Mike Hernandez: An Outdoor Opportunity
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
SANTA CRUZ — Mike Hernandez has always loved being outdoors, so when he accepted an opportunity to give tree work a try, it was hardly going out on a limb. “One day, about a year out of high school, I ran into a family friend who worked in the tree service industry, and he asked me if I’d be interested in trying it,” he remembers. “I had worked a couple of other jobs by that point and learned that working indoors wasn’t for me, so tree service seemed like it might be a good fit. As it turns out, it was—I fell in love with it and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Today, as operations manager of Lewis Tree Service, Inc., Mike says he enjoys multiple aspects of his career. “I still enjoy working outside, but I also get a lot of satisfaction from seeing the jobs run smoothly. Additionally, I enjoy the camaraderie of working with the crew. It takes a little bit of effort from everyone to make the job go well, and it’s neat to be a part of that.”
A resident of Watsonville (where he lives with his wife, Sydney), Mike spends his time outside of work on a variety of pastimes. “I’m an avid cyclist,” he details. “I raced BMX for years, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve become interested in mountain biking as well. I’m also into vintage vehicles—I have a couple of motorcycles, as well as a 1974 Econoline van that I’m constantly working on. Sydney and I also enjoy going camping whenever we get a chance.”
In regard to a professional philosophy, Mike espouses the importance of teamwork. “As the phrase goes, ‘Teamwork makes the dream work!’” he quotes. “That’s really big for me, especially being in an industry where pride and machismo can get in the way of productivity. I try to emphasize to our guys that we’re all on the same team, and the better they can work together, the easier everyone’s job is going to be.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Mike says he’d hit the road. “I used to go on a lot of road trips when I was younger, but it’s not as easy to get away these days. So, if I retired, I’d load up the van and travel the country with my wife, camping all along the way.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Shogun Japanese Restaurant in Santa Cruz.
Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: Definitely a night owl. During the week, I’m up early for work, but on weekends, I usually stay up way too late and sleep in.
Q: What’s the most death-defying feat you’ve ever attempted?
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: I’d probably do a tour of East Asia and visit countries like Thailand and Singapore.
Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: Anything with two wheels. As a kid, I was always riding bikes—I guess not much has changed!
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