Multi-million-dollar Colac investment

Hawthorn-based construction company Quanstruct’s Marc Weakley, left, and Bulla chilled operations general manager James Downey on the site of Bulla Dairy Foods’ multi-million dollar innovation centre in Colac’s Forest Street

ONE of Colac’s biggest companies has made a long-term commitment to the city with a multi-million dollar expansion.

Construction is set to start on Bulla Dairy Foods state-of-the-art innovation centre, adjacent to its Forest Street factory, which will house the majority of the company’s administration as well as a pilot plant and micro testing lab.

Bulla chilled operations general manager James Downey said the company was celebrating 90 years in Colac and he said the new expansion was a sign of “faith in the community”.

“It’s a significant investment in the town – we are confident in Colac,” Mr Downey said.

“It’s been the base and home of our manufacturing since 1922 and we’re really having a big display of faith in our future in the town,” he said.

Mr Downey said the development, which would be on the south side of the existing factory, was in its final stages of five years of planning, with construction to be in full swing before the end of February.

He said the company anticipated the project would be finished by October.

“It is hugely exciting for the 50 staff that are going into the facility – it’s exciting and it’s been long awaited,” Mr Downey said.

The 2710-square-metre, double-storey building will accommodate 52 staff in “architecturally designed” offices, while a custom-designed pilot plant and micro lab will act as a “mini factory” for efficient product trials and testing.

“Having a dedicated pilot plant which can fully replicate what the factories do will allow our technical team to turbo charge the

new product development process,” Mr Downey said.

“The existing lab has been in use since about 1980 and obviously we’ve grown somewhat since then so those facilities have become very cramped,” he said.

Mr Downey said one of the “key features” of the development was its built-in capacity for business expansion allowing for a 100-per-cent increase in administrative staff.

“There will be a second storey left completely empty which will be purely there for expansion space,” Mr Downey said.

“We’ve learnt from the past in regard to our growth that we need to factor in a high degree of business growth,” he said.

Mr Downey said the new building would become the “welcome centre” for the company in Colac, and plans included 150 additional parking spaces.

He said the micro lab and pilot plant would allow the company to keep up with innovation demand.

“You have to be demonstrating innovation and really innovating to be the forerunner in new product categories,” Mr Downey said.

“The project is largely about cementing in a robust innovation – a facility to match our processes,” he said.

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