How a Chance Encounter Led to the Birth of One of Central Florida’s Best Tree Care Companies

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Central Florida Tree Care with 30th Anniversary Logo and Robert Miller standing beside his truck.

At Tree Care by Robert Miller, 2020 is a year that we won’t soon forget.

For Tree Care by Robert Miller, this year marks a special moment. And, we had no idea how many things would happen this year when we began preparing to celebrate this milestone.

2020 marks 30 years of service to Central Florida homeowners. Three decades of helping homeowners with their tree maintenance and removal needs flew by!

Tree Care began in Brooksville, Florida as an off-the-cuff idea from a stranger. It has grown into a second-generation tree care service with customers in Spring Hill, Crystal River, and beyond. Along the way, we’ve built a reputation as a friendly, professional, expert family business. Our neighbors all over Hernando, Citrus, and Pasco Counties know they can depend on us to keep their lawns healthy and safe.

How Tree Care by Robert Miller Came to Be

Robert Miller spent years in sales. His career took him all over the country and sometimes overseas. When his father passed, he knew it was time to come home to Central Florida. He settled in Brooksville to help care for his mother. To support himself, he returned to working in the family-owned gas station.

One day, Robert Miller saw a hitchhiker on the side of the road standing in the hot Florida sun. He decided to offer the man a ride, and they got to talking. The man suggested that the two of them find a chainsaw and start offering to trim people’s palm trees. Miller took the man up on his offer and got to work. This side business would eventually become Tree Care by Robert Miller. All thanks to a stranger on the side of the road!

It turns out that the hitchhiker wasn’t all that interested in sticking around. However, Robert Miller took his lifetime of sales experience and kept plugging away.

Robert Miller learned the importance of integrity while working at his father’s store. He knew that if he didn’t treat his father’s customers well, they tended not to come back! This lesson from his youth helped Robert Miller’s tree-trimming efforts. His customers soon learned to expect that same level of service.

Robert Miller’s perseverance paid off in a way he never expected. His step-father asked him to clean out a house he wanted to put on the market. One day, he came across a large sum of money that the man had misplaced. He could have pocketed the money with no one the wiser, but he chose to return it. Impressed with his integrity, his step-father gave him almost half of the recovered money, a car, and the house! Suddenly Robert Miller had a brick-and-mortar place from which to grow his business.

“Give good service and good product, and deliver what you promised.”

Robert Miller built Tree Care, brick-by-brick, on this philosophy. He in doing everything possible to make sure the customer is happy. Sometimes that means buying extra land to haul debris after a job just so homeowners aren’t left with the cleanup. Sometimes that means putting life on hold to help with hurricane cleanup. In fact, their experience after Hurricane Katrina left a lasting impact on them all.

That Time When a Hurricane Called Us to New Orleans

Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

Robert Miller loves using his skills to help people. When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, he saw a way to do just that. He quickly inspired his crew to help and headed out.

View of strip mall from truck with "Do Not Enter" spray painted sign after Hurricane Katrina
View from one of our trucks driving in a suburb of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

The Tree Care team brought their tree removal skills to the frontline of the devastation. The safe removal of damaged trees was a critical step in the rebuilding process. They were also always willing to lend a hand in other capacities. Sometimes that meant hauling debris. Sometimes that meant handing out water bottles. Helping to restore New Orleans was a huge task that required patience and perseverance. They worked hard and still look back on that time with pride. In fact, some men on that original crew are still with us today, working to make a difference here at home.

The Tree Care crew worked hard in New Orleans and were able to use what they learned and earned there to expand at home. He hated to see good wood go to waste, so he decided to build things from all the debris that came from job sites. An unexpected hitch in the plan would test Robert Miller’s newfound patience and perseverance. It turns out that wood needs to dry for a couple of years before it can be used for building anything. It took some time, but he was finally able to add yet another service to what Tree Care had to offer.

Tree Care by Robert Miller Matures and Transitions

The company transitioned over to be led by Robert Miller’s daughter, Jovan Miller-Zeller, in 2012. She continued to provide good service, good product, and deliver what she promised. As a result, the little Brooksville, Florida tree service continued to grow.

After giving it his all for 22 years, Robert Miller is most proud of Tree Care’s 30-year A+ Better Business Bureau rating. After seeing what his daughter has done over the past eight years, he will tell you he is even prouder of her. In fact, he says he is, “tickled to death how good she’s doing.”

From the beginning, Jovan Miller-Zeller’s top priority has been customer care. To make sure that care was the best in the area, she and her husband, Jeff Trent, decided to become Certified Arborists with the International Society of Arboriculture. ISA-certified arborists study the biology of trees. This includes their maintenance, safety, and diagnoses. When you hire an ISA-certified arborist, you are hiring an expert in:

  • Tree assessment and risk
  • Diagnosis of plant disorders
  • Tree support and lightning protection
  • Tree selection, installation, and management
  • Safe pruning practices, and
  • Tree worker safety.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg! Miller-Zeller and Trent bring a depth of knowledge to Tree Care that other tree removal companies in Central Florida don’t have. This knowledge means the difference between healthy or damaged trees, lawns, and homes.

Jovan Miller-Zeller is dedicated to the safety of both her team members and her customers. You may be surprised to learn that proper tree pruning techniques are at the top of that list.

Why Proper Pruning Should Matter to Homeowners

One common practice used by tree trimmers is lion’s tailing. The purpose is to keep trees from being top-heavy. This form of pruning removes the interior branches and leaves, leaving a tuft-like end on the branch. While this may be a hilarious look on your pet, it is not a healthy practice for trees. Tree branches pruned this way are weakened and more likely to be damaged in heavy winds. In fact, the heavy ends of the branches can act like an umbrella. When they are caught in the wind, the tree is much more likely to be completely uprooted.

An experienced arborist not only knows the dangers of lion’s tailing but also how to fix it. It is a slow process that takes years of careful planning and expert knowledge. Unfortunately, another popular pruning practice causes irreversible damage. Topping chops off the top part of a tree and often leads to tree death. (In many counties and municipalities in Florida topping is illegal.) At Tree Care, we know to avoid such dangerous and costly practices.

Raise Your Home’s Value by Taking Care of Your Trees

Jovan Miller-Zeller’s training taught her that having trees on a property is about more than looks. Well-cared-for trees add value to the home in a myriad of ways. Mature, healthy trees:

  • Raise property value by 7 to 19 percent,
  • Provide shade, which can lower the electric bill and reduce how often a new roof or paint job is needed,
  • Improve air quality by reducing pollution from traffic, and
  • Reduce noise pollution.

Of course, in Florida, homeowners have the added concern of hurricanes. Did you know that healthy trees can actually help protect property from wind damage? Meanwhile, old and sick trees are more likely to be uprooted or lose branches in a storm. An experienced arborist can help you choose which trees do best in storms. They can also teach you how to keep your current trees healthy. Avoiding “hurricane cuts” and other practices can help protect your property.

ISA-certified arborists are trained in structural pruning practices. This is a type of pruning that encourages healthy tree growth and keeps the tree strong.

In fact, that’s exactly how Jovan Miller-Zeller has approached running this company. She encourages growth while maintaining the roots her father put down 30 years ago. Under her leadership, Tree Care by Robert Miller has become the best tree service company in Brooksville.

How Tree Care Has Branched Out Under New Leadership

Tree Care has always been an integral part of Jovan Miller-Zeller’s life. She remembers her dad dropping her off at the YMCA in Brooksville. She would hang out with her friends while he was on the job. What stands out to her is that he would always pick her up with a smile, proud to have put in a hard day’s work.

Jovan Miller-Zeller worked in the office for Tree Care on and off throughout her teen years and young adulthood. She even took over the office for a while at age 18. But it would take a few more years of life experience before she felt ready to be more actively involved. Now, she is proud to be following in her father’s footsteps and celebrating this important milestone.

Over the years, the list of services that we provide has only grown. We’re more than just a tree removal service! In fact, Jovan Miller-Zeller continues to make Tree Care by Robert Miller a leader in the community through her yard debris recycling initiatives. We recycle any debris taken from jobs at our 10.5-acre property. And since we offer complete clean-up of the job site, we go through a lot of debris! With a full-service company like Tree Care, there really is no reason to call anyone else.

We are proud to say that the average employee has worked with our team for seven years.

We treat our employees like family. Under Jovan Miller-Zeller’s leadership, that means providing our crews with top-of-the-line safety gear. This is a shockingly rare move in the tree service industry. Crew members are also covered by insurance and workman’s comp. This protects the crew and homeowners alike. Miller-Zeller believes that happy, well-trained employees mean happy, satisfied customers.

We enjoyed seeing so many of our satisfied customers in June at our 30-year anniversary celebration. For those who don’t know, Jovan Miller-Zeller has a heart for our four-legged friends as well. Our “birthday party” raised funds for the 100 Acre Wood wildlife sanctuary. We were honored by everyone’s support!

While trees are important for our local wildlife, Jovan Miller-Zeller understands that they’re important to us humans too. They are vital for our environment and they provide personal enjoyment. For many of us, they even hold our fondest memories. At Tree Care by Robert Miller, we’ve been dedicated to keeping your trees healthy for 30 years – and counting!

Our Customers Keep Us Going

Best Tree Service Hernando County Certificate

Robert Miller’s foundational philosophy of “good service, good product, and delivering what we promised” has paid off in a big way. We are proud to have been voted Best Tree Service in the area for the 3rd year in a row. While our team has worked hard over the years, we know we wouldn’t be where we are without our awesome customers.

As a way to give back to this incredible community, we are dedicated to planting 300 trees over the next year. In fact, we’ve already started. Our own Sheriff Al Neinhuis planted our first one during our June celebrations.

Thank you to everyone who has been there with us along the way. We are excited to see what the future has in store for us. Here’s to the next 30 years!

How a Chance Encounter Led to the Birth of One of Central Florida’s Best Tree Care Companies

Time to Read: 8 min