Pest management with proof

Aug. 10, 2004
Fruit Growers Supply makes perfect AIB scores with a high-tech pest management system
All supply and manufacturing facilities are vulnerable to pest infestations due to a steady flow of supply shipments, open shipping and receiving areas and heavy traffic through multiple entrances. Fruit Growers Supply Co.'s (FGS) carton plant requires massive amounts of corrugated board, a material attractive to a variety of pests. Much of this corrugated material is delivered and stored in a covered but outdoor area.

FGS wanted a comprehensive pest management program, not just for its own sake but because it supplies processors and growers in the agricultural community with the materials they need to grow, harvest, package and ship citrus.

FGS is the supply and manufacturing affiliate of Sunkist Growers Inc. in
California. From its 214,000-sq-ft. carton plant in Ontario, Calif., FGS supplies cartons to more than 45 FGS/Sunkist-affiliated packing houses in California and Arizona, as well as other produce customers.

"They have enough pest concern issues of their own. We can't be the source of additional headaches for them," says plant manager Tom Deering.

He notes the plant sits on 26 acres, "most of it undeveloped land, not concrete," which introduces more pests into the equation. Add to that the fact that, "Everything we make ships on wooden pallets, which can bring in pests of their own." So pest control is critical.

To cope with these challenges, FGS emphasizes quality assurance protocols and employee communication at all levels of production. In 2002, FGS decided to provide its customers with another measure of quality assurance: meeting American Institute of Baking (AIB) standards. 

AIB audits evaluate every aspect of a facility's production processes, including pest control, against comprehensive and stringent standards of quality, safety and consistency. Compliance requires a facility to provide a great deal of documentation, especially when it comes to pest management.

To ensure that its pest management program would adhere to AIB standards, FGS wanted to partner with a pest management firm that was familiar with AIB training, experienced with AIB-compliant facilities and able to provide detailed documentation. So Orkin Commercial Services was brought in to design and implement a customized integrated pest management (IPM) program. 

Using handheld devices, Orkin technicians on site electronically monitor and record any pest activity. The data is submitted automatically to a database at the branch office. This type of ongoing and easily accessible information provides regulators and inspectors with the kind of documentation needed to assure  that a facility and its products are free of pests.

The handheld system gives FGS better reports, which lead to more effective treatments. Graphs, trends and statistics can be produced immediately to allow Orkin's technician to track trends more effectively and identify problems before they become widespread.

"The handhelds play a significant role in Fruit Growers' record-keeping operation," says Denicia Lechleiter, Orkin branch account manager. 

In its first two AIB inspections in 2002 and 2003, FGS received the highest possible score in the area of pest control , a perfect 200 points. This result serves as proof to FGS' customers and prospects of the company's dedication to providing safe products.

"Orkin's electronic monitoring and documentation program is the tool we needed to accurately track our pest management program across seasons, products and numerous areas within our facility," adds Deering. "We've been able to prevent pests from becoming a problem and document our activities quickly and accurately. Our perfect pest-control score on the AIB audit speaks to the success of our partnership."

For more information, contact Orkin at 800-675-4666 or

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