What a difference a few decades makes when it comes to environmental respect, says Joe Hawkins, manager for Ceres Solutions in Rockville, IN. “When I look back at the way we did things when I entered the business in 1979, I would have to say that it is not something I am proud of,” says Hawkins. “The safety supervisor had just dropped a bomb on us. We as a company now had a zero-tolerance policy regarding chemicals and fertilizer being released onto the property. This meant no pumping of rainwater off of the loadpads or out of dikes, no washing off fertilizer or spray equipment and no longer leaving equipment out in the rain that had any fertilizer or chemicals on them.”
However, once the Ceres team got over the shock of trying to implement this new corporate approach to environmental stewardship, it found that a stronger position on protecting the environment helped not only the planet, but the outlet’s overall mind-set as well.
“Almost immediately, you could notice a change in the employees’ attitudes toward taking care of our plant because the benefits were apparent,” says Hawkins. “The grass in the ditches around the plant got greener and the equipment stayed cleaner. Our changes have allowed us to save thousands of dollars in equipment and made for a more appealing place for our customers. After all, we are a fertilizer plant. Who wants to do business with a fertilizer plant that cannot grow its own grass?”
In the end, Hawkins believes the mandate to “clean-up” was the best thing that could have happened to the outlet. “The message ‘be respectful and do the right thing’ is one that has been pretty easy to live by,” he says. “We have a good group of employees that strive to do their best and that attitude has brought good customers and business to our company.”