Trees fall, but costs rise for some
BRAINERD -- There's plenty of work for tree removal services in the Brainerd lakes area after the severe storm of July 12. So much work that it has brought an influx of trucks and trailers from non-local tree removal companies, which have spent t...
BRAINERD -- There's plenty of work for tree removal services in the Brainerd lakes area after the severe storm of July 12.
So much work that it has brought an influx of trucks and trailers from non-local tree removal companies, which have spent the past week working in the area.
Last week, David Stelter, a local tree remover, was able to assist a resident who was in his opinion being overcharged for tree removal by out-of-town companies.
An 86-year-old woman living on Sylvan Lake, who Stelter had worked with before, had received a few bids to remove fallen trees from her home. Stelter's bid came in about $2,000, which was $200 less than the second-lowest bid for the job. The highest bid was around $4,500.
Stelter works a lot with elderly clients who can't afford high prices, which is why his prices usually come in much below his competitors, he said.
"I do it for a reduced price, usually well below," Stelter said.
Stelter's father was in the tree removal business for 35 years prior to David's birth, and he's been removing trees locally since 1983. His company, D&J Logging and Firewood, consists of himself, his son and two employees.
When the job was complete, Stelter stood by the woman as she called the highest bidder and turned down their bid. The high bidder, a company out of St. Cloud, had made her sign a contract prior to starting the job, Stelter said.
"This is what really sent the red flags up my pole," Stelter said.
The company had told her they would return in 2-3 days to complete the work, Stelter said. Requiring a customer to sign a contract prior to starting a job is uncommon, he said.
Stelter removed four trees during the job, and his customer ended up with a little more than two cords of firewood. There was also brush and branch removal, "nothing that should have been $4,500 worth."
There's a lot of factors Stelter considers when he bids on a job, such as the presence of high power lines and if the downed tree might roll and cause more damage when it's moved.
"Just the ease of it," Stelter said. "Each job is different."
An out-of-town company coming in with a lot of employees is also going to charge more to cover expenses, Stelter said. They also might be taking advantage of a situation where people are willing to pay more to have trees removed, he said.
"They are having a hardship, and people are very vulnerable," Stelter said. "It's just not right in my book."
People who want trees removed should make sure the company they use is licensed and insured, and above all use common sense, Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl said.
"You don't always have to go with the first person that stops by," Dahl said. "If you see one person, that doesn't necessarily mean that that's the lowest."
Part of what's driving the high prices are people who want trees removed right now, regardless of the price, Dahl said. But for people who are concerned about costs, waiting can be key.
"They don't have to have it done now," Dahl said. "Those trees aren't going to go anywhere."
Dahl said at his home he lost several trees but he has no intention of going with the first tree removal service that stops by his home. Instead, he's clearing the way around his home and then he'll determine how to proceed.
If someone signs a contract for service, they should understand it becomes a civil issue between two private parties, Dahl said. A signed agreement between two parties means "you're pretty much locked in, and that's not always the best situation."