North Suburban Tree: Counts on Dependable CMI Equipment in Tough Environments


North Suburban Tree began in 1979 and since then, co-owner Steve Blum has developed strong opinions about what equipment is best for productivity, maneuverability, and keeping employees safe … and CMI is the hands-down winner.

North Suburban Tree owns two CMI 450s with mulching heads, a 250 with a mulching head, and a 400 with a stump grinder. “CMIs are good, tough machines. They are well-engineered and made for cold weather,” Blum said. “Other machines we own seem to be prone to frequent breakdowns.”

Blum purchased their first CMI from Columbus Equipment Company in 2014 and soon ordered more. “We really appreciate the reliability we get with the CMI machines. Downtime affects all aspects of the production schedule, as well as overall costs and our reputation.” He particularly likes the FAE mulching heads CMI uses, noting that upsized bearings and shafts make the FAE heads “durable and tough.”

He also finds the CMI’s balance and maneuverability is excellent, especially on the hills North Suburban Tree frequently encounters. The company, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, primarily performs industrial land clearing, compost filter sock installation and seeding for highways, buildings and energy-related projects in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Projects can cover as much as 1,000 acres.

While CMI machines are made tough for adverse conditions, they have a comfortable cab that increases operator productivity, Blum said. “CMI cabs are certified for safety, which is very important to us. North Suburban Tree has the best safety rating in the forestry industry. Utilizing machines that offer operator protection has helped us achieve this status.”

The pressurized cabs keep dirt out, and they provide great visibility and creature comforts that help operators work longer shifts. “We meet and exceed customer expectations and scheduled deadlines, which has made North Suburban Tree one of the most sought after clearing companies. The overall CMI cab design provides our operators the comfort they need to work longer shifts, helping to reduce fatigue,” Blum added.

Another of Blum’s preferred tools is a Komatsu PC290 excavator equipped with a Rotobec grapple, an “unbeatable combination” in his opinion. “The PC290 is a good sized machine with enough power and maneuverability to handle slopes and get the job done. It has the weight, size and strength needed so you can handle the trees without worrying about the machine losing stability. It offers incredible control.”

“The Rotobec grapple equipped with a hydraulic chainsaw removes manual labor from many tasks, reduces hazards and is capable of more precise moves,” he added.

The PC290/Rotobec is frequently sent into difficult terrain where trees need to be moved and organized. Blum calls this combination “perfect for nasty terrain. It’s nimble, stable and can really get around. It can do much more than most machines can in that application.”

North Suburban Tree has been a Columbus Equipment Company customer for more than a decade, and Blum is very happy with the service and support they receive from the Environmental Division Sales Representative, Bob Stewart and Columbus Equipment technicians. “Bob Stewart is really knowledgeable, considerate and fair. The service department knows what we are up against, and if they don’t have the answers, they get them for us. We get great support from Columbus Equipment Company. They stand behind their commitment of service, and offer the support needed for their customers. We truly appreciate them,” Blum said.

Durable, maneuverable and backed by great support. It’s easy to see why Blum praises equipment from Columbus Equipment Company.