While driving through Henderson County, Texas, you can expect to see long stretches of road, pastures, powerlines and not a lot in between.
One thing you can expect to see on those long stretches of roadway is a crew from Ramirez Tree Service.
Ramirez Tree Service has established itself as the primary tree service used by the local power companies for the past 27 years. The company also services oil and gas pipeline rights of way.
“Dedication and trust were at the forefront of everything our dad did,” says Sammy Ramirez Jr. “He’s always been dedicated to building good relationships employees and with the people he worked with.”
Sammy Jr. and brother Cody Ramirez are currently managing the day-to-day operations of their father’s business.
Sammy Ramirez Sr. began his company in 1992 with one tractor and an opportunity to work closer to home.
“Our dad was traveling a lot for work and hated it,” says Sammy Jr. “Word got around that the power company was trying to hire people to clear the right of ways in Henderson County. Dad already had the equipment so he essentially started the business debt fee. The opportunity to work close to home was the biggest part in getting started. The rest is history.”
Ramirez Tree Service began with a 70-hp tractor, a Brown tree cutter and a desire to stay closer to family. Over the years, the company has added 24 men and six bucket trucks, three Jarraff tree trimmers, four tractors, one skid steer, two FAE mulchers and two Brown tree cutters.
Developing the right combination of manpower and machinery required to help keep rights of way safe, clear and up to code in Henderson County.
“Our dad created a really efficient process,” says Cody Ramirez. “Knowing the environment you’re working in is how we decide the manpower and machinery combination we will attack it with. This provides us with a high amount of versatility to adjust our crews as needed. It allows us to move fast, divide our forces and cover a lot of ground no matter what type of terrain we have to cover. If done right, we don’t come back to an area we’ve cut for six years.”
One crew usually consists of:
- 1 Jarraff or bucket truck —
trimming everything high away from the lines.
- 2-3 men on the ground with chainsaws —
cutting back low vegetation.
- 1 tractor with mulcher — dragging over all the fallen brush.
The crew moves methodically, with almost a machine-like quality from one span to the next. Averaging 10 to 11 spans or 2.3 acres, they make it look and sound so easy, but as you can expect in any industry, theirs has its challenges.
“Two of our biggest challenges that we seem to encounter almost daily are the weather and land owners,” Sammy Jr. says. “The Texas heat is not something you get used to but you aren’t surprised by it. The rain on the other hand can move in and shut you down for weeks. The land owners can be a challenge because they don’t want you rolling across their new sod, trimming their shade tree or just on their property at all.”
Many people in Henderson County and most counties across the United States, for instance, don’t realize that right-of-way clearing crews have to cut 15 ft to the left and 15 ft to the right of power lines.
“Most people don’t really know why we do what we do,” says Sammy Jr. “We try to explain to them how it’s a crucial element for the overall safety of the environment and properties that these lines run through. It also helps with prevention of outages when storms come through the area. These lines carry a lot of voltage and if a storm or even strong wind causes a branch to snap and spark a line you can have a fire break out fast. Once they understand that what we’re doing will help keep their property safer and could prevent a power outage we always seem to come to an understanding.”
Manpower and machinery and the balance between the two is what Sammy Ramirez Sr. has been figuring out for 27 years. Sammy Jr. and Cody Ramirez plan to carry on their father’s legacy of dedication and trust throughout Henderson county but they also have other plans for the future of the business.
“You can have all the machinery in the world, but if you don’t have good people, the machinery doesn’t work,” says Cody. “Our dad worked hard to get us where we are. Building trust with our employees and the companies we work with. We’re excited to do what we do but we’re excited for the future of this company. We believe the sky is the limit.
“We’ve got big dreams for when our dad ‘passes the torch.’ Ten years from now we plan to have two entirely separate crews working on pipeline expansion, as well as clearing out for private power lines. We will still be clearing the right of ways in Henderson,” adds Cody.
With a rich history in Henderson County and dreams for expansion, Ramirez Tree Service is poised carry on the legacy begun almost 30 years ago.
Tags: October 2019 Print Issue, right of way
Bradley Wiseman is video production and trade show coordinator for FAE USA Inc.