Values of trust and persistence grow our business


Imran Chahal, Director of AusWide Tree Services, talks to AA about the founding values that helped him build his team and took his company through tough Covid times.

Today, Imran Chahal, Director of AusWide Tree Services, has a growing team along his side. His career commenced in the 1990s when, as a teenager, he started working for a family business in the tree industry. His introduction to the tree industry was as a labourer to pick up branches and logs and carry them out to the chipper and truck. During the labouring times, Imran taught himself through observation, listening from the business owner and colleagues about the tree industry. An important learning was the value of the relationships with the customer and the employees.

Imran enjoyed the outdoor and social part of tree works, the client relationships. From here the possibility of having his own tree business were cultivated. Then, in 2016 he took a step in faith and started his own business, named AusWide. Imran has completed many certificates and qualifications along the way, which have assisted him to be successful, yet still a novice in building a strong and stable business.


Imran, what are important values for you and the business?

AusWide Tree Services values honesty. It is important having our customers, our staff and business partners trust us. I enjoy working in the tree industry as there is an opportunity to deliver a quality and trustworthy service to the vulnerable. At AusWide we pride ourselves on the service we deliver for housing and the elderly. We don’t like reading or hearing about the unscrupulous tree or trade that rip off the elderly, even though it is a small minority, as generally the majority of tree companies are ethical. Auswide has a focus on every interaction and every job to deliver trust with the client. We pride ourselves in making sure elderly and vulnerable are well looked after. For myself, I take trust personally. In my life to date, when trust is not reciprocated that causes issues. Trust is about mutual respect.

What has been a big challenge?

Our toughest period to date would definitely have been Covid. The toughest part of Covid, was through lock downs. We needed the work to pay staff, and importantly retain our staff. We felt at times we were letting down the client too. Working through Covid was tough, it was also very confusing with the different rules that seemed to change every day. Going from lockdown to lockdown, from a drop in work in finances had an impact on me. All my team caught Covid, some were hospitalised, others had family members pass away. During that period, I also got Covid. I did not want to pass it on to my wife (who was pregnant) or my children, so I isolated myself and kept on managing and coordinating the business. I struggled a lot mentally and emotionally when Covid was at its peak. My uncle died from Covid and he was in his fifties – which had a personal impact, it made me consider what legacy can I leave my family.

Picking ourselves back up after Covid has been difficult but here we are today hoping it’s in the past and we are moving forward. I consider myself blessed with a great network of friends, staff and especially family, as they definitely assisted me to get through that period. Even now, months after the Covid peak passed, I am still dealing with the impact physically, emotionally and financially.

What was a key learning for you?

For me personally the key learning I take away is the persistence and the ability to be flexible when the opportunity appears. One of our current largest clients came through that persistence. I recall phoning, letting them know that we were available and asking whether there was anything we could assist. Initially we started just doing a handful of jobs a few years ago.

When the large storms hit Victoria in June 2021, a couple of clients requested our assistance. AusWide headed to Victoria initially with a single team. I contacted this client and informed we had a team in Victoria and if they wanted assistance, we were available. We got a few jobs in the storm effected region. Regardless where they were, how quick we needed to respond or what needed to be done we accepted and then made sure we delivered. The jobs fitted in our values to, which was ensuring we were looking after people impacted by the massive damage caused by the storm.

What started back in June 2021 as a handful of jobs is now consistently several a week, including a variety of facility and emergency works.

It is important to make sure the client fits in with our values, whether we can work together, if there is opportunity and if it is going to be profitable. From here the team at AusWide make a decision to make it work. This, I believe, is the way for a small business wanting to grow. Too many SME tree companies just think of now “what is in it for me?” My team
at AusWide ensure we have one eye on the future – what is in it for all of us – that is where I see an opportunity, that is where persistence and being flexible is allowing us to build bonding business relationships.


What’s the future holding for AusWide?

The future for AusWide is to keep growing more and more, while staying true to our values. The company started off with one truck, one ute, one chainsaw and two workers. Today AusWide Tree Services has purchased another two trucks, two chippers, an Avant loader, a stump grinder – all key to supporting climbing and ground team requirements. We are growing faster than we expected. At AusWide we understood the value in developing our team and we deliver onsite training with relevant bodies. Most importantly, what AusWide has learnt is to ensure our staff complete other certificates such as Working with Children, Police Checks, First Aid etc., all these certificates mean we are capable and ready to support our clients.

We have built on relationships with many insurance companies which has furthered our opportunities. Our honesty and values are what I believe has allowed us to continue to grow. In 2022 a lot has changed and keeps changing in the industry. The more we learn the more we grow. We pride our business on customer services and making that difference in the industry, taking pride in our work and acknowledging our employees. The gratitude to our employees encourages them to take pride in their work too. The more you do a good job, the better the reputation. To take pride in your work you need to know what you do not know. Then you can seek to improve. Building trust with customers and companies shows your pride at work.

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