Randy Fitch Connor Hogan Dillon Newgaard Cole Newgaard

Randy Fitch, left, a Realtor who sells hundreds of fresh Christmas trees at a lot at 32nd Street and Chandler Boulevard in Ahwatukee, has helped Ahwatukee Christmas, who include, from second on left: Owners Connor Hogan and Dillon Newgaard and Cole Newgaard.

When the real Christmas tree starts to fade away, Ahwatukee Christmas has your back.

And before the holidays, the four recent Desert Vista High School grads formed a company hoping to make the holidays a little brighter for six needy Ahwatukee families - provided they receive enough orders for their Christmas tree removal service.

Ahwatukee Christmas was formed two years ago by Connor Hogan and Dillon Newgaard, who also enlisted the help of two former classmates, Cole Newgaard and Morgan Taylor, to provide both in-home and curbside removal of Christmas trees in Ahwatukee and nearby parts of Tempe and Chandler and South Phoenix.

For $20 – if reservations are made before Dec. 25 at Ahwatukeechristmas.com – they’ll not only remove the tree from the stand in the house but vacuum and tidy up the area.

It’s $15 for customers who want to wrestle the tree out of the stand, drag it through the house to the curb and do the cleanup themselves.

Prices go up $5 for those who wait until after the holiday to realize they need to junk the tree.

The four college students’ business not only has taken off since 2017, but also has underscored how many local residents prefer real pine to the fake stuff.

In their first year, they had 17 customers, then zoomed up to 100 last year. They’re hoping for 200 to 300 this post-Christmas season.

It didn’t hurt they formed a business relationship with Realtor Randy Fitch, who sells hundreds of trees from Fitch’s Fresh Cut Oregon Christmas Trees lot at 32nd Street and Chandler. 

It’s not all business to the four young men either.

People who go to their website can nominate an Ahwatukee family who can’t afford a decorated tree.

They’ve already put up and decorated one tree and hope to do five more before next week.

Hogan – described by Ahwatukee publicist Jay Taylor as “a 20-year old serial entrepreneur who’s always got something going” – said he got the idea for the business because he and Dillon “had some trucks and we would haul our parents’ trees for them.”

“We realize there was money to be made,” the Arizona State University junior said.

Billing their business as four guys who are “here to take the hassle out of your holiday,” Hogan and Dillon got the two other students involved, splitting up the company responsibilities according to their talents.

Hogan, who is majoring in finance and eyeing a Dec. 2020 graduation from ASU, said, “I’m the math person.”

He’s also into “new market demand creation, data analytics, and finance into a creative, ever-evolving approach to the business and its respective strategy.”

Dillon, an engineering management major at ASU, is the logistics guy who plots out the pickups – which can be reserved on one of six days – Dec. 28, 29 and 31 and Jan. 1, 4 and 5.

Taylor is described as the “numbers savant” who keeps an eye on the company’s efficiency. He’s an accounting and finance major at the University of Washington in Seattle.

While numerical metrics are critical for charting Ahwatukee Christmas’s rapid growth, Morgan emphasizes it’s the customers driving the business,” the business’ website says.

Cole “defines accountability for the business and brings a tenacious work ethic to the table in every day of operation.”

Hogan emphasized their business is also eco-friendly, since they take the trees to the Phoenix tree disposal facility, where they are turned into mulch.

Hogan, who is already knocking on doors and sending out resumes to prepare for a job in the world of finance after he graduates, doesn’t expect to be hauling Christmas trees much longer.

Both he and Dillon are hoping to hand down the business to their younger brothers.

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