L&L Publisher Pat Jones caught up with Dan Ariens at the Delta Center in Milwaukee as he finished last-minute preparations for the company's 80th birthday party for 350 dealers and guests.
Why do anniversaries matter to customers?
I think knowing that the company had been around long enough to weather a lot of storms and keep innovating is important to any customer. I think it shows we have stamina. It tells customers we've been around, we're going to be around and we're going to be here when they need us.
What lessons from your business experience do you try to share with contractors and the other businesses you serve?
The older I get the more I come back to the simple idea that it's really important to have strong people who really care about what they do. Everything else – process, procedures, business systems – are all kind of secondary. It's who does them and how they do them that matters.
Ariens motto is about "astounding customers." What's one thing people probably don't know about Ariens that would astound them?
I'll give you one great example. We have a lot of Sno-Thros out there that are over 30 years old and our people will go to great lengths to help customers keep them running. We seem to have a lot of products that run for 25, 35 or even 45 years so customers are sometimes amazed that we'll help them keep them going.
What do you admire in other companies that you'd still like to see within yours?
Being consistent year over year for a century or more. We have some great competitors who've achieved that and I really admire that kind of track record.
Ariens has touched millions of American lives over 8 decades. How does it feel to know you're part of that history?
It's a very proud moment. I've been here 30 years and my Dad (Mike, the previous CEO) has been part of the company for 54 years. It's momentous for us. Not all of us (in the Ariens family) are in the business but we all share the pride. We're a small company in northeast Wisconsin that employs thousands. It's an important moment to pause to remember that ... and then get back to work!
For more on Ariens anniversary, click here.