Mars Petcare officially opened its North American headquarters on Tuesday. It includes a dog park for employees’ pets. / Photo Matt Blois
By MATT BLOIS
Mars Petcare invited the governor of Tennessee, a state representative and the mayor of Franklin to the grand opening of the company’s 230,000 square foot office in Cool Springs on Tuesday morning.
However, the dogs at the event couldn’t have cared less about the dignitaries cutting a big blue ribbon. They were too busy enjoying the 9,000 square foot outdoor dog park.
“Everything about this place is designed with pets in mind,” Mars Petcare North America president Mark Johnson said.
The building has a doggy day care area for employees and large outdoor spaces where employees can take pets on walks, but the pet-centric philosophy extends to the smallest details.
Builders installed hooks on the wall next to coffee makers so employees can tie up their dogs while brewing coffee. The company also installed water fountains for dogs below the coffee makers.
The 17.6 acre campus is the first building to be completed in the Ovation development. The project was supposed to include hotels, restaurants, retail stores and homes but remains unfinished.
Highwoods Properties, the developer for about half of the Ovation property, finished the Mars building on schedule. The developer responsible for the other half of the property, Thomas Ovation, LLC, has twice declared bankruptcy and recently defaulted on a large loan.
Several roads and traffic lights running through the development have now been completed.
At the event on Tuesday, Highwoods Properties CEO Ed Fritsch joked that it was the first project where the county had to ask whether the capacity of conference rooms included dogs.
Fritsch also presented the Mars team with a fire hydrant. He suggested that dogs at the building could gather at the hydrant rather than the water cooler.
There are about 200 dogs registered at the on-site doggy day care, and about 100 dogs come through each day. Other employees keep dogs at their desks.
Each desk has a small carabiner allowing owners to tether their pets. Dogs on green leashes are perfectly friendly and safe to approach. It’s best to ask before approaching a dog on a yellow leash. Employees’ cats can’t come to the office.
The campus has two buildings connected by an indoor bridge. The five story C building is called the cat building, and the four story D building is called the dog building.
The dog building includes a casual restaurant and a coffee shop operated by Frothy Monkey. The building also has a large fitness area for employees. Both buildings have baskets free Mars candy scattered throughout the office, including a basket right outside the fitness center.
There are between 600 and 700 employees working in the building, and they moved into the new office around Memorial Day weekend.