Digging for success
Aries Industries seeks growth in developing countries, invests in new technology

By Katherine Michalets - Freeman Staff

Sept. 9, 2015

Aries Industries employee Jacob Musil repairs one of the company's products in the repair department.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA -Aries Industries Inc.’s tagline is “see what you’re missing,” which is exactly what the company did five years ago when it provided technology used to locate miners trapped in Chile and what the Waukesha business does on a daily basis with its pipeline inspection and rehabilitation equipment.

After taking over Aries Industries four years ago, CEO and President Nick Kroll said, he looked to see what was missing within the company and what could be improved, such as creating a new management system.

By implementing changes and working to transform the 30-year-old company, Kroll said he has positioned it for future growth, which he envisions taking place in developing countries, particularly in South and Central America and Africa, although Australia and Indonesia also have some potential.

Aries Industries designs and manufactures equipment used for going into pipelines to help identify problems and creates equipment to help fix the problem. The Waukesha-based company is one of the largest suppliers of pipeline inspection equipment to contractors and municipalities in the United States. It offers components and systems ranging from high-tech steerable transporters to simple and robust, non-steerable systems that are easy for users to maintain.

Aries Industries employees assemble products on the manufacturing floor.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Aries’ intent is to create durable equipment that allows its customers’ crews the ability to run longer, so when Kroll became leader of the company, he looked for ways to declutter the old building on Elizabeth Street and modernize the workplace, including adding computer monitors to workspaces so updated drawings and renderings can be consulted as equipment is assembled.

Kroll said he wanted to implement a lean journey philosophy at Aries that would eliminate waste from operations and create value.

“It helped us improve customer satisfaction and be more profitable,” he said.

The company has also increased sales by adding new technology, such as the UV curing system that uses UV light instead of hot water and steam to cure liners, which is better for the environment and safer for the workers, Kroll said. So far in 2015, Aries Industries added more than $3 million in sales with the new technology.

Aries Industries President and CEO Nick Kroll discusses the company's future.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Kroll’s vision is to become the worldwide leader in underground video innovation.

His near goals include growing the company’s reach into developing countries, such as Mexico and Colombia. Aries has found partners to work with in those countries, but a short-term hurdle will be the exchange rate with the strong American dollar. A longer issue to deal with will be product configuration because those developing countries need less sophisticated equipment with which to work.

Last week, the Marquette-Institute of Supply Management Report on Manufacturing showed a constricted manufacturing environment in southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Kroll said Aries continues to be as busy as it’s ever been.

“I see a bright future for American and Wisconsin manufacturing,” he said. Like many executives, Kroll said the challenge remains finding skilled labor to do the work Aries needs.

“There is skilled labor (in Waukesha County), but what about tomorrow?” Kroll said.

An Aries Industries 'UV Train,' which emits ultraviolet light to cure a sewer pipe liner. The company is expanding from pipe inspection to in-place repair equipment.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

A duplicate of the inspection camera used to find the trapped Chilean miners sits on display at the Aries Industries headquarters.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

As a result, Aries works closely with the Waukesha high schools, the Waukesha County Business Alliance and Waukesha County Technical College to encourage future generations to pursue a manufacturing career.

As a graduate of Catholic Memorial High School, St. Norbert College and Marquette University, Kroll’s education wouldn’t necessarily lead to a career in manufacturing, but Kroll said since he was a kid he has been drawn to the industry. As the oldest of nine children, Kroll said he would follow his dad to his machine shop to help.

“I like the idea of making something that’s tangible, a product to sell,” Kroll said.

The control room of an Aries Industries video inspection truck.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

Creating ‘a great company’

Aries Industries creates products that range from small and compact to outfitting trucks for pipeline inspection and rehabilitation work.

“I’m here to create a great company and a great company is a leader in the market it serves and is perceived by its customers as the best alternative and is appreciated by its employees,” Kroll said, adding the company should also be engaged with community service.

To help create a positive workplace, Kroll said Aries has a strong wellness program for employees, which in turn has helped the company save money by keeping its insurance premium flat for five years.

Aries employs a total of 130 people at its different campuses, 90 to 100 of which are in Waukesha. Going forward, Kroll expects Aries Industries to have double-digit growth.


Email: kmichalets@conleynet.com