Episode 49: Solving for Year-Round Veg Management in Tropical Climates w/ Kevin Eckert

Episode 49: Solving for Year-Round Veg Management in Tropical Climates w/ Kevin Eckert

Welcome to the 49th Episode of Trees & Lines: Fresh Perspectives on Utility Vegetation Management​

Trees and Lines Podcast – Episode 49

Join Iapetus Infrastructure Services (IIS) COO Tejpal Singh and Principal Advisor Dr. Phil Charlton for a conversation with Kevin Eckert, President of Smart Trees Pacific.

Episode 49 Transcript

Philip Charlton: Welcome, Kevin. I appreciate you taking the time to join us on Trees and Lines.

Kevin Eckert: Great. Thanks for the time.

Tej Singh: Welcome, Kevin.

Philip Charlton: So, Tej, we asked Kevin to introduce himself in second, just so you know, Kevin and I’ve known each other a whole long time. I believe he’s a year ahead of me at WVU. Way back in the 70s.

Kevin Eckert: That’s right. Yeah.

Philip Charlton: So we have known each other for a long time. Kevin, I know you, and a lot of people who’re listening know you. But, for now, why don’t you introduce yourself, give us a little background, and tell us what you’re up to?

Kevin Eckert: Sure. My name’s Kevin Eckert. I’m a board-certified master arborist. I got a couple of forestry degrees at West Virginia University, as Phil mentioned. I was at a PGE, doing a talk at a PG&E conference, and they had everybody stand up. How many years? And I was the geezer. I had 45 years. It was like a gut punch.

I’ve been around for a long time. I started my career. I thought I was going to be in forestry, and that was my education, but our mentor, Dr. Ken Carvell, was sitting on the board of governors of what was Aspen Environmental Service at the time, and they did a lot of consulting and research for utilities.

Dr. Carvell was one of the leading utility consultants in the country at the time. So he directed me over to Aspen Environmental Services, which soon after I left, after a few years, morphed into ECI. I think a lot of people are familiar with Environmental Consultants Incorporated. They went back and forth, but at any rate, I did that, and he directed me to get experience in utility forestry, and I had no clue about utility.

I remember asking him, what’s a forest to do for utility companies? Well, I will tell you what I have learned. It’s quite the career for a forester. Wonderful opportunity. I got to say that I met a lot of good people and had a lot of great mentors. Get someplace. But from there, I was brought into New England Electric at the time. It is now up to National Grid to build their Right-Of-Way program.

And then, from there, one of the executives moved over to Eastern Utilities in Massachusetts, serving Massachusetts and Rhode Island. They didn’t have a program there. So I did the whole T&D, developed it, and put it together. And then somehow I got the reputation for fixing utilities totally by accident.

And Hawaiian Electric got into trouble in the early 90s with an island-wide outage. And ECI did the research, and Dennis Holewinski, who was present at that time, called me up and said, Hey, they need you in Hawaii. And I’m like, yeah, right. So at any rate, here I am. Obviously, I came here, built that program, and from there, things just grew. Tropical arboriculture is an exciting place to be.

From there, I am sitting still, not doing a whole lot. I got a lot of inquiries, and I was able to parlay a lot of what my mentors and I’ve learned before and since I’ve been here, and just like my general passion for utility arboriculture and arboriculture in general, I was able to parlay that into a very interesting and rewarding career that has taken me over to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, all through the Pacific Islands, doing consulting and training, and doing expert witness work in all these areas, including California.

I’m one of the lead consultants for arborists when there’s a utility tree-related fire. They typically hire me to do the investigations and determine what’s going on with that. So it’s something that I’ve kind of fallen into, but it’s been very interesting and rewarding. And now I would venture to say I’m in what I’m calling legacy mode.

People ask me about retirement. I’m never going to retire. First of all, what am I going to do? Secondly, I can’t sit still. Those who know me know I don’t sit still very well. But the next thing is, I love what I do, and I want to continue to share it. I mean, take what my mentors, Dr. Carvell, Ruffan Van Bossett at New England Electric, and many others that I can’t name everyone here that have given me the gift of knowledge, education, and training in that and spread it to folks to build our industry. So, that’s where I am. That’s who I am, where I am, and where I’m going.

Tej Singh: In some of the things that you said, you sound very similar to Phil in terms of, a) your connection with the industry and the people in it, and b) your unwillingness to retire and to stay in the game while continuing to build on how this industry has continued to evolve. You seem like you’re continuing to participate in a lot of really interesting things.

I’ve been pretty fascinated. I mean, I don’t think it’s a hard sell to not leave Hawaii. So, but the decision to leave Hawaiian Electric Company and go on your own and start a consultancy that you’ve been doing for, let’s say, a little over 20 years, talk to us a little bit about that transition for you.

What prompted you to just kind of move away from the institutional side of this business and go on your own?

Kevin Eckert: Yeah, it was interesting. In fact, some of my friends before I left Hawaiian Electrical kind of nudged me a little bit because it is institutional. Hawaiian Electric is a great company, and they treated me very well. There are no challenges there. But this is where the transition was when I worked for Hawaiian Electric. I got a call in the middle of the night from CLP Power Hong Kong, and they wanted to know if they could ask me some questions. This is out of the blue. This is in the middle of the night. We had phones by the bed with cords.

Philip Charlton: 50% of our listeners, I’m sure, don’t even know what you’re talking about.

Kevin Eckert: Exactly. That’s why I had this.

Kevin Eckert: But anyway, they call in one night, but they have some challenges. To make a long story short, they asked me if they could ask some questions and whatnot. I said, How’d you find me? And they were in Australia, at some conference, and someone there said, Call Kevin in Hawaii, and I’m not even sure who that was. I don’t know who I knew there, but anyway, what that tells you is that this is kind of a small, tight industry.

So, from there, I got a relationship with them and started doing work there, and the President of Hawaiian Electric saw a lot of what I was doing—kind of pro bono stuff outside. We were getting a lot of it from the municipalities and the state because we had the expertise internally.

He saw an opportunity to go what they call below the line. Utilities have businesses, and they see below the unregulated means below the line, the regulatory line. And so they’re private industries, which the corporation sets up externally. So they said you could set up a vegetation management consulting organization through and provide services locally, which would be value-added because we’re still Hawaiian Electric, it’s good for our customers, and we do good things.

Then we can do some work and maybe make some money for the company on the side. And that was fun. So I had a good team, and that was running along pretty well. And I had to keep my time split. I had to do my full-time job at Hawaiian Electric, and then I had to do that on the side. So I was working my butt off big time. But I was loving it.

At any rate, that was going on, and then 911 hit. And when that hit, there were a number of things that happened other than the obvious: Hawaii is so far away, and we are very isolated from our major industries. Tourism had shut down. And so we went into a real depression, if you will, financially.

And at that time, some of the below-the-line Hawaiian Electric had a big building and operated power plants, working with other utilities internationally in that area. And that organization wasn’t doing very well. They were losing big bucks. And so their below-the-line business wasn’t going well, and I was making money, but I’m making peanuts based on what their scale is.

I thought it was pretty good. So the board of Hawaiian Electric decided to shut down all those below the line. So the president came up to me and said, Hey, he apologized, and you do what you want. I understand. And at that point, I said, Could I take the clients and run with it on my own? And he said, You built it. We’re not doing anything with it. You do what you want to do.

So, thanks to his generosity in that, I decided to put up the other business plan, modify it a little bit, and leave Hawaiian Electric. I still do work for Hawaiian Electric and still did. Right after that, I kept it going, but we built a good staff, and I guess I was quite frankly getting a little bored just with routine maintenance and whatnot. We did a good job, and the program was in really good shape. So I think I left a really good legacy there. Ask them to know. Coming from me, I got a little biased.

I thought it was a good program, and then I started to move out and really get much more diverse. I still do a lot of utility work, but I got into municipal and commercial. So here’s another little bit about me I neglected to mention. I started out climbing trees. In WVU, I was doing work; we call it “buzzes” on the side.

When I worked for New England Electric, one of the other arborists that worked for the company had a little tree company aside. On weekends, we would do tree work, climbing, and stuff, and we made more money on weekends than we did working for the electric company, a regular job. I was doing it because I needed to make some more money, and it was fun. I’m a physical guy anyway, and I enjoyed it.

But I kept doing that. So I have continued to climb, and I still climb now. Not like I used to. That’s for sure. But I still do that. So that allowed a dimension that provided me with a scope that most other consulting firms and certainly utility foresters don’t have, because I could say, Hey, Mr. Eckert, what do you do? I climb trees, and that kind of sets people back a little bit, and I can speak with great experience and authority about what that means. And what it means. I can also communicate with the crew. So when I deal with many of my clients, both private property owners and corporations, when I’m in court testifying and I’m saying no, I know exactly what is required for this, and here’s why. Then I have the stand.

Tej Singh: How much of your business does consulting versus testimony work as a percentage split?

Kevin Eckert: That’s a great question that I should know. And because I get asked that a lot and I never know the answer, I’ll tell you a quick and dirty answer off the top of my head. And it varies depending on what’s going on. Back in late 2018–19, with all the California fires, 50% of what I was Now, if you’re talking time versus income, expert witnessing pays a lot better than just regular training. I do a lot of training for that. So let’s talk about time. I will use time as the metric for this.

But I would say that probably right now, 15% or 20% are expert witnesses. And that’s everything, from a utility tree fire to an injury. I’ve got a number of injury cases in Hawaii. I’m one of the lead experts here. I’ve got a case in Australia that’s just finishing up right now as a utility fire case. I have done it in Hong Kong.

If a professional tree worker gets injured or killed in Hawaii, OSHA typically hires me to do the forensics and investigation because they don’t have in-house personnel and they know me. So there’s quite a bit of property damage. I’d say 50:50 utility because utility projects are big projects, but numerically, I do more individual. Homeowner this thing, damage here, injury there sort of thing. So probably 15% or 20%.

Then consulting is probably another; I would say 15% or 20–25%, and then training. I have really found a niche in training. The state of Hawaii, the federal government, and foreign governments recognize my credentials for the electric hazard awareness program. I developed one of those and put it together. And I do that. I put together the upscale California Utility Vegetation Management pre-inspector training program a couple of years ago.

Larry Abernathy, a retired Navy executive, contacted me. One of the fallouts from the California fires, the big federal case, my testimony across the board on all fires—I say all, most, if not all—was that training of the pre-inspectors was missing? Significantly missing. My testimony was that, first of all, we do not have the capacity to fill the utilities’ requests and do not need requests. And I make that distinction because they were requiring college graduates, forestry graduates with a certified arborist credential, and then when true risk assessment qualification came from ISA, they were requiring that. Well, you know what, folks? There aren’t enough people out there to do that. And they also started, I’ll say, cheating, for lack of a better word; that’s not a fair term.

They couldn’t find people, and they had to cover their systems within the year to meet the criteria. They started dropping their qualifications, and their training programs became insufficient to be kind. I would use stronger terms, but this is being broadcast. It was inadequate.

Philip Charlton: We had gone in a circle. That’s the way it started off. It just didn’t have the training then, and now you can’t keep up.

Kevin Eckert: Exactly. And that’s it. It is exactly the way it was, and people were out there with no training, and we deposed the PI, the pre-inspectors. And many of those were not happy campers, and they weren’t trained. They testified, Here’s what the utilities require, here’s the contract required, and here’s what they were doing.

Virtually nothing. I don’t want to throw rocks. They weren’t following their own specifications and contract requirements, but a lot of it wasn’t their fault. It was a big machine that they built. So my testimony was, Look, you don’t need a college graduate. In fact, when I got into forestry school, I did the same thing.

I know a darn thing about utilities. You couldn’t send me out there doing PI work on a utility thing. I got to do it, and I was then certified as an arborist by the International Society of Arboriculture. That’s the recognized credential. You are also unqualified to do a damn thing in the field. That’s an educational thing. It’s a wonderful program. Certified arborists are smart people who have a lot of information, but many of them have never touched a tree in their life. They haven’t done the work. You need to get the qualification, which is an element of experience and training on top of that. And they just weren’t happening. They were throwing PIs.

So with all that, one of the things that the Federal Court came up with and my understanding is that they required PG&E to allocate in the finding, in the penalties. One of the elements is that I understand, and maybe I’m wrong, that PG&E was required to put money into a training program, so they went with Butte College. I’m not sure how that relationship was formed. Larry Abernathy was helping them, and so they got together. They contacted me because they knew I did a tree risk assessment.

I’m a tree risk assessment qualification mentor trainer for the ISA, and I’m a utility guy. So it worked with our team, and we put that together, and that program has been going on for a couple of years because my contention was that I can take a lineman and in two days I can train him to do pre-inspection level 1, and 90% of what we need to do is level 1, and level 1 is walk down the line and look at the trees and identify the obvious defects.

That’s 90% of when we go. I’ve been doing this for a lot of years, focusing on the same thing: the support that we can see. This number makes up 10% or whatnot of the trees you see; sometimes it’s less, and I don’t think it’s ever more, but at any rate, you’ll see a tree go.

You know what? I’d like to take a closer look. That’s level 2, where you get an arborist to walk around the tree and look a little closer, and we have the capacity for that. And I testify to that in several of the court cases. And so, that’s what we did.

We developed this program where I’m bringing people in high school diplomas and we’re telling them about utilities. We’re teaching them biology. We’re teaching them tree risk assessment. We are teaching them identification at a very basic level to help build capacity in our industry and service this need.

Tej Singh: Kevin, first of all, that’s great, and kudos to you for taking that initiative and trying to solve that gap. In recent months, through my travels, I have had some chats with perhaps peers of yours who are also attempting to do that for their locality on a much smaller scale to try to fill that gap.

Here’s a question for you. What about an idea of, like, coordinating what the ISA is? The is? The ISA is this big elephant of an organization, with lots of resources at its disposal. I know you know Caitlyn Pollihan, the new president. I think she’s very.

Kevin Eckert: She’s the executive director.

Tej Singh: She’s an executive director.

Kevin Eckert: And there’s a distinction on that. And I’ll tell you, I am president of the Western chapter of the ISA. So, we can talk more about that. We keep going.

Tej Singh: Yeah. No. So I’ve spent some time with Caitlyn, and we did a podcast with her as well, and my impression of her is obviously that she’s an innovative, fresh-thinking person who’s got lots of ideas. And the thing that you’re solving for is not something that you can discuss with this larger organization, and the organization’s focus also incorporates some of what you’re solving for. Why is that not happening? I’m just kind of curious.

Kevin Eckert: Okay.

Tej Singh: Or is that episode 2?

Kevin Eckert: You’re going to open the can of worms.

I was on the certification board for the ISA about 12 years ago. I tried to drive this, and the executive director at the time cut my legs out, and that was a personality issue. There was no foundation. People were internationally employed. I was getting cooperation. People were rocking and rolling. We were excited. We were building it, and it just got stuck.

As president of the Western chapter of the ISA, the biggest chapter in the world, I have revitalized that. I have approached. I have sat down with Caitlyn several times and talked about this. I am a subject matter expert for the ISA for true risk assessment qualification. We are pushing this. The challenge with ISA is that I will just be bold out there right now, and in my opinion, I have major issues right now with ISA. I’m not happy with the internationals because I don’t think there’s good leadership there. I would call them Moribund. I am the only one of our colleagues who retired from the University of Florida at Gilman. Phil knows them pretty well, and we have talked. We are working together.

He has developed a pruning micro-credential qualification because ISA is not something I tried to do, and they haven’t stepped forward. I went to Sweden at the ISA conference and met with the certification committee, which has been kind of toned down. That was what succeeded the certification board, which had a little more authority to do things.

And I said, I want to do micro-credits, and they turned me loose to do that, but we’re doing it through the Western chapter. There’s not a lot of support. I mean, there’s verbal support, but I’ve tried to push the ISA, and you can’t push them. They are just a giant bureaucracy, and I would suggest you and their board. I’ve talked to some of their board members, and they agree with me.

They are frustrated. They’re going to have a board meeting next week at the Arc, the Western chapter. The ISA conference is next week in San Diego, my conference. ISA’s board is going to be at my conference we’re going to have a meeting we’re going to have some more discussions, and it’s probably going to be interesting.

Philip Charlton: I wonder if part of the issue is that, you know, I was with you for a lot of years, and I did find the new administration to be more interested in the utilities than the old administration and cooperative. But I bet our membership is 2% of the total ISA membership, and that may be part of the driver there.

Tej Singh: Shifting gears a little bit, Kevin, something I wanted to make sure that we talked about on this podcast because since 2002, and certainly before that, maybe 10 years prior, I think your time in Hawaii, the tropics have become a part of, I think at least if I look at your CV and I look at the body of work and I think of Kevin Eckert, outside of the fact that you were Phil’s senior classmate at West Virginia, and you guys have got a similar history, you got a real tropics body of work. Puerto Rico is, of course, what’s coming to mind.

And I’d like to hear your thoughts a little bit on the work that you’ve done there in the past, how you think they’re currently doing, some of the challenges you see for them, and why it seems like it’s difficult. Obviously, the region gets battered by storms and infrastructure, which is a tough situation. I feel very badly for the overall sort of people there.

Talk to us a little bit about Puerto Rico. Does your view start to finish like thoughts?

Kevin Eckert: Yes. John Goodfellow and I, John was brought in because he’d worked for Quanta before. John and I came in since I had had tropical experience. So we did an evaluation of that program, though unfortunately COVID kicked in, and we never actually set foot. We had some folks there, and we’re dealing with a lot of those remotely.

But we had a good team on the ground there. And with John and my experience, I think we came up with some good challenges. But the problem is what we see with a lot of utilities. And I can use the analogy: when I was with New Electric and we bought Newport Electric and they didn’t have a program, Puerto Rico didn’t have a program.

Luma walked into no pursuit. So we were starting from scratch. And when people say it’s a jungle out there, they’re talking about Puerto Rico. We have vines.

I measured vines. I was telling John we were talking about Puerto Rico, and some of the guys here said here in Hawaii, I’m going up guy wires. I’m like, they’re like grown overnight. So I watched one, one time and measured it at 6 inches a day. You could see and listen. I think you could hear them grow, but maybe not quite.

We have trees that grow 20 to 25 feet in a year. So you’re dealing with a jungle. This is what I’ve learned. People ask me because I am very temperate. That’s my base, WVU, and whatnot. A lot of my work started off, in the first 20 years, being temperate, and so I’ve been able to look at both of them.

The difference between temperate arboriculture, temperate is about cultivation, tropical is about containment. It’s control. Vegetation is very much the obstacle, the enemy in that. So they’re constantly looking at that. And if they don’t, you wait too long and too long. It’s not very long. It’s ahead of you, and you’ve lost it. And that’s what happened in Puerto Rico.

So they had a huge task ahead of them. Because the other problem you have is dynamic and everywhere, and I appreciate this. People don’t like change, and a big change in your backyard. If somebody comes in with a mowing machine or whatnot and there’s a right away back there and it’s a jungle and they cleared out, that’s a big change.

And that changes a lot of what they’re looking at. I mean, I would characterize it as somewhat superficial, but maybe that’s not fair. When you look at the research done on things like trees and greens, sociologically, psychologically, and education-wise, there’s a measurable impact there. So it’s not entirely smoke and mirrors, but that’s the challenge there was with Puerto Rico. And that is not cheap.

And so, where’s the money coming from? And I guess the feds were involved. FEMA was there. There was a lot of federal money involved. I wasn’t involved in that so much. We had to come up with estimates of cost and what it would take to convert it, and then start managing it.

But the other problem is that they didn’t have the infrastructure there. And when I talk about infrastructure, we’re talking about people on the ground who have the knowledge and understanding of utility, vegetation management, and integrated vegetation management; they’re pretty much in that control mode. You’re out there; just kill it and cut it down. By the way, next year it’s going to be 20 feet again. They’re just chasing their tails, as I call them.

So we had to develop a plan to do that conversion. And the costs were monumental. And of course, when I came to Hawaiian Electric, I had to educate our management, saying, You guys have to chase your tail. We’re going to have to manage it. We’re going to have to take a little bit of a head over here, concentrate here, and slowly get us on a cycle as we’re fighting this jungle. And so you have to trust me on this. You had to go forward, and they did. The wonderful management here did that.

Puerto Rico’s situation is a little different in terms of culture and politics. The other advantage that I think I may have is that, first of all, my wife is Puerto Rican, so there’s a little bit of it. But beyond the island cultures, Hawaii is definitely a first-world country. But I work in the Pacific Islands, Puerto Rico, and whether we want to say it out loud or not, it’s got some challenges there. Culturally, it’s a little different. It’s not good or bad. It’s just different. The mentality is different than it is on the mainland and even in Hawaii.

But Hawaii is different from the mainland. American Samoa is different from Hawaii. So it’s Pohnpei. But these are all areas I work in. So I see that as well. And we’re isolated.

Now, we’re far more isolated in Puerto Rico. That was actually an advantage when we looked at it. But the bottom line is that you can’t bring people from offshore in there and think everybody’s going to love them. They’re not. And that’s a big issue there. So we not only had the vegetation challenge; we also had the manpower challenge and the personal challenge of bringing them in. And then the cost of mobilization of equipment and people, the displacement of people. These are costs that we had to consider that are a big obstacle. And then, when you bring folks in, one of the things about Hawaii is that everybody wants to be there.

They last maybe six months in Hawaii. They come because the cost of living is higher. The culture is very different. They don’t realize how I don’t want to dig in, for lack of a better word. They’re used to being in their little frame of reference. They come to a place like Hawaii or Puerto Rico, and they’re not the majority anymore, and they’re really comfortable in theirs.

And I say that only because we run into it. Folks come here; we bring linemen, three guys in, good people. They came in. They have a real cultural void. They don’t last six months, and a lot of times the wives do. The wife says, You know what, honey? I love the climate. This is nice here, but I’m going home to Mama.

We lose most of our people. That’s another dynamic that they don’t understand. That’s a challenge for island states like Hawaii and Puerto Rico. So you put these together, then. Then, by the way, is this what we’re trying to mess with? The vegetation is growing. It doesn’t care. And so they’re bringing in managers who don’t even speak the language, coming from a different framework. Good people are smart people. But man, good luck.

Philip Charlton: The interesting challenge of bringing Americans that might have some expertise and displacing the locals is just the dynamics that were involved here.

Kevin Eckert: Well, that’s one thing.

Tej Singh: It’s a complicated problem, for sure.

Kevin Eckert: This is one thing that I told them right up front. I said, Look, in Hawaii, I did not want to displace. So you are right on target. One of the things I told them up front was that you want to bring in people on a training cruise. Now, you’re not going to be as efficient, and this is going to cost you some money.

One thing that I have a challenge with here in Hawaii is that tropical mentality is not the same as temperate mentality. And this is a whole anthropological study. Margaret Read some of those folks about the differences. Everybody thinks tropical people are lazy. No, they’re not. We just don’t have to work for three months a year, and we die over the winter if we don’t.

You just do what you have to do. You live like this, and that’s a culture. They’re hard-working people. But it’s different. So you bring folks in with that mindset, and there’s a bit of a clash. So what I told them was, “Look guys, you are not going to displace.” In fact, you don’t want to. There’s an advantage to having the local people there. You need to find local people that are going to meet your standard of work ethic, and you’ll find them there. But you’ve got to be gentle, and you’ve got to come in and help them understand. So you have to treat guys like us. We’re not gentle. But some of us are, but slowly, as I said, what you got to do is build local leadership.

Tej Singh: I think what you’ve been able to do and prove out and take down field will obviously be very applicable to Puerto Rico, and I think there’s going to probably be a pretty welcome reception for it, given that they can now see, okay, like cultures, like landscape, it’s a little bit more identifiable, perhaps. Somebody coming from a region in the U.S. where the topography is so different, it’s probably a lot harder to digest versus looking across the ocean and saying, wow, that looks a lot like us. We’re open to hearing about it.

Kevin Eckert: Yeah. I mean, as far as the vegetation, the physical issues are the same. We still have some cultural things, and quite frankly, I appreciate and really feel bad for some of the things Puerto Rico has gone through and continues to go through. It’s a lot different, and that’s something that’s going to be hard. I don’t care where you’re coming from; that’s going to be hard because I’ve worked with some of those folks and talked to them, and you can see the edge, and I fully understand and appreciate the edge getting through that.

And I think we can, with a program like this, especially if we can give it, say, look, and this is what I’m doing in the Pacific Islands with the state forester in the islands. It’s the same approach. I’m like, look, I’m not the cavalry coming over the hill. I have resources. I’ve been doing this for 20 years.

So they know me, they trust me, and I can do this. You tell me what you want. I will help you get in. A lot of times they ask me questions, but at the end of the day, you decide because it is your community; it’s your island. Because then it’ll be sustainable, and then it’ll stick.

And so I think that’s what we need to do in Puerto Rico is, bring that into them, on their terms.

Tej Singh: I can’t thank you enough for making time today. I know we’ve been dancing around trying to get things scheduled because of time zones and different reasons, but I thoroughly enjoyed this. Like I said, I definitely want to do more with you. My head is back, and I’m going to talk to Phil after this. It’s unreal; I loved it.

Philip Charlton: I asked these two or three questions.

Kevin Eckert: I know. It’s fine.

Tej Singh: Kevin, thank you so much. Breath of fresh air. I love what you’re doing. Congratulations on just having an absolute, huge impact on this industry. And let’s keep talking about stuff. I think this is just fascinating. And I just want to unpack all of the things that you’ve got going on.

Kevin Eckert: I enjoyed this too. For me, this is worth it. If it gets out, it can change something. If someone can get a little nugget out of this, that’ll make their life easier and better for everybody else.

Tej Singh: No. Definitely. I can’t agree more.

Philip Charlton: Kevin, you’re doing great stuff. Keep it up.

Kevin Eckert: Thank you very much. I hope I’m nice.

Tej Singh: No, this is fantastic. Thank you so much, my brother. This is fantastic.

Kevin Eckert: All right. My pleasure.

Tej Singh: That’s it for this episode of Trees and Lines, brought to you by Iapetus Holdings. If you like the show, please give us a five star rating on Apple or Spotify. If you have any questions or comments on any of our episodes or ideas or topics or guests, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us at

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