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How they keep the 'expert' in Davey Tree Expert Co.

By Michelle Park, Crain's Cleveland Business

Read the story below or see it in Crain's Cleveland Business.

They are examining trunks for telltale signs of destructive pests. Identifying trees. Learning how to spot various diseases of the leaf and root.

This is what month-long training looks like for employees of The Davey Tree Expert Co. But because the training is taking place in Kent, those holes in local tree trunks weren't really left by the Asian Longhorned Beetle. They're little dabs of paint meant to simulate the holes the beetles chew into the wood.

At a time when many companies have trimmed their training efforts, Davey Tree has kept cultivating its 109-year-old program, called The Davey Institute of Tree Sciences, said R.J. Laverne, manager of education and training.

The cost of the training isn't cheap: The Kent-based company not only is paying the transportation and lodging costs of the 49 employees who have traveled to Kent to take part in the program, but also is paying their wages. Probably the biggest cost, though, is the cost of lost production, Mr. Laverne said.

"We see these people as the future of our company, and so rather than cut back on education and training ... we're ramping (it) up,” he said. “We see this as an opportunity to separate ourselves further from the competition.”

New this year are courses on preserving trees during development. The participating employees were selected based on nominations and following a fairly rigorous process. Training concludes this Friday, Feb. 24. — Michelle Park

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