EMPLOYEE STORIES – RAY HARRISON
Long before team leader Ray Harrison joined Active Tree Services, he had heard of the company’s commitment to safety. Three years working on the City of Sydney contract it’s still an asset he appreciates, along with the opportunity to see the finest sights of the city and enjoy the camaraderie of the crews.
Ray first joined Active as a contractor at Coffs Harbour in 2013 after five years previous experience in the industry. At the time he had mates working with ATS, and they urged him to come on board.
“When I worked with Active I saw how it was done properly in terms of safety. They offered good working conditions and I really liked it,” he reflects. “So, when I moved to Sydney I sought out a manager I had worked with previously and asked if there were any positions available.”
Ray’s simple query resulted in a role on the busy City of Sydney contract where he works full-time looking after some of the most spectacular destinations in the country.
An average day sees his “office” based anywhere from the tree-lined streets of Surrey Hills to the sweeping harbour views of Barangaroo. Ray leads a team of three or four in the field, operating EWPs, and trimming or removing trees along the city’s busy streets.
It’s an environment that affords its fair share of challenges along with opportunities.
“The main difficulty in the city is gaining access to trees,” Ray notes. “There’s traffic, parking issues, and watching the cars and pedestrians is a constant battle when you’re looking to drop branches or tree sections. You need everyone to stop for a second and ensure there’s a good exclusion zone around the area.”
That job has recently been made easier by the introduction of Bluetooth headsets, allowing crew members to effectively communicate without the need to shout above the city din.
“We’ve had the headsets since Christmas and it’s so much easier to understand each other. We can now quietly talk instead of making sense of people seated 15m in the air.”
Ray also appreciates the wide range of machinery available to simplify his job.
“We operate a few different types of EWPs including a 30m large one for park jobs, a 55-foot number, and mine is a 37-foot short truck for getting around the city.”
At the moment his role also involves working with crew members that are new to the job.
“It’s a pleasure to come to work each day and show them the way,” he says. “I’m working with guys from different backgrounds, with different skills and I’m learning along the way too.”
As for standout moment in his role, Ray reflects the city affords him to meet his fair share of celebrities while also offering surreal experiences.
“We were doing night works over the summer and it was so nice and calm. There we were in the city at night on George Street, cutting trees while people were going out.
“We also meet a few celebrities. I had brekky with boxer Danny Green after he asked about a good coffee shop. Swimmer Geoff Heugill stopped to talk with us for a while and someone recently had a chat with Dr Harry, the vet.”
As for Ray’s own star talents, he modestly admits he has an enthusiasm for martial arts and holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
But for now, he’s enjoying the sights and experiences of Sydney from his vantage point amidst the trees of the city streets.
“I like the people, the coffee shops, the atmosphere as a whole. And if Active’s happy to keep me, I definitely intend to stay.”