The Simonis Family Helps You Find the Perfect Tree
By Brandi Barnett
O' Christmas Tree, O' Christmas TreeDecember 2006
By Teresa Wilson
The holidays are upon us and many families are in search of the perfect Christmas
tree. Whether it is a Douglas Fir, Noble Fir, Silver Tip or the prestigious Nordman
tree, finding one has never been easier for those who frequent the Simonis Christmas
Tree lot on Churn Creek Road. For more than 25 years, the Simonis family has
provided exemplary customer service and beautiful fresh trees for their customers.
Customer service is paramount to the Simonis family. During the short three-week
selling season, clients are catered to; ensuring the tree-shopping experience is optimal,
from the choice of tree to the wood stand it sits on.
“People come for the service, and know they can get a quality product,” said owner
Buck Simonis. “We even custom-build the wood stands for the trees. We really like to
do that because they work much better than the ones you buy,” he added.
A 4th-generation woodsman, Simonis learned the trade from his father, Walter, a
long-time timber man whose parents moved to Redding in the 1940s. One of eight
siblings, Simonis grew up watching his father work in the industry and spent much of
his childhood helping run the family business.
“Working in the woods was basically a way of life for us,” said Simonis.
As a young boy, he remembers being awestruck watching an 85-foot Christmas tree
being loaded on a semi-trailer with the assistance of a large crane. The delivery
destination of this mammoth tree: Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland.
More than 30 years ago, Simonis’ father began working with a business partner, Jim
Jensen, who was in the Christmas tree business. After working with Jensen for a while,
Walter determined he enjoyed the industry despite the amount of hard work involved.
Trees are hand-selected by Buck and his father from their Oregon and south
Washington growers. The Simonis’ personally evaluate and then flag the trees they will
sell on the lot and only the best will do for their customers.
“It would be like going into a big corn field and only picking 100 of the best ears of
corn,” said Simonis.
Not only do the Simonis’ hand-pick their trees, but they spend much time with
their growers in the offseason, working the land with them side by side. The strong
relationship the Simonis’ have with their growers allows them first priority in selecting
trees for harvest. According to Simonis, all tree lots get their trees from somewhere and most of them come from Oregon.
“It’s a lot of work, 24-hours a day during the season. If a truck arrives in the middle of the night, we have to unload it,” said Simonis. As many as 1,000 trees are unloaded during the selling season, and great care is taken to ensure the tops and branches are not broken.
While the selling season may be short, preparation begins in the summer months with frequent trips to the grower’s farms to evaluate the upcoming harvest. Since Christmas trees are a crop, the weather, water and other conditions can impact the size and quality of the yield. By remaining in close contact with the growers, Simonis can better determine the size of the harvest in hopes to adequately supply the demand.
The Simonis family trees aren’t just from Oregon and south Washington; the family has property near Eagle Lake, just outside Susanville, where they grow Silver Tip trees. The Silver Tips grow at elevations between 5,500 and 7,500 feet, which makes getting to them difficult at times.
“There is really a lot that goes into harvesting the trees; a lot of elements that go with it. You’re dealing with rain, snow, wind. It’s really a brutal climate to work in,” said Simonis.
When harvesting the Silver Tips, Simonis employs a process called stump culturing. The process
involves pruning branches so that the base of the tree is bare, about two feet up from the ground with a few branches left at the base creating a window effect. This process slows the tree’s growth and allows them to fill out naturally creating a thick, full shape. Silver Tips are never manicured or sheared like most Christmas trees are. Once the Silver Tip is harvested, the stump along with the remaining branches at the base will regenerate another tree in about 2 years without having to replant.
“Christmas trees are a crop, but with the Silver Tips we don’t have to replant. We encourage what we call the mother stump to generate another tree,” said Simonis. After the boughs pull up and generate a new tree, they continue to grow about a foot a year,” he added.
Customer service and quality are what set the Simonis family apart. Families can have their Christmas trees wrapped with lights before leaving the lot, the stands are all custom built and whether you want your tree flocked or fireproofed the Simonis lot is definitely full service. Trees can even be delivered anywhere in the greater Redding area.
Located next to Taylor Motors on Churn Creek, the lot opens the Friday after Thanksgiving and is open seven days a week
from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.