The Snow Hill, NC, Crop Production Services (CPS) Unit, a 2010 Regional Environmental Respect Award winner, combines the best of three worlds in its service to area growers. The Snow Hill facility was once a United Ag Products outlet with two competing CPS units in nearby North Carolina communities. Now all three are under the CPS banner.
According to General Manager Alan Lee, this new arrangement has increased the customer base as area growers turn to the expertise of a much larger retail operation.
“When all three facilities were combined here in Snow Hill, we added a new dry fertilizer blend plant and a liquid fertilizer load out facility,” says Lee. “The liquid load out facility is diked with 110% spill protection capacity. We also have two 30,000-gallon nitrogen tanks along with starter fertilizer storage.” The load out area’s cement deck slopes to a sump that will contain a 4,000-gallon spill. And the ground around the tank farm is sloped and surrounded by a gravel road to contain any spill within the CPS property.
“Our seed and bulk herbicide storage is all within a 22,000-square-foot warehouse with the bulk tanks diked and the entire building within an 8-inch-high containment wall,” explains Lee.
The local farming includes cotton, tobacco, soybeans, and vegetable production. “I think we are going to see better quality and more bushels to the acre as seed traits continue to improve production,” says Lee. “We are routinely picking between 150 and 230 bushel-per-acre corn. When I was a kid, if you picked 80 bushels per acre you were doing pretty good. One-hundred bushels was unheard of down here.”
Field scouting and variable-rate fertilizer applications are saving growers money and helping to protect the environment in the Snow Hill area, according to Lee. “Farmers in these parts have come a long way in the last 20 years,” says Lee. “They all understand the need to make good decisions about the environment. It is just as important to them as it is to us nowadays.”
Snow Hill CPS is located within the city limits, and invitations to community leaders to visit and learn more about the farm supply business has paid dividends for Lee. “We’ve had seven or eight meetings where we’ve invited the community, including town commissioners and the local fire department to join us. They’ve accepted us with open arms and really support us in a way I really didn’t expect,” says Lee. “We’ve gotten involved with the local recreation department and the Boy Scouts. Several of us recently helped a young man earn his Eagle Scout award by helping him build 10 picnic tables that were then donated to area elementary schools,” he adds.
Lee doesn’t look upon his facility as a mega location but says he predicts more location consolidation across the country. “I’m not saying the mom and pop mentality won’t work, but the expertise required to run a successful business is getting so precise that everyone is going to have to step up to the plate in their training and education.”
Lee looks upon winning the regional Environmental Respect award as an opportunity to give his staff the satisfaction of knowing their training efforts and attention to the environment have paid off. “Really it’s our employees who reflect a very positive image to our grower-customers and we like to think we follow the old adage, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ At CPS Snow Hill, we care, and we strive to show this every day.”