At 15, James Flawith fudged his age to work for Fields Sawmill on the weekend graveyard clean-up crew in 1996. He learned about hard work, discipline and management from foreman Ken Jones, holding the job until the mill shut down several years later.
A second job with Courtenay public works helped pay his way through college. He wound up with an arts degree, a criminology diploma and a desire to do something that mirrored activities such as rock climbing and mountain biking.
Flawith landed a job with Qualified Tree Service, which specialized in tree work for BC Hydro around high voltage power lines. He discovered tree workers are, in fact, ‘industrial athletes.’
“I have a lot of respect for anyone who works in our industry,” Flawith said. “At the highest level, tree work is physically demanding, requires an ability to think and plan ahead, provides a team-based work atmosphere and gets the adrenaline pumping. The job was a perfect match for me.”
He apprenticed as a Certified Utility Arborist, and became Qualified’s crew foreman in 2008. He also managed to start a proprietorship and consulted for BC Hydro after work and on weekends, saving enough to incorporate his company into Precision Tree Services.
Flawith married his girlfriend Shannon the same month the company was incorporated. In 2012, when Shannon gave birth to their first son, Brady, the couple moved back to the Comox Valley from Victoria.
In hindsight, Flawith doesn’t recommend getting married and starting a company in the same week.
“I guess you could say I like to do things the hard way.”
He and Shannon, after moving to a house in Comox in 2013, added a second son to their family with the birth of Lucas. The couple are soon expecting a third son.
“We’ve been more focused on giving back and helping out in the community, supporting great charities like YANA,” said Flawith, a member of the Comox Rotary Club. He is inspired by Rotarians’ commitment to goodwill, fellowship, and improving the quality of life locally and internationally.
He loves splitting his time between family and work.
“Changing a dirty diaper or cutting down an ugly hazard tree will both get the adrenaline pumping, right?”
Flawith added a second bucket truck to the Precision crew this year.
“I still jump out of bed in the morning to go to work with our crew, it’s just too much fun.”