In more than two decades at the helm of tree care and removal company Truetimber Arborists, Scott Turner has seen his share of trees felled with nowhere to go but the landfill. Now, he’s redoubled his effort to find a reuse for such trees with the launch of a spinoff that builds outdoor play equipment.
Dubbed Truetimber Backyard, the offshoot launched late last year as an arm of Truetimber Arborists to construct outdoor play equipment like tree swings out of timber collected in the course of the company’s usual tree removal operations. The play equipment company is an outgrowth of Turner’s side gig of building tree swings and ziplines.
“I always thought, ‘We’ve got to do something with these amazing trees.’ It’s a shame to see them become chips or rot away in a dump somewhere,” he said. “There is a cross marketing element to it. We’re not your average tree guys.”
By reusing the leftovers of tree removal and pruning jobs, the new concept also helps achieve the company’s goal to minimize waste, Truetimber Backyard co-owner Andy Thompson said.
Thompson and Turner are also co-owners of Riverside Outfitters, a Forest Hill business that runs kayak and paddleboard tours of the James River along with youth camps and other outdoor activities. Riverside Outfitters sells firewood sourced from Truetimber Arborists. Turner founded Riverside Outfitters in 2005.
Truetimber Backyard was founded as a separate enterprise from Truetimber Arborists as a cost-saving measure. Turner said if he were to send an Arborists team to do a project, they would bring with them the overhead of their insurance and other expenses. Truetimber Backyard has a full-time employee in addition to Turner and Thompson.
Both sides of Truetimber share a 20-acre Southside headquarters.
Both Truetimber operations have seen steady business during the pandemic. Turner said that as many people spend more time at home, they seem to have taken a closer look at their outdoor spaces and have seen room for improvement.
“Having that elbow room in this environment is nice and we find people want to fill that elbow room with something nice,” he said.
Truetimber Backyard’s tree swings tend to range from $150 to $250 and the company also offers zip lines. The company also plans to expand its range of play equipment and get into furniture moving forward.
“In the near future, we’ll be expanding our product line to include fort-building kits, natural play structures, natural borders and garden borders. We’re also working with a local artisan, John Watkins, to mill and kiln dry trees (Truetimber) takes down and create wood products like furniture,” Thompson said in an email. “That’s how we hope to drive growth going forward. The goal is to have all of our product lines and offerings help meet that zero-waste goal.”