CPS Vernalis: Delivering Safety

CPS Vernalis, CA

Everythying is so neat and tidy at the Vernalis, CA, branch of Crop Production Services (CPS) that the mailboxes stick out like mushrooms sprouting from a meticulously manicured lawn. There are about a half-dozen of the mailboxes sprinkled in and around the tank farm, a place, safe to say, no one receives mail.

But when Fred Strauss, the veteran manager of the branch, which is located about 70 miles east of San Francisco, explains the reasoning behind the mailboxes, they make perfect sense. As usual, when it comes to the facility’s design and operations, it all comes back to safety.

“A contractor who comes here must follow the rules,” says Strauss, “and rule number one is you must have goggles and gloves.”

Those that don’t have no excuse as each of the mailboxes contains a pair of gloves and a pair of goggles. “They’re waterproof, easy to see, and easy to open,” says Strauss, as his longtime assistant manager, Tom Lopez, shows off the contents. Mystery solved.

Strauss and Lopez go way back together. In fact, Lopez’s dad, Tom Lopez Sr., worked for Strauss at the Vernalis branch right up to retirement. Strauss, who assumed the helm of the 44-year-old facility in 1987, hired Tom Lopez just six months later. Many of the 23 employees — seven of whom are licensed California Pest Control Advisers, including Strauss and Lopez — have been working at the branch for many years.

There’s a palpable sense of teamwork at CPS Vernalis, and it’s something that Strauss has worked hard to build and clearly takes pride in. That includes the staff, especially the office staff, as Fred’s wife, Krys, is office manager. That sense of teamwork comes across as Fred is showing off their shop, where they came up with their own system for securing dry fertilizer loads on trucks.

Previously, all the tenders were covered with tarpaulins and secured with bungee cords. One day Strauss saw one of his oldest drivers climbing up on top of the load to attach the bungee cord. There’s got to be a better way, he thought. He came up with a roller system so the tarpaulin can be rolled out over the load from the ground.

“Just one back injury saved — it’s worth it. Besides, I jump in the trucks and make deliveries too,” he says with a grin. “Everyone here does, you do what you have to do to serve the customer.”

Community Spirit

While serving the customer is paramount, CPS Vernalis also believes in serving the community. As a group, the employees support the Modesto Gospel Mission, a nondenominational homeless shelter. In the two years since adopting the shelter, they have delivered literally over a ton of food and sundry items. Their customers participate as well, as some of the food comes in the form of donations from customers at the annual barbecue feast CPS Vernalis holds for their customers.

CPS Vernalis also give back to the community through going above and beyond in their attention to safety and the environment. To wit:

  • The tank farm includes a 40,000-gallon tank that holds water, so should it be necessary, they have quick and easy access. It was no small expense, and it wasn’t required by the Fire Department or any other agency, they just thought it was the right thing to do. “We have a well, too,” explains Strauss, “but we put in the tank for peace of mind.”
  • They don’t mix or even rinse out chemicals on site. They do allow customers to use CPS equipment to apply chemicals, but the customers must clean the equipment on their own property. To help ensure it is properly cleaned, Strauss says they do provide the cleaning agent.
  • Trucks containing material must be parked within the tank farm, which is completely contained. “If there’s a spill we can collect it,” says Strauss. “We’ve had truckers come in and the fitting on their truck breaks, and we suck every drop of it up.”
  • To ensure they can recover every drop, they are constantly experimenting with and applying asphalt sealers, keeping up on the state-of-the-art. That extends to the warehouse, where they recently completely sealed the floor. The warehouse too is completely contained, featuring a bridge into the office.
  • They take care of rodents — “when you have seed, you have mice,” Strauss says with a shrug — without the use of chemicals. It’s not that they have anything against the use of rodenticides, they just don’t need them. A couple of feral cats wandered into the warehouse one day, so Strauss took them to the pound, had them neutered, and put them (happily) to work.

Strauss, who once served as president of the California Association of Pest Control Advisers, helped start CAPCA’s “Plant Doctor” program. It’s a simple premise: PCAs go to schools and explain to kids that just like when the kids get sick, they see a doctor, growers see PCAs when their crops get sick. “We’re all doing things like this,” he says modestly, “but (crop consultants) don’t get credit for it because they don’t toot their own horns.

Note: Crop Production Services (CPS) in Vernalis, CA, is a 2012 regional Environmental Respect Award winner. For more information on this program, which is sponsored by DuPont, click here.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Stewardship Stories

Crop InputsLand O’Lakes Announces Minnesota Water Quality Partnership
May 25, 2016
Governor Mark Dayton and Land O’Lakes, Inc. President and CEO Chris Policinski today announced a new public-private partnership to protect Read More
The Andersons Fostoria
StewardshipThe Andersons Facilities In Fostoria And Gibsonburg, OH Certified In 4R Nutrient Stewardship
May 11, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s facilities in Fostoria and Gibsonburg, OH, have been added to its Read More
Patriot 4440 Sprayer close up
ManagementFlashing Back And Moving Forward On Spray Drift
May 3, 2016
The potential for pesticide drift remains an unavoidable feature of modern agriculture. Here, too, history repeats itself. “When Roundup debuted, Read More
StewardshipNRCS To Help Farmers Measure Conservation Impacts On Water Quality
April 27, 2016
The USDA has announced the availability of $2 million to help farmers install edge-of-field stations that monitor water quality as Read More
Trending Articles
Eric SfiligojPity The Monsanto Haters
May 23, 2016
An old saying goes thus: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” Given current events, there Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Crop InputsReport: Bayer Eyeing Monsanto For Possible Mega-Merger
May 16, 2016
Bayer AG is exploring a potential bid for U.S. competitor Monsanto Co. in a deal that would create the world’s Read More
Aerial Drone
Precision AgA Deeper Dive Into The Future Of Precision Ag
May 9, 2016
For about two decades now, through the good and the bad times, the ups and the downs inherent in agriculture, Read More
Palmer amaranth in soybean stubble
HerbicidesWSSA: Billions In Potential Economic Losses From Uncontrolled Weeds
May 4, 2016
What losses would corn and soybean growers experience if they were forced to eliminate herbicides and other control techniques from Read More
Eric SfiligojReasons For Hope In Commodity Prices
May 2, 2016
For many months now, the doomsayers have ruled the day in agriculture. Too much supply with too little demand would Read More
Eric SfiligojMissing The Family Ties In Agriculture
April 25, 2016
By its nature, the agriculture market is cyclical. Up and down cycles come and go with a regular pattern. For Read More
Latest News
ManagementWashington Visit and Bayer/Monsanto Deal Update
May 26, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discusses a recent trip to DC and the latest news on the proposed pairing Read More
Fertilizer closeup in hand
Industry NewsVerdesian: Striking A Balance Between Yield & ROI
May 26, 2016
Finely tuned nutrient management plans are helping farmers throughout the U.S. improve nutrient use efficiency, increase return on investment (ROI) Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes Announces Minnesota Water Quality Pa…
May 25, 2016
Governor Mark Dayton and Land O’Lakes, Inc. President and CEO Chris Policinski today announced a new public-private partnership to protect Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
Industry NewsMonsanto Rejects Bayer Bid; Open To More Talks
May 25, 2016
Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, turned down Bayer AG’s $62 billion acquisition bid as “incomplete and financially inadequate” Read More
Corn close up
Crop InputsArysta LifeScience Establishes Global Headquarters In R…
May 25, 2016
Arysta LifeScience has announced plans to relocate its global headquarters from West Palm Beach, FL, to Cary, NC, over the Read More
fertilizer blending and storage, Top 100
BlendersCHS Dakota Expansion Features AGCO’s GSI InterSys…
May 25, 2016
The continued growth of precision agriculture has increased farmer use of customized fertilizer blends best-suited for their soil conditions. Several Read More
ManagementAgriculture 3.5: A Bumpy Road Ahead
May 24, 2016
You may have read my article a few years ago on Agriculture 3.0, which is a term I coined to Read More
Topcon’s X30 display with CropSpec sensors
EquipmentGPS Autosteer Systems: Product Updates From Precision A…
May 24, 2016
Throughout 2015 GPS Steering solutions continued to evolve from what was once an after-market add on, to today’s cab where Read More
Trimble TMX-2050 In-Cab Display
Eric SfiligojThe Precision Ag Revolution Continues
May 24, 2016
It’s funny how much “the first time” tends to mean to someone as they get older. I sometimes can’t recall Read More
Eric Wintemute, AMVAC
Precision AgAMVAC Ups The Ante With New Precision Ag Technology
May 24, 2016
A potentially industry-changing at-plant soil treatment system from American Vanguard Corp., or AMVAC, is coming soon to large growers in Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
CropLife 100CropLife 100 Map
May 24, 2016
The new CropLife 100 map shows the locations of each of the headquarters of the 2015 CropLife 100 retailers. The interactive Read More
Southern States Cooperative
Corn Field
Industry NewsTiger-Sul Names Veteran Account Manager To Lead Central…
May 23, 2016
With the continuing growth of the sulphur bentonite and precision crop nutrient industry, global agriculture firm H.J. Baker has announced that Read More
Bayer sign
Industry NewsReuters: Bayer Defies Critics With $62 Billion Monsanto…
May 23, 2016
German drugs and crop chemicals group Bayer has offered to buy U.S. seeds company Monsanto for $62 billion in cash, Read More
Eric SfiligojPity The Monsanto Haters
May 23, 2016
An old saying goes thus: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” Given current events, there Read More
Industry NewsCompass Minerals Hires Industry Veteran To Lead Plant N…
May 19, 2016
Compass Minerals has hired plant nutrition industry veteran Vatren Jurin to steer the company’s portfolio expansion into specialty liquid micronutrient Read More
ASMARK Retailers LIVE! Tour 2016 Group shot The Andersons
CropLife 100The Andersons Rejects Unsolicited Proposal From HC2
May 19, 2016
The Andersons, Inc. has announced that its Board of Directors has rejected two non-binding, highly conditional, unsolicited proposals from HC2 Read More
glyphosate
Crop InputsWHO: Glyphosate ‘Unlikely’ To Cause Cancer
May 16, 2016
Via Reuters.com reporter Kate Kelland: The weed-killing pesticide glyphosate, made by Monsanto and widely used in agriculture and by gardeners, Read More