IRONWOOD, Mich. (WJMN) — Doug Foley and Tom Mott started 906 Tree Service in Ironwood 3 years ago. From the very beginning, serving their community was part of the plan.
“I told Tom from the beginning, that’s not my M.O. That’s not how I want to work. This is a usable resource and we can put this back in the community,” said Doug Foley.
“We can help people out to heat their homes. I just left a guy’s house not 15 minutes ago saying hey, let me know if you’ve got any more wood. So I pulled up with my big log loader, dropped them off and he had a big smile on his face. So we’re using those resources.”
Tom Mott acknowledged the pay is good for the work they do, but it’s not the only reason.
“One of the huge parts for me is the personal connections, and you go home at night and you feel great for what you’ve done,” said Foley.
“I mean they paid you to do a job but the relief, the happiness after you do the job successfully, now they can go to sleep not worrying about the tree rubbing up against their roof.”
Both Foley and Mott are educators, teaching various elementary grades in the Ironwood School District. Foley retired this year, but said his days of education are far from over. In partnership with The Gogebic County Conservation District, they started “9/06 Day” In the Spring.
They give kids (grades 3 & 4) trees, teach them about the trees, and how to plant an care for them. Students are then to plant the trees and send a picture of the tree in the Fall where they have a giveaway on September, 6 or “906 Day.”
They weren’t able to do the in person part this year, but still got the saplings in the hands of the kids.
Mott said they work to teach people outside of the classroom as well. “We want to educate, we’re teachers, we like to educate people. So educate the community on what are some signs that a tree may be failing to help prevent that catastrophic storm incident. You know that tree falling on a house or falling on somebody.”
Foley and Mott post pictures and videos on social media. With each post, they include information about tree diseases and other issues. are an added bonus for the two. Mott said, when people see their profession, they get excited.
“Most of the time if you read what’s attached to the pictures or the videos, it’s a message. It’s this homeowner was proactive in their decision making before this happened. Every one of them has an educational or a hey, look out in your yard for this sort of thing. Not just a hey look what we can do kind of thing,” added Mott.
These tree professionals have had to educate themselves on the impact from wildlife as well.
“A misnomer from the public is that a woodpecker kills the tree. The reality is a woodpecker goes in and they are on the tree and pecking holes in there, they are getting the bugs because of the rot that’s at the center of the tree,” said Foley.
Cutting down and trimming trees also means giving back to their community in other ways.
“Giving wood is, I mean some people are like that’s the best thing they ever received. They have outdoor wood boilers to heat their home in the winter. And just giving them the wood instead of trying to sell them the wood or bring it to a compost site,” said Mott.
They donate and deliver wood to anyone local for their outdoor wood boilers.
“My passion is firewood. Most of my life I’ve heated with firewood. I have an old guy that goes to church with me that struggles to get his firewood done. In the beginning of Spring, that’s what we’re doing is filling his woodshed. I love that. To him, that big grin on his face, that’s wealth,” said Foley.
“I love helping people out with that kind of thing because to me there’s such a good connection between the energy that it takes that most people take for granted and the work it takes to heat your house with wood.”
They also make donations to area farmers who mix the woodchips with manure to enrich the soil, or anyone who could use them for their gardens.
“We put it out on Facebook and ask you know, who wants chips. I have a list of people that want chips. They are so grateful when you drop it off. They throw it in the garden, they throw it around paths. Just giving to the community at no expense to us or them,” said Mott.
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