Mars celebrates 30 years in Ballarat

BALLARAT has been the famous home of Mars for 30 years.And the confectionery manufacturer is celebrating the milestone, as it plans a sustainable future in the city for another 30 years.From its humble beginnings with 70 staff in 1979, the Ring Rd site has grown to 500 associates, with another 100 in its sales force around Australia.It has employed more than 1500 Ballarat people and contributed more than $3 billion to the local economy, via direct investment, local contracts, salaries and wages.In 1979, the Mars Bar was the main product on the Australian confectionery market.Today, the Ballarat site produces 10 different brands including Snickers, Milky Way, M&Ms, Maltesers, Bounty and Dove.For manufacturing associate Phil Duffy, it has been a challenging 30 years with the company, having started as at 19.Mr Duffy said it had been a "good working community", with the company sending him overseas to work on other sites. "I think it's one of the better jobs in Ballarat," he said."When I was 19, I didn't realise what Mars really was or what it would become . . . at one stage, there was something being built here all the time for 20 years."Mars Snackfood supply director Daryl Bussell, who has worked for the company for 25 years, said Mars had not had a high turnover, which he largely attributed to the opportunities they provided staff and the pay conditions."Lots of people in Ballarat know someone who's worked at Mars," he said."I think people view Mars as an international player, but very much a Ballarat-based operation."As an international player, Mars peaked at $100 million in exports, to more than 25 countries including the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, Canada and Asia. Today it is about $50 million.Mr Bussell said the company's future focus was to be sustainable, cutting its water and energy use.