Ice factory is a cool place to work

BUSY FACTORY: Tim Moran (at front) and Brett McCall (manager) hard at work at Bells Pure Ice in Byron Bay. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

GENERAL stores, supermarkets, service stations, pubs and clubs.

These are just some of the places Bells Pure Ice manager Brett McCall makes ice for on a daily basis.

Brett was a refrigerator mechanic by trade before he retired and moved to Byron Bay, but the retirement didn't stick.

Not long after he moved to the coast Brett started working at Bells Ice factory and more than a decade later he is still in the workforce.

"It gives me something to do," Brett said as he proudly walked around the factory explaining the function of each piece of machinery.

"But, it's busy and it's not really retirement."

Brett is one of four permanent workers who make their crust at the Byron Bay ice factory, producing ice by the pallet.

In fact, Brett is so efficient it takes him just six minutes to stack a pallet.

As the manager, he is in charge of organising orders and stock levels but is also very hands on - taking part in the packing, storing, producing and delivery of the product.

Brett has worked at the factory for the past 11 years and is visibly proud of the ship he runs.

He explains the way ice is made and the fact it is filtered to make it five times more pure than regular town water provided to Byron Bay.

"It's as good as any bottled water: our stuff," Brett said.

Bells Ice factory has seen some changes in the years, with Brett explaining some 20 years ago the ice bags were filled by hand.

But, today it is done by machine and loaded on to the palates by the workers.

However, the technological advancements are not without headaches for Brett.

"It can be hard sometimes because the ice is filled by volume but sold by weight," Brett said.

"But we manage."

Brett said he feels privileged to work in an industry that is doing so well.

"It's amazing that the ice industry just continues to grow," Mr McCall said.

"Other than the tourist industry you would be hard pressed to find an industry that continues to grow in Byron Bay like this one."

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