In the trees

Tom Mugridge ’82 makes significant contributions to arboriculture

By Ryllie Danylko ’15

Tom Mugridge ’82 grew up next door to the business of which he’s now the general manager – Forest City Tree Protection Co. in South Euclid, Ohio. When he began working there in seventh grade – pulling weeds and mowing grass – he had no idea he’d cultivate such a passion for arboriculture.

This love of trees and a dedication to the business earned him the Honorary Life Membership Award from the International Society of Arboriculture in August. The award is given to members who’ve made significant contributions to the progress of arboriculture. Mugridge is one of only nine winners of ISA’s 2012 Awards of Distinction, sponsored by Bartlett Tree Experts.

Mugridge joined the Ohio chapter of ISA in 1983 and worked his way up the ranks. He served as chair of the awards committee for several years and became chapter president. He was one of the first few arborists in Ohio to take the international exam to become an ISA Certified Arborist.

While the award is one of Mugridge’s biggest career accomplishments, he humbly states: “I’m not one who looks for awards or recognition. I like to do things behind the scenes.”


His humility is apparent to ISA president Colin Bashford.

“He’s never self-promoting and always is eager to help others learn,” Bashford says.

Though Mugridge’s interest in trees began at a young age, he didn’t intend to make a career out of it.

“When I grew up, I wanted to be a psychiatrist or psychologist because my mother worked in a doctor’s office with psychiatrists and psychologists,” he says. “I used to type their patient reports they’d send downtown. I was interested, so I pursued that.”

Mugridge, who earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology at Carroll, still maintains friendships he made during his time at JCU. He credits the University for giving him a well-rounded education and being the place where he met his wife, to whom he’s still happily married.

JCU instilled in Mugridge a desire to continuously learn more to improve the business.

“I’ve attended more than 100 conferences and meetings throughout the years,” he says. “Sharing what I’ve learned to help our clients maintain their trees in the best possible way is my greatest accomplishment.”

Those close to Mugridge cite his modesty and wisdom as the driving forces behind his success. Forest City’s office manager, Sue Ankrum, who has worked with Mugridge for 13 years, says his knowledge of trees and educational background are why he’s good at what he does.

As general manager of Forest City, Mugridge’s duties include overseeing all operations in the tree division; however, he appreciates the fact that he’s still able to interact with clients by making house calls.

Mugridge discusses what to do with an elm tree with a coworker.

“I look at trees to give people recommendations for care and cost estimates,” he says. “I spend a lot of time in the field.”

Forest City serves about 800 regular clients – mostly in Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights – annually, providing services such as fertilizing and insect disease control.

“Most of our clients are within a five- to six-mile radius of the main office,” he says. “We have a proximity advantage. We get to them quickly, which keeps cost down, too, so we can provide services at a reasonable cost.”

Mugridge’s interest in arboriculture extends beyond his job. He’s involved in projects with the American Society of Consulting Arborists, and he volunteers for the Cleveland Metroparks.

As for future career plans, Forest City is working on relocating to a new, nearby location with an improved office space. Mugridge plans to use his position as an Honorary Lifetime Member of ISA to further his education and expertise in arboriculture to provide the best possible service to clients. JCU

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