Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

EXPLORING MARS ; Director Shares What Makes Good Work Environment

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

EXPLORING MARS ; Director Shares What Makes Good Work Environment

Article excerpt

Mars made the top 15 list of great places to work in manufacturing and production for the second time in a row, and the Topeka plant strives to meet the standards of excellence set worldwide by the company.

The list, put out annually by Fortune magazine and Great Place to Work, found that 88 percent of Mars employees surveyed thought their workplace was "great." Additional rankings published at Fortune included:

- Of Mars employees, 92 percent said, "I'm proud to tell others I work here."

- Of Mars employees, 93 percent said, "I feel good about the ways we contribute to the community."

- Of Mars employees, 92 percent said, "People here are given a lot of responsibility."

Site director Bret Spangler is in charge of making sure companywide values and goals are met in the Topeka Mars plant, where 200 employee work. The company currently is hiring and expects to be at 270 positions by the end of 2016.

The Topeka Capital-Journal sat down with Spangler to talk about the intricacies of meeting company and employee needs. Here is what he shared.

Q. How long have you been with Mars?

A. "Thirty years. I joined the company in '86. I started unloading frozen blocks of meat on a receiving dock in Columbus, Ohio. I'd just come out of high school, didn't have a college degree, and started going to night school while I was working on shift."

Spangler worked a number of positions on the floor, and left Columbus in 1999 and moved into a management role in Reno, Nev., staying in the pet food part of Mars' business. He moved up through the ranks, which included global stints and an eventual move into the food manufacturing side of the business.

Q. What makes a great workplace?

A. "Any time that you can build the respect amongst the associates, and make sure they have a level of responsibility where it's rewarding to them every single day. As I talk through my story of developing from the lowest level of the organization now to run a site like this, that's the kind of things that I think make it a great place to work. Everybody has responsibility for their own development plan, so they can develop into whatever they want to do.

When the individuals that join the company see how much the principles are engrained -- between quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency and freedom -- all across the board, every single day, there's examples of where we're using those principles to make decisions. And I really think that's what drives the engagement of the associates, is they see decisions being made that may not be financially right for the business. They may be taking a more conservative route, but it's because of the principles that we've made those decisions. …

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