I have been in the tree tube for 23 years without interruption. I just realized I am the only human being on the North American continent who can make that statement.
In all that time I haven’t been right very often. I was wrong about vented tree tubes (the orthodoxy in 1989 said tree tubes should be solid; man was that ever wrong!). I was wrong about bamboo stakes (as evidenced by the number of old customers who would like to wrap their broken bamboo stakes around my neck, but who – I am grateful to say – still do business with me because I make things right in the end).
But I was right about one very big thing. I based Wilson Forestry Supply’s tree tube business on a simple concept: Don’t charge people for tree tubes they don’t need. Don’t do like hot dog and bun manufacturers and force folks to buy more of one or the other than they need (I’m still searching for the lowest common denominator in dog/buns for the family cookout).
Have warehouse guys that count. Sell tree tubes in any quantity, in any combination of sizes. Sell 37 tubes and 23 stakes if that’s what someone needs.
If a customer orders 1500 tubes and then realizes she needs another 200, don’t penalize her by charging a higher price for the 200. I consider it an extension of the earlier order.
After 23 years ‘m still looking for the “typical” tree planting project that can be well served with pre-packaged “you’ll order in 25s or 50s because that’s how they come” tree tubes.
Every project is different. Got rocky soil? I’ll through in a driving collar to facilitate driving the PVC stakes. Need thirty-seven 5ft tree tubes for the crab apples getting planted near the woods, and eighty-three 4ft tree tubes for the sawtooth oaks getting planted in the woods? Done and done.
23 years and I have never seen a spring like the spring of 2012. Every day has brought the joyful drudgery of digging out from under a massive pile of orders. I have never sold so many tree tubes in my life.
Every day as I dig to the bottom of the order pile, and as I talk to hundreds of tree planters on the phone or correspond by email, I keep looking for the typical order. I have yet to find it. But every day reinforces the fact that I was right: People really appreciate the ability to order in a way that fits their project, not the manufacturer’s packaging or shipping requirements.
Thanks for an amazing spring!