Originally published on 2nd December 2013 at http://groundskpr.com/news-article-2013/
Orland Park resident Keith Pekau may be an arborist and a landscape designer now, but in 2003 he was a Duke University graduate with experience as a business consultant looking to move into something more tangible.
Applying what he’d learned acquiring his MBA, Pekau researched existing companies and eventually purchased a four-person tree trimming operation. He renamed it, added landscaping and expanded into an 18 employee, full service enterprise that operates year-round.
Since December, Pekau’s company, GroundsKeeper Landscape Care, has been taking down ash trees in Orland Park as part of the response to infestation by the emerald ash borer, a destructive insert from Asia.
Removal and some trimming is typically done during winter months to take advantage of down time and trimming is at an “extremely reduced price,” Pekau said, to keep employees working. His contract with the village provides for trimming on parkway trees, something typically the responsibility of residents, at village rates. The deal doesn’t extend to removal.
Residents pay $39.22 for trunk diameters up to 10 inches, $54.55 for trunk diameters between 10 and 20 inches and $74.50 for trunk diameters more than 20 inches.
So far, the only takers have been homeowners who decided they wanted their parkway trees trimmed while his company was doing other work for them, Pekau said.
“I made them aware of the deal.” He said. “They’re my customers.”
Approximately 65 percent of GroundsKeeper Landscape Care’s work is landscape with 30 to 35 percent tree trimming and removal, Pekau said. Pekau said Orland Park is his company’s second municipal contract. It has provided tree services to Palos Park since 2003.
Tree trimming includes removing unwanted branches, deadwood and branches interfering with sidewalk and street traffic.
“When we’re done, the trees look the way they’re supposed to look,” he said. “its the same way I would prune them; how I would do my own trees.”
Pekau who returned to Orland Park in 1997 said the village had only 6,000 residents and LaGrange Road was a two-lane thoroughfare when he was growing up on Jefferson Avenue, south of 143rd Street. After Graduating from Carl Sandburg High School and getting a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Arizona State University, he flew F15s, a twin-engine fighter jet, during 9 year in the Air Force.
Pekau owned and operated a business consulting firm for approximately six year before venturing into his current line of work.
“I was looking at it from a business angle and decided it (the tree business) was in the right location, and I thought there was an opportunity,” he said. “It turns out I was right.”
Pekau said he’s told his son, “You never know what you’re going to do. Get a good education and then make your choice.”