Business View Magazine sat down with President & CEO, Larry Brown and Vice President of Sales, Jim Kraschinsky to discover more about Aries Industries, the innovative pipeline inspection and rehabilitation systems we build and how we weathered the challenges of the pandemic.
Founded in 1985, Aries Industries is a manufacturing leader in video pipeline inspection and rehabilitation systems that meet the toughest challenges of underground infrastructure and environmental applications. Focused on “Raising the Bar UNDERGROUND,” the company’s cameras, tractors, and fully integrated systems are built upon a foundation of reliability, and expert customer service, maximizing productivity with innovative
products, backed by expert service professionals.
Over the last 35 years, the Aries Industries team have become sought-after specialists in the design and production of closed-circuit TV inspection and rehabilitation equipment for the sewer, water and geophysical sectors. Aries can inspect any type of pipe and, since its founding, a guiding principle of Aries Industries has been to deliver innovative solutions to help customers. That commitment to solving problems was demonstrated in 2010, when Aries provided the video camera that was lowered into the mine during the rescue of 33 miners trapped in the Copiapo Mine in Chile.
It’s a very proud part of the company’s history.
According to President & CEO Larry Brown, Aries Industries is first and foremost all about culture. He elaborates, “At Aries, we talk about a positive-intent ‘we’ culture focused on the customer experience. That means we’re not a blame culture, we assume positive intent with everything we do here. And we do look at ourselves as a ‘we’ – there are no ‘I’ cross functions. ‘We’ to us means partnership, with our employees, dealers, our customers, our suppliers, and our shareholders. We consider them all part of the culture here at Aries Industries.”
And speaking to the importance of the customer experience, the Aries mission is to build a long-term relationship that carries through the entire process, from when the order is taken, to when the equipment is out working in the field and a customer calls in with questions from a technical standpoint – repairs, parts, everything.
“We want customers to return, so we continue to support them through the lifecycle,” says Brown. “That’s what we’re proud of here.”
The pipeline industry is a harsh environment and Aries products are designed and built to work in that. In terms of support, the company provides a customer service call center where customers can phone in for answers to technical questions about the equipment. Aries also offers equipment loaners, with the ultimate goal of keeping customers working and productive. They also work with suppliers to make sure they’re providing the right material, so Aries products are able to perform with excellence in the pipe. Since the company designs and manufactures the equipment it sells, research and development is a huge component due to the advanced technology required.
“We invest a lot of money in R&D,” Brown reports. “It’s a key part of our business. In fact, we just came out with a new product in the pipeline rehabilitation market – the Wolverine 2.0. We have control of the supply chain and that allows us to design and produce a product faster and also control the manufacturing side. Our manufacturing location is in Waukesha, Wisconsin and we have service locations in Ontario, Canada, and Fresno, California. Additionally, as an extension of our partnership with our dealers throughout the country, they provide service coverage and support across North America.”
Of course, with the critical applications that the equipment is deployed in, operator training is a must. Aries Industries VP of Sales, Jim Kraschinsky, notes, “We’re pretty adamant about providing training. We want to make sure the user understands and can operate the equipment and do some basic maintenance and adhere to best practices to keep it running. The uptime is so important to the customer and to us, so we put a lot of focus on training. Our very knowledgeable field technicians do start-up training for every new product, and it’s all done onsite to ensure that the operators and the customers are comfortable with our product.”
Municipalities are one of the firm’s key customer types because they need support for their wastewater and water systems. Aries sells through dealers, and directly to medium and large contractors, so they can support municipalities and utilities for pipe inspections and rehabilitation. The same
applies to municipal water wells, as far as inspection, and even private wells. Among its many other achievements, Aries Industries is one of the best known in the industry for providing grout truck equipment to fill voids and infiltration issues in pipes around the U.S.- coastal areas, as an example, where there’s shifting of soil that creates cracking in pipes and at joints resulting in water infiltration.
Also on the rehabilitation side of things, Kraschinsky relates, “The Wolverine 2.0 is something we really take pride in. It’s a self-propelled robotic cutter that is primarily used when a pipe has been relined. Our industry is based on doing inspections and repairs that are trenchless because it’s very time consuming and costly to dig up a pipe. That’s why our product line exists on all fronts – from sewer inspection products to the rehabilitation products. We’re able to go in the pipe with cameras and video to ascertain what issues exist and determine how the pipe can be repaired underground. For example, contractors will reline a pipe because of degradation issues and then our cutter is used to reopen the laterals running to a residential house or a commercial building. Customers have stated that the Wolverine 2.0 is the best in the industry as far as efficiency, power, speed, and overall cost and it’s electric, not air powered. When we demonstrate it, people are super excited and impressed with its cutting capability.”
Aries Industries is a data driven company, where investment decisions are based on external feedback and data – not emotions. Brown admits,
“If there is an issue on a repair, we always say let’s get the data, let’s not make assumptions. We try to make decisions based on the best interests of our customers and they appreciate that. We do have really strong brand loyalty. It’s about how you move forward with customers and how you help them grow and be successful.” Brown adds, “The other important thing about Aries Industries is our people. We’re very proud of our leadership team and our individuals. A prime example is how we’ve been able to adapt through COVID-19. I give a lot of credit to our employees who have worked with our suppliers and customers to move the company forward in a unique time. We’re also proud of our customers and their support of our
teams during the pandemic. We are in a much stronger position now than we were in March 2020.
Classed as an essential service because it supports utilities and municipalities in water and wastewater management, the Aries team has had to be creative and innovative during the pandemic. Brown explains, “We made video demos of our new products and best practices. In addition, we hosted a virtual feedback session on a new product with our customers to gain their feedback and then made adjustments. As a result, we developed a much
more robust product focused on the customer experience. Our employees have really stepped up, while keeping everyone safe at the same
time. We were able to have some people work from home but still take care of business.” The company has recently added new dealers that are aggressive in the marketplace and who understand the purpose is not only to sell the product but to take care of the customer.
Kraschinsky characterizes Aries as, “a progressive, aggressive organization, in our sales, product development and technology, as we keep pushing forward to being the leading company in inspection and rehabilitation products. Our salespeople look for solutions, trying to make sure they understand the customers’ needs first before they offer a solution for their challenges.” The Aries customer service call center tracked customer call history and based on the data invested in additional people to ensure coverage during the busiest hours when customers are out working in the field and need assistance. The company did the same for repairs – obtained the data and hired additional repair technicians to improve turnaround time.
Summing up the best attributes of Aries Industries, Brown shares, “From our perspective, it’s all about the people. That’s more than just words. We’ve made investments in the teams and our operations. In fact, over the last two years, we’ve made significant investments in all aspects of our business but it’s all been wrapped around the positive intent ‘we’ culture and the customer experience. That will always be our priority.