10 Keys To A More Secure Ag Retail Facility

Use padlocks to secure everything possible at the close of business each day.
Use padlocks to secure everything possible at the close of business each day.

Foul play was not high on the list of probable causes of the explosion at the West Fertilizer facility, but the events of that tragic day have caused retail managers to take a new look at everything they do to protect and secure their property from all sorts of hazards, accidental and otherwise.

J. Billy Pirkle is one of agriculture’s most respected experts on safety and security at the retail level, and he has the daunting task of establishing and communicating best practices to the more than 750 locations that comprise the industry’s largest retailer, Crop Production Services (CPS).
In addition to his work at CPS, Pirkle has been highly active with the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) on issues of safety and security, and is always willing to share his thoughts and research on what works, and what doesn’t at the retail outlet.

His reaction to the West Fertilizer tragedy was not dissimilar to that of most retailers — shock and horror over the images and reports. In the days that followed he was driven by a desire to find out exactly what happened so he could work to ensure that something like this never occurs on his watch.

The exact cause of the explosion was still unknown when we caught up with Pirkle, but we asked him what steps retailers should take in its aftermath to improve safety and security at the retail outlet.

1. Use The SVA Tool. The Security Vulnerability Assessment tool was developed by Agribusiness Security Working Group, and is supported by the ARA, CropLife America and The Fertilizer Institute in cooperation with the Asmark Institute. “I would strongly recommend that retailers use this tool to assess vulnerability, and to work on continuous improvement,” says Pirkle. “It will also necessitate that you involve your local fire department and emergency responders in answering some of the questions, which is a good way to start a dialogue.”

2. Always Be Assessing. There should be some type of weekly or daily assessments or walk-arounds. “You should be looking at access points, looking for unwanted traffic across property and trying to minimize it,” says Pirkle.

3. Work To Limit Access. When it comes to keeping outsiders from coming into the retail facility, there’s not a clear-cut approach to what works. Perimeter fencing, cables, bollards and even ditches can serve to provide some level of deterrence. “The goal is to minimize unwanted traffic, and there are many approaches retailers are using,” says Pirkle.

4. Add A Security System. “We strongly encourage the use of a security system, and at CPS we require a security system in the office and the chemical shed,” notes Pirkle. “Systems used include everything from motion detectors to video cameras to alarm systems. A relatively new security system CPS is starting to use called Tattle Tale pairs up a laser motion detection system with a phone modem, and will automatically alert law enforcement if the laser is tripped.

5. Pull In Local Law Enforcement. “We will typically meet with the sheriff or local law enforcement and have a conversation with them about security,” says Pirkle. “Our facilities are not manned 24 hours a day. We’re here a lot, but much of the year we’re on site only 10 hours a day so our facility would not have personnel on site the other 14 hours. We encourage law enforcement to come by, drive through the property and turn around … we give them full permission to park on property and have as much presence as possible.”

6. Report Everything. “Back when I started, when we had small petty thefts like a stolen battery from a vehicle, or even graffiti, we may not have reported them,” he says. “These days we are encouraging outlets to report all trespassing to law enforcement no matter how minor. It helps law enforcement understand what is going on in the community.”

7. Control Inventory. Good inventory habits are essential to security. “We will go in and review high dollar and hazardous material every morning to ensure we did not have any theft overnight,” says Pirkle. “Inventory control and accountability are critical.”

8. Do Background Checks. “We’ve made security background checks on all new employees a requirement of our new employee hiring process,” says Pirkle. “It’s not as costly or labor intensive as it was even a decade ago. Today it is automated to the point where you can get a background check in 48 hours in some cases, especially if states have electronic databases.”

9. Limit Key Access. Limit access to keys, and minimize the risk of duplication of keys by marking them “do not duplicate.” “Locksmiths and key makers are supposed to abide by the ‘do not duplicate’ mark and refuse to make copies,” says Pirkle. “Also, take keys out of vehicles and lock them up at the end of shifts.”

10. Lock Down What You Can. In rural communities folks may not feel the need to lock-up the house, but the retail facility should be closed up tight every night. “Lock-up valves, pull down and lock windows and doors and secure all access points to discourage intrusion,” says Pirkle.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Stewardship Stories

Diversified Agri-Services
StewardshipDiversified Agri-Services Certified In 4R Nutrient Stewardship
August 11, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that Diversified Agri-Services Inc. in McCutchenville, OH, has been added to its growing Read More
Management2016 CTIC Cover Crop Survey: 33% Report ROI From Cover Crops
July 28, 2016
Insight from 2,020 farmers from across the country reflected enthusiasm for cover crops and—for the fourth year in a row—found Read More
ManagementLand O’Lakes Announces SUSTAIN Business Unit, Other Changes
July 20, 2016
Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced the formal organization of a new business unit, SUSTAIN, and its leadership. SUSTAIN will focus Read More
Corn and ditch
ManagementStudy: Saturated Buffers Reduce Nitrates From Subsurface Field Drainage Systems
July 19, 2016
The Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition (ADMC), Agricultural Drainage Management Systems Task Force and Dr. Dan Jaynes with the National Laboratory Read More
Trending Articles
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
Key Cooperative Marcus Construction Steel Building
Retail FacilitiesMarcus Construction Builds High-Speed Agronomy Center For Key Cooperative
July 7, 2016
Key Cooperative in Grinnell, IA, wanted a state-of-the-art Agronomy Center to better serve its customers. Marcus Construction delivered exactly that. Read More
Heritage Cooperative
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Designs State-Of-The-Art Facility For Heritage Cooperative
July 4, 2016
Heritage Cooperative in Marysville, OH, needed an efficient liquid, dry and grain facility to serve the many needs of their Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Latest News
2016 ShowStopper | Case IH Patriot 4440 Sprayer
Equipment5 Show-stopping Products On Display At 2016 MAGIE
August 26, 2016
For 10 years now, visitors to the yearly Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show have been tasked with voting for Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer: Corn Belt P and K Levels Lagging
August 24, 2016
A new DuPont Pioneer study conducted across 12 Corn Belt states demonstrates that growers may be leaving profit potential in Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsCould a Monsanto-Bayer Union Be 2 Weeks from Fruition?
August 24, 2016
Via STLToday.com (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch): Merger talks between Monsanto Co. and Bayer AG are advancing after a series of Read More
EquipmentCase IH Debuts Nutri-Tiller 955 Strip-Till Applicator
August 24, 2016
With strip-till continuing to expand across new acres, Case IH designed the new Nutri-Tiller 955 strip-till applicator to help producers Read More
EquipmentCase Launches Aim Command FLEX, 25th Anniversary Patrio…
August 24, 2016
Case IH announces new AIM Command FLEX advanced spray technology for greater application accuracy, as well as special 25th Anniversary Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
PrecisionAg Video Conference
Precision AgVideo: PrecisionAg Vision Conference
August 22, 2016
A Strategic Conference Focused on the Future of Farm Digitization and Precision Agriculture Visit precisionagvision.com and register today! Read More
Young Corn Plants
Industry NewsOABA Welcomes Nicole Wallace As Communication & Adm…
August 22, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association has hired Nicole Wallace as its communication and administrative coordinator. Wallace will help provide comprehensive communication Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsChemChina, Syngenta Receive Clearance From CFIUS
August 22, 2016
China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina) and Syngenta have announced that the companies have received clearance on their proposed transaction from the Read More
ManagementAg Industry Shows and Rumors
August 18, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the upcoming trade show schedule, crop protection merger updates, and content for Read More
MAGIE 2015
EquipmentMAGIE Takes The Pulse Of The Ag Retail Industry
August 18, 2016
Every year, one of the major highlights of my career as an ag journalist is attending the Midwest AG Industries Read More
MAGIE 2015 Overview
EquipmentPride In Professionalism On Display At MAGIE
August 18, 2016
The Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) is proud to partner with CropLife IRON and continue the tradition of bringing Read More
SprayersJenner Ag To Debut 25th Anniversary Edition Case IH Pat…
August 18, 2016
Visitors at the 2016 Midwest Ag Industries Exhibition (MAGIE) in Bloomington, IL, will have a unique photo opportunity, as Jenner Read More
Crop InputsEU Glyphosate Controversy Heating Up Yet Again
August 17, 2016
The battle over glyphosate rages on in Europe, creating a lot of question marks over whether the herbicide will continue Read More
Industry NewsNew Partnership Provides Improved Representation At Ohi…
August 16, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) has retained Belinda Jones of Capitol Consulting Group, Inc. (CCG) for government relations work in Read More
Tissue testing
FertilizerMosaic: 6 Tips For Better Crop Nutrition In Corn
August 16, 2016
Late in the crop season is a good time to assess visual nutrient deficiencies and ensure early- and mid-season deficiencies Read More
WebinarsWebinar Schedule
August 14, 2016
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDowDuPont Update: EU Takes Closer Look at Merger
August 12, 2016
Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. face months of haggling with European Union antitrust regulators who opened an in-depth probe Read More