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Russell Tree Experts: Diversifying and Thriving On Industry-Leading Equipment and Support

For nearly 20 years, Westerville-based Russell Tree Experts (RTE) has focused on caring for trees in Central Ohio, working for homeowners, golf courses, and municipalities. Founders Joe and Shari Russell met at The Ohio State University, where both studied landscape horticulture. The company employs certified arborists and invests in state-of-the-art equipment to provide safe and efficient pruning and other tree care services.

“The Rotobec saws are the best in the market. There’s not another forestry head or rotating grapple saw we’d rather buy.” Josh Reiss; Environmental Division Manager, Russell Tree Experts

But sometimes trees grow where they are unwanted, such as on utility rights-of-way, and must be removed. In those instances, Russell Tree Experts’ Environmental Division provides land-clearing services, working for clients such as ODOT, utilities and the federal government.

The company started the division in mid-2021, figuring that splitting off land clearing would allow “arboriculture employees to focus on what they do, and allow the land clearing and environmental employees to focus on what they are good at,” said Josh Reiss, environmental division manager.

The division works mostly on right-of-way clearing, such as greenfield transmission and distribution powerline rights-of-way and clearing for billboards or heavy highway projects. They don’t do mass block clearing. While most of the work is in Ohio, the division will travel throughout the Midwest.

The division uses multiple pieces of forestry equipment from Columbus Equipment Company’s Material Processing Division to clear land safely and efficiently. Reiss, who has been in the forestry industry for a decade, likes working with Columbus Equipment Company because “everyone in the Material Processing Division knows their products and are passionate about what they offer. They won’t try to upsell you or put you in something you don’t need. They are invested in our success.”

RTE has a variety of forestry equipment for different situations, Reiss said. For example, its Komatsu XT445 feller buncher with a Quadco 2900 felling head/feller-buncher attachment is “the only way to go near power line lines, because you get more precise cuts and it allows the operator to process the logs as he’s cutting them.”

“The CMI C400 is a great tool for larger mulching projects; it’s an absolute workhorse.” Josh Reiss; Environmental Division Manager, Russell Tree Experts

The division also runs multiple large Komatsu excavators with a Rotobec grapple saw attachment. “Komatsu excavators are quick, strong and well-built,” Reiss said. “The Rotobec saws are the best in the market. There’s not another forestry head or rotating grapple saw we’d rather buy.”

The company also uses three CMI machines. “The CMI C400 is a great tool for larger mulching projects; it’s an absolute workhorse,” he said. “It’s built for the application, has great horsepower, leaves a great finished product, and we can count on it every day.” The two CMI C300s are also reliable, with “lots of horsepower in a little package.”

One of the division’s newest machines is an FAE RCU-75 remote-control slope mower, which is “built to work on steep slopes you wouldn’t want to put a person in a machine on,” Reiss said. The operator uses the remote control from a safe distance, which “takes the human element out and allows you to go in and mow slopes that were otherwise unmanageable.” RTE also owns a slope mower from a different manufacturer that is frequently out of commission, he added, but “we can rely on the FAE. We know it’s not going to let us down. It’s so much safer and more productive. It can do in a day what it would take 12 guys working by hand to do with a much lower exposure to risk. We love it.”

Reiss lists many advantages to working with Columbus Equipment Company. The sales representatives are experts in forestry machinery, and they also try to “understand our business model so they can tailor things to what we have going on,” he explained. “Columbus Equipment offers customers the best brands and serves as a one-stop shop for forestry businesses.”

Even more importantly, “Columbus Equipment is unmatched in their product support. They put the best people in positions to support the equipment, give them the training and keep them up to date.” In fact, he said, “[Material Processing product support specialist] Scott Parsons is one reason we’ve been able to grow so fast. He is committed to helping us. When we call with a problem – which is rare – he knows what we are talking about; he knows the product inside out. If he can’t help us fix it over the phone, he’ll have someone come out. He makes us feel we’re their top priority.”

RTE’s Environmental Division is an example of the impressive growth a company can achieve when they partner with a dealership that offers quality products, expert advice, and dependable support for your machinery. For RTE, that partner is Columbus Equipment Company and the Material Processing Division.

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