Thomas "Mac" Harman | CEO of Balsam Hill

Balsam Hill Special Feature: An Interview with Flip Tree Inventor Bruce Schooley

When I first started Balsam Hill, my goal was to provide homeowners with premium quality artificial Christmas trees unlike anything they had ever seen before. I wanted to create a collection of trees that capture the beauty and elegance of nature but without sacrificing the convenience of an easy-to-install design.

With modern innovations, such as our signature True Needle™ foliage and Easy Plug™ technology, we have been able to do just that. And now, with the introduction of the Flip™technology, we have taken the next step to making our Balsam Hill Christmas trees the best in form and function.

I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Bruce Schooley, inventor of the Flip Tree™. A long-time innovator of artificial Christmas tree designs, Bruce brings his state-of-the-art creation to our premium evergreens. We’re extremely excited to be working with him to bring Flip Tree to Balsam Hill.

Can you tell me a little bit about what inspired the Flip Tree and how you got into Christmas and thinking about Christmas trees in the first place?

My wife and I were married on Christmas. We absolutely love Christmas. We love things Christmas. We have five, six, seven Christmas trees each year.

What’s happened with Christmas tree—which is wonderful—over the past few years is that they’ve become much heavier because of these lifelike tips. They make the trees breathtakingly beautiful, but they also make them heavy. I noticed year after year, when we got different trees, they were becoming heavier and heavier. It provided the inspiration for having a unified tree design so that you wouldn’t have all these parts that you’d have to put together.

For the Flip concept, which carries the weight, it allows you to have two parts of the tree: the main part and the tree top. It’s a response to the evolution of the Christmas trees. It has become such a wonderful product, but their size and weight needed a solution.

That’s great! So Bruce, as you were thinking about this new invention and starting to perfect it, how did that take? I assume it just didn’t appear the next day.

After I got the initial concept for the tree, it took me hours to figure out how to actually make it work. Do I re-wire the tree so that when you flip it, you wouldn’t have wires crossed? You have to think of the tree as one unit. People look at it and they don’t quite understand how it’s possible for this thing to work. After a while, the light goes off and I say, yeah, I get it now. I see how it would work.

We’re really excited to work with you. It’s been fantastic. We’re excited to have Balsam Hill be the new home of Flip Trees going forward. Can you share a little bit about what’s different about the Balsam Hill Flip Trees, in your opinion, from Flip Trees you’ve worked on in the past?

In my opinion, the Balsam Hill Flip Tree is by far the best Flip Tree I’ve ever produced, not only with quality but with beauty, design and the attention to detail. I think almost any customer would instantly recognize that.

Another thing that’s tremendous about Flip Tree this year that we didn’t have in the past is the Easy Plug, which now allows a customer to set up the tree and put on the top without ever having to attach internal extension cords. It’s very simple. This couldn’t be a simpler item to put up.

Through the years of doing Flip Trees, I’m guessing you’ve interacted with customers and you’ve probably heard some fun stories. Do you have anything that sticks out in your mind or just any interesting stories related to Flip Trees?

The ones that we remember are the funny ones. A woman called up and said, “This is the first time we’ve ever put up a Christmas tree where we didn’t have to fight for two hours.”

Another woman called up after Christmas and said she loved the tree so much that she would leave it in their kitchen while they prepare for Christmas dinner. She would roll it into the dining room during Christmas dinner and then she would roll it into the family room while they open up the gifts. I love that.

Bruce, this has been a lot of fun having this conversation. It has been a lot of fun working with you over the past year.  I’m just really excited to have Balsam Hill be the new home for Flip Trees. I know we have a lot of projects planned together in the coming years and I really look forward to this relationship. Thank you so much for coming in and sharing your stories. We really appreciate it.

You’re welcome, Thomas. I couldn’t be more excited about working with Balsam Hill. What a wonderful company.

About the Author
Mac founded Balsam Hill in 2006 after discovering his brother-in-law was allergic to real Christmas trees. He enjoys travelling the world in search of inspiration for new tree designs, and to hand-pick the finest home décor to share with his customers. Mac was honored on the Silicon Valley Business Journal's prestigious "40 under 40" list, and was selected as a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 Award.
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