This article appeared in Gainesville Today 2008.
Fostering Roots and Reaching for the Sky
Dowling Tree Service, Inc. is taking care of our tree community
By Linda Becnel
It would seem quite natural that a tree specialist would end up in Gainesville (a “Tree City USA” community) where our trees and green canopies are lush and loved. Dowling Tree Service, Inc. Owner and President, Dana Dowling’s roots extend to Southern Georgia, but it’s Gainesville he and his family call home. Dowling has a personal and professional respect for trees and the environment in which they dwell. And like trees Dowling has deep family roots, a respected permanence in the community, and, through his business, continues to reach for the sky.
Having worked hands-on with trees since he was 12, Dowling knew what he wanted to do early on. After gaining work experience he decided to start his own business and started out with a truck, trailer, and chain saw. It wasn’t always just about removing trees. On the contrary, it was about keeping trees healthy, people and homes safe, and, if necessary, removing old or sick trees properly. Hence, Dowling Tree Service, Inc. one of the leading tree surgeon and tree removal services in Gainesville and Alachua County began in 1986.
The one-truck-one-chainsaw operation has grown to chippers, arial buckets, trucks, loaders, stump grinders, Bobcats, and a 60-ton crane. There’s also a professional staff to keep everything running smoothly. Diane, Dowling’s wife runs the office together with one of their associates, Lisa Buell of Newberry. Dana and Diane’s two sons, Jason and Ben, work fulltime handling office calls and sales. The Dowling family and crews pride themselves on their work ethics and professionalism.
Dowling says he focuses on educating homeowners on tree removal, the differences between tree surgeons, topping, trimming, and practically everything related to their trees. “We can do anything the customer wants but like for them to know their options. If a tree can be saved, we’d prefer to do just that, rather than removing it. But, if it needs removing we have the skills, knowledge, and equipment to get the job done right.”
So what does a tree service company do, and when or why would you need one? Perhaps you need a tree pruned and want the work done by someone with an artist's touch. Done properly, with an understanding of tree biology, pruning can maintain good tree health and structure. It can also enhance the beauty and economic value (“curb appeal”) of your landscape. Common reasons for pruning include removing dead branches, removing crowded or rubbing limbs, raising a tree’s canopy to promote growth, and eliminating hazards.
Hazards can include extreme roots that might threaten your home’s foundation or an old or new tree (or large limbs) towering over your home that could be a problem in the event of high winds or a storm. And, you might need someone for tree, branch, or debris removal after a storm, particularly during hurricane season. Of course, it’s always a good idea to plan ahead before a storm. Afterwards, the damage may already be done, so it’s a good idea to call now for advice. In addition to tree trimming and removal, Dowling also offers stump removal, fertilization, mulching, tree cabling and bracing, 24-hour emergency service and free estimates.
The Dowling’s also are vested in protecting the environment. In fact, a real member of their “adopted” family is the Cellon Live Oak. This Live Oak, named for its former owner, Ralph W. Cellon, sits quietly in Alachua County’s Cellon Oak Park, three miles south of LaCrosse. This beauty is 85 feet tall with a trunk that measures 360 inches around and a bough-reach of 175 feet by 155 feet. “We’re proud to have the Cellon oak as a part of our ‘adopted’ family,” says son Jason Dowling, “so we can help it thrive and everyone can enjoy it for years to come.”
The newest addition to the Dowling equipment fleet is a sixty-ton Grove truck crane. (Oh yes, the serious toys just keep getting bigger and better.) But this crane is no toy—it’s a top-of-the-line, coveted piece of equipment in the tree removal industry. The Grove allows Dowling to safely and effectively reach new heights, tackling the really big jobs while preserving the “small things” below. It’s especially important to Dowling that he can tackle the large jobs while having a smaller impact on the surrounding environment.
“It can be a messy affair going onto someone’s property to do any job,” says Dowling. “Flowers and other foliage can get trampled and landscapes can be destroyed if you don’t know what you’re doing or have the proper equipment to do the job. The Grove crane allows us the access we need to get a job done with less impact on a customer’s environment. That’s a win-win situation for us, the client, and the environment.”
Residential customers make up ninety percent of Dowling Tree Services’ clients. Because an unqualified tree service or individual can cause more harm than good to your trees or property, Dowling recommends that you make sure companies are insured with both workmans’ compensation and general liability. Homeowners have the right to request an insurance certificate which should be provided directly from the insurance carrier. Also, Dowling never asks for payment up front. Homeowners need to know that they should never pay for any services until their job is completed according to their specific contract.
“We are very upfront with customers about what is expected of us, the services to be performed, the time period in which they will be performed and the cost. If anyone offers you anything less, you should be wary,” says Dowling. Dowling Tree Service is fully insured with contractor’s liability and workmans’ compensation insurance.
Among Dowling’s clients are also developers, builders, and real estate professionals. Work can include construction site preparation and property management, among other things. Their service area includes all of Gainesville and most of Alachua County; however, they will discuss jobs that take them farther away.
Dowling, also a member of the International Society of Arboriculture, encourages his customers to contact their city’s arborist or the county or state forester if they have any questions or concerns about his or anyone’s recommendations regarding their trees.
However, this Southern gentleman knows that honesty, hard work, and customer satisfaction brings referrals and repeat customers. So by planting good seeds, deeds, and community roots he can keep his family business above the rest, continuing to reach for the sky.
For more information or to schedule a free estimate, call Dowling Tree Service, Inc. at