CAMPBELL – As a young man, Simon Tunnicliffe thought he might enjoy working in an office setting, but he soon realized he preferred an outdoor workspace. “When I was a teenager, the real estate market was really booming in my home country of England, so I thought about pursuing a career in the industry,” he recounts. “I enrolled in a work experience program, where I spent one day a week working in a real estate office. It didn’t take long for me to realize I didn’t like spending my days indoors, so I began looking for a career that would allow me to be outside. Tree service seemed like an obvious choice—I mean, what other job lets you climb trees and use heavy equipment, all while conserving nature?”
After earning his arborist certification, Simon began working locally in the tree service industry, but soon after he took his professional passion abroad, working by turns in Germany, France, California and Australia. Eventually, Simon settled on Northern California for his permanent residence, and in 2005, he founded West Valley Arborists, Inc. “The Bay Area seemed like an ideal place for me to start my own business,” he says. “Besides having perfect weather for working outside, the west coast has one of the world’s largest tree service industries.”
A resident of San Jose (where he lives with his fiancée, Sommer), Simon spends his time outside of work engaged in a variety of active pursuits. “Sommer and I are very active people, so we do a lot of fitness training, hiking, biking and kayaking,” he says. “We also like supporting independent local establishments like wine bars and restaurants.” When the opportunity arises, Simon and Sommer like to get away from it all by taking weekend trips to nearby destinations like Santa Cruz and Lake Tahoe.
In regard to his professional career, Simon likens running a business to a continuous balancing act. “I think you have to be a pretty well-rounded individual to be a successful business owner,” he says. “From overhead costs to managing employees to dealing with customers, there are a lot of aspects to juggle, so you have to maintain a balance. I think it’s also important to have a positive attitude, stay focused and not let the small things get to you.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Simon says he’d celebrate. “I’d throw a big retirement party, just to express my appreciation to my employees and all the people who have supported me throughout my journey. After that, I’d probably do some traveling. I have family in New Zealand, so that might be a good place to start.”