Tuesday 19 February 2019
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story by Chris Kincade     photos by Susan DeLoach
Sonya Reiselt, long-time resident of Beaufort County for over 38 years, and her husband, Ronnie Reiselt, native of Beaufort County, are the owners of Southern Tree Services of Beaufort, Inc that has been servicing the Lowcountry for over 28 years. Their story together, however, began well before starting a successful business together. Sonya and Ronnie met one another when they were only 14 years old, later married in their early 20’s, and are now celebrating 24 years of marriage.
Sonya shared with me a bit about how Southern Tree Services got its start 28 years ago. The story began with a simple favor for Ronnie’s mother, Shirley Reiselt. Ronnie was working for his father in the heavy equipment industry when his mother, a landscape design architect working on Dataw Island, needed some help removing a few trees on the property. So, as any good southern son would do, Ronnie jumped into action to help his mother. A good friend, hearing of his new side project, then suggested that he go into the tree service industry as a profession and encouraged him to obtain certification in tree care. He did just that, becoming an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist. Naturally, with Sonya and Ronnie both having strong entrepreneurial spirits, the next step was for them to start their own business, and thus, Southern Tree Services was born. They have been proudly serving the Lowcountry ever since and are passionate about their work. Sonya says that they consider it an honor to be trusted with the stewardship of thousands of the most beautiful and prestigious landscapes in Beaufort County.
Southern Tree Services and their team have built a reputation throughout the years for excellence by providing their customers with quality service and complete satisfaction. Something Ronnie and Sonya both credit to their Southern Tree Services team.  “We have an incredible team of personnel from our general foreman, our tree service crews and crew leaders, to our dedicated office manager and assistant office manager,“ explained Sonya with great pride.
They have several Certified Arborists on staff, including Ronnie and Sonya, along with their general foreman, Thomas Hunt. In addition to being part of the International Society of Arboriculture, they are also proud members of the Tree Care Industry Association, Society of Commercial Arboriculture, Lady’s Island Business & Professionals Association, Greater Beaufort Chamber of Commerce, and The National Federation of Independent Business.
Sonya shared what she and Ronnie feel separates Southern Tree Services from the rest, saying, “we are not simply a tree removal service. We go well beyond to take the time to educate our clients and provide all possible options, such as pruning, fertilization and preserving the trees as alternatives to tree removal.” Southern Tree Services has a wide variety of services that can be custom tailored to fit your specific needs. Services include lightning protection, pruning of trees and shrubs, insect and disease analysis, tree transplanting, root fertilization,  bracing/cabling, and tree/stump removal.
“We take pride in helping to keep this area, that we love so dearly, beautiful,” says Sonya. “We feel fortunate every day to have the opportunity to nurture and protect something that came to be long before we were around, and to know we have helped to ensure they stand strong long after we are gone.”
It has been proven time and time again that trees increase property value. Mature trees on a property and attractive landscaping are extremely helpful in attracting buyers. Southern Tree Services works closely with many development companies in the area, both commercial and residential, to assist with tree preservation, planning, and care. Various projects range from the Wal-Mart construction project on Lady’s Island, the old and new Publix on Lady’s Island, and many more. They also work closely with local contractors on housing development projects to assist in assessment and design of new lots in an effort to preserve specimen trees.
One thing some readers may not know that Sonya shared with me is that Beaufort is one of the 3,400 communities that have earned the title of being an official Tree City USA Destination. Tree City USA is a nationwide movement that provides the framework necessary for communities to manage and expand their public trees. Tree City USA is greening communities across the country, and the program is a great opportunity to celebrate the importance of an urban tree canopy and improve care of these vital city trees. ( Sonya mentioned the importance of such a distinction, pointing out that this is simply another reason Beaufort County is such a popular vacation destination. “I always say that we live in an area that is so beautiful that others travel from all over to vacation here,” says Sonya. Our local and majestic trees play such a vital role in that attraction to the area.
Ronnie and Sonya truly believe in sharing their gifts and talents as well. “God has really blessed us, and we never take that for granted,” says Sonya. They are active members of Meadowbrook Baptist Church on Lady’s Island and are passionate about giving back to their local community. They strongly believe in helping their neighbors and support several local charitable organizations. They participate in many fundraising events in Beaufort County each year, including CAPA (Child Abuse Prevention Association) events, the Dragon Boat Races in Beaufort for cancer patients, and the Festival of Trees through Friends of Caroline. The Festival of Trees is one that is especially near and dear to their hearts, as they have watched firsthand the effects of cancer and have lost loved ones to the disease. Southern Tree Services was the headline sponsor for the Festival of Trees in 2016, and Sonya has chaired the event off and on over the past 10 years. Sonya was very passionate when speaking about the Friends of Caroline saying, “what they do is a blessing to so many!”
Sonya, in addition to Southern Tree Services, is also a premier real estate expert in Beaufort County. She is part of the HomesFinder Realty Group in Beaufort and has been selling real estate for seven years now. She was excited to tell me about the new HomesFinder Realty Group office that recently opened in downtown Beaufort and about some of the exciting listings available through their group. You can hear the passion in her voice when she is speaking about helping her clients.  “I just love meeting new people and helping them to open a new chapter in their lives,” she explained. Being a long-time resident of Beaufort County herself, Sonya knows all of the hidden treasures on the market in the area and is ready to serve you today! In my short visit with Sonya, I could immediately see why so many in the area turn to her for their real estate needs. She is the picture of Southern Charm and true Beaufort County hospitality.
When Ronnie and Sonya are able to steal some time away from their full schedules, they both enjoy spending time on the water. Whether going on an offshore fishing excursion, diving, or simply boating on the open waters, they try soak in the beautiful scenery and resources that are so abundant in the Lowcountry whenever possible.
Southern Tree Services of Beaufort is bonded, fully insured and can provide you with Certificates of Insurance. You can visit them online at or follow them on Facebook at You can reach their offices by emailing or by calling 843-522-9553.