top of page

How a Little Blue Acorn Became an Oak Tree

     Ever since I was a boy, I have loved the feeling I got from climbing, but it wasn't until 2019 that I decided to make a career of it.  Although I started to explore the tree work industry while still in high school, it took a long journey for me to discover that my God-given passions for nature and adrenaline were the perfect fit for owning a small tree-service.
Here's the quick version of the story, if you care to know....

     The excitement of heights has always enticed me, but I never thought climbing could become a career. So, I looked for thrill-seeking job alternatives while I was still in high school.  I completed firefighter academy in my senior year of high school and joined a local department as a volunteer.  In college, I continued this path by getting certified as an EMT.  However, firefighting and EMT weren't fulfilling my need for action, so at the same time, I began training as an amateur boxer, eager to start a fighting record and eventually go pro.  This was a dark time of my life.

     I was running from God, because I was angry with Him.  What was I angry about?  Ask me sometime, and I'd be glad to tell more of the story for you.  But I was running... and also looking for my purpose in life.  I joined the Army, because neither firefighting, nor boxing were manifesting enough adrenaline for me.  I was doing well, but not feeling like I fit in.  By this point in life, years later, I had come to what I thought were good terms with God and I felt like I was happy enough, so long as I kept progressing in my military career.  That's when God allowed me to be humbled.  I lost everything I cared about in a very sudden event.  Instead of getting angry at God this time, I decided to run towards Him.  I reached a point where I felt like my life was no longer worth living and that living a different life - a life for Jesus- was the last option to try.  I started seeking the Kingdom of God that Christ talked about in the New Testament, and my perspective on life quickly changed.

     I still had an adrenaline craving, but more and more I was beginning to use it for the Kingdom of God.  After a couple years at this, I met my future wife, not knowing it at the time.  I completed my contract with the Army, and did private missionary work in multiple third world countries.  I still didn't feel like this was a match for me, but I decided it was the best thing to go for, since it was for Christ.  To aid this endeavor, I started on a bachelor's degree in teaching English as a second language (across the world people want to learn English, so it would be a sure way to have a job in any country God might call me).  I attended a university in Virginia and was keeping in touch with Jane (my future wife) through a long-distance relationship.  Soon, I began to realize that Jane was a perfect partner for me to serve God with.  I started taking her rock climbing, which I myself had recently started doing and was in love with.

     I fell in love with Jane also, and I proposed to her (she said yes).  I transferred to a university in North Carolina because she had just moved to Black Mountain to start a new career with a Christian nonprofit.  We were soon married before a small gathering of friends and family; the whole event being centered on what it meant to seek the Kingdom of God and the purpose of marriage within that.  The reason I go into so much detail with this part of my story is because it really is the starting point of Blue Oak ATS.  The pursuit of God's Kingdom and my marriage to Jane were two foundational elements that joined with my thrill-seeking personality to bring about this small business.

     After adjusting to WNC, Jane was loving her work, and I was hating college.  Despite my sincere desire to learn, the political agendas of many professors were disillusioning me with higher education all together.  With each new TEDx talk, I lost more faith in higher ed, and soon enough all I could do during a lecture was think about my next rock climbing trip.  I knew that climbing was turning into an obsession and I either had to find a way to be productive with it, or give it up entirely to prevent it from becoming an idol.  I hesitantly decided to "take a break" from university and pursue certification as a climbing guide.

     At the same time, I was getting back into tree work after a few years of inactivity.  I had dabbled in tree climbing/cutting on and off since the age of 17-even through my time in the Army- yetI hadn't thought to try tree work in North Carolina.  We had no connections, and my only "business" had been word of mouth through friends in Virginia.  Our landlord at the time was actually the one who trusted me- before I was insured- to start tackling his looming tree problems for compensation.  I still thought that my passion was supposed to be channeled towards rock-guiding, but it felt as though God was opening door after door for me to learn the tree service industry.

     One such door was when I met Seth.  It was through a ministry job where a very large, dead tree had blown over and collided into several others.  The whole mess of them then crashed onto an elderly woman’s roof.  She had little income, and qualified for charity assistance to rebuild her roof, but the organization required removal of the trees first.  The lowest quote she had found was way beyond her means, so she was stuck with the trees on her house and holes in her roof during winter.  By the time I happened to stop by, it had been several weeks!  She told me her situation and that she might not be able to pay much at all, but I agreed to do it if she was okay with me not having insurance.  She was! 


     I felt overwhelmed with the job by myself, and I remember Jane asking me how we were going to be able to manage it alone.  All I could tell her was that God would provide.  Then, out of the blue, some guy rolled up with his truck asking if I wanted tree work.  I assumed him to be an opportunist, seeing the trees on the roof and looking to make some money.  I told him that the job was scheduled for the next day, that it was a charity case, and there was no money in it, but if he wanted to help, I would love it.  He drove off without me getting his phone number or even a name.  I didn't expect to see him again.  To my amazement, however, Seth was on the jobsite when I pulled up, unloading his chainsaws and getting ready to work hard for little to no payment.  We completed that job together and remained close friends for several years afterwards, doing many jobs together in the very beginning.  Without Seth, Blue Oak ATS wouldn't be what it is today.

     There are many other similar stories of Divine providence in Blue Oak's beginning.  I could write about trading tree work for my SPG Rock guide certification with an SPG guide certifier in New York, and about my friendship with Nick, owner of Element Arbor, who has been a mentor to me, and Chase, an amazing worker and friend (and fellow tree enthusiast) who was essential in the beginning years.  Also all the clients early on that have become close friends to Jane and I, but you probably get the idea by now.

     This story is already long; I'll only cover the accident briefly.  In October of 2020, I experienced a catastrophic tie-in-point failure and fell 30-35 feet out of a Tulip tree, straight to the ground, feet first.  Severe trauma fractures, including a shattered pelvis, rendered me almost paralyzed in a hospital bed for several weeks until I was moved to a therapy hospital, where I learned how to transfer from my bed to a wheelchair by sliding on a wooden board.  This accident (nerve pain from which I occasionally experience today) took the medal for the hardest trial of my life.  October 2020 was when I had to decide if I would continue to trust God or sink into a bitter depression. 


     It was hard to not know whether I would ever be able to climb again.  During the first week or so, the question of whether or I not I would ever walk was still on the table.  In a state of total disability and indescribable pain, neither my wife, nor our supportive friends and family, nor the heavy medication prescribed to me could take the suffering away.  God didn't take it away either.  I had to remind myself every day and night that I was blessed, and that I would be thankful to God, regardless of my injury, and even regardless of the prospects of any recovery.  I am so thankful to my wife for staying with me nearly every day in the hospital, and to Christian Friends of Korea for paying her a full salary even though she was there less than half time.  Both Jane and I are thankful for my mom coming up from Virginia and helping Jane and alternating visitation days with her.  We are thankful for every friend and family member who wrote cards, sent money, visited us, or helped in other ways during this difficult time.  I kept my faith throughout, and was grateful to be well enough to return home by Thanksgiving.  Thank you, to everyone who has prayed for Jane and I.

     To the doctors' amazement, I was climbing again (with braces) by spring.  I'm still limited in some ways by my injuries, in case you were wondering, but God has given me a willpower to keep climbing, and through practice and some new techniques, I've become even better in the trees than I was before! 


The injury prompted us to hire full time employees to help with the grueling labor of tree work.  It also pushed us to buy our first aerial lift, which I would have been too prideful to get beforehand.  God used this horrific accident to shape our company into something better than before.  Since October 2020, Jane and I have realized that the new purpose of Blue Oak is to honor God by teaching a higher ethic to the employees He sends our way.  This ethic has emcompassed themes of integrity, discipline, hard work, self control, overcomming adversity (reselience), and a spirit of gratefulness.  We try to demonstrate the fundamentals of the Christian faith to our employees throughout their time with us.  The testimonies we could share in the few years that followed 2020 would be too many for this web page to contain!

In the spring of 2023 I passed the ISA exam and at last became a certified arborist.  Also in the spring of 2023 we upgraded from an entry-level 6" whipper chipper to an industry leading 18" Bandit 1590 with a hydraulic winch!  Finally we have some equipment to match our work ethic, but we're far from where we strive to be.  The Lord has blessed us with amazing growth despite the many challenges of the economy in our early years, and yet at the same time He slows our growth to keep us humble and focused on the right things.


One such thing might be working with a ministry platform to combine trade skills development with discipleship training for high-risk young men in our surrounding communities.  We have yet to establish a non-profit to work alongside Blue Oak, but if the Lord is willing, it may come to pass in the near future.  If you have any interest in hearing more about that vison, don't hesitate to reach out to us.  This vision would have no impact on the quality tree service Blue Oak provides to its clients.

If you are considering us for your tree service, I can tell you that Blue Oak is more than just a tree service company to me.  For the first time in my life, I absolutely LOVE what I do.  Of course it has its stressors and hardships, but I love the challenge and excitement of tree work. I love climbing, I love the outdoors.  I love the men that God provides to us in different seasons.  I love teaching the industry skills to others.  I've grown to love trees as well.  My study to learn about improving their health and employing risk management strategies will continue for a lifetime.  I am very blessed by our Lord to be where I am today, and I hope to glorify Him with my work for many years to come.

bottom of page