CF Fertilisers – More Than Just Another Workplace

As part of the drive for continuous improvement to the already very good performance metrics of CF Fertilisers‘ Teesside manufacturing plant, management decided to try to put smiles on the faces of the people working there.

Thinking “outside the box”

The point was to create an environment where people would feel appreciated and happy, and being in a good frame of mind they would be more likely to make good decisions relating to safety, quality, and productivity.

The site is decades old and rather “industrial”. However, the company’s products are used by farmers to make their fields, and so the British countryside, more vibrant and productive. So, management took inspiration from this fact.

Community Art

CF Fertilisers asked Tees Valley Arts to help. TVA developed the concept and the project name, Fertile Minds. TVA invited artist Adrian Moule to complete this project. CF Fertilisers had some ideas of their own, which they outlined to Adrian. He combined the company’s ideas with some of his own. Together these would result in something unique and special. But would it make a positive difference? Would people be happier at work, and would their already excellent safety, productivity, and quality performance metrics improve?

Community Engagement

Adrian took the project to the local High Clarence School where the children helped him design the artwork.


This was a very important project with a serious purpose. So, TVA and CF Fertilisers jointly commissioned me to make a film about this unique artistic venture.

Whilst filming Adrian working, I met and saw numerous people driving or walking across the site. And without exception, they smiled, waved or just gave Adrian a thumbs up. They were obviously very enthusiastic about it.

Many firms provide pleasant environments for their managers but this was for everyone on the site, CF Fertilisers’ employees and visitors. Brilliant!

It is too early to say if the ultimate objective of industrial performance improvements will be achieved. However, I can tell you the work does make people feel good, and they do smile. Regular staff and visitors alike have all reacted very positively. And the people I have shown the film to have, without exception, smiled or laughed in all the right places. So that is all very encouraging.

As a creative who is passionate about the arts, I am thrilled to have been involved with such a group of progressive people conceiving and driving through such a brilliant and original artistic project. I wish them well and am sure their Fertile Minds project will be a quantifiably successful project for CF Fertilisers and all the people who work on their Teesside site.