01 October 2020 11:40
Great trucks and well looked after.
TreeSmiths Ltd, based in Horsham, West Sussex, specialise in domestic tree surgery and utility arboriculture working for UK Power Networks and SSE. The company was started in 2012 by brothers Ben and Sam Smith. Since 2012, the company has continued to expand and is now run by brothers Ben, Sam and Charlie Smith along with sisters Dionne and Rebecca.
Together the family, along with a team of 25 employees, collectively have over 25 years of experience and offer a range of services including hedge cutting and trimming, site clearance, tree felling, stump removal and preservation/conservation assistance. The business also offers an emergency 24/7 service for the removal of dead and dangerous trees.
Undertaking such careful and demanding work requires tough and robust equipment and vehicles – the Unimog was the obvious choice. The first Unimog model, an U100 was purchased in 2012, followed by a U140 in 2016, another U140 in 2018 and finally a U1550 and U100 at the beginning of 2019. TreeSmiths also owns a 7.5t Mercedes-Benz Atego.
It’s clear the company are big fans of the trucks; as the business has grown, so has its fleet. RoadStars chatted to Charlie Smith about their preference for ‘mogs.
“They go most places, as you can imagine some of the terrain powerlines we cross can be extremely challenging. We can rely on our ‘mogs to get us where we need to be 90% of the time.”
- Charlie Smith, Company Owner, TreeSmiths
There is definitely an element of danger in the day to day life as a TreeSmiths employee. As part of their work with UK Power Networks and SSEs, the team have to regularly work around power lines ranging from 1,000 – 33,000 volts.
TreeSmiths’ Unimogs carry Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWPS) which reduce the risk of the job and speed up tasks significantly. “One of our larger MEWPs, a Versalift VST236I has a minimum chassis weight of 7680kg, we need a vehicle with this chassis weight, coupled with extreme off-road capabilities – Unimog fits that description,” said Charlie.
However, it’s not just the chassis strength which ensures the Unimog is first choice for the business; health and safety also plays a part, Charlie continued, “Because we work around electricity, it’s generally deemed safer for operatives to use a MEWP for aerial work, than to climb trees and a Unimog allows us to do this.” Another favourite feature of the Unimogs is the high ground clearance. This is achieved by portal axles which are tucked up higher into the chassis than a traditional axle along with the differential casing.
The trucks have proved themselves reliable and sturdy, with three of the models towing woodchippers weighing two tonne each, on a daily basis. Driven by the team leaders (who all hold HGV licences), the mighty machines also keep the business ticking year-round, “We have another MEWP mounted on a different vehicle branded chassis, however we can’t use it throughout the winter as it gets stuck. Over challenging terrain we can adjust the tyre pressure on the Unimogs using central tyre inflation and go most places.”
Additionally, their local Dealership offers fantastic maintenance and never struggles to obtain parts – the minimal downtime is ideal for this essential business.
The TreeSmiths team hope to attend Unimog shows in the future and would love to visit the factory in Wörth, Germany.
As the company continues to grow and branch out, management considers the future of their fleet. “We are looking at potentially replacing our JCB Fastrac which we currently use for hauling our forestry plant machines.” Would they consider purchasing more Unimogs? “Definitely,” enthused Charlie.
We’d love to hear about it! Why not send us some photos of the models you have driven and tell your fellow RoadStars why it’s your favourite mighty machine on the road – share in the comment section below.