Company President Lonnie Chavis says he got his inspiration to work above the ground from his father Burnice Chavis Sr., a logger for Hub Williams Logging Company for fifteen years in South Carolina . “So, we figure it’s in our blood,” says Lonnie. “That’s how we got the sawdust in our veins.” Lonnie Chavis started his business when Lyndon Johnson was president in 1968. He has two brothers, Rodney Chavis, who is a full-time partner, and younger brother Bernie, who has his own company but comes to work for the family business on big jobs and difficult operations.

Lonnie, Jr., the third generation of the Chavis family that makes his living up a tree, is also a partner. “He started as a toddler,” says his proud dad. “I often brought him along on estimates at a very young age. He would wear his hard hat and he’s been a part of the business for most of the time since.” Lonnie, Jr. has a twin sister Bonnie who helps some in the office. Bonnie’s son, and the fourth generation of tree workers, Justin Sweringen, has worked for the company for a number of years. He is now 18 and says he wants to be a part of the career he loves when he is old enough to decide for himself.

Proud craftsmen, Lonnie and his team say there is a great deal to learn about working in a tree, and that is another part of the job they take very seriously. There is no formal school to learn the trade, but Lonnie, Rodney, Lonnie, Jr., their general manager and chief estimator, David Park, and several of their other employees attend annual training conferences, regional training sessions and large industries shows called tree expos. “It might look simple, but there’s a lot to consider, a lot of variables,” says Lonnie. “There are new developments in technology, safety and diagnoses of tree diseases and treatments every year. The more we learn, the better job we can do for our clients, the more efficient we can be for the family business and the safer we will be on the job.”