Editor's note: Deadly wildfires are affecting hundreds of thousands of Americans on the West Coast. This story from the September 2020 issue of Inc. highlights one fast-growing company that helps manage the devastation and limit the damage of future fires.
The devastating wildfires that swept through Northern California in recent years have left a new problem in their wake: dead trees that threaten people, roads, and gas and water lines. Enter American Tree Medics, which hit the 2020 Inc. 5000 with more than $2 million in 2019 revenue. The family-owned company uses a team of arborists and foresters to perform 15-minute diagnostic evaluations--factoring in each tree's species, age, and other characteristics--and decide which ones need to be cut down. "Time is critical in these situations," says co-founder and CEO Heidi Britt. The Modesto, California-based company earned $2.1 million last year from clients including the city of Santa Rosa and Butte County, site of the deadliest wildfire in California's history, 2018's Camp Fire.
Employees use tape measures, magnifying glasses, hatchets, and other tools to give each tree a health score. Removing dead, dried-out trees can improve the overall health of the forest and hinder the spread of wildfires.
Here, they're working in Twain Harte, California, outside Yosemite National Park.
The company creates teams of certified arborists, foresters, and loggers. All new employees shadow a professional for several months before they can perform assessments on their own.
American Tree Medics' clients include municipalities, parks departments, and utility companies, like Pacific Gas & Electric. "California continues to have a wildfire problem--that doesn't seem to be changing," says Britt. "What we're focusing on is helping communities and companies reduce their risk."