Michael Ariens dies at 83

March 3, 2015 -  By
Mike Ariens

Mike Ariens

Ariens Co. Chairman Emeritus Michael Ariens died at home Feb. 28. He was 83 years old.

The grandson of the Ariens Co. founder, Henry Ariens, Mike Ariens served as Ariens Co. president from 1969 to 1992 and as chairman of the board from 1992 to 2014. He celebrated his 55th anniversary with the company in November of 2014 among family and several hundred Ariens Co. employees.

“Mike leaves us with a legacy of his personal leadership style a strength of character that people who work with him want to emulate,” said Dan Ariens, chairman and CEO. “As a leader he was thoughtful and insightful with a great sense of humor. As a businessperson he was pointedly committed to the company’s purpose—to care for our customers like they are part of the family.”

The company experienced significant growth under Mike Ariens’ direction, Dan Ariens added. One of the most enduring product introductions under his direction was that of the Ariens Sno-Thro.

“Those who knew my father, knew he loved nothing more than a great big snow storm, especially in Boston,” Dan Ariens said.

In 1982 Mike Ariens led the acquisition of the Gravely brand when the product line revolved around two-wheeled and four-wheeled tractor products. The move set the stage for entering an emerging commercial grounds care sector that ultimately led to the growth of the Gravely professional brand.

“As a leader, one of his most endearing qualities was the one-on-one relationship he had with each member of Ariens Co.,” Dan Ariens said. “Many remember his personal visits on the day of their company work anniversary. Through his entire career, Mike spent part of each day thanking employees at their workstations for their years of commitment to the company. He continued this ritual through his last day on the job in late 2014.”

Mike Ariens also was active in the outdoor power equipment industry. As one of longest-serving board members of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), he held various leadership positions over his career including chairman, vice chairman, secretary and treasurer. He also chaired a number of committees and task forces for the organization.

“We mourn the passing of an industry leader and good friend to OPEI with the loss of Michael Ariens,” said Kris Kiser, OPEI president and CEO. “The Ariens family has been a long-supporter of OPEI, with three generations of Ariens leaders serving on the organization’s board and as chairmen. We send well wishes to the Ariens family today. We will remember Michael fondly.”

As part of OPEI Mike Ariens took the lead on several initiatives. In the early 1980s, he represented the industry before the Consumer Product Safety Commission to initiate a more orderly conversion to new safety standards. He led the fight on behalf of manufacturers and dealers for a rational transition. He also had a hand in helping engine manufacturers and consumers compromise through several emissions standards initiatives.

A graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Indiana University, Mike Ariens also served in the Army Corps of Engineers. Prior to joining Ariens Co., he worked for the chairman of the board of Cummins Engines.

Mike Ariens also dedicated time to serve on the boards of business, civic and philanthropic organizations. Some of those include WPS Resources Corp.; Schneider National; U.S. Oil Co.; Calumet County Bank; Interstate Corp.; L.M. Becker Co.; Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce; MIT; Mary of the Woods College; Catholic Diocese of Green Bay; Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Green Bay.

He is survived by his wife, Mimi, of 58 years; children Michael II (Renee), Daniel (Julie), Margaret (Marty) Denten, Kathryn (Mike) Martell, Peter (Didi), Mary (Emo) Dellanina, Christopher (Israel), and Andrew (Brooke); and 23 grandchildren.

LM Staff

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