Fluvanna Faces: Kelley and Shawn Metcalf

By Harvey Sorum

Kelley and Shawn, are you natives of Fluvanna County?  If not, what brought you here?

Shawn was born and raised in Charlottesville, and I moved to Charlottesville in 1996. We moved to Fluvanna in the mid ‘90s to find land that we could afford for the growth of the business in the future. We also loved the idea of living more rurally, and raising our children in a more rural setting.

Tell us about your family.

We have been married for 25 years, and have four children, two sons-in-law who all graduated from FCHS, as well as two grandchildren and one on the way. Our daughter Halle is married to Logan Walls; her high school sweetheart. They live in Clover, SC, and they have our two perfect grandchildren, Lincoln, 7, and Stella, 4. Sariah is married to Ethan Vaughn who currently serves in the Air Force and used to work for us and was one of our best employees! They live in Eielson AFB in Alaska where he is stationed but plans to re-join the family business after his service. They are also expecting our third grandbaby!! Our youngest, Shawn Jr. is an ISA Certified Arborist and climbs trees for us. He has embraced the family business and his natural talent for tree work is so fun to watch. He is the assistant coach for wrestling at FCHS.  Our oldest son David served in the Marine Corps after high school and now lives in Charlottesville where he works in the information technology field. 

Have you always been in the tree and landscaping business? 

Shawn started this business at 13 years old in Charlottesville in just the landscape service area. At that time, he had to pay his employees to drive him because he didn’t have a driver’s license. Trees came into the picture a couple years later when he developed a passion for tree work. 

How long has Metcalf Tree & Landscape Services been in business? 

Since 1982. 

What are some of your most memorable jobs? 

We have many memorable jobs over the last 42 years from responding to tornados in North Carolina to hurricanes and derecho in our immediate area and throughout Virginia. One of my most memorable jobs was probably the take down of the historic Tarleton Oak in Charlottesville, not only because of the historical significance with bystanders waiting to go into the “drop zone” to run and retrieve souvenirs. It was large, measuring 55’ in circumference, yet hollow enough to cut down with a 16” chainsaw. It was even more memorable because it was one of the few times my father, Dale R. Metcalf, who retired as a professor at UVA, came out to the job site with me. One of my favorite pictures is one of my dad and I in front of the historic Tarleton Oak just minutes before we took it down. I have been assaulted with an axe, delayed by tree huggers, been hugged, and begged by homeowners all while trying to get jobs done. I ‘ve calmed tears of sadness and joy when clients have lost pets, cars, houses etc. in bad storms and tree related disasters. We truly care about our clients, from the first time Kelley gets a call to the last debris being raked. 

Shawn Jr., did you see yourself working in the family business when you were young?  No, I was hard headed and wanted to do my own thing but didn’t know what that was. 

What changed your mind? 

The first time I climbed a tree and could hear the sound of the wind and leaves, all the sounds of nature; especially some of the amazing views that central Virginia has to offer.

You told me you do community service. What does this involve? 

Many years ago we noticed a need in our community for firewood to be donated to families and individuals who could not afford to heat their homes. After a few years the word spread and we were able to work with area churches, and organizations to help more and more people. Start A Spark of Central Virginia is now a non-profit that has many volunteers that split and deliver the wood we donate from Metcalf Tree Service. We hold wood splitting and delivery events for those in the community that want to help keep others warm in the winter. We also will have a calendar available on the website for people to sign up to split wood or make deliveries. These opportunities really give volunteers the hands-on feeling of helping someone in need. There are so many people that still heat with wood stoves, and it is the most humbling experience to take wood to a family or individual that otherwise would go cold. www.startasparkofcva.org 

Do you have time for any hobbies? If so, what? 

We love to go to Nantahala, North Carolina, in the mountains where the trout and creeks are flowing. We have learned that to really decompress and rejuvenate ourselves we need to take time away. Truly away. We love to fish, hike, white water raft and just spend quiet time together. We love to spend time at home with our family and friends playing cards or games. 

What have been the most important events in your lives?

I would say blending our families and the birth of our next two children. Building our home, and our membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The weddings so far of our two daughters and David’s boot camp graduation. The birth of our grandkids – Kelley was able to be there for both. 25 years of marriage, now that’s an accomplishment. Naturally, watching any of our kids or crew progress through milestones in our family and company is always fun to be a part of.

Any regrets? 

No, that’s an interesting question though. Our family’s motto has always been – “Everything is subject to change,” because of the nature of the tree business, the emergencies that can arise and ever-changing schedule; we have always said between us “no regrets.”  

What are your goals for 2024 and beyond? 

We are excited to continue to invest in our employees and programs that will educate, train and provide the needed skills for them. We are excited to continue to build relationships, personally and in the community through business and Start A Spark of Central VA. Our business motto is “Building relationships through Quality, Integrity & Charity.” It’s printed on every shirt and every truck. Safety and continuing education for our employees is critical. We do everything to bridge the gap for young men and women to enter the tree care industry. We want to show the opportunities that are available for those that don’t want to take a two year or four year traditional college route. Many trade businesses struggle to find good employees. Particularly for us, working outside in many weather extremes sometimes, isn’t for everyone.

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