CPS Pantego: An Unusual Ownership Transition
Crop Production Services (CPS) Pantego, NC, is a 2011 Environmental Respect regional winner. There’s a good chance that many would not associate the location with extremely large, flat and black fields. But about 50 years ago, the area was drained and a new agriculture was born — corporate agriculture. “The cost of clearing and draining all of this land was just too much for its corporate owners back then,” explains Peter Allen, location manager. “Some of the farms were as large as 200,000 acres.”
These high costs of clearing the land forced many bankruptcies and the corporations divested of their land holdings. Many had hired farm managers from Midwest universities and they were able to buy the good ground. “Today, many of my customers have family roots in the Midwest and if you look around you might think you were in Iowa,” says Allen.
The farming is just as intense as places in the Midwest. “We grow all of the crops they do in Iowa along with cotton and potatoes,” says Allen, explaining the cropping in his region.
A Special Area
“Our customer base is between 48 and 52 years old and they use Internet and other high tech sources,” says Allen. “They are well educated with about 70% having at least a Bachelor’s Degree and many have Master’s or higher.”
A large percentage of the crop protection products leave the Pantego Branch in shuttles that are destined for farmer application rigs. “Our seed business continues to grow,” says Allen. “We have a very active seed treating business for corn, beans and cotton.”
A visitor to the facility can’t help but notice the manicured grass and mulched areas with plantings surrounding the office, warehouse and loading areas. Allen likes to ask visitors and customers if they see anything wrong with the facility. “I want people to tell me what they don’t like about the operation,” he says, “That way I know what needs improving. That’s one reason we entered the Environmental Respect Award program to see what we could improve.”
Michelle Oliver is safety officer. It’s her job to make sure every aspect of worker safety and environmental respect is front-of-mind with employees. “We have monthly safety meetings and we conduct many tailgate sessions to make sure all of the guys know the safe way to handle any situations they may be put into,” says Oliver.
“These are fishing, farming and tourism,” says Allen. “If we don’t take care of land and environment, that messes up the fishing and that ruins the tourism.”