Spotlight on Stephen Chase, Former National Guard, Current Supervisor, Lewis Tree Service
What allows an ex-military, ex-police officer to find continued success at Lewis Tree Service? We caught up with Stephen Chase to learn more.
When and why did you enter the military?
I joined the U.S. Armed Forces after high school—right after 911. Prior to that, I enlisted in the National Guard Delayed Entry Program which allowed me to go through basic training between my junior and senior years of high school. I was interested in the college benefit because who doesn’t want to go to college for free?
I chose the National Guard because it was FL-based. I grew up here and most of my family is here. We were activated to help our local communities during hurricanes.
What did you like about the National Guard?
My favorite National Guard experience was volunteering to go to Afghanistan. At a drill one weekend, our sister unit on the east coast got orders to activate but they were short-handed. Five of us from my unit volunteered to go. We were there for 15 months as force protection for the base in Kabul at the Office of Military Cooperation (a.k.a. OMC Alpha which was later renamed Camp Eggers).
One of the cool parts of the deployment was acting as security detail for visiting dignitaries including Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.
After the military, did you come straight to Lewis Tree Service?
When I came home in ’05, I initially worked security at middle school. Because my wife and I were Police Explorers (like Boy Scouts) as teenagers, a friend asked if I wanted to join the police department. I joined the police force in ’06.
What did you like about the police department?
I really like helping people. There were several times where I assisted children and families to get out of abusive situations which is very rewarding. Unfortunately, it was not a good time to be an officer. I had a friend get shot and others on the force were getting shot, too. With two kids at home and a wife who was vested as a sheriff, I decided to make a career change.
Why did you choose Lewis Tree Service?
I worked for a competitor at age 18 and my father had been with Lewis since 2011. He recommended that I come to work for Lewis—and it was the best career move I could have made.
At Lewis, you can’t help but notice that every single craftworker is like a family member not a number. If any member of the Lewis team says that he or she is going to do something, you can bet that they’re going to do it. It’s not a façade. I have a great team who are like a family to me.
The same brotherhood that I had with unit, I have here with my division. I can call any member of the division at any time day or night and they’ll help me out.
Did you have to work hard to convince your wife to join Lewis, too?
Krystal had been with the sheriff’s office for 12 years when our customer asked us to put on a new position: permissions facilitator. It sounded almost like a sales position and I knew that she’d be great. She jumped at the chance.
Do you have any advice for people leaving the armed forces?
I like to tell people during onboarding that Lewis Tree Service is the most ethical company I’ve ever worked for in my life—I’d say the same thing to anyone looking. Again, we’re treated like family. Also, the benefits far exceed what I had in the past. Everyone has the same medical benefits from the grounds-person on up.
Most importantly, we’re honest. If those are elements of the military that you value, Lewis might be the perfect fit.