The annual Environmental Respect wards recognize agri-retailers for their environmental stewardship.
Crop Production Services (CPS) from Glenboro, Man., was honoured for their innovative approach and dedication to environmental stewardship this year when they were named one of the four regional winners in the North America category of the Environmental Respect Awards (ERAs).
“I was surprised to hear we won, very surprised,” says Darrell Godard, branch manager at CPS Glenboro. “We’re just a small site; there are much bigger sites than us out there. We’re a small staff but we’re a good staff, and I’m proud of what we achieved.”
We’re looking for someone who says, ‘Here’s what the government wants me to do. Here’s what the industry wants me to do. Now, how can I do more?’
Now in its 27th year, the ERAs recognize fertilizer or ag chemical retailers from around the globe who preserve and protect the environment by incorporating environmentally sound and safe practices into their business model for the benefit of their customers, employees and communities. Judges selected four regional winners in the North America category, with CPS locations sweeping three of the four regional awards.
“What we’re looking for in a winner is someone who goes above and beyond,” says Eric Sfiligoj, ERA judge and editor of CropLife magazine. The awards are presented by CropLife and AgriBusiness Global magazines and are sponsored by DuPont Crop Protection. “We’re looking for someone who says, ‘Here’s what the government wants me to do. Here’s what the industry wants me to do. Now, how can I do more?’ ”
Sfiligoj says elements like new construction for heightened environmental efficiency, added filtration systems and good chemical storage practices are examples of some of the specific and measurable initiatives that the judges look for when selecting a winner.
“We get over 100 entries and narrow them down to a dozen or so. From those dozen, we’re looking for someone who has really embraced environmental respect,” he says.
In the case of CPS Glenboro, the judges were particularly impressed by their practice of protecting pollinators in the community.
“We have a third-party aerial operator here. We always let the beekeepers know when we’ll be spraying,” says Godard. “The key is to spray early in the morning or late at night when the bees are back in their hives.”
This initiative has long been standard practice for CPS Glenboro. Godard says his operation has been communicating with local beekeepers to help protect bees for approximately 15 years.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time. The location of the hives changes every year, so, every year we phone the beekeepers well in advance of spraying and find out where the hives are that year and get land descriptions from them. We pass that information along to our aerial operator so he can go around the hives if at all possible.”
Godard says they have received a very positive response from local beekeepers over the years for their efforts to protect the pollinators, and he says maintaining good relationships and open communication with beekeepers isn’t just good for the bees, it’s also good for business.
“Some of these beekeepers are also our customers. There are about six to eight growers in the area who keep bees. We’re a small community here and we all work together and look out for each other,” he says. “When things are good for growers, things are good in the community. Whatever we can do to help our grower customers helps our whole community.”
Another criterion the ERA judges look for is the safety education of a company’s staff and customers, something Godard says CPS takes very seriously across all their locations.
“We have monthly safety meetings at our site. If there is ever an issue, we have what’s called a stand-down. We slow down operations to make sure everybody is aware of the situation,” he says. “If something ever happens at another CPS site, we discuss the incident and how we can be proactive to prevent a similar issue from happening here.
“We all look out for each other. If I see someone doing something that isn’t safe and I correct them, I’m not trying to give them a hard time, I’m just trying to help them,” he explains. “We all want to go home from work the same way we came.”
Godard firmly believes in looking out for his customers the same way he does for his staff to ensure they’re employing safe and sustainable practices when handling dangerous goods.
“Sometimes a customer will come pick up a fertilizer spreader, but they’re in a big hurry and they don’t put their safety chains on,” says Godard. “Not only is that dangerous and could cause a spill, but the customer could get a ticket from the local authorities. I always tell them, ‘Just slow down. Take your time and do it right.’ ”
Small Steps to Success
CPS Glenboro’s efforts to protect bees and promote the safe handling of chemicals earned them an Environmental Respect Award, but Godard says the magnitude of the victory hasn’t fully set in.
When things are good for growers, things are good in the community. Whatever we can do to help our grower customers helps our whole community.
“We had someone in from CropLife magazine to interview us. Came all the way from Cleveland to talk to little old me,” he says with a chuckle. “It’s still not hitting me how big this is. We’re not a big site, but we do keep a clean site.”
Keeping a clean site is at the core of Godard’s advice for other retailers looking to make their operations more environmentally sustainable – and perhaps snag an award of their own in the future.
“Pay attention to the little things around your site and try to keep things clean – even something as small as picking up litter if you see it,” he says. “I know it might seem minuscule, but first impressions are important, and small changes can add up and lead to bigger changes.”
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