Getting There Together
Written by: Ben Reince, Certified Arborist WI-0610A, Certified Tree Safety Professional #00271
Posted: 2018 | Wachtel News | Winter
It was the winter of 2002 and I was a bright-eyed college graduate looking for a job to start paying off my student loans. My lifelong friend gave me a call one weekend and told me that a company in South Eastern Wisconsin that was hiring if I was still looking. That company ended up being Wachtel Tree Science. I had limited prior experience, having worked a couple of summers for municipal forestry departments. My work consisted of chipping a lot of brush and raising tree canopies with a pole saw from the ground. During my last semester of college, I took a weekend tree climbing class and this was the extent of my knowledge in the world of arboriculture.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when coming to Wachtel. All I knew was that one of my best friends was working there so we were going to be in it together. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was starting my career someplace special. One of the first revelations that I had came to me as I watched how Wachtel went about training their employees. My previous experience coming from municipalities was with gruff long-time veterans. The training “program” was to show you once and then yell at you each time after that till hopefully you got it right. Wachtel allowed me to learn at a pace I was comfortable with. I would advance onto new skills as I became proficient in other skills. This approach put my mind at ease, taking much of the pressures and concerns I would have normally have felt and allowed me to focus on being the best arborist I could be.
Our training was taken to a new level in 2014 with the implementation of the S.T.E.M. program, which stands for Safety, Training, and Employee Movement. The Employee Movement refers to employee’s progression at Wachtel and through their career, not how fast we can move around your yard. The program is 60 pages full of competencies that our employees are trained in. Our Plant Health Care and Tree and Landscape departments both have 5 levels our employees can strive to. The S.T.E.M. program allows for a consistent and thorough approach to all levels of training. Providing you with a well-trained staff to better serve you and your landscape.
As Wachtel grows, the S.T.E.M. program grows too and is audited every other year. Employees are asked to provide feedback as they go through the program. The training is enhanced as we can find out what has worked and what still needs to be improved. Thanks to this feedback our program is ever growing and ever changing. S.T.E.M. has evolved into our culture and has become a way of life vs. something that if forced onto our employees. It represents “The Wachtel Way” in the truest sense of the phrase.