For decades, Walter Acree operated a modest landscaping business in Deerfield Beach, Fla. A self-described rebel, he mowed lawns in his bare feet, his then-long hair falling around his shoulders. Then, a few years ago, he stumbled into a lucrative niche business: helping South Florida’s superrich find trophy trees—the latest in status symbols for the most well-off Americans.
“I’m kind of unique,” said Mr. Acree, now the owner of Green Integrity’s, a tree relocation and landscaping firm. “Not a lot of people do what I do.”
Mr. Acree, 61, a so-called tree broker, regularly drives his wealthy clients around South Florida in search of the perfect tree for their garden, whether it is a giant kapok, an enormous canopied oak, a baobab, a ficus or a banyan. Together, they scope out trees in other people’s gardens and outside local businesses, then approach the owners with an unsolicited offer.
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