STRATFORD, Conn. — Three weeks after graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in horticulture, Stacey Marcell drove east to take a job in Bridgeport.
"I was recruited by SavATree right after graduation,” said Marcell, who went on to grow her own company, Northeast Horticultural Services, in the usually male-dominated field of tree care.
This year marks her 10th anniversary of running the Stratford-based company, which provides residential, commercial and municipal property owners with holistic and organic landscaping and tree care services across Fairfield and New Haven counties.
Since becoming a mother, Marcell no longer "works in the bucket," but she did for years of working in the industry, which is considered one of the most hazardous professions.
“I have two children now," said Marcell, whose signature piece of equipment is a pink woodchipper she bought in 2015 to raise awareness for brain cancer research.
"My daughter [who is now 7] is a brain cancer survivor. She was diagnosed at 22 months old. I needed to buy a new chipper for my two tree crews, so I ordered a pink one. I thought it would be a good way to give back," she said.
Northeast Horticultural Services donated some of its proceeds to charity during her pink wood chipper campaign, she said.
Marcell who now handles all the company's sales and marketing, said she places heavy emphasis on safety and training for her crew, which numbers 30 in the busy season of April to November.
"The national standard based on injuries in the trees is it's a top dangerous profession. To battle complacency, we have a proactive safety program in place. So every Monday, we meet with our work crews. We do tailgating safety on site and lots of other things, within our accreditation," said Marcell, who taped a radio commercial just before her Daily Voice interview.
In college, Marcell wanted to become a doctor and was in a pre-med program before switching her major to horticulture.
"I knew that If I became a surgeon I would be working inside hospitals all day and that kind of freaked me out," she said. "You do all these summer jobs — for me it was landscaping. And I worked for the university for one year in the farm-to-farm program. Everything I'd done had always been outdoors, I knew I had to be in a profession that kept me outside."
Marcell said she's proud of Northeast Horticultural Services, which recently won the Tree Care Industry Association's three-year Residential/Commercial Accreditation for its "robust safety program."
Only 10 companies in all of Connecticut currently hold this accreditation.
Earning a TCIA Accreditation is a significant honor for any tree care service provider. Doing it as a woman-owned business makes it even more spectacular, according to Marcell.
The accreditation "validates everything that our company stands for when it comes to offering the best tree care practices to our community,” said Marcell. “I am so proud of our team, and this accreditation recognizes everyone’s hard work and commitment to excellence.”
Click here for more information at the company's website.