Fresh Heir

McGregor building

In the history of the sports world, there have occasionally been those teams that thoroughly dominated their games by consistently winning championship after championship, usually for several years in a row. Examples of this include the 1950s New York Yankees in baseball, the 1960s Boston Celtics in basketball, and the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers in football. When this kind of domination occurs, observers usually refer to such teams as “dynasties.”

In the world of environmental stewardship, there is one retailer that appears to be making a case for dynasty status — The McGregor Co. Since the DuPont Crop Protection-sponsored Environmental Respect Awards program began back in 1991, this single retailer has had dozens of state winners and several regional winners. The past two years, the winners of the coveted National Environmental Re­spect Award have both sported the McGregor name. In 2005, the McGregor facility in Dayton, WA, earned the top honor. During the 2006 awards ceremony, the McGregor outlet in Garfield, WA, was the grand prize recipient.

“Every day, we are actively committed to safeguarding our natural resources,” said Ted Deerkop, area manager for the Garfield facility, when accepting the award. “It is an honor to be recognized for our efforts in protecting the environment. Our commitment to environmental stewardship is long term. It’s not just about what we do today, but what we can do to preserve, even improve, the environment for future generations.”

Company Owner Alex McGregor was equally pleased with the Environmen­tal Respect Award acknowledgement. “Ted and his team have gone to great lengths to make certain their facility is a good steward in the community by working hard and thinking outside the box with some of their solutions to environmental challenges.”

Starting At The Top

Given the role McGregor himself has played in his company’s environmental programs, this praise should come as no surprise. When he was first approached in the early 1990s by Pat McConnell, the then-manager of the McGregor Waitsburg, WA, outlet, about launching a companywide program to actively develop environmental stewardship initiatives at all outlets, McGregor jumped at the chance. Today, the program, using the title “Every Drop Counts,” is the guiding principle of doing business at each and every McGre­gor outlet.

“Following the ‘Every Drop Counts’ program has been a challenge at times, but it’s definitely the right thing to do,” says Deerkop. “We have to make certain we respect and take care of the land we have been given.”

Of course, for McGregor Garfield, this has presented its share of challenges, particularly since the outlet itself was originally constructed in the late 1950s — long before environmental stewardship was a key company tenet. In many cases, this has meant that in order to comply with modern environmental practices, McGregor Garfield has had to make some radical changes to the facility itself as well as the way it conducts business.

According to Deerkop, McGregor Garfield began down its road to environmental stewardship with container recycling. Originally, he says, the company used to stack thousands of 5-gallon tins on its facility grounds, crushing them flat once per season for collection. “To safeguard the groundwater and surrounding area while this pile was on-site, we installed a containment liner underneath everything to keep any incidentally spilled liquid from going where it wasn’t supposed to.”

Today, McGregor Garfield still collects discarded crop protection product jugs, but these are now primarily plastic and shredded as part of an annual recycling program coordinated with area grower-customers. “But the liner is still there, doing its job without fail,” says Deerkop.

In terms of a more “outside the box” solution to an environmental concern, take McGregor Garfield’s bulk tank containment and piping system. Not unlike other retail outlets, the facility’s bulk tank area has a concrete basin designed to capture up to 125% of the contents of its largest tank. But to seal this concrete, McGregor Garfield applied Semstone, a coating that was more expensive than traditional sealants, but possessed added durability. “Since the Semstone was applied in the 1990s, we had no problems with it whatsoever,” says Deerkop.

McGregor Garfield’s solution to the transport piping used in the bulk tank area was more of a radical departure from traditional retail outlet practices. Like other facilities, the outlet originally used PVC piping to move liquids from its bulk tanks to delivery vehicles. But according to Deerkop, these had a bad habit of cracking, leaving the containment area littered with numerous product puddles. When the outlet finally decided to replace the PVC piping rather than initiate another round of repairs, Deerkop looked to a different type of plastic to do the job — high-density polyethylene (HDPE). “Traditionally, HDPE shows up in many consumer products such as milk cartons and motor oil containers, but it hasn’t been traditionally used for retail transfer pipe,” he says.

But Deerkop realized that HDPE-made milk cartons and motor oil containers are able to maintain their flexibility under extreme heat and cold conditions without cracking, so using this plastic for piping “made tremendous sense.” As an added bonus, HDPE piping isn’t fitted together when assembled, but heat-welded. “This means that when you are finished with installation, you have one continuous piece of HDPE piping in place, not dozens of pipe sections with connecting joints,” says Deerkop.

Thus far, the gamble on HDPE piping has paid off for McGregor Garfield. “Since we first installed the pipe, we’ve never had a leak,” he says. “Plus, it’s flexible enough that you can bump into it and it won’t break or crack.”

Metal Tanks Of Honor

Another example of McGregor Gar­field’s eye toward environmental stewardship is the way the outlet handles its bulk crop protection products. While most retailers across the country utilize plastic shuttles, McGregor Garfield ships most of its chemicals in stainless steel tanks. “We’ve found the stainless steel tanks are much more durable than plastic, can be cleaned and reused easier, and are less likely to develop leaks,” says Deerkop.

Despite all its technical and product-oriented efforts, says Deerkop, McGregor Garfield wouldn’t have been able to build up and maintain its environmental stewardship programs without the help and support of the outlet’s employees. “For this to really work, you need to have 100% involvement from your workers,” he says. “In many cases, they are the ones dealing with grower-customer and our outlet issues at the ground level, so they are the ones that can make us aware of a problem and help us come up with a solution that will work. Without this kind of support, you will have no chance of maintaining an effective environmental program.”

Overall, he adds, the quest for complete environmental stewardship is a never-ending battle. “You have to keep the vision clear and continually update it,” says Deerkop. “You’ve got to keep going forward, as a manager, an outlet, and a company. You can’t ever assume you’ve done enough to be a good environment steward and just stop. You’ve got to keep going. That’s how McGregor has been able to keep producing new Environmental Respect winners year after year.”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Stewardship Stories
StewardshipA Multi-Layered Approach To Water Quality
October 6, 2014
Illinois event highlights research and technology designed to better monitor and improve water quality — and the benefits of cooperative, coordinated effort. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
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
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires South Dakota Retailer
April 2, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co.’s Agribusiness Division, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed Read More
CropLife 100The McGregor Co. Closes Smith-Kem Acquisition
April 2, 2015
The McGregor Co. — ranked No. 16 on the CropLife 100 list of largest U.S. ag retailers — has completed Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Latest News
ManagementSyngenta-Monsanto deal talk; Ohio field work on the mov…
May 6, 2015
Rumors of a deal between Syngenta and Monsanto heat up once again, while planting continues apace in Ohio’s corn and Read More
StewardshipBayer CropScience Announces $100K Pollinator Habitat In…
May 6, 2015
Bayer CropScience is investing over $100,000 in a project with Integrated Vegetation Management Partners, Inc. (IVM Partners) designed to improve Read More
Town & Country Co-op Smithville, OH 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certified
StewardshipThree Town & Country Co-op Facilities Certified In …
May 6, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that Town & Country Co-op’s facilities located in Loudonville, Smithville, and Sullivan, Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Plant Food Adds New Territory Manager
May 6, 2015
Monty’s Plant Food Co., a leader in natural soil enhancement and plant  fertility products, has hired Paul Miles as a Read More
InsecticidesVestaron’s Bioinsecticide Now Registered For Use On Mor…
May 6, 2015
Vestaron has received expanded EPA registration for its biological insect control products. These innovative bioinsecticides, which are derived from newly Read More
Sunrise Cooperative Norwalk Agronomy
StewardshipSunrise Cooperative Facilities All Certified In 4R Nutr…
May 5, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that all four of Sunrise Cooperative Inc.’s agronomy branches, located in Attica, Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Scientist Named 2015 National Inventors Hall O…
May 5, 2015
The National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) announced its 2015 class of inductees. Among the 14 honored is scientist Mary-Dell Read More
Eric SfiligojIARC Glyphosate Report: A Closer Look At ‘Probabl…
May 5, 2015
By now, you’ve probably run across a story or two (probably closer to 100) detailing the ongoing controversy over the Read More
Syngenta
Eric SfiligojWill Monsanto And Syngenta Combine This Time?
May 4, 2015
Under the heading of “never say never,” it sounds as if crop protection/seed giants Monsanto Co. and Syngenta are once Read More
Dr. Bryan Young, Southern Illinois University, shows tour attendees a female Palmer amaranth plant.
Crop InputsPurdue Weed Scientist Publishes Weed Resistance White P…
May 4, 2015
Resistant weeds, the appropriate use of herbicides and integrated weed management strategies are highlighted topics in the new white paper, Read More
Industry NewsMonsanto-Syngenta Mega-Merger Would Drive More Deals
May 4, 2015
A combination of Monsanto Co. and Syngenta AG would set the stage for even more mergers and acquisitions, reports Brooke Read More
InsecticidesAgrian Announces New California Feature
May 4, 2015
Agrian announced today that it has developed a feature within its recommendation writing program that will support the California Department Read More
Storage Tanks at Nachurs
FertilizerNachurs Alpine Solutions: Liquid Fertilizer With Precis…
May 4, 2015
When it comes to fertilizer options in 2015 and beyond, ag retailers are taking a long, hard look at liquid. Read More
West Central Sac City growers
StewardshipIowa Lawsuit Challenges Ag’s Water Quality Efforts
May 3, 2015
Nutrient problems in west-central Iowa’s water supply made national headlines in March when the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) filed Read More
Tim Hassinger Dow AgroSciences President and CEO
Crop InputsDow AgroSciences: Always About Agriculture
May 2, 2015
When you consider their respective backgrounds, it’s little wonder why Dow AgroSciences and new President/CEO Tim Hassinger ended up together. Read More
Nozzle spray close-up
AdjuvantsSpray Drift Enters More Complex Era
May 1, 2015
Off-target movement of crop protection products has been a problem for decades. The issue got more contentious when glyphosate-tolerant crops Read More
Crop InputsTop 10 Twitter Pics For #Plant15
April 30, 2015
Growers and ag retailers are working feverishly to plant this year’s crop. Fortunately, many of them still have time to Read More
ManagementIowa Retailer Sticks Up For Agriculture and New Spray D…
April 30, 2015
Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about how one Iowa ag retailer is working to defend agricultural practices and an Read More