Clift improved operations to help Stanley Tree’s growth

WORK IN PROCESS: Stephanie Clift, Stanley Tree Service Inc.’s vice president of finance and administration, helped the company transition its accounting software to a new system that, if used properly, will generate job-costing reports. 
PBN PHOTO/TRACY JENKINS
WORK IN PROCESS: Stephanie Clift, Stanley Tree Service Inc.’s vice president of finance and administration, helped the company transition its accounting software to a new system that, if used properly, will generate job-costing reports. 
PBN PHOTO/TRACY JENKINS

PBN C-Suite 2024 Awards
LARGE PRIVATE COMPANY: Stephanie Clift
Stanley Tree Service Inc. | Vice president of finance and administration


CUTTING DOWN TREES is not Stephanie Clift’s forte. But she found other ways to help Stanley Tree Service Inc. grow over time.

When Clift began her career at Stanley Tree, there was only one other full-time and one part-time office employee. As the Smithfield-based company increased its operations, it was clear the office needed to increase its efficiency to ensure a strong operational base for the field services.

“Growth in the utility industry presented a heavy lift for office personnel due to very specific requirements from a billing and reporting perspective,” Clift said. “Coupling that with growth within our residential division, it was necessary to grow the office team.”

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Clift, Stanley Tree’s vice president of finance and administration, said that the reallocation of duties and responsibilities was always well-thought-out and analyzed based on efficiency, skill sets and necessary controls.

“Once again, as a team member was added throughout the year, various shifts have occurred to ensure that those best suited for various positions were placed in a spot that allows their skill set and knowledge to shine,” Clift said.

During her eight years at Stanley Tree, Clift developed an accounting department and implemented an abundance of policies and procedures to increase organization and efficiency throughout the company. Implementing the various processes has allowed the company, she says, to analyze metrics for a multitude of projects.

“Retrieving the relevant data from the field and converting and summarizing it into accurate and useful information allows for field leadership and upper management to make strategic and effective decisions,” Clift said.

When she was first hired by Stanley Tree in April 2016, Clift was asked by the company to develop a process for job costing. Six months into her job, Clift helped Stanley Tree transition its accounting software to a new system that, if used properly, generates job-costing reports.

This process included changing payroll processing companies, implementing a new payroll process for collecting timecards for all 286 employees by job number for all hours worked, implementing controls to ensure accuracy and reliability, and learning how to query databases and extract necessary information in a semi-automatic manner.

“Through trial and error, I was able to establish various reports tailored to our industry and operations to be able to generate reports allowing for ­real-time metrics,” Clift said.

Within the last two years, Clift says that she has shifted some of her attention toward operations, helping field managers become more efficient and organized.

“Over my time with the company, I still cannot tell you the proper way to cut down a tree, but I have learned the industry to the extent that I have become an asset in understanding how the various major customers operate, expectations, contract nuances, bid compilations, reports required, questions that have been asked, trends and so forth,” Clift said. “I have been working closely with several managers helping to develop and elevate their organization skills and critical-thinking skills from a business perspective.”

Julian Emerich, Stanley Tree’s director of marketing and purchasing, said Clift has made a substantial impact on company operations. As a result, Stanley Tree has experienced consistent growth year over year in both top- and bottom-line sales, increased morale, increased headcount and improved retention rates.

“The company and its employees continue to advance despite the economic and labor force challenges the current environment offers,” Emerich said.

Additionally, Emerich noted that Clift has completely overhauled the structure of the office and reallocated resources to streamline day-to-day operations.

When it comes to marketing strategies, Clift pointed out that the assistance she provided from a marketing perspective was all data-driven. As the company’s marketing director worked to identify the best avenues to promote and advertise the business, Clift says she helped compile data based on geographical presence.

“This [provided] a tool for the determination of which strategies might be most effective,” Clift said.

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