New leadership emphasizes culture at Aries Industries

Aries Industries designs and builds equipment for video pipe inspection.
Aries Industries designs and builds equipment for video pipe inspection.

Aries Industries Inc.
550 Elizabeth St., Waukesha
Industry: Pipe inspection and rehabilitation
Employees: 100
ariesindustries.com 

In cities and towns across the United States, thousands of miles of storm and wastewater piping help make the comforts of modern life possible. Of course, when something goes wrong with that infrastructure, flooding and sewer backups can quickly replace those comforts.

Preventing or fixing those issues often requires knowing where problems exist in the piping. That’s where the equipment made by Aries Industries Inc. comes in handy.

The Waukesha-based company designs and builds video inspection and rehabilitation systems, primarily for the storm and wastewater markets. The company makes individual tractors that carry cameras through pipes and also outfits trucks and trailers with all the equipment crews need to operate the cameras. Customers include municipalities, contractors and dealer distributors.

“Mainly it’s wastewater and stormwater, so it’s not the glorified, beautiful, sexiest type of business,” said Jim Kraschinsky, vice president of sales at Aries. “We kind of attack the market as best we can from every angle with really an emphasis on dealers and contractors.”

Kraschinsky joined Aries last summer, not long after Larry Brown took over as president and chief executive officer.

“It’s a very strong marketplace, especially now as you talk about the aging infrastructure,” Brown said, adding that Aries competes in a broad part of the market, providing equipment for a variety of pipe sizes with different cameras while also offering both inspection and rehab tools.

Brown has put an emphasis on the development of the company’s culture, which he said focuses on a collective “we” attitude, addressing problems instead of assigning blame and providing excellent customer experience.

“We felt if we can get a culture that works like that, we will win in the marketplace with our customers and it will also be a place where people want to come to work and when they’re here they’re going to want to stay,” Brown said.

It is one thing to outline the principles of a company culture, but it is more important to make sure it exists within an organization. Brown said Aries reinforces its culture by constantly communicating with employees and leveraging their ability to play a role in the company’s success.

“What you’re doing, you’re making a difference here,” Brown said. “At our size you’re touching customers, you’re touching the customer experience every day.”

The equipment Aries builds is designed to fit through pipes as small as six inches and travel more than 1,000 feet with remote control.

“There are very sophisticated electronics inside these bodies that are running in sewer pipes; it has to be water tight,” Kraschinsky said. “And then a lot of these contractors and municipalities maybe aren’t as gentle with them going in or coming out as they could be, should be, and things do break.”

When something does go wrong, Aries has sales and service centers in California, Georgia and Ontario to help customers, in addition to its Waukesha operations.

Kraschinsky said the company has recently invested in its customer service center to improve the handling of phone calls and make sure customer issues are addressed.

“We didn’t have any data for customer service. How many people called? When did they call? What were they asking?” he said. “It’s easy to just throw people at it, but we had to figure out what calls (are coming in). Are they parts orders or are they technical assistance orders? We had to figure that out to get the manpower just right.”

Another investment made in the past couple of years is the company’s own machine shop. Having the ability to make parts on site gives Aries’ engineers the ability to quickly make new parts and put them into use on products they are working on instead of waiting for a shipment to arrive.

“We feel very excited about the changes we’ve made here at Aries,” Brown said.

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers manufacturing for BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.