We had the good fortune of connecting with Thomas Rice and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Thomas, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I’m Phoenix born and raised; I love being able to say that. There are not a lot of people who are originally from Phoenix and, few of those from Phoenix stay. I haven’t stayed in Phoenix my whole life but after getting away for a while I came back.
I spent my four years of undergraduate in Flagstaff, AZ and took a semester abroad to Costa Rica. Throughout these years, I fully developed my love for the outdoors. This development occurred primarily through outdoor recreational activities such as: trail running, backpacking, and rock climbing. In addition to living in Flagstaff, AZ for my undergraduate, I worked out of state over each summer break.
My summer jobs throughout college helped to expedite my love for the outdoors. First, I worked at Glen Canyon National Park for the National Park Service to decontaminate boats prior to their entry into Lake Powell. Second, I worked for the Utah Department of Natural Resources. This position had me driving boat patrol for Law Enforcement. Yes, you read that right (budget cuts led to creative hirings). Third, I worked for the Bureau of Land Management as a wildland firefighter out of Idaho. All of these jobs put me in an immediate position to appreciate the outdoors.
After my four year sabbatical from Phoenix I returned with a greater appreciation for the outdoors, a better understanding of resource management, a strategic leadership style, and confidence in the skills I had learned. I am extremely fortunate for the upbringing that molded me and the leaders who have mentored me along the way. These attributes enabled me to start Javelina Tree Work in 2018 and positively impact my hometown.
What should our readers know about your business?
Unexpectedly, the story of Javelina Tree Work starts with me becoming a firefighter for the Phoenix Fire Department in 2018. As a Phoenix Firefighter my off days no longer aligned with Sean’s off days (my first mentor/employer in the tree industry), so I was no longer able to work for Sean’s tree business. Thankfully, my love for arboriculture pushed me to also start Javelina Tree Work in 2018.
As a Phoenix Firefighter, I was fortunate to work with some impressive, heavy equipment. Exposure to this equipment created a great appreciation for the craftsmanship and workload capabilities of these products. This knowledge and hands on training with firefighting’s heavy equipment helped me to outfit Javelina Tree Work. I bought Javelina Tree Work all of the equipment listed below with no prior use of them but trust in the process: a Chevy 3500 dually chip truck, a Vermeer BC1000XL wood chipper, and a Champion 27 ton log splitter. I have the Phoenix Fire Department to thank for empowering me to buy these game-changing pieces of equipment.
Additionally, the Phoenix Fire Department is full of quality people. With over 2,000 firefighters and a 24 hour on work schedule, you are sure to work intimately with a wide variety of people. On shift at the firehouse, I learned the following principles: everyone is your customer, crew continuity is an x-factor, that standard operations equal standard outcomes, leadership takes several forms, and safety is each individual’s main objective. Thankfully, I have been able to transplant several of these practices to Javelina Tree Work.
I believe that the strong influence of the Phoenix Fire Department sets Javelina Tree Work apart from others within the tree industry. These differences are apparent in the way we secure our work site, work with safety in mind, and the dedication we have to our customers.
Fortunately, being a full-time firefighter and a full-time business owner for four years forced me to grow Javelina Tree Work slowly. This organic growth of the company has allowed Javelina Tree Work to build better business practices, hire quality employees, and grow healthy relationships within the tree industry. As of late, the endearing work of arboriculture helped sway my decision to resign from my firefighting duties and solely focus on Javelina Tree Work. Now more than ever, I am unbelievably excited for what the future holds for Javelina Tree Work.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Here is a list of things to do around Phoenix, AZ:
Hike in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.
Dinner at Glai Baan or St. Francis.
Coffee at First Place or Lux.
Hang out at the Uptown Farmer’s Market or Phoenix Botanical Garden.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There is only one Sean Peters. Those who know him would absolutely back this up. This will not do the man justice but in a snapshot, here is Sean Peters: he knows the Grand Canyon like the back of his hand, owns over a dozen carrier pigeons, loving father and husband, had a flip phone until 2019, more humble than pie, could complete BUDS while in his forties, and an arborist. This last part is, an arborist, the main reason I want to give Sean a shoutout.
From 2015-2018 I worked alongside Sean as a City of Phoenix Park Ranger. As park rangers we managed the multitude of beautiful mountain preserves throughout Phoenix. However, the position did not pay well.
To offset the low wages, Sean worked as an arborist on his days off. Sean used his immaculate rock climbing skills, calm demeanor, and unparalleled work ethic to run a successful tree business. Out of admiration for Sean and a need for some more change in my pocket, I worked for his tree business from 2015-2018.
Sean Peters introduced me to arboriculture. He patiently showed me the ropes, taught me about costumer relations, and emboldened me to run a business. Thank you, Sean, for being a great friend.