Eric Kennedy, raised in Nederland, spent six years of his life with his thumb out, hitchhiking his way across this continent. Throughout his explorations he supported himself by doing any work that was offered to him, from commercial fishing in Alaska to window washing in New Jersey. In 2009 Kennedy returned to Colorado for the holidays and met his wife, Anjaneya, who inspired him to start building a foundation for their life together in his home state. That foundation was built with two strong words, “Good People”.
In the beginning Kennedy started as “Good People Good Tools” and, with then partner Justin Short, and an old truck and a chainsaw, they began carving a name for themselves.
“Good People, in his younger years, did anything from mitigation and tree work to sandstone patios to fencing and any other work we could find. We never advertised, working only by word of mouth. I didn’t want to grow the business fast, but focused on quality of work, customer service, and quality relationships with clients,” Kennedy says of the early years.
Kennedy and Short ended their business partnership, though remain friends, and from there Kennedy renamed the business “Good People Tree Service” (GPTS). During his travels across North America, working in Northern California, he found a passion for tree work which would lead him to focus his business in that field. However, as Kennedy and his wife were just starting their life together, having bought a home in Boulder, he realized that GPTS alone couldn’t support his family.
“I applied to other tree services in the Front Range and met my hero, Ed Goebel of Augustine Trees out of Longmont, Colorado, who began to teach me arboriculture and climbing,” Kennedy recalls. “After working with Ed for a year and a half, I met a future business partner, friend, and now brother-in-law, Keith Boarman, the founder of Patriot Tree Company in Louisville. I worked with Patriot as a part-owner for nine years, gathering more experience on big jobs, cranes, and pruning for the cities of Boulder, Louisville, and Longmont. I gained appreciation for pruning trees and more removal experience, all the while slowly investing in my own business.”
By 2016, Kennedy had grown GPTS to the point where he needed a business partner; someone as “equally ambitious” as Kennedy, who could embody the mindset, morals, and integrity that GPTS was made to represent. Kennedy could think of no one better than his dear friend Ivan Clusin.
Clusin, an eight year arboriculturist with a background in greenhouse and commercial garden management, was a sure-fit.
“Arboriculture has been the perfect blend of physical, mental, spiritual and…painful and comfortable,” Clusin says. “I have always been fascinated by plants and have loved working with them. Being able to turn that passion into something that supports my family and our community as a whole seemed like an obvious choice.”
Their ability to effect change in their direct community, through daily problem-solving and customer interactions, is what GPTS loves most about what they do. That and, as mentioned by Kennedy, “the views and working with our crew!”
GPTS offers commercial and residential services that range from simple and cosmetic, like fine pruning and land beautification, to dire and necessary, such as fire mitigation and burn-zone cleanup. Their services are offered all over the Front Range; from “Estes Park to Dumont and South Denver to Fort Collins and beyond.”
“We specialize in difficult terrain and trees. We have immaculate attention to detail. Our willingness to tackle any project, large or small, sets us apart from other companies. In 13 years of business we have never turned down a project,” Kennedy mentions.
Kennedy explains how treating their employees like family is just one way that GPTS continues to stay true to their name.
“On job-sites, while we do have go-to ‘foremen’ we try to keep the spirit of teamwork over a hierarchy of employees. It is important to us that everyone feels equally valued and heard on the job.”
“We are proud to create careers, not just jobs, for our employees,” Kennedy continued. “We offer paid maternity and paternity leave. Many tree care companies lay off their crew in the winter. We are proud to sustain our crew all year long and are willing to work in any weather condition. We are connected to and care deeply for the well-being of our community; we live in the same forest we are mitigating for our clients.”
GPTS is also proud to be a double family-run business, as Eric Kennedy’s wife, Anjaneya, has joined the team as well as Ivan Clusin’s wife, Kristen.
Anjaneya grew up in New Hampshire and attended Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, in 2007. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and was a preschool teacher for 13 years.
“I started working for Good People Tree Service slowly over time helping with random writing projects, loan applications and audits. We eventually came to the mutual agreement that I was indeed very helpful to the company and became an actual employee doing back end office and finance management,” Anjaneya says.
Kristen’s background is in Massage Therapy and Holistic Nutrition.
“I decided to quit working for myself and fully join GPTS during the pandemic. This allowed me to be home with Ivan and my three children while also supporting our family’s income. Currently, I am focusing my efforts toward community-building around mitigation, finding government funding for mitigation in our communities, awareness and education, and connecting our work with the local organizations that are already in place for a wider reach while maintaining the day to day office operations.”
GPTS has grown exponentially over the years, and will continue to do so, and they’ll always stay true to their foundation, to those two strong words.
“Commitment to quality tree work and customer service,” Kennedy speaks on what has gotten GPTS to where they are now, and on where they’re going from here. “The sky’s the limit as long as we maintain quality of living for ourselves, employees, and quality service to customers. ‘Good People’ has been a code for us. We aim to be good to the trees, ourselves, our employees, and our customers.”
Good People Tree Service is located on 196 Quartz Road, Black Hawk, Colorado, 80422. They can be reached 24 hours a day at 303-847-5221 or online at goodpeopletreeservice.com; on Facebook at facebook.com/Goodpeopletreeservicecolorado/, or Instagram @goodpeopletreeservice.
Sponsored by Gilpin County Commissioners, with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.