Scotty Claus is back with rental Xmas trees and a mission to spread peace and joy all year long.

By David Pisarra

Six years ago I met a man in a 5-foot-long Santa hat with sparkly eyes at the Farmer’s Market on Sunday with a revolutionary idea – he was renting live Christmas trees. His goal then was to help social engineer a new way of thinking about how we celebrate Christmas, and can reduce the environmental impact of killing trees.

Having an eye for talent, I followed up with him and interviewed him about the Living Christmas Tree (LCT) company ( His name is Scott Martin, but starting in September he’s affectionately known as Scotty Claus. The Living Christmas Tree company has grown significantly from that first meeting I had with him. He’s went on the entrepreneur’s reality game show called Shark Tank. He was able to land a deal with Super Investor Mark Cuban. It’s not really surprising that he was able to do what so few do. When you meet Scott you’re drawn into his happy world with this infectious optimism and sense of social duty. He’s one of the most charismatic people I’ve ever met.

Mark Cuban didn’t just write a check and forget about this company either. There is regular contact from Cuban’s company to provide support and assistance to keep the company growing. I was heartened to hear that. It’s nice to know that the Sharks are not just in it for the short haul quick money – or at least this Shark isn’t. Especially when you realize that what they’re building is a forest.

The unique proposition that The LCT offers is that the trees are grown throughout the year in plastic buckets on land leased by them from a refinery in Torrance. Each tree is tagged and numbered so that you can rent the same tree each year. Delivery and pickup is done for you, so you all you have to do is remember to water the tree.

I met up with Scotty this past Sunday for lunch as the first trees were being delivered to hundreds of people across the city who are renting trees this year. For about the cost of buying a dying tree, a beautiful Aleppo Pine, Blue Spruce, a Leyland Cypress, Monterey Pine or a Serbian Spruce can be delivered to your home or office. Besides the joy of having a living tree in the house, it’s nice to know that you’re not contributing to the landfill waste, and in fact helping to offset your carbon footprint by supporting a tree throughout the year.

KCRW members, you can use your Fringe Benefits card for an additional discount and feel even better about the choices you’re making this Christmas by supporting an eco-friendly company, your favorite public radio station, and the many employees who Scotty hires that are rebuilding their lives. LCT hires returning veterans, and partners with PATH (People Assisting The Homeless) to help end homelessness.

Lest you think that Scott is a do-gooder in a Santa hat who is on the naughty list the rest of the year, let me assure you he’s spreading good cheer all year long. He’s a mediator who works with teachers and troubled youth to find resolutions to conflicts that could derail a youth’s educational track, and ruin lives. His unique skill is being able to see through a situation and find the real problem and then craft a solution for everyone’s benefit.

It’s not just me saying that either, he was chosen by Rotary International to attend an all-expenses paid three-month training in Thailand on how to increase the peace process and improve his mediation and conflict resolution skills. This was a competition that he won based on his efforts and the amount of good he does. Once the rush of Christmas is over, he leaves for some intensive training in mediation and conflict resolution.

It’s not often you come across a man who is so genuinely focused on doing good in the world, let alone a company. I’m personally very grateful that I had the good fortune to meet Scotty Claus six years ago – every time we get together I get a boost to my outlook on life, and what is possible in this world when we work for the good.

This Christmas season, if you’re going to get a tree, I suggest you spread some good around and call the Living Christmas Tree company and have som