Arborist Aleck MacKinnon is quick to tell his clients that despite showing up on a bicycle, he does actually have a truck and trailer to haul away their dead trees.
“If you really want to do the business you have got to be able to take the stuff away,” MacKinnon said. “It is amazing how a little bit of cutting and you get a pretty big pile of stuff in a hurry. It looks a lot smaller when in it is hanging in separate pieces on the tree.”
Despite a business that necessitates using a truck, MacKinnon has found a way to integrate his love of bikes.
“You need to see everything first and that is when I realized the bicycle could actually work,” he said. “I realized I could use the bike to go out and do estimates.”
MacKinnon pedals from his midtown home to as far away as Oro Valley to look at trees and write estimates. He said it ranges every week, but he can ride anywhere from 20-50 miles for the business.
Using the bike has made it so that he plans his days a little more and tries to schedule visits on the same side of town in a day.
“I often try to have three days of production work in the week and then I have a couple other days going around looking at things,” MacKinnon said.
MacKinnon said using the bike in his business has also caused some people to hire him because of it.
“It has actually created some interest for people and then the occasional disappointment when I didn’t show up on my bike,” he said.
He said he can’t always ride his bike because he might be dropping in to check on a tree after having done work that required the truck and the disappointed people help remind him that it is important.
“It is good for me to help in the motivational sense,” he said. “It does matter. People do care.”
Just showing up for consultations by bike wasn’t enough for MacKinnon. He is currently working on retrofitting an older tandem to make it a longtail, which will allow him to carry all the gear he needs when he is working with other arborists who have a truck.
He can haul all his gear including his chainsaws, hand saws, pruners and tree climbing gear to the job site, but has to make sure he can still pedal home after working all day.
“The reality of it — though — becomes what time I have to be where, then be in the tree all day and then come back home,” he said.
Pedaling for work isn’t the only time he spends in the saddle. Last summer MacKinnon rode coast to coast on a bike tour. This past April he participated in the Arizona Trail 300 Race. His business was never far from his mind though.
He said on his bike tour he fielded calls from potential clients and asked if they could wait until he returned or refferred them to other arborists. And he ended his Arizona Trail Race early because he had run out of water and had a client scheduled for service the following day.
For MacKinnon, combining bicycles and business is working for him and allows him to explore the city by bike.
“It kind of gives you an excuse to have to go some particular way and find a bike-friendly way to get there,” he said.
Learn more about The Pedaling Arborist and his services.