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

StewardshipBayer Lands Honor For Bee Care Center, Other Initiatives
June 3, 2014
Bayer Corp. has been named a 2014 Responsible Care Company of the Year by the American Chemistry Council, thanks in large part to its Drive Toward Zero initiative and North American Bayer Bee Care Center. Read More
StewardshipStrip-Tillage: A Sustainable Effort
March 3, 2014
As sustainable agriculture grows in popularity, interest in custom strip-tillage is growing. Read More
StewardshipCTIC Granted Nearly $500,000 To Examine Benefits Of Cover Crops
October 17, 2013
The Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) has received a $482,000 Conservation Innovation Grant to study the benefits of cover crops. Read More

Trending Articles

Green Valley Ag facility
Retail FacilitiesGreen Valley Ag Adopts A.J. Sackett’s Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology At New Facility
July 8, 2014
Sackett's Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology is making huge strides around the world. Green Valley Ag adopts the technology at its new facility to support its advancing agronomic needs. Read More
Retail FacilitiesWaconia Manufacturing Builds Facility Designed For Speed, Efficiency
July 7, 2014
To make its new hub facility more efficient, Cooperative Elevator enlisted the aid of Waconia Manufacturing. Read More
EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More

Latest News

StewardshipMonsanto Joins Panel Of Innovators To Advance Research …
July 30, 2014
Monsanto Co. and The Climate Corp., its division, recently joined a roundtable of experts at the White House to share ideas and research approaches to help the world’s farmers manage and adapt to the impact of climate change on the global food supply. Read More
Crop InputsSoybean Checkoff Produces Big ROI
July 30, 2014
Under the soy checkoff program, all U.S. soybean farmers contribute a small percentage of their gross soybean sales for research and marketing projects that maximize their profit potential. Read More
CropLife 100Learfield Sports, CHS Agree To Football-Centric, Colleg…
July 30, 2014
CHS Inc. will embark on a highly integrated collegiate sports sponsorship platform with 24 Division I universities in 19 states designed to reach the farmer-owned cooperative's rural owners and customers. Read More
LegislationUSDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision
July 30, 2014
The new Supplemental Coverage Option, available through the federal crop insurance program and set to begin with the 2015 crop year, is designed to help protect producers from yield and market volatility. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Forms New Organizational Structure For Its…
July 30, 2014
The new structure will provide more responsive internal support and will allow regional vice presidents and area managers to spend more time with customers, on talent development and on operational excellence across branches. Read More
Palmer pigweed in cotton
HerbicidesNew Training Modules On Herbicide Resistance Now Availa…
July 30, 2014
The Weed Science Society of America has announced the availability of three new education modules on herbicide resistance in weeds. Read More
HerbicidesWillowood To Market Glufosinate
July 28, 2014
Willowood USA recently announced that Federal EPA has approved its technical registration for glufosinate. Read More
InsecticidesHow To Scout For Corn Earworms In Corn
July 28, 2014
In her weekly report, University of Missouri Agronomy Specialist Jill Scheidt discusses what to look for when scouting for corn earworm. Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer, Weyerhaeuser Enter Technology License A…
July 28, 2014
The agreement brings together agricultural and forestry know-how to sustainably improve crop productivity for corn growers around the world. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Launches Global iPad App
July 28, 2014
The free AGCO Global iPad App can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes Store and features the full family of RoGator self-propelled sprayers and TerraGator high-floatation spreaders. Read More
Eric SfiligojYuma Centennial Ag Supply Earns 2014 National Environme…
July 28, 2014
Colorado-based ag retailer receives top trophy in 24th annual DuPont Crop Protection/CropLife ceremony. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Forms Alliance With Wildlife Managment, Seed O…
July 25, 2014
The strategic alliance will provide Tecomate with key wildlife products, processing facilities, distribution centers and sales through Pinnacle’s ever-growing retail network. Read More
ManagementFranken Presses White House On RFS Support
July 25, 2014
Al Franken and a group of Senate democrats recently met with senior White House official John Podesta to urge the administration to change its position on an EPA proposal. Read More
ManagementASA, FarmLink To Launch ‘Operation Benchmark̵…
July 25, 2014
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and FarmLink are teaming up to help farmers close the $11 billion gap between what they harvested in 2013 and what they could harvest annually. Read More
StewardshipNorthey: Farmers Commit $1.4 Million to Try New Water Q…
July 25, 2014
The practices that are eligible for funding include cover crops, no-till or strip till and using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learn How Changing World Will Impact Iowa
July 24, 2014
Technology and understanding global consumer demand for Iowa farm products brought hundreds of farmers and agribusiness leaders to Ames recently for the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Economic Summit. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue: Late Season Weeds May Require Manual Removal
July 24, 2014
Hand-rouging and pulling late season weeds by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says. Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesTransform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 10…
July 23, 2014
Dow AgroSciences has received the award from R&D Magazine for Transform WG insecticide and Closer SC insecticide with Isoclast active. Read More