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How Can We Work at Such High Levels?

Written by August Hoppe, President Hoppe Tree Service, Certified Arborist WI-0477A, and John Sepulveda, Certified Arborist WI-1454A

Since the 1970s advances in equipment and technology have made tree care safer and more efficient. With the use of portable lifts, grapple saw trucks, articulating loaders, and more sophisticated chippers, we’re able to reach new heights to get your job done, keep crew members safe and keep costs down. One of our customers calls us “the best man/machine show” he’s ever seen! Here’s a look at some of the equipment we may bring to your yard.

Portable Lifts

Climbing trees will always be an important skill for arborists, but it takes time and energy. We climb less often with the invention of the portable lift. These lifts use caterpillar treads – also called continuous tracks – to maneuver into places where a conventional lift truck would not fit. Portable lifts can roll up sidewalks and squeeze through gates only three feet wide. The track lifts we use can extend 90 feet into the air and reach 50 feet side to side. With a lift our crews can reach many trees in a short amount of time, cutting down on the need for crew members to ascend and descend the tree to set up and work the tree.

Grapple Saw Trucks

A grapple saw is a large machine that can grasp a large tree branch or entire trunk, cut it, and move the piece to the chipper. Unlike with portable lifts, the arborist stays on the ground and operates the saw and the telescoping knuckle boom with a remote control. Hoppe uses a Palfinger Tree Mek that has a 112-foot vertical reach and 102-foot horizontal reach. It can lift nearly 2,000 pounds of tree. Our crew uses the Tree Mek most often to remove entire trees within minutes in an extremely safe manner.

Articulating Loaders

Articulating loaders have also been a big help for tree crews as they cut down on manual lifting and moving requirements. The loaders can lift hundreds of pounds and can easily move branches or trunks to the chipper or trucks. They also are light on their feet as they don’t tear up grass or cause major soil compaction which is detrimental to tree roots and proper mineral and water uptake. The machines save on human wear and tear and help to reduce likelihood of injury from lifting heavy limbs and fatigue from repeated actions. You may have seen Hoppe’s green Avant articulating loaders in local parades doing 360s!


Advances in chipper technology have helped boost safety and work efficiency in the tree care industry. Chippers take in tree branches, cut them into small wood chips, then shoot the chips into the back of a truck. They are loud and potentially dangerous machines. Safety innovations such as emergency stops and last chance cords reduce the likelihood of accidents. Many modern chipper models are also more durable and less likely to be in the shop for repairs, which keeps arborists on the job longer.

Still Climbing

By continuing to utilize new machinery and technology we are able to work safer, longer, and more efficiently. However, even with all of this advanced equipment, sometimes rope and harness climbing is still the best way to get tree care work done. Hoppe’s crew member are experienced climbers who use top-rated climbing equipment and who continually train on climbing safety. It’s a special feeling to ascend to the treetops, and we love sharing this experience with kids of all ages at our free Kids Climbs. Check out where you can join us for a free community Kids Climb this year.

Whether it's rope and harness tree climbing, working out of a track lift, or using the Tree-Mek, you can be sure Hoppe Tree Service has the expertise and equipment to do the best and most efficient job with your tree care.

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