2014 Spirit Winner

Crop Production Services — Centreville, MD

Crop Protection Services' Centreville, MD location sits square in the middle of an agricultural area that is both highly fertile, yet highly sensitive. Location manager Tommy Engle, a lifelong resident of the region who grew up on a local farm, is fully aware of his place in the region, and his responsibility to help ensure a sustainable future for agriculture, community and environment.

"I can drive a half hour west and get to the Bay, or an hour east and be on the ocean," says Engle. With its proximity to waterways and sandy soils, agriculture in this sliver of Maryland requires intense nutrient and input management, state of the art storage and containment, and close relationships with state and federal regulators to ensure compliance. Records run deep here, from nutrient management plans to soil tests, which are required by regulation to be taken every three years.

This CPS location won a regional Environmental Respect Award back in 1992, and more than two decades later it has been chosen as this year's Spirit Award recipient for its commitment to continuous improvement.

Engle has been at the helm for seven years, and has fostered real team camaraderie with employees. "I try to treat people the way I want to be treated, like we are all part of the family," he says. Most are long time employees that are truly committed to the location's mission and goals, which include a focus on environmental stewardship and safety.

He is also not afraid to get involved in serious discussions about difficult topics, and to put his own business on display to educate regulators. Last year, in the wake of the West Fertilizer disaster in West, TX, Engle's CPS location hosted gathering of governmental regulators and policy makers for a day-long examination of the retail outlet at the request of the Agricultural Retailers Association.

ARA worked with Engle and his team as representatives from the National Security Agency, the U.S. EPA, USDA, and other officials got to see what a professional retail establishment looks like, and how exceptional retailers take every precaution to ensure the facility is as secure and safe as possible.

"Our proximity to the Beltway presents us with a great opportunity to provide lawmakers with evidence that we are on a path to continuous improvement," says Engle.

On the facilities side, CPS Centreville has made a number of improvements in recent years, but two in particular stand out.

The first was the installment of remote master shutoff switches for the anhydrous loading area. In multiple locations near control room areas that have visual contact (including closed circuit video) with the anhydrous loading area, there is a master "panic button" that can automatically shut down the entire anhydrous system in the event of a leak or other emergency.

The second is key facilities improvements, including the 2013 construction of an all new bulk chemical storage and handling area, and revamped mix and blend operations over the past two years.

Finally, Engle and his team work to assure continuous improvement of the team through ongoing training, which it has instituted through the Asmark Institute. He realizes that maintaining the culture of environmental respect depends on every employee's commitment to improvement every year, every week, every day.