Meet Your Merchant: Acton Arboriculture uses its botany skills for the greater good
April 15, 2018
Growing up on an organic farm on the North San Juan Ridge, Zeno Acton was fascinated by all things botany. While toiling away in the soil and lying under the expanse of oaks and other trees, he would dream of one day becoming … an engineer.
"Most of the people in my family are plant people," Acton said. "I can't say that right away I knew that was the path I wanted to go. I was thinking I wanted to be an engineer. I just started taking horticulture classes at Sierra College, and then I transferred to UC Davis, and got a degree in horticulture."
This turned out to be a most fateful decision. While enrolled in a business communications class he met the woman who would eventually be his wife and business partner, Erin.
"I've always dreamed of owning my own business," Erin said. "Then I met (Zeno) and he had all this tree knowledge, and I was like, 'Well why can't we do that?'"
"I think I just wanted to be in charge of my own destiny. I want to help people," said Zeno.
Ten years later, the two have formed a successful business in Acton Arboriculture. With Erin keeping track of the books and occasionally lending a physical hand, the company provides tree care services including pruning trees, removing trees, planting trees, restoration forestry, vegetation management and consulting services.
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"I do disease diagnosis, risk assessment, appraisal," Zeno said. "I help people understand the trees around their house, and the risk involved.
"Most of what I really like to do is educate the customer about their trees: the risks involved, the health issues, and then helping them make decisions regarding their trees. It's up to them what they want to do, but I love being that person who helps them make decisions."
The couple is quick to point out success is also reliant on a skilled crew, of which there are seven members.
"We couldn't do what we do without our awesome crew," Erin said. "Without them we couldn't provide the quality service and the good detailed clean-up and all the things that we do. They're just as passionate as (Zeno) about working outside and working with trees and learning new things."
Keeping up with the times is important to the company, too.
"We put a lot of time and energy into continued education, not just for me but for the crew too," Zeno said.
Running a business can be time consuming, but the Acton's have plenty of extracurricular activities they enjoy when they are not on the job. Erin is an avid soccer player and Zeno likes to disc golf. Together they go on hikes and go mountain biking, while making time to spend with their families.
All the while, Zeno has his eyes on the plants and trees around him. "I like to sit in my garden and watch plants grow. I like to botanize a little bit," he said.
"I love plants but it turns out that I also love interacting with people. Just being of service to my community but also having a skill that somebody is willing to pay to have you (do) is kind of a really special thing."
Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at email@example.com or by calling (530) 477-4231.