Wisconsin Manufacturing News

Aries Industries’ miniature camera helps in rescue of Chilean miners; A.O. Smith announces stock split; State assistance helps manufacturers expand

Aries Industries’ miniature camera helps in rescue of Chilean miners

Aries Industries Inc., a Waukesha-based manufacturer of underground camera systems, played an important role in the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners that were rescued last week. The miners were trapped underground since August.

Aries Industries had been negotiating with Chilean officials for several months before the mine collapse. The company sent a miniature camera system to Chile about two weeks after the collapse that was about 1.3 inches in diameter, which was used to determine that the miners were still alive.

“It makes us feel really good to know we are helping save the lives of others in a very difficult underground environment through our technological developments,” said Jim Lenehan, president and chief executive officer of the company. “Since then, they’ve (the Chilean government) purchased two more of our systems.”

Aries designs and manufactures camera systems that explore and inspect sewers, mines, tunnels and other underground structures. The company also makes customized trucks with camera storage systems and monitoring equipment, allowing crews to do detailed on-site inspections.

The company has manufacturing facilities in Waukesha, California, Florida and Canada.

The company’s role in the rescue of the Chilean miners has given it significant exposure, Lenehan said.

“Through our distribution network it has created a lot of excitement about our products that can go deep underground,” Lenehan said. “And we’ve been excited to be able to help with the recovery of the miners. We’re thrilled that they found them, and found them alive and healthy.”

Read more about Aries Industries in a BizTimes Made in Milwaukee profile.

A.O. Smith announces stock split

Milwaukee-based A.O. Smith Corp. announced its board of directors approved a plan to split the company’s stock 3-for-2 in the form of a 50-percent stock dividend payable to holders of common stock and Class A common stock.

The record date for the stock dividend is Oct. 25, 2010. Holders of the company’s common stock and Class A common stock will receive one additional identical share of such class of stock for every two shares they own as of the record date and will receive cash in lieu of fractional shares based on the closing price of the common stock on the record date, as adjusted for the stock dividend.

The payment date for the stock dividend is Nov. 5, 2010. The stock dividend will increase the total number of shares of common stock and Class A common stock outstanding to approximately 45.8 million shares.

The stock dividend is in addition to the quarterly cash dividend of 21 cents per share of the common stock and Class A common stock, which was announced earlier this week. The company is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of residential and commercial water heating equipment.

State assistance helps manufacturers expand

Gov. Jim Doyle has announced $4.85 million in combined state funding for TecStar Manufacturing Company in Germantown and McCain Foods USA Inc. in Plover for expansions that will create or retain more than 1,000 jobs in Wisconsin.

TecStar is a plastic injection molding manufacturer and a subsidiary of the MGS Manufacturing Group. The company has been awarded $3.75 million in State Energy Program (SEP) funding to build injection molding machines for producing frames for photovoltaic panels. The total project cost is $15 million. With the funding, TecStar has committed to creating 186 full-time positions in addition to the 170 already employed at the facility.

McCain Foods is a subsidiary of McCain Foods Limited, an international corporation that is the world’s largest producer of french fries, frozen potatoes, and other frozen food products. McCain has been awarded $1.1 million in SEP funding for equipment purchases that will increase the efficiency of the company’s heat recovery capabilities. The funding will help the company purchase $2.2 million in new and improved heat exchangers for various parts of their production line. The funding will help McCain retain 650 jobs in Plover.


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