Student Spotlight brings you the perspectives of horticulture students and insights into the future of the industry.

It wasn’t too long ago that Harrison Bond thought he wasn’t going to work at his family’s tree care company in Atlanta.

Early on in his time at Mississippi State, Bond says he wasn’t thinking about company culture. He was leaning toward working somewhere bigger, perhaps in another region of the country; after all, he had practically spent his whole life surrounded by his family’s company.

But after three internships at Atlanta Classic Tree Service, the company his dad started in 1987, Bond seems to have changed his tune on that entirely. He noticed that people laugh and hang out together in the mornings there, or have company dinners together after work. He’s noticed how loyal some of the employees have been to his father, including one foreman who’s stayed for over 20 years.

Photo courtesy of Harrison Bond

Now, Atlanta Classic is where Bond intends to work after he graduates in May.

“I was kind of chasing money and I wasn’t really thinking about culture, but once you’re in it and it’s something you enjoy doing, I think it completely changes your mind on how a job would be,” Bond says. “It really shows how important (culture) is and how it changes your complete perception of a job. It’s more of a hobby that you get paid for.”

Bond says he always spent time on the crews growing up, which he believes helped him learn the ropes of the industry before he first drove the 4.5 hours west to Mississippi State, where he’s working toward a landscape contracting and management degree. To satisfy the internships requirement necessary to graduate at school – and to work at home over the summer instead of elsewhere – Bond has officially worked in various capacities at Atlanta Classic Tree Service.

Currently, he’s working more in the office than before, learning the ins and outs of sales and financials that he never had a chance to work on previously. Working alongside his mother and others in the office, he’s seeing the behind-the-scenes business work not often explored at internships. Bond says he’s even helping out with acquisition talks as Atlanta Classic eyes another company, which is an experience he doesn’t believe he’d have anywhere else.

This also helped him back at school. He’s currently taking online classes to finish up his degree, but Bond says he felt comfortable with some of his classes because he had already experienced those lessons.

“I think one thing was, I was able to become a foreman on one of our crews early,” Bond says. “Having that little bit of leadership from that, when we had group projects, I was able to help lead the way.”

Of course, that also works both ways: Bond is able to bring some of what he’s learned at school to his family’s company, where he feels his ideas have been considered helpful, such as his computer skills and job estimating ideas.

Bond says he ultimately wants to help Atlanta Classic grow throughout Georgia and, though he’s served various roles in the company, he’s currently hoping to one day lead a sales team there as a sales manager. Being surrounded by the green industry has been a blessing in disguise, Bond says, as he’s grown to appreciate all that goes into the field.

“There is a little stigma with working with your hands. Sometimes people may think you’re not as smart, but I think through all the innovation, especially in recent years… I think some of that stigma will disappear,” Bond says. “What people don’t see is just how much thought and how much skill goes into all this.”