Andrew Stannard

Andrew Stannard
July 21, 2020 Active


Every industry has its hierarchy of roles and arboriculture is no different. New starters begin with feeding trees into the chipper, some say the glamour position is climber and in between is stump grinding; a role that is more complicated than it sounds and definitely not for the faint hearted. It’s a finicky and repetitive task that requires checking for cables beneath the ground, grinding down the stump, shovelling sawdust and filling the hole with topsoil.

‘It’s the red-headed step-child of tree-lopping,” Andrew Stannard, a stump-grinder working on Brisbane and Logan City Council contracts jokes.

In reverse of the view, Andrew enjoys stump-grinding. He likes the solitary practice; its physical and mental challenges, and he loves being in the outdoors.

Andrew, by his own admission, is a grumpy old man who likes being by himself. When he first started working for City Wide Tree Services in the nineties – Active bought out the company in 2012 – he moved from chipping to grinding because the role offered control over his day. Recently, however, he has started pulling up stumps with Jacob Caban or “Young Jacob,” as he calls him, and to their surprise they enjoy working together. Andrew is a trained mechanical engineer and Young Jacob is a military-trained combat engineer and Young Jacob can take his jokes, Andrew tells me. “He just laughs.”

Stump grinding is a role that is more complicated than it sounds and definitely not for the faint hearted

On any given day, Andrew and Young Jacob will grind down anything from one huge stump to dozens of smaller ones. A Poinciana in Clayfield for example, would require a whole day of shovelling, grinding and shovelling, while an hour on a bushy escarpment can see them mince 20 – 30 stumps. Eight to ten is the average; and the hardest jobs are not the Poinciana’s but roots mangling a footpath. To begin levelling a walkway, they have to work out where the services are running before they can begin untangling the roots. Luckily, they are two engineers on the job.

Outside of work, Andrew’s passion is motorbikes. He has five: a Harley Davidson Superglide which is his “clock around town bike;” a Suzuki B King which is for drag; a 1975 Kawasaki Zib which is the “old toole around,” and a couple of other projects such as a Suzuki “café racer,” and Yamaha job scooter. In fact, he may still be putting bikes back on the road professionally, if he hadn’t had an accident in the early nineties that jarred the mobility of his right arm, a mechanic’s most valuable limb.

Since then, Andrew has been tree-lopping and motorbike mechanics have become his passion. He says it beats working in a shop: the pay is better, and he is challenged all day long.

“It keeps the brain ticking over,” he says.