#AgSafety Leader – February 2017
FRANK & BARB WLOKA
Wloka Farms Fruit Stand
“Barb and Frank Wloka clearly demonstrate the vital connection between the safety of their employees and the success of their business…”
Frank and Barb Wloka together have developed and maintained deep roots in the Creston Valley since 1980, and if their passion and enthusiasm are any indication of their commitment to agriculture, the Wloka Farms Fruit Stand will continue to provide customers with an exciting array of fruits and vegetables for many years to come.
Frank was born and raised in the Creston Valley, where he and Barb have demonstrated an interest in orchard farming and market gardening, along with with their young family. And while that family has now grown and moved away, Frank and Barb have remained, creating a new family with their numerous employees.
Wloka Farms Fruit Stand is a thriving business that provides over 50 varieties of apples, along with an assortment of other exceptional produce. When asked what makes this business so successful, Frank and Barb unanimously agree on two points: “Fun and employees, because our employees ARE our business.”
Barb leads the charge when it comes to safety by truly practicing what she preaches. Her hands-on approach to safety is evident in her innovative and engaging practices. Indeed, Barb does not believe in simply ticking the boxes on an inspection form, but rather uses her business and its related safety program as an educational tool for the new employees who are welcomed to the family each year.
“I’m passionate about the well-being of our employees,” affirms Barb, who provides continual support and guidance by going into the orchard to ensure regular breaks are occurring, and that staff are hydrating properly during those hot harvest days in the Creston Valley.
In addition, both Barb and Frank look to their employees for constant feedback on how to create or enhance safe operating procedures. In fact, just last year the summer fruit stand employees developed an ergonomic design modification to the stand’s produce displays. This modification was designed to reduce the need for heavy lifting, thus also reducing the potential for injuries often associated with such activity.
Moreover, while this open communication style adopted by Barb and Frank encourages all employees to take safety seriously, there is a light-hearted side to the operation as well. For example, Barb has taken to posting safe ladder procedures signage on the inside of restroom stall doors, allowing all employees an opportunity for peaceful contemplation of these important reminders of safe work practices.
Workplace safety is one of the most important components that employers create and maintain for their employees. Barb and Frank Wloka clearly demonstrate the vital connection between the safety of their employees and the success of their business; they are truly two of the Creston Valley’s #AgSafety Leaders.