The Davey Tree Expert Company Invests in Their Employees with SEED Campus - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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The Davey Tree Expert Company Invests in Their Employees with SEED Campus

Graphic: The Davey Tree Expert Company

The Davey Tree Expert Company is committed to scientifically-based horticulture and environmental services, and to help with that, they are currently constructing the Davey Tree SEED (Science, Employee Education and Development) Campus in Kent, Ohio.

This 170+ acre property formerly housed Oak Knolls golf course and Franklin Elementary School on State Route 43. It will now serve as Davey’s specialized training and research facilities.

“The goal is to ensure Davey continues to attract and retain the most qualified, well-trained and engaged employees possible with the specialized training and research facilities planned for the campus,” says Dan Joy, executive vice president and assistant to the president with The Davey Tree Expert Company.

This new campus includes a 10,700-square-foot indoor climbing center, 25,000-square-foot training center, outdoor climbing center, tree canopy walk, native gardens, a historic barn event center, and more.

By mid-summer 2023, construction progressed with phase one, which included 43,000 cubic yards of soil being moved and stockpiled and 6,650 linear feet of walking pathway being laid. By December 2023, over 800 trees have been planted both for research purposes and the arboretum.

The SEED Campus is expected to be open by summer 2025.

“Once open, the general public is welcome to enjoy the trails through the native gardens and arboretum,” Joy says. “The historic barn will be open for limited community events. The indoor climbing center will be part of a partnership with Education Now Safety Assured (ENSA) that provides training to numerous work-at-height sectors. Other partnership members in the work-at-height sector will have access to Davey’s indoor climbing center through this parentship, and likewise, Davey will have access to the roughly 12 other similar facilities across the US to utilize for training.”


The training classrooms will more than double the size of the current classrooms at the Davey Institute across the street at Davey’s corporate headquarters. The Davey Institute was founded in 1908 to facilitate professional training and research.

Graphic: The Davey Tree Expert Company

“Davey is the oldest arboriculture company, founded in 1880, so it’s important for Davey to continue to provide industry-leading techniques and research to continue to lead the industry,” Joy says. “Davey also values training employees with the latest techniques, so creating more room for training will be a huge benefit.”

These classrooms will be used to teach many of Davey’s educational and training programs, including the Davey Institute of Tree Sciences (D.I.T.S.) classes. Approximately 50 students from Davey’s U.S. and Canadian offices travel to the headquarters to participate in this month-long training program.

“All employees have the opportunity to attend D.I.T.S. and the other annual trainings,” Joy says. “The SEED Campus will also house Davey’s online education team, which all employees have access to virtually.”

Joy says that providing training and advancement opportunities has helped Davey retain employees.

Science and Research

On the research side of things, the SEED Campus features greenhouses, research/diagnostic laboratories, replicated tree plantations, and mature tree, soil ecology and wetland research. Areas of study at the SEED Campus include tree physiology, soil science, plant health care, biomechanics, ecosystem services, operational efficiency and ecosystem management.

Photo: SEED Campus construction in February 2024

“There will be zone 6-7 plants to determine what plants can succeed in NE Ohio as the climate warms,” says Dr. Dan Herms, vice president of research and development at The Davey Tree Expert Company’s Davey Institute. “Davey Resource Group (DRG) is also planning research on the bog, other wetlands and Cuyahoga River.”

Davey’s Diagnostic Laboratory, currently housed at the Davey Institute across the street from the SEED Campus, will be moving to the SEED Campus once completed. Herms says most of the research conducted will be shared with the industry through presentations and publications.  

Sustainability Features

The SEED Campus is also on schedule to achieve an LEED certification. The campus will include many environmental-friendly features, such as on-site water management, a 650-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array, energy-efficient construction materials, the reuse of structural timbers from the previous on-site historic barn, EV charging stations, low-flow plumbing fixtures, bottle refill stations and LED lighting fixtures with occupancy and dim-control sensors.

Joy says that Davey’s vision is to “create and deliver sustainable solutions,” and one of its values is stewardship, “rooted in corporate responsibility — demonstrating environmental, social and economic stewardship in everything we do.”

“Davey works hard to live its values every day, so making sure the SEED Campus fits Davey’s values is important,” Joy says.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.