Vine & Branch in Carmel going strong after 40 years


By Mark Ambrogi

It all started with Jud Scott picking up sticks after an ice storm in March 1976.

Now more than 40 years later, Scott’s Vine & Branch business is flourishing. Scott, a 1976 Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, started working on trees as a summer job while at Wabash College.

“After I graduated (in 1980), it was either go to grad school or go get dirty,” said Scott, who majored in history and religion. “Here we are 40 years later. I figured I started something, let’s see where it goes.”

Scott, a Carmel resident, named his business Vine & Branch in 1980. Vine & Branch, which moved into its business at 4721 E. 146th St., Carmel, in 1997, provides tree and plant health care.

“It was just me, a chainsaw and a truck (at the start),” Scott said. “In 1980, I had a woman call about a tree leaning over, saying she thinks it needs to be cut down. I looked and said ‘It’s fine, I’ll send you an estimate.’ She called me two days later and said, ‘Skip the estimate, come clean it up. It fell.’ It clicked in my brain that I better learn the signs of hazardous trees because this lady obviously knew more than I did.”

So Scott dedicated himself to learning hazardous tree evaluation. Scott joined Indiana Arborist Association and later joined the International Society of Arboriculture. Scott, a registered consulting arborist, runs a second company called, Jud Scott Consulting Arborist. He consults as an expert in legal disputes nationally.

Vine & Branch is in a house in what was once the town of Gray. The house was built in 1860s by Hinchman Haines, a Quaker.

“This was a stop on the Interurban (an electric railway) between Conner Prairie, Gray and Bethlehem (which became Carmel in 1874),” Scott said.

Scott said it’s possible the house was once part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. Scott said one of the previous owners pulled loose bricks out and found a cave, where shackles perhaps taken off of slaves had been stored.

“We can’t really substantiate that, so it’s a little bit of urban legend,” Scott said.

Vine & Branch uses wood they cut down from trees to make furniture at a small mill.

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Scott’s tips for success

1. Create a corporate climate that attracts good quality team members and that helps them to thrive.
2. Seek out good advisers. You need a good lawyer, accountant and banker.
3. Continually learn and keep your knowledge current.
4. Join your industries’ service organizations and mingle with people who know more than you do.
5. Always make time for family and friends.

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