NATS Partners with Vermeer for Enhanced Trainings

Betsy Long Blog

NATS is proud to partner with Vermeer, one of our Safety Alliance Partners, to offer a full range of trainings across the United States. Through this partnership, our exceptional instructors bring even more to their trainings that enhances the experience for not only their students, but for the instructors, too!

For an insider’s perspective on the Vermeer trainings, we talked with Paul Ahlen, a Safety & Training Specialist, Assistant Instructor, and Qualified Evaluator who has been a part of NATS for nearly two years. Paul brings 25 years of industry experience to his roles with NATS, including as an arborist, landscaper, and park ranger.

Since beginning his Vermeer trainings, Paul says the main topics he’s instructed are chainsaw use, climbing and rigging techniques, and tools. Though these types of trainings are less hands-on than typical NATS trainings, he says that Vermeer typically ships a kit to the training site — “like a chest freezer full of gear” — and from there the training takes shape.

“We dive into [the kit] and go nuts about any single topic or cover a huge breath of topics, depending on where questions lead us, where they want to go, or what the site gives,” says Paul.

That flexibility about how the trainings take shape works well since course sizes can vary in size just as much as the experience of those attending the trainings.

“I may have a group of 10 or more than 60, and we’re going to roll with it,” says Paul. “Someone in a group may have 30 days on the job, and someone else may have 20 years of experience. They come from all walks of life, some with tremendous amounts of knowledge and experience, and some very new [to the field]. They have their own stories where they’ve been and where they’re going professionally.

“Some are looking to gain info on a new tool or a new skillset. Others may want to expand what they know and add a technique or tool,” he adds.

He says he always makes sure to check in with everyone to know what they want to get out of the course, what they’re looking for, so that he can be sure to touch on something that’s relevant so they have something to take with them at the end of the training. And what they take away can sometimes be surprising.

“It’s amazing what’s made a difference,” says Paul of the Vermeer trainings. “It could be a new technique, or a new piece of equipment.”

On one occasion, Paul was showing a piece of rigging equipment that’s a $1,000 investment, and one of his students told him at the end of the day’s training, “I never really thought about how to inspect my helmet.”

“There’s no way to predict what each person will take away from each training,” says Paul. “Chainsaws, climbing ropes, it could even be something about how you treat your co-workers,” he adds.

Paul says that though so much of “our equipment is now on the computer screen, there’s so much more to it than that — there’s nothing to replace being physically involved: to be present and watching, say, rigging be used and how it applies to your situation, to ask relevant questions and how techniques will work for you and your work environment.”

Though many of the Vermeer training topics are the same, Paul assures those considering attending a session, “No matter what, no two sessions are ever going to be exactly the same: the instructor, tools, and questions will lead down a different path.”

He adds that you can attend the same Vermeer training repeatedly and probably get something new out of it every single time. In fact, Paul has had a few repeat clients who have attended the same titled course in different locations.

Topics of upcoming Vermeer trainings for the remainder of 2022 include Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Rigging and Climbing, Precision Chainsaw Cutting and Felling Techniques, Ground Skills and Aerial Support. These trainings will be held in sites from the Pacific Northwest to the Northeast and everywhere in between, including the Midwest and the South.

A complete list of upcoming Vermeer trainings can be found here. For more information on these trainings, please contact

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