William James (Jim) Cortese, graduate of the University of Tennessee with a degree in Forestry, began Cortese Tree Specialists in 1977 with a 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Station Wagon, a hand saw and a pole pruner he purchased at a Sears Department Store. The company was capitalized with $380.00 he had saved up over the years from his childhood. The station wagon was quickly replaced with a small yellow Ford Courier truck and then to a green F-150 pickup truck with plywood sides. Wood chips had to be removed by hand.
The company continued to grow under the slogan “We Save Trees,” adding several trucks and expanding to up to 20 employees at peak times. Cortese has not only grown as a company but as an active participant in the community. Employees enjoy sharing their time and talents with many local events and organizations, including the Dogwood Arts Festival, Knoxville Tree Board, Habitat for Humanity, Knoxville Green, Rotary Club, Tennessee Urban Forestry Council, Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis, Lions Club, UT Arboretum Society, East TN Opera Company, and Muscular Dystrophy.
Cortese has always prided itself in professionalism and has been a long time member of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Mr. Cortese has insisted on the best in tree care from his employees and has led the fight in the Southeast against the harmful and ugly practice of topping trees. This dedication has led to Cortese Tree being one of the top residential tree service companies in Knoxville and Tennessee. They were acquired by The Davey Tree Expert Company in 2014, which they believe will continue their success in the future.