Employee Stories

Employee Stories – Shane King

EMPLOYEE STORIES – SHANE KING

When Shane King first started with Active Tree Services in 1998, it was a weekend job for a little cash on the side. Almost 20 years later he is the Operations Manager at Ringwood, Victoria, overseeing eight contracts and handling 40 staff, with his 20-year-old son amongst the crew.
A motor mechanic by trade, Shane began casual work as a wood chipper with Active Tree Services in the days when hiring was a quick chat in the local pub, and workplace health and safety was an emerging term in Australia.
His years with the company have seen him work as a contractor in Victoria, as part of the first crew to set foot in South Australia, and rising up through the ranks to oversee the Council focussed work of the Ringwood area. His teams now look after eight contracts where tasks involve maintenance of street trees, trimming trees from power lines, and handling the obligatory emergency call outs.
These days Shane’s role is about supervision. Day-to-day work includes quoting for jobs, keeping clients up-to date, and overseeing 40 staff to ensure productivity is maintained. He also has a keen focus on the welfare of his crews, ensuring they work together in situations that can be challenging. An average day starts at 7am and ends around 5pm, but he still seizes the opportunity to get “on the tools”.
“About once a month I get out there,” he explains. “And I can’t help but love the camaraderie of it all”.
His time in the field has revealed some memorable moments, including trees through houses, and trees that have brought down power lines, leaving major roads at a standstill. But one he most vividly recalls was a traffic accident involving a sewage truck and car.
“The tree had to be dismantled before emergency crews could even access the area,” he notes, adding emergency situations including storms put the pressure on all involved, but add excitement to the job.

Shane King and his son Jayden

“Some storms will see the guys working long shifts. You have to pull the pin due to fatigue, provide fresh crews and be aware the weather can be hard on the teams.”
When it comes to what’s changed over his years in the job, Shane notes “safety” has become a major focus.
“When I first started, a crew of 8 or 10 of us just got in and got the job done. Over the last 10 years workplace health and safety has really ramped up.”
And it’s an initiative Shane is grateful for.
“It’s a good workplace in regards to accidents. This is a high risk trade but in my time we’ve been very fortunate. The old-school ways would have made an accident inevitable, but it’s become a people based company where the focus is on training.”
This people based focus has also seen Shane’s son Jayden join the Active Tree Services fold. After leaving school, Jayden started as a sub-contractor, working the wood chipper like his dad. When fellow workers suggested it, he moved into a role as a field worker and is studying for his Certificate III.
Shane concedes there are challenges when your dad is the boss, but Jayden is “really kicking goals”, and learning from the commitment of his fellow workers.
“This will probably be his career. He’s changing because of the influence of the guys he works with. He’s willing to take on responsibility, and he likes the outside work and mateship.
“It’s a great influence,” he says.