Most people have blood running through their veins, but Adrian Wells jokes he has cream running through his.
“My daughter says it’s milk, but I think it’s a bit thicker than that now.”
- Adrian Wells has worked in the Tasmanian dairy industry for 50 years
- It’s a passion he picked up from his father and grandfather
- He’s now diary giant Fonterra’s longest serving employee in the country
After half a decade of service to the dairy industry, the Tasmanian north-west local is now Fonterra’s longest-serving employee in the country.
He is also in the top five for the dairy giant’s longest-serving employees worldwide, from a pool of around 22,000 people.
When he first got his job at 15, it was then called North Western Dairy, and he worked at their East Devonport plant.
“When I was a teenager, I used to go out on the milk tankers with my father on weekends, picking up milk from the farms, and I got to know the people in the factory and they offered me a job making butter boxes,” he said.
Mr Wells has been a permanent fixture through all the ownership iterations and watched many small dairy farms amalgamate.
“Nearly every town used to have a small cheese plant or a butter factory,” he said.
What customers expect from their butter has also changed over time.
“We were making bulk 25- kilogram blocks of butter, and most of that got exported to England, and they didn’t really care as long as the butter was in the box, and it was sealed, they’d accept it.”
“The big changes came in the late 70s once the world market opened up like the Japanese market was a big one for us, and they had all these quality parameters they wanted us to meet before they’d buy our product.”
An icon producing an iconic product
Mr Wells said while 50 years seemed like a long time, it had bit felt that way.
“Things have been happening all through my work life keeping my mind fresh, so I know it’s a cliche, but it’s gone really quickly.”
Now at Fonterra’s plant in Spreyton, he said he spent his days working with his “second family” to create a quintessentially Tasmanian product —Duck River soft butter.
“When we go to visit our daughter in Queensland, my wife takes six tubs of the stuff to give to her in her hand luggage.”
So what’s next for the dairy veteran?
“I thought I might try for a century, you never know.”