Oct 28, 2021
SHEPHERDSTOWN ROTARY CLUB HONORS VIKING TREE SERVICE OWNER
The Shepherdstown Rotary Club has presented its 2021 Vocational Service Award to Erik Berndt, the founder and owner of Shepherdstown's Viking Tree Service.
The presentation was made at the Club's October 26 weekly breakfast meeting at Shepherdstown's Bavarian Inn. The accompanying photo from the breakfast shows Berndt, (center), flanked from left to right by: Viking Tree crew members Dillon Feltner and Robin McGrorty, Viking Tree foreman Trevon Hester, and Shepherdstown Rotary Club President Steve Campbell.
The Rotary Club gives this award each year to an outstanding community member who embodies values and principles that exemplify Rotary ideals, especially service above self and a commitment to high professional and ethical standards.
This year, Campbell said, the Club wanted to recognize Berndt especially for donating a great deal of his firm's time and effort over the last two-and-a-half years to maintaining the trees at Shepherdstown's Morgan's Grove Park.
"As you all know, the Park has a lot of old trees that always need a lot of work," Campbell said, "and the amount of time Viking Tree has donated to trimming, removal of hazardous limbs, and trees that have died has amounted to hundreds of hours, worth many thousands of dollars. That's meant a great savings to the Shepherdstown Community Club, which owns the park, and it's an impressive ongoing commitment. It's great to see a local company willing to pitch in to help maintain an important community asset in this way. We hope it sets an example that other businesses in the area will want to follow."
Born and raised in California, Berndt after high school started working as a ski patroller and emergency medical technician in the Lake Tahoe area. He enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1998 and received a commission in 2011. He completed a Master's degree in Cyber Systems and Operations at the Naval Postgraduate School in 2016, and was afterwards assigned to a software development project at the Coast Guard facility in Kearneysville.
He launched Viking Tree Service as a part-time venture in 2017 with his son, Trevon Hester, while winding down his Coast Guard career. They started out doing tree work on weekends with a few chainsaws and a pickup truck.
The firm has been in business full-time since the spring of 2019, and it has grown to include four full-time employees in addition to Berndt. Based in Shepherdstown, it currently serves Jefferson and Berkeley counties, but plans to expand into Maryland and Virginia shortly.
Berndt says the firm has been focused since "day one" on "delivering superior customer service and following industry standards for safety, tree care, and technical operations." It specializes in hazardous tree removal but handles all kinds of tree work.