SWFL Christmas tree farm owner continues to meet demand after 50 years
For one Southwest Florida Christmas Tree farm owner, demand is already through the roof. But, he’s doing his best to keep up.
“Tree lot. Bob speaking?” Bob Heath says whenever he answers the phone.
At Christmas 50 years ago, Heath wasn’t taking these calls, he was burning money.
“The first year I came here, I went to Naples all alone and I burned 200 trees,” Heath said. “And when I got home, my wife said you wouldn’t be crazy enough to do that again but here are fifty years later. Still doing it.”
Bob is still doing it for his wife. His partner in life and Christmas trees has since passed.
“I think we made a lot of Christmases for people,” said Heath.
Bob doesn’t skip years and neither do his customers. Little boys and girls who were coming here years ago and now moms and dads.
“Watching kids grow up now, you know watching all that. One problem I’m having is… remembering a few names. I see people, I know them and I’m struggling sometimes for names,” he said.
Bob may forget names now and then but no one forgets him, not even rival tree farm owners. Al Mueller is the owner of Uncle Al’s Christmas Trees. “Bob and I, although we’re competitors, we’re great friends. He’s actually seen my kids grow up,” said Mueller.
This business is hard work, but they always find time to decorate it with laughter. “Bob, 92, hires a drone,” you can hear someone saying.
“We had some ugly Norway pine, 50 years ago… and I mean ugly!” Bob reminisces.
It has been fifty years of selling trees. But the memories, not the tree, mean the most. “I think we make their Christmas part of Christmas make it happy, make it happy for them, they pay for it of course. But I think we make their holidays,” Heath said.
But only if you pick out the perfect tree.
“Oh they run around. Kids run around a lot you know. It’s been quite a life,” said Heath.
It’s also been quite a day for Bob as well. People have been calling and making sure he has the tree they want.
Bob says he does for now, but he does expect lots of people to need Christmas spirit more than ever this year.
So, he thinks it’ll be a fast-selling season.