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Superdad: Chris Francis

Superdad: Chris Francis

Being a Board Certified Master Arborist, Chris Francis has unique understanding of trees: their growth patterns, their care, their various characteristics. The owner of Chris Francis Tree Care, he’s not only the boss, he’s also lead arborist of multiple crews that perform such tasks as pruning, removal, planting, plant health care, testing and “all sorts of things that most people have never heard of.”

Much like trees, children take special care, patience and an ability to nurture them in a way that stops bad growth and encourages healthy growth—a fact which Francis has learned firsthand as the father of two. Along with Chelsea, his wife of 15 years, Francis is raising a son and a daughter, both of whom he is trying to give the best foundation in life. Of course, being a business owner takes time away from his family, but the 44-year-old does his best to make himself available to his kids when they need him and be truly present in their lives. “My work requires a lot of hours, so I really try to make the best of the time I have with my family,” he says. “Being a dad is very rewarding. I have really great kids—and my wife does most of the hard stuff and deals with the day-to-day. I carve out time to coach soccer for both kids and attend most of their functions. I also like taking them on adventures and getting them out of the house. My kids know that I keep trees alive, healthy, and structurally sound—ultimately doing my part to make the world safer and more beautiful. They like seeing the big trucks driving down the road with my name on them, and I feel like they’re proud of what I do.”  

The example he’s setting—not only in his work to better the environment, but also in being a business owner—is only strengthened by the example he’s shown his children of personal growth and incredible strength of character. “I haven’t touched alcohol in almost 11 years,” he says. “I quit drinking just before my son’s first birthday. I was hung over, lying on the floor with my head pounding and a baby climbing on me, and I was literally and figuratively pushing him away. I knew from an early age that I wanted a wife and kids, and there I was, with the perfect life, the moment I had been waiting for—and I was letting alcohol get in the way. Giving up alcohol turned out to be a great decision. It keeps me out of trouble, I have no hangovers, and I have more time to spend with my family. There is no “drunk Dad/sober Dad.” There’s just Dad. And if I can lead by example, maybe my kids will have a better shot at staying away from drugs and alcohol.”

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Francis also believes in the importance of planting seeds of goodness in the people around him. One of his favorite and most memorable being a homeless man whose life he changed. “I can’t really put into words the joy I felt when ‘Mister Rogers’ ran up and hugged me to share the good news that he had finally landed a job,” Francis begins the 20-odd year-old story, backing up to explain. “His real name was Rick, but he looked like Mister Rogers from the TV show, so everyone called him that. He had been on the streets for years and needed to earn enough money to be able to get back home to his family. He had great ethics and attitude, but no one wanted to hire a dirty, stinky old man. I got him a haircut, a shave, a shower and some nice clothes, then coached him on how to present himself. It was pretty simple, but no one had taken the time or believed in him enough to help. The lesson I took away was that we can all make a difference, but we have to be intentional about it. Things don’t just happen; someone must be the one that makes it happen. I want my children to remember me as someone that worked to make the world a better place—both with the work I do with trees and the (hopefully) positive impact I make on others. I want them to be able to make a difference in the world, as well.”  

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