‘Kent Is Our Home’ With Deep Roots
Founded in 1880, The Davey Tree Expert Company has a rich history, growing from a seedling organization into Ohio’s largest employee-owned company with branches reaching far across North America.
Last June, the company released a new historical account titled “Growth Rings,” as a companion book to the original “Green Leaves,” which was released in 1977.
While the “Green Leaves” book covered the founding of Davey Tree, “Growth Rings” details the events leading up to the 1979 employee acquisition of Davey Tree and the company’s resulting growth up to 2020.
Author of “Growth Rings,” Matt Fredmonsky, Davey Tree’s manager of corporate content, spent nine years compiling photographs and interviewing past and present employees to release the book in 2023.
“There are a lot of similar things happening now, that happened around the time that ‘Green Leaves’ was being put together,” he said.
Fredmonsky nods to present-day parallels in company history, with just one of those parallels being the construction of Davey Tree’s Science, Employee Education and Development (SEED) Campus Training Center, located off of State Route 43 in Kent.
“Around the time that ‘Green Leaves’ was released, we were getting ready to open a new technical research center, which is a building that's still standing today over on Bryce Road,” Fredmonsky said. “Today, construction is ongoing for the new SEED Campus, which is that building times a thousand.”
Construction is expected to conclude for the Science, Employee Education and Development Campus Training Center in 2026. Among other research and training programs, the new campus will host the Davey Institute of Tree Sciences classes that train employees in biological sciences, safety, tree and plant care and management techniques.
The new training center will nurture Davey Tree’s core values of safety, integrity, expertise, leadership, stewardship and perseverance within the company, but Fredmonsky says that these values reach outside the office, too.
“Stewardship is one of our six values and, for us, it’s not just about being good stewards of the environment, but also the communities that we live in,” Fredmonsky said. “Take Arbor Day as an example. A lot of our crews and operations will spend Arbor Day planting trees for free, teaching school kids how to properly plant a tree and care for it and working with the universities for their Arbor Day events. We really try to be good stewards who are invested in the community where we live and work. That's something that is kind of baked into our history, and it's something that we really encourage.”
Not only is Davey Tree a longstanding figurehead and positive force in the Kent community, but their roots also reach deep into Kent State.
Over 100 Kent State alumni currently work in various positions with the company, including Fredmonsky himself, a 2006 journalism graduate and former adjunct professor in the School of Media and Journalism at the university.
Davey Tree also offers valuable internships to Kent State students both in corporate and environmental functions. Two Kent State students, Jocelyn Holtsberry, a senior political science and public relations double-major, and Mariah Alanskas, a senior journalism and visual communication design double-major, are currently working as corporate communications interns for the company.
The accounts in “Growth Rings” show readers that Davey Tree is a pillar of culture in the local community. This is evident in the company’s actions, from caring for Kent’s trees to providing jobs for Kent State students and graduates to teaching the next generation the importance of stewardship in nature.
“Our crews cleared the first trees and made way for construction on the first buildings on front campus, so we were there at the beginning of Kent State,” Fredmonsky said. “Our founder helped develop Standing Rock Cemetery to the north into the beautiful grounds that it is today ... As a business, we've occupied spaces all around downtown, and our corporate offices are on South Water Street. For years, we've continued to grow with the city and the university. We're really intertwined with the city. Kent is our home. These are some things that I hope people take away from ‘Growth Rings.’”