Power Equipment Maker Ariens Closing Plants In Janesville, WI And Auburn, NE

Outdoor power equipment manufacturer Ariens Company — which acquired three direct marketing brands from Grainger in 2014 — announced Tuesday it will close its plant in Janesville, WI by the end of 2018, one week after announcing it will close its Auburn, NE plant. The moves impact nearly 350 employees.

BRILLION, WI — Ariens Company has announced Tuesday that it will exit the direct marketing business in an effort to focus on its core power equipment business. The company has signed agreements for the sale of two of the three brands that make up the division and continues to explore options to divest the third and final brand. The company acquired the three direct marketing brands — Ben Meadows, AW Direct and Gempler’s — from W. W. Grainger Inc. in 2014. The announcement affects 150 employees located in Janesville, WI. All transactions are expected to be complete between the end of August and December 2018. The business will continue to operate as usual, and all employees will retain positions, until that time.

“The difficult decision to divest of these brands is to ensure we focus our resources on the tremendous growing demand for Ariens and Gravely brands of lawn and snow equipment. The past three years has provided record growth in this core business” said Dan Ariens, Ariens Chairman and CEO. “It will allow us to concentrate capital and talent in our manufacturing operations.”  

Ben Meadows and AW Direct are pending sales with two different buyers and both will be moved out of state as part of the terms. The sale of both divisions are expected to be complete by the end of August 2018. Further details of the two sales will not be disclosed. Ben Meadows provides equipment, gear and supplies to the forestry and natural resources market. AW Direct provides equipment, gear and supplies to the towing industry. 

The company continues to explore options to divest the remaining Gempler’s division at this time. Gempler’s targets the landscape, agricultural and horticultural segments.

Company officials met with employees in Janesville earlier Tuesday. Eligible employees will be provided with a severance package based on the number of years of service. Employees are welcome to apply for open positions at other Ariens Company facilities and may be eligible to receive a relocation bonus, according to the company. The company has also invited the businesses purchasing the brands to conduct on-site employee interviews if they choose to do so.

Auburn, Nebraska Plant Closure

Ariens Company has announced the closure of its Auburn manufacturing plant located in Auburn, NE, as it leverages its manufacturing footprint in Brillion, WI. The shutdown is expected to be complete sometime between August 17 and October 15, 2018. The closure affects 193 employees. 

“This was a difficult decision, knowing the Auburn employee base and the Auburn community, but it just doesn’t make economic sense to keep this plant running in light of the significant productivity improvements that have been made elsewhere in the company,” said Larry Weyers, President of Ariens Power Equipment. “The main plants in Wisconsin have increased daily production by 64 percent compared to last year.”

The Auburn facility, which produces outdoor power equipment, had been manufacturing products that the company’s Brillion, WI plants did not have the capacity for, according to Weyers. However, in light of productivity improvements implemented in Wisconsin over the last 18 months, along with an upcoming plant re-design, the Auburn satellite facility is no longer an economical option.

Ariens Company has a 725,000 square foot manufacturing footprint in Wisconsin with more than 1,000 employees. The company is continuing to implement practices that enable it to manufacture more units per day using a smaller footprint, according to Weyers. In addition, Ariens also recently invested in a new, consolidated distribution center located in southeastern Wisconsin.

Company officials met with employees in Auburn earlier today. All regular, full-time employees will be provided with a severance package based on the number of years they have worked at the facility. Employees are welcome to apply for positions at the Brillion, WI facility with the assistance of a relocation bonus. 

Ariens Company purchased the facility in November of 2007 from Auburn Consolidated Industries (ACI).