Graf Tree Care, Inc. was founded in 1999 by arborist Phil Graf. From humble beginnings as a two man tree trimming operation, Phil quickly began to expand the client base by adhering to his core values: a relentless work ethic and friendly attitude. By late 2003, we began seeing our client’s needs for plant health care and began expanding into this sector. In the spring of 2004, the first Graf spray rig rolled out of the shop, and we had officially started the Plant Health Care Division of the company. Over the next few years, we became experts in tree diagnostics, root feeding, and disease and pest control.
Pictured is Phil and Chris Scott in the early years. Phil and Chris have been friends since the early 90’s and were co-workers at another tree company. Chris, a long time Certified Arborist, joined our team in 2007, as a skilled tree climber. In 2018, in his 28th season in the tree care industry, Chris runs the day to day tree crew operations and manages our residential client base. Also having an incredible work ethic and passion for trees, Chris has played a key role in advancing the company to where it is today.
In 2006 when The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was discovered in Illinois, we began to convey to our client base just how important Ash trees were in Illinois. Having a proactive approach to the EAB, we learned how to spot this insect in its early stages. We were the first to discover EAB in several surrounding communities including the City of West Chicago, City of Wheaton, and the Village of Roselle. These videos can be seen on our YouTube channel. Phil later went on to write the EAB Management Plans for each of these three communities.
By 2009, we quickly developed our treatment strategy and began treating Ash trees. Needless to say, EAB treatments have made for a large part of our Plant Health Care Division over the last five years. One of our most incredible success stories can be seen at Reed Keppler Park in West Chicago. Around the ball fields, you will find one of the most stunning collection of Green and White Ash trees anywhere left in the Chicago area, standing as a testament to a proactive Ash tree treatment program.
In 2010, after working with several Municipal and Park District in areas such as EAB Management, we began realizing how necessary it was to have full tree inventory data to manage the urban forest effectively. We also realized how powerful a tool that Geographic Information Systems (GIS) could be in mapping and monitoring the EAB and other forestry related issues in terms of asset management. During that season, we launched the third division of our company: Natural Resources Management and GIS. It was at this time that Phil brought Steve Lane into the company to spearhead the Division. Steve is an urban ecologist and GIS Professional, with a B.S. from the University of Oregon in both Environmental Science and Geography, and 15 years of professional experience.
Since then we have forged an environmental consulting side of our business. The Natural Resources Management Division has been successful in performing more than 50 comprehensive GIS tree inventories (both municipal street trees, and parks), as well as GIS based Reforestation Planning, Tree Risk Assessments, and Urban Forest Management Planning. BY 2015, we were also performing wetland delineations, natural resource studies, vegetative community mapping, as well as many other services.
In 2013, Zac King joined our team and took over as Plant Health Care coordinator. Zac’s vast experience and knowledge in insect and disease identification and control was exactly what we needed at the time to boost our growing Plant Health Care division. Zac became our Company’s first and only Board Certified Master Arborist in 2016 and continues to educate our clients and his co-workers making us better all the time.
In 2016, we moved into our new state of the art 5,200 square foot facility in Batavia, IL, where 100% of the wood used in the construction of the shop and office is from upcycled urban wood from trees removed by our tree pruning and removal crew. U.S. Military Veteran, Scott Turney was hired as our Fleet and Facility Manager, and was made responsible for the maintenance and repair of our truck and equipment as well the upkeep of the shop itself. As of right now, Graf Tree Care is made up of 16 hard-working and dedicated employees, 8 of which are ISA Certified Arborists. Diana Jeffery, our office manager and another long-time and dedicated employee, keeps us all going from “behind the curtain”. Mark Graf is our Chief Financial Officer (CFO) who joined the team in 2008. Mark has a degree in Business Finance and a Master’s Degree in Accounting. He also owns our sister company, Moonscape Landscape Illumination, Chicagoland’s premier landscape lighting company. We call Moonscape our sister company because we share our shop, office, and many of our great customers.
We are very excited about the future. The industry seems to have led us to where we are today, and we will continue to do our best to lead the industry in return.