Mars and Nutro Break Ground to Innovate Pet Care

Mars and Nutro Break Ground to Innovate Pet Care
David Macnair, global vice president of research and development, Mars Petcare, unveils the $87 million Regional Innovation Center alongside Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn., May 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Mars Petcare and The Nutro Company broke ground on an $87 million world-class Regional Innovation Center in Thompson's Station, Tenn. The four-building campus will serve as the companies' home base for creating future pet care innovations for its North American market.  Located just south of Nashville, Tenn., the entire 90-acre campus will be designed to achieve Gold LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Building Council.

"Pets and their owners in the North American market seek high-quality, cutting edge nutrition, and our new Regional Innovation Center will ensure Mars Petcare and NUTRO® products deliver on that promise in new and exciting formats," said David Macnair, global vice president of research and development, Mars Petcare. "Mars has a long history in Tennessee, so it was a natural choice to locate our center here and we are thankful for the continued partnership of Gov. Bill Haslam and the State of Tennessee, Williamson County and our new partners in the town of Thompson's Station. "

Construction is set to begin immediately on the four buildings after the groundbreaking and completion is expected in  Spring 2014. The new center will support 144 jobs.  Each building on the Regional Innovation Center campus is unique and serves a different purpose in the life-cycle of creating new and innovative pet food products. Buildings will include an Innovation Center building, Product Development Center, Shared Services building, and the crown jewel of the campus, the Pet Health and Nutrition Center, largely based on the unique and groundbreaking The Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition in the United Kingdom.

"Mars and Nutro have been a part of Tennessee's economic landscape starting with Mars' facility in Cleveland 30 years ago," Gov. Bill Haslam said. "This new campus in Thompson's Station will be a welcome addition and a site for innovation, and I'm grateful for their continued investment in our state as we work to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs."

The companies tapped regional talent for the design and construction of the world-class innovation center. Nashville firm, Hastings Architecture Associates, Inc., serves as the lead architect and will work closely with the Nashville office of Brasfield & Gorrie, the general contractor.

"Mars Petcare and The Nutro Company have a proven history of discovering new and exciting ways to create a better world for pets," said U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn. "They continue to lead the way in pet care innovation and the development of high-quality, nutritious pet food. It is an honor to be a part of this groundbreaking ceremony for the new Regional Innovation Center that will bring 144 new jobs to Williamson County and build on the strong relationship that these companies have established with our communities in Tennessee."

The Regional Innovation Center is essential for Mars Petcare globally to accelerate, develop and grow their pet food portfolio. The companies make some of the world's most beloved pet foods including, PEDIGREE®, WHISKAS®, CESAR®, TEMPTATIONS®, NUTRO®, and GREENIES®, in addition to private label pet foods. It was also critical to find a location that met the companies' needs as a privately-owned, principles-based corporation with associates passionate about pets and the products they design and produce.

As one of the world's leading food manufactures with annual net sales of $30 billion and a century-long history in the U.S., Mars has operated facilities in Tennessee over the last thirty years. The company established a chocolate manufacturing plant in 1979 in Cleveland, Tenn., and also operates a Wrigley plant and The Nutro Company plant in Tennessee. The headquarters operations for Mars Petcare and The Nutro Company relocated to Williamson County in Tennessee in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

"This is a great day for Williamson County, and a great day for the entire Nashville region," Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson said. "Mars Petcare is one of the premiere employers in Williamson County and their Five Principles are evident everyday in the many ways they engage and interact with our community.  The new Regional Innovation Center in Thompson's Station, one of only five in the world, will provide additional employment opportunities for our citizens and will help us to continue to economically diversify by bringing world-class research and development to Williamson County."

During the groundbreaking ceremony, the companies' presidents, Ulf Hahnemann at Mars Petcare and David Ansell at The Nutro Company, presented a $50,000 donation to the Thompson's Station Greenway Trails project. Thompson's Station Mayor Corey Napier accepted alongside Rebecca Wynd from Outdoor Encounter.

"Our community welcomes Mars as a cornerstone partner in our future growth," said Thompson's Station Mayor Corey Napier. "Mars' corporate commitment to high standards, innovation, and quality of life for its associates and consumers complements Thompson's Station's vision of being a lifestyle choice based on those very values. We look forward to combining our "brands" to be a model community for citizens and companies alike."   

PERSONAL NOTE: Mars (and NUTRO) is about to do something out of this world. So much of what we know about pet nutrition, and even dog and cat behavior was first learned at that Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition in England, having an even more state of the art version of that facility right here in the U.S. is very exciting. I've been to Waltham twice, and was impressed on each visit.

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