware of the hazards involved in tree removal, considered by many to be among the most dangerous of professions. Mowbray learned the business, literally, from the ground up. He began his career on one of his father’s ground crews and worked his way through the ranks. His last stop, before taking on the role of CEO, was as Corporate Director of Safety.
“With this equipment, we can make the work environment safer, reduce the number of employees on the jobsite, and we can get the job done faster than we could before.” The difference, he says, is that one operator can do the work of a full crew, all from the safety of an enclosed, elevated cab. “For us to go out and take down 40 trees and get them out where some other equipment can clean it up, we might have had 10 or 15 employees out there before. Now we can do the exact same work with one person operating the SENNEBOGEN and a climber working around the power lines, so we are down to 2 employees doing that much work, or more.”
Optimizing trained personnel:
This new technology allows Mowbray’s to make better use of their skilled arborists and groundsmen. “It takes us a lot of years to train employees to where we feel comfortable letting them out to climb a 100 ft. tree,” Richard Mowbray says. “But we’ve taken people who have never before cut down a tree and, and within two weeks in the SENNEBOGEN they’re taking down 40 trees a day!”
“But we still have a lot of routine maintenance to do for the utilities, such as tree-trimming around the power lines. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to do that with a big machine. So if we don’t have to put an employee up in a tree for tree removal, the 718 frees him up so we can increase our crew count for the maintenance jobs.”
To help Mowbray’s get their mechanized team up to speed quickly, their first operator attended a free two-day orientation at the SENNEBOGEN Training Center in Stanley, NC. Since then, SENNEBOGEN trainers have visited California to spend time with each of Mowbray’s operators. “These operators are younger guys, the video-game generation,” Mowbray says. “They run the boom like it’s an extension of their arm.”
Uptime – part of the package:
Mowbray’s crane mechanic also received a full week of hands-on training, provided at no cost by the SENNEBOGEN Training Center. “The machines have been really solid and our mechanic has been able to look after all the machinery and they’re running good.” Field service is key in this business, so Mowbray’s supplies every unit with its own “UPtime Kit”, specially packaged by the SENNEBOGEN parts warehouse to pre-package all the service parts required for normal maintenance of the 718 and its grapple saw. To keep its uptime promise, SENNEBOGEN backs the tree care machines with its 48 hour service guarantee. If a Mowbray’s mechanic can’t get a downed unit operational within 48 hours, SENNEBOGEN will fly a factory technician to the site to troubleshoot and complete the repair.
Mowbray’s is the first large tree care specialist to be equipped with SENNEBOGEN machines, but Richard Mowbray is convinced that they will become a more common sight over the next few years. “We can do trees for a lower cost to the customer,” he says, “and it’s a safer environment for the operator. It saves lives, time, and money. So that’s a win-win-win for everybody.”
SENNEBOGEN has been a leading name in the global material handling industry for over 65 years. Based in Stanley, North Carolina, within the greater Charlotte region, SENNEBOGEN LLC offers a complete range of purpose-built machines to suit virtually any material handling application. Established in America in the year 2000, SENNEBOGEN LLC has quickly become a leading provider of specialized equipment solutions for recycling and scrap metal yards, demolition, barge and port operations, log-handling, transfer stations, waste facilities and the tree care industry from coast to coast. A growing network of distributors supports SENNEBOGEN LLC sales and service across the Americas, ensuring the highest standard of professional machine support and parts availability.
For more information on the full line of SENNEBOGEN green line material handlers, contact:
1957 Sennebogen Trail
Stanley, NC 28164
Tel: (704) 347-4910 or fax (704) 347-8894