Former Kitchen Manager
T.J. McNamara, Jr., General Foreman, Lewis Tree Service
Why would someone leave the restaurant industry to work in vegetation management? We caught up with T.J. McNamara, Jr. to learn more.
Tell us about your time in the restaurant industry…
Before I came to Lewis Tree Service, I worked in the restaurant business for 11 years. I started as a dishwasher and worked my way up from the salad bar, to cook, and then kitchen manager. I never went to culinary school; I just learned on the job.
Why did you leave the restaurant industry?
At the time, I was holding down two full-time jobs including working with children with disabilities. Hard work is just the way I was brought up. I liked my jobs a lot but eventually, the hours got to me. I would go to work before the sun came up and come home when the sun was down. That life takes a toll. A friend was working at Lewis and encouraged me to join the company.
Are you glad you made the move to Lewis?
Yes, I’ve been at Lewis now since 2003. Initially, I was trying to reduce the number of hours I worked while making more money. Now, I’ve come to love working outdoors. My grandfather had properties and, as a kid, I would work outside for him painting and cutting the hedges. Being outside is the best. I don’t think I could ever go back to working in a building or being in a cubicle.
Tell us about you career here at Lewis.
Since joining the company, I’ve consistently been promoted. I’ve worked as a groundman, spray technician, crew leader, foreman and now general foreman. I can’t complain. I make decent money with no college education. Even when I was still in the field, I made plenty of money by working overtime. And it was fun. Somedays I still want to go out and cut!
What would you tell others who may be looking for a new career?
The pay is good. If you have a herbicide license, you can make even more money.
I would also tell them that somedays it absolutely sucks. Don’t sugar coat it. There are days when we have to walk chest-high through swamps, get stung by bees, get poison ivy and we keep going. This career is definitely not for the faint of heart. You need endurance. We cover miles a day just walking up and down hills. It’s a labor-intensive job especially when you barrel your way through brush or have to stand on the side of the road chipping brush. But, overall, it’s fun.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
The biggest thing I like is there is no boss looking at you all day. You just do your work and the day goes by fast. Also, the sights we see. I get to travel throughout New England seeing places I wouldn’t see in an office. There’s a large hill on top of a right-of-way that we call “Oh Jesus” because that’s what we say when we’re at the top. It feels like you’re on top of the world.
What is Lewis like as a company?
Lewis has a good culture with a lot of teamwork. We spend more time together than we do at home so we have to manage a lot of different personalities. It’s a lot of fun. And we preach safety. When I first started 16.5 years ago, we were like cowboys. Now, it’s more like riding a pony. It takes longer to get to work because of pre-job assessments, safety hot sheets and safety tailgates but we’re a much safer company.
What do you do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I like to powerlift. My son has started going to the gym with me. We also go fishing and camping sometimes. I have little spare time in the role I’m in so I try to make it the best I can.
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Looking for a new career with opportunities to grow, solid pay, benefits, stock ownership, training, safety, working outside, a great culture, and finding success? Take a look at some of the other Lewis success stories profiled on our site.
Laid off from your job? Find out how a former warehouse worker found success, and more, at Lewis Tree Service. Click here.
Driven to succeed but worried about being in a dead-end job? Learn how a former residential tree worker found upward mobility, heightened safety, and pride as an essential worker at Lewis Tree Service. Click here.
Stuck inside an office all day? Worried about finding success in a “man’s world”? Read about how a former office worker is encouraging women to thrive at Lewis Tree Service. Click here.
Bored in your job? Want to try something different? Find out how a butcher found the right blend of training, learning, safety and success at Lewis Tree Service. Click here.
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