Mainstream, side stream, counter stream or who-gives-a-monkey’s stream?

Treemagineers started out as the three of us, Beddes, Chris and myself, getting together, discussing questions regarding how we work and sharing a sense of frustration over how stagnant the development of equipment for the arborist industry had become and decided to try to do something about it. The first projects we worked on were a friction hitch-based work positioning system, later to evolve into the Hitch Climber, and the treeMOTION harness. Initially, of course, that all still lay in the future: first off we had to traipse around talking to a wide range of potential partners and manufacturers, not an easy proposition without a track record and not really any precedents for this kind of alliance in the industry.

In this process we were using benchmarks to measure what we were doing or aiming to achieve up against: folk such as Petzl, ArborMaster, François Dussenne and Fred Mathias and Comet… as these were some of the established players in the arb equipment field at that point in time and where innovation was coming from or had come from in the past. Obviously, as the new kids on the block, you measure yourself up against established companies or persons.

A lot has happened since. Things have moved on, the choices a person starting in tree care today has to make when selecting techniques and equipment have increased manyfold, leading to a bewildering array of choices today, whereas in the day they were pretty straight-forward as there was much less diversification.

All of this got me thinking…

Where does this leave treemagineers today?

Have we sold out, become part of an established mainstream? There are voices that would suggest that the industry has once again become stagnant and are pushing to introduce new techniques (a view I do not share without reservations, but that is for another time), are they going to position themselves against treemagineers, viewing us as part of the establishment? Certainly in the past we have been targeted with considerable animosity for rather opaque reasons, which could indeed be explained by the mechanism described above: these guys are mainstream, so they represent a legitimate target. Maybe this is an inevitable process, a pendulum swinging from side to side…

To that I say: Nuts!

For us, this project has always been about the opportunity to do things together that we find interesting, gaining deeper understanding – and also having fun whilst doing so. It was never a declared intent for it to focus solely on product development… my observation regarding this would be that it goes in phases. Sometimes there are issues that have obvious product-based solutions and these in turn lead to knock-on products – and other times the focus is elsewhere.

There came a point, once treemagineers had been going for a couple of years, where we were under the impression that treemagineers was perceived as being elitist, that the products we were associated with were by definition high-end. The multiSAVER, a product that I love to this day and that is central to the Teufelberger rope tools range, was in direct response to this in an attempt to redress this wrong impression: the focus is not per se towards the high-end of the market, but rather towards finding good, well-coordinated solutions — these can be either basic or complex, depending upon what is appropriate and addresses the problem.

If you were to ask me what I felt that one our main achievements was, I would reply: we are free of any debt, we are independent and can therefore do as we see fit, are under no pressure to deliver x-amount of product per year and we can follow any whims we chose to… and ultimately, if all of this ceases to be fun, we could end this all tomorrow without anybody being any the worse for it.

But that is not the point we are at… there still remain any number of interesting leads to follow up, questions that are begging answers and topics to dive into deeper.

So, I think the answer as to which stream treemagineers are swimming in is: it does not really matter to us.

Often as not this is in the eye of the beholder anyway – and that we cannot influence – so we prefer just to get on with it and do as we see fit. If there are people who agree with our approach, that is great, as these are the folk who validate our concepts – and those that do not agree? Also fine, as that is what diversity is about: there is not one size that fits all, we do not all need to be of the same opinion.