|Humble beginnings ...
It was back in 1970 that Michael Large stopped his truck in
a small village near Belfast for his lunch break. As he munched
his way through his sandwiches he watched a gang of men felling
big Beech trees and using an old Fordson Major to pull them out.
As he watched a thought formed in his mind 'There must be money to
be made doing that'.
Money was in short supply, since Michael was just starting
off in married life. He had a helper aboard the lorry, and the
two of them resolved to start up in business together. His friend
invested in an axe, but a chainsaw seemed more appropriate to
Buying one wasn't straightforward. Credit was harder to come
by in those days, but his father got a Provident cheque for the
required amount. This could be taken to any shop displaying the
Provident sign, and exchanged for goods up to the value of the
cheque. All that remained to be done was to pay off the balance
over the months to come. Michael got no discount on the Sthil 050
in which he invested his hopes for the future. It cost the full
£112.00 - a huge amount by today's standards when inflation is
taken into consideration. However he feels it was probably as
good as anything made today. It was reliable and "there was a lot
of metal in it".
Michael's only tuition in the use of the saw came from the
instructions that were included with the saw. He says he still
hasn't seen anything better in just a couple of pages. The
instructions told you how to fell a large hardwood tree (greater
in diameter than the length of the bar), by first making a plunge
cut and then cutting from either side.
Michael has a lot of time for the more old fashioned
chainsaws, and doesn't feel all the 'gimmicks' that come on a
modern saw add up to much. He says the most reliable saw he has
is an 090 bought in 1980. It is also the cheapest, because it has
cost so little in parts and you can always be sure it will start.
He doesn't think he could buy a new chainsaw today that would be
still be working in 2020.
Michael bought his partner out after a couple of months
(i.e. bought his axe from him) and was ready to go solo. One
fortunate thing was that in those day's tree surgeons were
something of a rarity "How did the world survive without them?" I
hear you all ask. Alas, no one knows.
There was however, no prospect of Michael Large giving up
the day job at this stage in his tree surgery career. He
continued driving his truck for the next ten years, and without a
vehicle of his own, often had to walk to jobs. A van was hired or
borrowed at weekends and the wood, which resulted from his work,
was sold off as firewood.
But by the 80's things had changed and it was time to take
up tree surgery full time. Michael claims a number of firsts for
his operation. He began sending staff for training at Merrist
Wood in Surrey in 1982, a practice which he has continued ever
since. How good are the courses there? "It depends on the person"
he answers wryly. "Some people can come out who will never be any
good at it. They can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. There
are probably better tree surgeons about who never went to college
but who just had natural ability.
The fact that he continues to send employees on these
courses and for NPTC training, means that Michael does recognises
the fact that, assuming you are not starting off with a pig's ear,
proper training is invaluable. Michael puts his own success down
to being a practical person and to the fact that he has always
been ready to utilise machinery wherever it makes a job easier.
We were the first to bring in stump cutters and pedestrian
stump grinders and brushwood chippers. We bought a Junkkari PTO
chipper from Chieftain Forge in 1981 hard to believe but back then
chippers were something of a rarity.
In 1992 M.Large Tree Services became the first
Arboricultural Association Approved contractors in Ireland. Since
the early 1990's the company diversified into plant & machinery
hire and sales. Today the company has four main divisions, Tree
Services, Arboricultural Consultancy, Plant & Machinery Hire,
Plant & Machinery sales.
'We are proud to today still offer the same level of
personal service that sees many of our customers return year after