Our company’s history begins with John L. Wright, who founded Wright Tree Service in 1933. John began working in the tree industry in 1928 when he got a job with National Tree Company. When the company went out of business due to the Great Depression, John took a part-time job as a mail carrier at 60 cents per hour and continued to do tree work in his spare time. When his hours as a mail carrier were cut, John packed his suitcases, loaded a few tools worth about $20 into his secondhand car and, accompanied by his wife Harriet, took off for Cedar Rapids, Iowa. And so began Wright Tree Service.
Total sales for the first year were only $600. When work shut down altogether that winter, John and Harriet Wright spent time with family in Des Moines, Iowa. They decided to stay in Des Moines that spring, and the corporate office has been in the metro area ever since.
The early years were extremely difficult, but work picked up enough in the spring of 1936 for John to purchase an ad in the phone book for the first time. John and Harriet now had a family, so he supplemented his income as a railway mail clerk. In 1938, the business had grown enough for John to quit his part-time job and focus solely on his tree work.
In 1940, Wright Tree Service acquired its first utility line clearance job with Iowa Power and Light Company, now MidAmerican Energy, which is still a customer today. With World War II came workforce challenges, so 1945 was a welcome year bringing more opportunity for growth. Over time, business expanded into neighboring states, divisions were formed, and the company purchased its first chain saws. Although the chain saws were bulky and heavy, they were a tremendous improvement over the cross-cut.
In 1961, Wright Service Corp. was founded as a parent company to prepare Wright Tree Service for further expansion.
John L. Wright passed away in 1982, and his son John R. Wright took over as president and chief executive officer (CEO). With John R. at the helm, Wright Tree Service swelled its coverage area to 18 states, from Colorado to Indiana and from Minnesota to Texas.
Though the company provided residential tree care from the beginning, that service line came to a halt in the 1980s. In 1993, it was reintroduced as a division with a separate name: Wright Tree Care.
In the fall of 2001, John R. appointed Scott D. Packard to president and chief operating officer (COO) but retained the title of chairman and CEO. In August 2002, John R. approved an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), effectively transferring ownership of the company to its employees. John R.’s vision was for employees to become financial participants in the success of Wright Tree Service and Wright Service Corp.
In October 2002, John R. passed away at the untimely age of 59. Scott took on the position of chairman and CEO, and in 2008 named Wilbur A. Nutter President and COO.
The rest of that decade brought continued growth for Wright Tree Service and parent company Wright Service Corp. In 2007, Wright Tree Care, the residential division of Wright Tree Service, merged with Heard Gardens, an esteemed landscaping company in Des Moines, to form Wright Outdoor Solutions. Wright Service Corp. invested in the technology, consulting and operations components of the utility vegetation management industry, leading to the 2007 purchase of CNUC and the 2008 creation of Terra Spectrum Technologies, both sister companies to Wright Tree Service.
The trend of growth has continued, with record revenues and the creation of a joint venture with Sustainable Environmental Consultants in 2012. In 2017, Wright Service Corp. officially expanded operations into Canada with their investment in Canadian-based firm Spectrum Resource Group. Wright Tree Service’s geographic footprint grew to 16 divisions with the acquisition of Calgary-based ArborCareTree Service in 2019.
Today, with operations across North America, strong values, continued growth, and an unbeatable service line in cooperation with our sister companies, we think John L. Wright would be proud of the company he started more than 80 years ago as a one-man crew with a few tools in the back of his secondhand car.