Crop Production Services — Vernalis, CA

2012 Regional Winner

Crop Production Services — Vernalis, CA

Everything 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, 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.

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 non-denominational 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 gives back to the community by going above and beyond in its attention to safety and the environment. To wit:

  • The tank farm includes a 40,000-gallon water tank. It was no small expense, and wasn’t required by the Fire Department or any other agency, they just thought it was the right thing to do.
  • Trucks containing material must be parked within the tank farm, which is completely contained.
  • To ensure they can recover every drop, they are constantly experimenting with and applying asphalt sealers.

Strauss 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.”