Family continues tree farm tradition
By Nicole Burns for the FCT
“My grandmother started selling trees in 1982.” For Andy and Pierce Dolan, Christmas trees are more than adornment for living rooms each December. They’re a family legacy.
The father and son team run D&D Christmas Tree Farm in Oak Grove. It’s a business Andy said his grandmother never intended to start.
“She got laid off by Ford Motor Company,” said Andy. “She went to the Extension Agency at the courthouse, and they set her up with planting Christmas trees. She just had to have something to generate a little income.” Dorothy Dolan passed away in January 2009, leaving the business to Andy, who is already making plans to pass it along to his boys, River and Pierce.
“I’d like to have some income coming in next year when I turn 16. I need some gas money,” said Pierce. Andy admits the tree farm isn’t a big money-maker, but it is an important tradition. “Most of our customers are parents who came out here when they were kids, and now they’re bringing their kids,” said Andy. “They run around out here. Take pictures of each other. Let the little kids try and cut the tree down and take pictures of that.”
With trees ranging from 4 feet to Clark Griswold-sized, he said the average cost of a fresh tree is about $20. “We try not to have a lot of overhead,” said Andy. “There are other tree farms that have Santa Claus and hayrides and petting zoos and all that stuff. It’s just me and Pierce, and my wife helps when she’s off.”
D&D tree farm allows customers to pick and cut the trees themselves, but the Dolans will help out in a pinch. “If they’re not able to cut it down themselves, when they find the one, they can get one of us to cut it down and drag it out,” Andy said. The one thing that has continued since the tree farm first sprouted is the connection the Dolans try to make with customers. That was a business practice Grandmother Dorothy insisted on. “She lived here by herself, and she loved to talk to everybody who came out here. She’d get on to me for not talking enough to people and finding out who they are and what their kid’s names are and what’s been going on. We’ve gotten better at it,” Andy said.
The oldest Dolan son, River, is away at college, so younger brother Pierce is being groomed to take over the family business. “We don’t really have the time to do it,” said Andy. “I’m going to let Pierce decide what he wants to do going forward.”
Pierce said he wants to utilize more technology moving forward. “I want to have more advertisement to have more business.” Both agreed that keeping Grandmother Dorothy’s heart for their customers will be a good business practice that will transcend the generations.