Haworth College of Business News

Trees are the treasures at Timberly

For over 67 years, Timberly Tree Farm, just a few miles from Sturgis, Mich., has been the site where many area residents shop for their live trees for the holidays.

David Locey is no exception, and he has many fond memories of taking his family to the farm since his children were born.

The scent of fresh pine from the wreaths and  roping fills the shop along with all kinds of holiday trimmings and décor from garland and ornaments to holiday figurines. Guests can come in from the cold to enjoy hot cider, and children can visit with Santa during special times throughout the holiday season.

Today, Locey, a 1980 accountancy graduate of the Haworth College of Business, and his wife, Cherie, are the owners of the 100-acre farm. Perhaps his love for farming, yard work, gardening and the great outdoors is what inspired him to move across the street from his Grey Lake home and purchase the farm in 1994 when the owner retired.

With a passion to learn all he could about tree farming, Locey tackled the learning curve of working the farm. “I had mentors and nearby friends and farmers who were able to help guide me through the first couple of years,” says Locey, adding that the previous owner was more than willing to offer and share his knowledge and expertise.

Making numerous improvements and changes to the farm and business throughout the years, the Loceys take pride in all they have accomplished. At one time the farm was a working dairy farm, so they found themselves tearing out the milking stations and a wall to make way for what is the gift shop today. Another point of pride is the red pine plank floorboards in the shop. The planks were recently cut and planed from the  60-year-old trees that originally stood on the east side of the barn.

Timberly Tree Farm is one of the largest locally owned tree farms in the area, out-surviving several competitor farms that are no longer in business. “Between the main farm and three off-site farms, we have over 50,000 trees,” says Locey, who expects to sell about 2,500 this season through retail; and he has already sold over 1,500 trees to Alpena, Mich., and Orlando, Fla., on the wholesale side of his business.

We start cutting in early- to mid-November and receive the most requests for firs … Fraser Firs, Douglas Firs, Concolor Firs and Balsam Firs,” says Locey, adding that the previous owner had sold mostly White pines and Scotch pines.”

Locey especially enjoys talking with the guests and their families who visit the farm this time of year to pick out their trees, wreaths and garland needs along with holiday ornaments and treasures from the gift shop. He also participates in community projects including a wreath fundraiser for Sturgis High School students and service projects for the local Boy Scout troops.

The maintenance involved in a tree farm does not just mean extra hours through the holidays. “There is a lot of shearing and shaping taking place to keep the cone shape of the trees,” says Locey. “Although the work is now hired out, it took a team of three to four people a lot of long hours over three weeks in the heat of June to shape up 24,000 trees.”  Other challenges include spraying to protect the trees against infestation.

Today, in addition to local customers, the farm also receives calls and orders for shipping throughout the country. The Web site for Timberly Tree Farm is: www.timberlytreefarm.com .

David F. Locey — Just a small town boy
Locey grew up on a farm in the small, rural town of Sugar Grove, Penn., and has always loved the great outdoors. He was in high school when he moved to Sturgis as a result of his father’s work at a telephone company when the company was in the process of switching over to a dial system.

After high school, Locey worked as a meat cutter before holding accounting, auditing and consulting positions. He soon realized that if he  wanted to be successful in accounting, he would need to earn a degree and pass the certified public accountant exam.

A self-described “senior citizen student” in that he was married with four children, who were in middle school, Locey enrolled in classes, first at Glen Oaks Community College and then completed his degree at WMU. He was a fast-track student who has lots of memories of attending classes in North Hall on East Campus. He finished in under three years, graduating in 1980, and immediately worked to obtain his CPA.

It was not long before he made the plunge to go out on his own and says it has been a great career. Today, he still heads up David F. Locey, CPA, in Sturgis. The firm does personal and business tax return preparation, tax resolution work, record keeping for businesses, tax planning and profit planning. He has a staff of six full-time employees  including some who have worked with him for over 15 years.

In true community spirit, Locey has always believed in giving back to the community that has supported him throughout the years. He has served on the board of trustees at Glen Oaks Community College, and he currently serves on the Sturgis Hospital Board and is a member of the Sturgis Kiwanis Club.

Further information about David F. Locey, CPA can be found on Facebook.