AriensCo Celebrates Grand Opening

Source: Elk Valley Times By Wanda Southerland

“Every one of you who is at our businesses today has been selected. When we interviewed you, we didn’t just look at your skills, we looked at your family unit. We looked at how you bring yourselves to work every day. How you’re a part of this family in Brillion, (Wisconsin) as well as here in Fayetteville. I want you to know how excited we are to build this business down here and we’re just getting started.”

Dan Ariens, chairman and CEO of AriensCo, said these words last Thursday when the company hosted community and elected officials at its grand opening celebration and ribbon-cutting as production of the Gravely brand begins operations. He said more products will be brought to the Fayetteville plant, mostly under the Gravely brand, which is one of the oldest in the industry and was started in 1916 by Ben Gravely.

Thirteen months ago Ariens stood inside the empty former Goodman-Daikin building on Wilson Parkway with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announcing AriensCo would be locating the production of their Gravely products to Lincoln County. The company is leasing a portion of the building from Ontario, Canada-based Direct Coil, which acquired the building in late 2020 as its first U.S. manufacturing facility outside of Canada.

As he stood outside that building last Thursday with Gov. Lee and Tennessee Economic Development Commissioner Stuart McWhorter, Ariens jokingly took credit for bringing the beautiful Wisconsin weather to Fayetteville. He said AriensCo’s vision statement was written more than 20 years ago. “We’re passionate people and we want to astound our customers,” he said. “We looked at five other locations across the United States and this is where we selected to bring a new home for the AriensCo and Gravely. A plant that needed some TLC and a little bit of love – more than a little bit of love – like $38 million. That’s a lot of love!

“It’s not about the money. It’s about building communities of people, what we’re doing in Brillion and what we’re doing also in Fayetteville,” Ariens said. “We’re just getting started and I’m very excited about where we’ll take this business over the next 25 years.” Currently, 369 jobs have been added.

Based in Brillion, Wisconsin, AriensCo is celebrating its 90th year as a privately owned manufacturer of outdoor power equipment for both consumer and commercial markets. Established in 1933, the company manufactures equipment under the Ariens, Gravely, RapidCare, Countax, Westwood and AS-Motor brand names.

Now in its fourth generation of family leadership and fifth generation of family employment, AriensCo. operates within the framework of two equally important objectives – to achieve exceptional business performance while maintaining a family culture. Dan Ariens is the great-grandson of company founder Henry Ariens.

Ariens said a welding school is being set up in this plant, which will enable high schoolers to come and learn to weld. Adults will also have the opportunity to learn welding in the evenings. “That’s because of your initiative for vocational schools in your state,” he said. “This is really a state of community.”

The HH Lincoln Health System is also establishing a clinic inside the facility with a nurse practitioner and a physical therapist onsite.

Before the ribbon cutting, Andy Pope, plant manager, welcomed everyone before introducing Commissioner McWhorter.

“Our job at the state is to be the entity, the department, that really works closely with not only the local leaders and economic developers but also with the state and obviously the governor and his support on the projects we do. This truly is a teamwork, a partnership, not only working with existing businesses but working economically with expanding right here in Fayetteville, Tennessee,” he said, adding, that it was seeing people who are doing the work as being a reminder of “why we love what we do. They know what this is all about.

“Tennessee is a great state to do business. We’ve done all the right things and are thankful to the many community leaders, many decades ago who made decisions that make this a great state to do business in, to lower regulatory requirements and try to get taxes low,” McWhorter said. “We want everything set up just right for businesses to grow and expand in the state of Tennessee. Again, this is a great example of a company doing that, making those investments. Congratulations to Dan and his team.”

McWhorter recognized state Rep. Pat Marsh and thanked him for the relationship with the legislators. “Rep. Marsh is a true champion of the work we do. We have a great relationship. He’s doing a fantastic job for you.” He also recognized his team, John Hatfield and Scottie Tudor, both with the regional TDECD, who work with local leaders.

Gov. Lee thanked Dan Ariens and his entire team for their desire and willingness to invest in Tennessee and Lincoln County. “You had options, but how you invest your company’s resources, where you decide you want to grow in our state means a lot to us. Thank you and every single one who’s working with this company. What’s happening is people around the country look for places that remind them that America hasn’t lost its way and that we believe in investing in a workforce. We believe in creating an environment where people can thrive.”

Lee said he ran a company of plumbers, pipefitters, and electricians for 25 years and worked in the field for 35 years. “I know skilled workers are in desperate need in this country. We should create opportunities and pathways for them. That’s why we’re investing in vocational education in our colleges and technology to create skilled workers to fill the jobs being created by companies. Thank you to the workers who are getting it done in this plant. The workers who are creating the economic activity in the county and are making Tennessee one of the most attractive states in America for business, for investment, and for workers.”

The governor said not only do companies move here, but individuals move here from states all over the country, “and we’re grateful for that.” He also thanked Rep. Marsh for being a great partner in the General Assembly and “a friend to me.”

Gov. Lee said he grew up in a rural community and worked alongside skilled workers all his life. “I have a belief that what happens in our communities outside our big cities is incredibly important to Tennessee. It’s part of what makes our state unique and one of the reasons why we have the fastest-growing economy in the country, the lowest tax rate, and the lowest debt rate. Companies are moving here from all over the country. Part of the reason is we have a belief that every person in every community, including our rural areas, is important.”

He said when he took office the first thing he did was ask every department in the state to provide a strategic plan that would improve the economy of the rural counties, especially the distressed rural counties. “Lincoln County is not a distressed county. It’s an economically vibrant community, but a large part of it is rural,” he said.

“When I came into office we had 15 distressed counties. Today, we have eight. I hope by the time we get out of here we’ll be close to zero,” Gov. Lee said. “Being in a spot like this, an area where activity is happening to stimulate the economy, what that means, it provides a better life when we provide an opportunity where people can have better employment than they had before. They invest themselves and their family in the betterment of their neighbors.”

He thanked Ariens for “your commitment to invest. Thank you to all the people in this company who are making this happen. Leaders in the community. People come to a community, they love the community and invest in the community. It isn’t what the governor does at the Capitol. It’s what happens in Lincoln County that attracts and causes people to come here. It’s really a good day in Tennessee.”

“What a beautiful day in Tennessee,” said Fayetteville Mayor Donna Hartman. “Gov. Bill Lee is here with us to celebrate the official grand opening of AriensCo. This family-oriented business chose Fayetteville over many other sites to expand their business and we are excited. Congratulations Ariens and all your employees.”

Lincoln County Mayor Bill Newman said the Wisconsin dairyland has come to the Volunteer state to make the best outdoor equipment in the world.

Dan Ariens presented Gov. Lee with a jar of Brillion, Wisconsin honey. The governor said there was some great whiskey up the road that would be good with the honey.

As part of AriensCo’s commitment to conservation, thousands of Buckfast and Carniolan bees have been given homes on the prairie surrounding the AriensCo Brillion campus.

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