Our Trip to the New Mars Petcare Innovation Center
As you know, we recently returned from BlogPaws (holding a trophy for best unconventional blog, I might add). But that’s another story. Today we want to tell you about our VIP tour of the new $110 million gold LEED-certified campus that serves as the Global Center of Excellence for Mars Petcare.
Located in Thompson’s Station, Tennessee, the new campus joins the international family of facilities that Mars Petcare uses to help make A Better World for Pets (the other campuses are located in Global Innovation Centers located in Verden, Germany and Aimargues, France).
This facility currently serves as the global center for Eukanuba, Greenies, Iams, Nutro, Pedigree, Pedigree Treats, Sheba, Temptations Treats, Cesar Canine Cuisine, Whiskas, Royal Canin, Banfield and Iams.
This is a campus that was very impressive to us. for a number of reasons:
A focus on education
As you know, we support education for pet owners. This is the most critical part of pet care available to pet parents. Mars is committed to this concept with their research, facilities and outreach programs. The campus includes a 10,302 square ft. Learning Center that features an interactive learning environment and a Mars history museum for guests.
The Learning Center also includes space for focus groups, a conference center, workout room and break areas for Associates. We spent a lot of time in a kitchen area where we could not only learn about the innovative things they are doing at Mars, but we could probably have cooked up a tasty meal for ourselves!
Food trials with happy, healthy pets
We support food trials in pets. Not only does this help for formulation, but it keeps my pets from being turned into lab animals. That said, it’s critically important to us that these animals be treated and cared for as though they were someone’s beloved pet. The facilities showed that they are treated exactly that way.
The dogs and cats live in a 28,461 square ft Pet Feeding Center. It has unique circular kennels where dogs will live in pairs, as well as indoor/outdoor play areas for resident dogs and cats. These cats and dogs who try out various types of foods are the first step in developing quality recipes for my pets. They let Mars know which tastes are preferred, which proteins work best, and which formulas are the most effective for a variety of ailments, including UTIs, reducing weight, and more.
Fully staffed, the Innovation Center houses up to 180 dogs and 120 cats. These animals live a life of pampered luxury with full-time veterinarians on staff, regular grooming services, on-site positive-reinforcement training, and plenty of exercise. Each dog has a special “kennel mate” which ensures they are never left alone, and they all receive full-time play with their individually appointed caretakers.
What happens after their trials are done? They are adopted into loving homes!
The same goes with the cats. Each cat room has a specially appointed attendant who calls the cats their own. They have an indoor/outdoor enclosure that ensures plenty of time outdoors (unless it’s raining), but the most important thing is that the cats get to choose where they want to be. They have specialty veterinarians on staff to regularly monitor health and emotional happiness, and most impressive, they are housed with cats of similar personalities. There are no bullying or stress activities happening here. The attendants truly love these animals – you can see it as they speak to and about each one.
Mars Petcare donated $100,000 to build the town’s first public dog park. Outdoor Encounter is a four-acre park that includes separate areas for large and small dogs to play in, sensory trails and even cute bone-shaped benches. Over 90 Mars Associates volunteered over 800 hours to ensure the park would open. That’s a family commitment if I’ve ever seen one!
Sustainability and environmentally sound construction solutions helps this campus achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. The sustainability efforts at the Global Innovation Center are part of Mars’ overall commitment to become carbon neutral by 2040. It’s an energy-efficient products that allow the campus to consume 28 percent less energy than similar code-compliant buildings. Low-flow plumbing fixtures reduces potable water consumption by 40 percent.
They haven’t stopped at environmentally-friendly design. They have a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040 and that means implementing a number of strategies to help them achieve this ambitious goal. Their recent investment in a 200MW, 118-turbine wind farm that will produce renewable energy equal to the electricity use in all of its U.S. operations, marking the biggest long-term commitment to renewable energy use of any food manufacturing business in the nation.
Quality and Innovation
The 39,904 square ft. Quality & Innovation Center houses research and development associates working in an office setting, in addition to a state-of-the-art microbiological and analytical laboratory.
New technologies and products will be developed and produced on a small scale at the 56,589 square ft. Product Development Center before full-scale production is implemented throughout the company’s manufacturing network.
“Everything about this campus is dedicated to helping pets live longer and happier lives,” said Larry Allgaier, president of Mars Petcare North America. “Mars has been doing business in Tennessee for the past 35 years, employing nearly 1,700 Associates across our Petcare, Chocolate and Wrigley business segments. Our $110 million Global Innovation Center marks the sixth Mars site in Tennessee and will employ more than 140 Associates.”