Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Conor Johnston, Owner of Great Lakes Tree Experts Inc., located in Port Elgin, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are Great Lakes Tree Experts Inc. A professional tree care service offering a wide variety of arborist services, this includes tree removal, tree pruning, tree planting, 24/7 emergency service, stump grinding, general plant health care, line clearing, lot clearing, and more. Our staff is highly trained Ontario and ISA-certified arborists. We service the Grey & Bruce County regions, offering our services to commercial as well as residential customers.

Tell us about yourself

I have been in the industry for 11 years, where I started as a groundsman, hauling brush and lugging wood. The first time I stepped onto the job site, watching chainsaws fire up, the ground being covered in brush and logs, and the loud screaming of a woodchipper, I had immediately fallen in love and knew that I would be doing this for the rest of my life. I was seven years into the trade, extremely passionate and driven, and I was ready to build my future and create my own destiny. I then moved to Port Elgin from Owen Sound and started Great Lakes Tree Experts. My team is my oxygen, this is what makes it so easy to get up and go to work every single day. My team makes our work feel not so much like work but rather partaking in an extreme sport with your best friends.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I personally think my biggest accomplishment as a business owner is the atmosphere and lifestyle we have created at GLTE. It is an incredibly fun, joyful place to be, where everyone is able to completely be themselves. We are a very tight-knit crew who make transparency and radical truth our number one priority. In doing this, we are able to help each other grow and build each other up, all while being transparent with the utmost lines of open communication. We are a family.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

One of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner is the time you invest into your business. While most might work a 9-5, being self-employed, it never shuts off. You wake up thinking about GLTE, and you go to bed thinking about GLTE.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. All chips, all in. You need to bet on yourself. You have to be willing to take risks and take on a world of adversity. Be prepared to invest a lot of time and energy into your new venture.
  2. People. Once you realize that it's about the people, everything else will flow. Create amazing relationships and connections, treat people well and you'll be rewarded for it.
  3. Hiring the right people. Once you start to build a team, make sure you are hiring passionate people. You don't want to be hiring people who are just showing up for the paycheque. You want them to be deeply rooted and invested in the industry.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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