YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Clearing fallen trees in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Sandy last October didn’t faze Jim Pulvermiller. The owner of Top Notch Tree, Inc. in Yorktown has seen all forms of Mother Nature’s devastation in his 30 years in the business.
“As much damage as there was, if that had been a category 2 or a category 3 hurricane, we’d still be cleaning up from it,’’ Pulvermiller said. “It could’ve been much worse. The storm in October 2011 was actually much harder. The trees weren’t on the ground. We had to do a lot of climbing for that one.”
In the days after the storm, Pulvermiller and Top Notch crews cleared fallen trees off roads in Yorktown and Somers. They also removed trees that struck houses and cleaned up properties throughout Westchester.
“I thought we were pretty lucky compared to people on the coast,’’ Pulvermiller said. “We were fortunate that for the most part, we had a few trees down. Many of us lost power, but that’s a minor inconvenience compared to the people along the coast who lost a lot more. Without power, I can live and do what I need to do. Not having my house makes it a different story.”
Pulvermiller started in the tree industry after taking forestry courses at the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). At age 18, he was employed by a large tree company and then started his own business 10 years later. He’s seen many changes in the industry over the years.
“So much has changed, even in the last 10 years,’’ Pulvermiller said. “Prices and bills have increased tremendously, but what I make per day has not increased. My gross is more, but I profited more per dollar 20 years ago. The cost of equipment is tremendous, there’s insurance and the government of course is more involved, like needing permits now in many cases. Twenty years ago, you’d just go out and work.”
Pulvermiller said one of his greatest rewards is seeing his son, also named Jim, join him in the business. Jim Jr. graduated with an Associates Degree in Landscape Management from SUNY-Delhi and heads up the landscape division of the company.
Jim Sr. was happy to turn over tree climbing duties to his son and other workers. “I don’t miss it at all,’’ Pulvermiller said. “I climbed trees all my life and I’d still do it if I have to but I'm glad I don't have to."