As a Royal Marine, Graeme Ogg saw conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan but nothing could prepare him for redundancy as Covid-19 hit.
After leaving the Royal Marines as a sergeant in 2013, he went into the oil and gas industry.
As the oil price crashed in 2015 Graeme was made redundant from FMC Technologies but quickly found other work.
But as the pandemic hit and oil price fell last year he was made redundant from the sector again.
The Monifieth man was furloughed and then paid off by French drilling pipe firm Vallourec last summer.
Made redundant during lockdown
“Redundancy is hard to take, especially the second time from an industry that prides itself on looking after its workers,” he said.
“I was feeling very low and a UK-wide lockdown didn’t feel like an optimum time for job hunting.”
The time out of work gave Graeme time to reflect on what he wanted to do with his career.
He thought back to the time he’d spent working with his late uncle, Chris Storie, who was an arborist, trained to care for trees.
He realised it was a perfect time for a new start working in the outdoors as his own boss.
Help towards training costs
“I used to help my uncle as his ground worker when I was on leave from the Royal Marines,” Graeme said.
“Over the course of 10 years I gathered a fair bit of practical knowledge and experience.
“But I didn’t have the certification to take it any further.
“I decided I wanted to do a month-long residential course in Cornwall to get the qualifications but the cost of the course and equipment was around £8,000.
“I had some unused training credits from my time in the military but it left a big funding hole.
“Amazingly, the cost was covered by an employment grant from Poppy Scotland, who support members of the armed forces.”
The course was tough with long, wet days but Graeme had never been happier.
He realised he’d found a passion and, with qualifications and confidence, couldn’t wait to form a company.
Timber Tree Surgery was born in December. Word spread through social media and he’s been taken aback by the levels of demand.
Light at the end of the tunnel
“I’ve never been mentally stronger or fitter. Marines are a real hard bunch but when you’re made redundant it’s soul destroying.
“This is my light at the end of the tunnel and I’ve received incredible support and encouragement from those around me.
“I’ve found something I’m good at and enjoy. My office is a tree and I’m happy.
“It’s gone so well since I started and I’m getting a lot of business through word of mouth. I now have a wee team of guys I use on a regular basis and am continually investing in equipment.
“Redundancy twice in five years was hard to take but I picked myself up. Hopefully I’ve got a blossoming business and career out of it.”