Ty Bewley said Poor Boy Tree Services started by “accident” 30 years ago

Ty Bewley describes himself as the “C child,” one whose parents did not go to college, financially support him or provide him with a career path. A native of Fair Play, Mo., he grew up on a dairy farm where he developed his strong work ethic.

“I thought everybody worked 14-hour days, seven days a week until I was 14 or 15 years old,” Ty said.

After high school, Ty was able to further his education when he received a grant to attend Ozarks Technical Community College Welding School. Upon completion of the program, Ty went to work as a welder on power plants in the Midwest.

While he was between jobs, he did custom farm work, cut and sold firewood. He started removing trees, due to customer request. Soon, he was traveling to and from Fair Play with a truck bed full of wood.

“I am in this business by absolute accident,” he said.

Ty founded Poor Boy Tree Service in 1989. He is an ISA Certified Arborist/Utility Specialist, Certified Commercial Applicator and serves as president of the corporation. Over the last 30 years, he has continued to grow his business debt-free by living a conservative lifestyle.

“The number one question everyone asks me is how I pulled it off with zero money. Live within your means or below your means,” Ty said.

The most visible segment of his business is the contract work they do for various electric cooperatives, municipalities, pipelines and residential areas. Their utility arborists are responsible for mowing, cutting, pruning and applying chemical to the woody vegetation near electrical structures. Many drivers may have spotted their logo throughout Missouri, Eastern Kansas and Illinois.

There is more to Poor Boy’s Tree Service than what meets the eye.

In 2011, the company received its credentials to offer a two-year, paid apprenticeship program that combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Poor Boy’s is the only program in Missouri and only one of 17 in the United States that is recognized by the Department of Labor.

“The apprenticeship program is not for everybody, but is for everybody who is not going to go to college,” Ty explained.

Students are drawn to the program for the lucrative income, paid housing, insurance benefits and the opportunity for advancement.

“We are able to take people from rural America who don’t have opportunity, and put opportunity in front of them, and have a year-around career and be paid very well to work outside,” Ty said.

Graduates of the program are certified journeymen utility arborist. They will possess a Class A CDL license with air brakes, certified applicator’s license and be a certified equipment operator.

The average electric cooperative has more than 4,000 miles of power lines, which require vegetative control and maintenance. The demand for quality, educated arborists is increasing, especially as invasive plant species spread and the human population grows.

“We are in high demand. There is a huge workforce shortage. We have more work than we have people. We are only about 80 percent staffed as an industry,” Ty said.

Ty also founded Mobile Help 4 U, a group of mobile disaster units. These units are deployed to provide workers, assistance and aid during tornados, ice storms and hurricanes across the United States.

“These custom-built or converted semi-trailers inventory consists of mobile kitchens, mobile showers, mobile motels and mobile laundry with tents, chairs and tables. All are capable of providing much needed services for 2,500 utility workers during a disaster,” Ty explained.


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