Chaz Perea is the landscape manager for Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers and the first-full time arborist employed by an MLB team. Perea discusses some equipment topics, the importance of arborists continuing their education, being a good manager and how crucial safety in the workplace is for tree care pros.
Perea on safety:
“We wear safety glasses and vests, all day. Nobody leaves the shop without these things. Guys that are operating chain saws, even line trimmers using brush cutters, have pant and shirt chaps and full facemask and hard hats on. For us here at Dodger Stadium, maintaining your [equipment] and keeping it clean is also very important and a very big deal. This is all expensive equipment.”
“We have a training demonstration for everything we do here and for all the equipment we have. We also have a [representative] from STIHL come out and he gives us an additional chain saw safety tutorial.”
“Boom lift safety is a big one as well. Everyone is certified to use the boom lift. We even have golf cart training and certification.”
Perea on equipment:
To reduce gas and oil usage, and keep carbon exhaust emissions to a minimum, Perea’s team uses chain saws as little as possible, opting for the manual saw in much of their tree pruning.
“Using a manual saw presents less of a safety hazard for the operator and reduces the amount of high decibel engine noise the operator is exposed to. This makes a difference when pruning over 500 palms three times per year [or 7,500 individual cuts] and attending to the other thousand or so mature tree residents in the Chavez Ravine. It allows the operator to work under less stress, reduces fatigue, make better observations when in the canopy of the tree and enjoy the aerial view a bit more.”
Perea on managing staff:
“Managing people, numbers and time … there are a lot of business aspects involved with this job. I see a lot of [peers] failing in [the management] area, whether it’s tree guys or maintenance guys. I see it all the time. What will happen is, they don’t know how to manage a business, or equipment turnover, or when to rent versus when to buy. It’s a big part of the deal for upper management — someone who knows nothing about plants or plant management — to get them to trust you with tens of thousands of dollars to make purchases, or to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in labor. “
Perea on continuing education:
“It’s really important to me [to continue with education.] I’ve been working full-time for the past 11 years and going to school full-time for the past seven years, all at the same time. Being able to go to school and work at the same time … there’s a definite symbiotic relationship there. It’s been very beneficial to me in many ways.”
Perea on the importance of networking:
“Continuing education is important from a knowledge [standpoint] but also for networking within the industry. As a kid, working minimum wage on a golf course, I never thought of [networking] … but once you’re older, you need references and you need to meet peers to ask questions of and help with problem solving.”
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