Published December 21, 2010
Volume 18, Number 12

New Balsam Hill Offices Are Decked Out for the Holidays        
From Wreaths and Garlands to Trees, Company Offers Life-Like Greenery Modeled Closely on Nature

Customer Service manager Cathy Sanders with some of Balsam Hill’s
artificial trees.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

Of all the offices in Hacienda, Suite 101 at 3825 Hopyard Road is bound to sport one of the most festive displays of holiday greenery in the park. It probably has some of the heaviest telephone traffic of the season as well.

There is a very logical explanation for both superlatives: the suite is the new home of the customer service division of e-commerce vendor Balsam Hill Christmas Tree Co. Balsam Hill designs and manufactures premium artificial Christmas trees, garlands, and wreaths that are artisanal replicas of the real thing, without the drawbacks—whether shedding needles, disposal challenges, or the increasingly common problem of allergies.

In fact, it was this last stumbling block that sparked the concept behind the Bay Area company, which had its debut season in 2006. An allergy problem in the family drove founder and CEO Thomas Harman to search for a high-quality, lifelike artificial Christmas tree for his home. The quest proved disappointing, but the concept blossomed into a singular mission: to develop the most realistic and luxurious artificial trees available. Harman enlisted talented designers to replicate the craftsmanship of Mother Nature, using site visits and cuttings from live trees as their guides.

“In most artificial trees, the foliage is all the same shade of green, but natural trees have so much color variation, and their branches are asymmetrical,” explains Balsam Hill’s Chief Operating Officer Caroline Tuan. “Our designers model the silhouettes and branch tips from natural evergreen species, such as the Norway Spruce, Scotch Pine, or Frazer Fir. They get cuttings to understand what the branches look like, and they mimic the features grown in Nature as much as possible.”

In contrast to other retailers, even those with high-end products, Balsam Hill maintains an unwavering focus on the artificial Christmas tree. “This is our passion,” Tuan notes. “We offer the widest selection of luxurious, realistic-looking trees on the market.”  That selection, displayed on the Balsam Hill website, has an almost infinite variety, with choices ranging from species to height, finish, and fullness, including topiary shapes.

Offerings in the Signature Collections boast the company’s exclusive True Needle technology, which creates the foliage from injection-molded PE plastic and several different colors of pigment to mimic the structure, texture, and color of natural evergreen needles. Trees are also available with four types of pre-installed lighting—clear, colored, multi, and energy-efficient LEDs.

Although corporate headquarters are in Redwood City, Balsam Hill decided to open its customer service center in Hacienda specifically to tap the local workforce. “Pleasanton is a great place to recruit the kind of articulate representatives we want, people who are also passionate about our trees and who enjoy talking to and helping customers,” Tuan comments.

Autumn undoubtedly sees the peak of consumer orders, but activity hardly comes to a halt on December 26, when the commercial sector starts gearing up for the 2011 holiday season. The company will also study product lines, consider operational improvements, and explore new directions in merchandise. One thing is sure, Tuan promises: Christmas trees remain its core business. To learn more, visit www.balsamhill.com.


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