35-foot-tall Sugar Maple makes big impact at Tree Care Industry Association Expo
Stripped of its leaves and most of its branches, a 35-foot-tall sugar maple from Indiana Township wasn’t the tallest thing on the convention floor Wednesday, but it was the oddest.
Indiana-based Arborel Tree Service Inc. donated the maple to be the centerpiece of this week’s Tree Care Industry Association Expo at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, where professional tree trimmers will demonstrate proper climbing and safety techniques among its denuded limbs.
“I jumped at the chance; it’s on display in the middle of the floor, and there will be thousands of tree guys from the industry looking at it,” said Rob Kruljac, Arborel’s president.
The 50- to 60-year-old, 20-inch-thick sugar maple came from his business’s property, where his crews lopped off all but the main trunk’s thickest branches, cut the trunk at ground level, then used a crane and flatbed trailer to move it to the convention center. A “giant Christmas tree stand” counter-weighted with 10,000 pounds of concrete curb stops will hold it steady while it’s used for demonstrations, Kruljac said.
“A lot of companies can take trees down; not many can put one back up,” said Don Staruk, editor of Tree Care Industry Magazine, the association’s official publication.
The convention center’s soaring ceilings would have fit an even taller tree, but the association was limited by how much weight it could use to keep the tree stable while climbers swing around on it, Staruk said.
The expo is the largest convention of tree-care professionals — who generally work for tree-trimming services, municipalities and utility companies — and an opportunity to conduct a great deal of safety training and demonstrations in a dangerous industry, said Peter Gerstenberger, the association’s senior adviser for safety, standards and compliance.
Arborel’s tree will be used to demonstrate fall-protection systems, chain saw safety and stationary/single rope climbing, a technique used primarily in mountain climbing that’s being adopted for tree climbing and removal, Gerstenberger said. Vendors will use their booths to demonstrate safe operation of their equipment, including wood chippers, stump grinders, boom-mounted rotary saws and lifts with arms that zigzagged around rafters in the convention hall.
“I’m on the road every day demonstrating equipment,” said Mark Kuhn, 62, of Washington, a sales representative for Wooster, Ohio-based Rayco Manufacturing’s tree equipment in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. “It’s nice to be able to showcase what we do.”
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412- 380-5625 or [email protected].