Mars Supply, Iron Mining Association a family matter

Posted April 4, 2017

Mars Supply, Iron Mining Association a family matter

Mars Supply has had a long relationship with the iron mining industry in Minnesota.

“We started out providing pick axes and shovels,” said Bruce Mars, the fourth generation in the family-owned business. “For many, many years, it was the backbone of our business.”

So in 1992, when the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota (IMA) was founded to expand from its predecessor to include vendor members, it was a natural fit for Mars’ father, Bob Mars. Jr. and his companies – Mars Supply (formerly W.P. & R.S. Mars Co) and Conveyor Belt Service to join the newly formed association.

Mars himself became involved with the association shortly after his father. He’s served on the IMA board several times and has sat on IMA committees for 15-20 years.

“It has been a great experience and given me the chance to meet many friendly, hardworking people,” Mars said.

In addition, being a member has given both Mars Supply and Conveyor Belt Service name recognition within the industry, Mars said.

“Our membership has allowed us to meet many other vendors that depend on the industry,” he said. “It’s also opened doors for us to meet more people that work at the mines.”

Mars Supply began in 1924 as W.P. & R.S. Mars Co – named after Mars’ grandfather and great-grandfather. Its wholly-owned subsidiary, Conveyor Belt Service, was founded in 1953 with the purpose of installing, splicing, and repairing conveyor belting at mine sites.

“Both Mars Supply and Conveyor Belt Service are proud to be connected with the taconite facilities,” Mars said. “Neither of our companies would be around if it wasn’t for iron mining.”

As the Mars family businesses have evolved, so has the IMA. In the association’s early years, production taxes and other financial obligations were a main focus, but today environmental regulations and public perception of mining have come to the forefront, Mars noted.

“Iron mining is the backbone of the Iron Range,” he added. “…The whole economy of the Iron Range – and for that matter, Northern Minnesota, tends to thrive when the iron ore mining industry is strong.”

Thank you to Bruce Mars for sharing his insights on his family’s history with the IMA. The IMA will be posting profiles on the different founding vendor board members throughout the year to celebrate the association’s 25th anniversary.