Can you tell me a little about where you’re from and how you got started in the tree service business?
I am from this area, Oakdale, and actually graduated from Tartan High School. After school, I went in the Marine Corp and served for 6 years. When I got out, I landed a job with Pahl’s Tree Service. I worked there for about 7-8 years and then went out on my own.
Is that when you started KAMCO?
Yes. My last name is Kamish and my nickname was Kam, so I used that and called my business Kamco Stump Removal. I had a stump grinder and that’s what I did. That was in 1996. Later I bought out Pahl’s equipment for tree removal and added that to my services. The company is now Kamco Stump and Tree Removal.
Where did you learn the skills to do the job you do and run a successful business?
When I was young, my grandfather owned a sawmill in Wyoming, MN and I would spend time with him at the mill. I knew how to run a chain saw from an early age…and liked it. It’s interesting, because when I was hired with Pahl’s, one of the first things he had me do was use a chain saw and quickly acknowledged that I knew what I was doing. My grandfather was a good teacher.
And, where did you get the entrepreneurial spirit from?
That I believe came from my Mother who owned a beauty shop. I would help her with the books and accounting. My great Uncle was also a business person. So family probably inspired me to be independent.
Are there licenses required to do this work?
Yes, I am licensed through the state. Some of the cities we work in also require licenses, which we obtain.
Where and how do you get most of your business?
Tree removal and trimming make up most of the work, with removal being the majority of our projects. We have done a number of jobs for the city of Lake Elmo and work regularly for the cities of Maplewood and Oakdale.
This would mainly involve tree removal in the parks and recreation areas. However, the majority of our work is done for individual homeowners. Since we do no advertising of any sort…internet or paper ads…our work all comes from word of mouth. It’s one customer talking to their neighbor about us and that one calling us or telling a friend about us and so on.
I originally went around handing out pamphlets or a note to homeowners I saw that needed work done, but never got a call. And, shortly after starting, I realized that a job done well got us more business than any advertising. So we stay busy working with friends of friends.
How many employees do you have working for you now?
I have 4 regular employees…3 full time and one part time.
Do you work onsite and supervise the jobs?
Yes! That is a fundamental part of my company…that I am there with my guys doing the work with them. I tried it bigger with a 2nd crew, but found I liked things done my way and only my way. And in order to achieve that, I needed to be there and be part of the job. I wouldn’t ask any of my guys to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself. They know that. We really work together as a team and I’m like the coach.
What philosophy do you adhere to that makes Kamco such a success?
Get the job done fast and make sure the clean up is good. My goal is to have NO call backs. Working quickly keeps the cost down. We get on site and to the business at hand. When we’re done, we’d like it to look like we had never been there…except for that the tree is no longer there. That means branches, sawdust…all picked up and removed. We use plywood to drive over when necessary to make sure that our heavy equipment isn’t ruining someone’s yard. We take every precaution to leave the site without damage.
The other thing I think that makes a difference is that we don’t ask for payment up front. We get paid when the job is done and the customer is happy. I think that really sets people at ease.
Well, it obviously is working for you…I’m always getting rave reviews when I refer you!
Do you have any plans for growth or expansion?
No, not really. I like my business the way it is now. Being small suits me. I’m happy with what we accomplish each day and enjoy it just the way it is.
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