Spotlight on Myrl Clark, Veteran of Desert Storm, Lewis Tree Service Team Leader
We caught up with Myrl Clark, a 20+ year employee of Lewis Tree Service, to find out what enables a veteran of the U.S. armed forces—who served in Desert Storm and received two Navy achievement medals for heroics—to find further success and fulfillment at Lewis.
Let’s begin with the Navy. What position did you hold?
Firefighter. If a ship catches on fire, our team would respond to put out the fire. We were in some hairy situations, but we always came out on top.
Why did you leave the military?
Being away from my family was difficult. I had full intent to make a career in the military but after four years of being deployed and not being around those I wanted to be with, it made a big impact. At Lewis, I get to go home at the end of the day. It’s one of the huge motivating factors.
After leaving the Navy, did you come straight to Lewis?
I wish I had come straight here. I worked for a paper mill. Since I had my CDL license, I wound up in trucking. But, just like being in the Navy, I was not with my family at night.
My brother started working at Lewis Tree and encouraged me to come over. I fell in love with the work. It’s hard work; you can’t sugar coat that. But it’s rewarding at the end of the day.
Would you encourage other veterans to join Lewis Tree Service?
Absolutely, the opportunity for advancement is endless. I started as a Groundsperson and have since advanced to Trimmer, Foreman B, Foreman A, Lead Foreman and now Team leader. I have consistently motivated myself to achieve more. Most veterans already have the training and discipline to make more for themselves; this company is perfect for a veteran.
Importantly, they will likely make more money working for Lewis Tree Service than they will in the military. In 1987, I was making roughly $13K/year in the Navy. Money, at any age, is a big deal. Many of our crews, depending on the area where they work, can also make overtime. A well-paying job can make a huge increase in your quality of life.
In what ways are former military personnel ready for success at Lewis Tree Service?
Veterans already understand the need to adapt to every situation. They’re used to facing an opposing force where the immediate situation is completely different than it was two days ago.
Like the military, every job, every day, is different here. What type of rigging? What type of roping? It’s a hazardous job where everybody’s life depends on one another. Tree workers are a brotherhood. That’s where most veterans are coming from, too. We’re accustomed to looking out for each other.
It’s very good for our business to have people who can adapt to different situations and the work is very appealing. As veterans, we already have a heightened sense of awareness at all times. As a Groundman, you don’t want to be in drop zone so you must pay close attention to what the craftworker in the tree is doing. And, because we’re working near live wires, team situational awareness is critical. For a veteran, this is something that would come easily.
What do you enjoy most about your position?
The leadership across the country is incredible and Division 21 (NY) is no exception. We’re held to a very high standard. It starts from the top down in a highly structured work environment. It’s a great experience.
All of us have a tremendous amount of pride in our work. Tree workers have huge egos. We do a job that most people wouldn’t be comfortable doing. When we do our jobs well, we gain others’ respect. And that’s not a bad thing.
Is there anything else you would like to tell veterans seeking jobs?
Lewis Tree Service has made a huge difference in my life. Veterans can advance quickly in this line of work based on the training they’ve already received and I’m living proof. I love this company. I’m probably one of the most loyal employees although many of us say that about ourselves! We’re very proud to work here.