- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Lindsey McKenna
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
In 1993 Gerald “Gerry” Auler founded IVI Inc. (IVI). After the Clean Air Act of 1990 was implemented, Gerry saw a unique opportunity to provide sheet metal solutions that would allow industrial organizations to help meet indoor and outdoor air quality regulations. He partnered with Glenn Fifarek in 1992 and in January 1993, the business officially commenced operation with 11 employees, no equipment and no customers.
Much has changed over the last 20 years. In its first year of operation, IVI generated over $2 million in revenue; however, in 2012, the company increased revenue to $35 million. Initially, the company’s largest market share was regional foundries.
In the ever-changing economy and global marketplace, IVI recognized the need to diversify, and thus expanded into many other manufacturing facilities – from consumer products, mining, automotive, structural steel, rubber, recycling and converting – while maintaining its strong presence in the foundry industry. The business has expanded internally, as well, with three facilities in Wisconsin and one in South Carolina.
Gerry continues to lead daily operations as CEO, working closely with Jim Hanegraaf, president of IVI, as well as Renae Langel, executive vice president. Gerry and his management team strive to build a unique and supportive environment for IVI’s 143 employees, as well as continuing to provide loyal and dedicated service day in and day out to hundreds of loyal customers.
Breaking into New Industries
The foundry industry stagnated in the United States when Asian markets experienced tremendous growth. Gerry explains that around 2003, his team began to grow within the paper and consumer products industry.
“We have grown into wood milling and mining,” he elaborates. “Frac sand plants supporting the natural gas suppliers are a growing industry here in Wisconsin, because we have the sand they need for hydro-fracturing. We have been involved with frac sand manufacturing plants for years, supplying equipment, as well as fulfilling their ventilation needs. They coat and sand their equipment, so we help them improve indoor and outdoor air quality.”
IVI has built a niche in helping businesses comply with the air quality standards dictated by government regulatory agencies, including OSHA, MSHA, DNR and EPA. “The manufacturing marketplace generates much of the demand for our systems,” Gerry continues. “After meeting OSHA standards for collection of poor indoor air, such as dust, fumes and noxious odors that can affect the environment of the worker, this contaminated air then needs to be cleaned through the use of equipment, such as dust collectors, wet scrubbers or oxidizers. After cleaning this air, it is then discharged to atmosphere.”
Of course, the discharged air also needs to meet DNR and EPA regulations for air quality. “When feasible, this air can be returned to the facility if it is completely free of contaminants harmful to humans,” Gerry details. “IVI custom designed these systems with energy savings and maintenance costs as a high priority.”
The business has garnered a reputation for quality, which means that IVI is not the absolute lowest-cost solution. Gerry and his team focus on value, not bargains. With a large engineering staff, the team is able to turn around high-quality and efficient systems. The design factor behind IVI’s operations makes technology an increasingly important component of the business.
“When Gerry started the company, he made a commitment to our clients that IVI would stay ahead with technology,” Jim explains. “In recent years, we have taken a major step with our design team in 3-D modeling. This technology has greatly reduced costs for our customers and it makes a great visual tool for presenting a design to the decision maker. Our next step is another CAD upgrade. We will be able to create models of existing systems, including the buildings envelope so that we can see how the airflow will work with the process and affect the operators work environment.”
According to Gerry, said-tools allow the company to accurately forecast the proper solution to a ventilation problem, before fabrication and installation. “This eliminates mistakes in the design of collection points,” he explains.
The IVI team’s knack for foresight has attracted a steady flow of clients over the years. “We have designed thousands of systems,” Gerry recounts. “Many of our clients have been cited by regulatory agencies or need to meet very stringent criteria for manufacturing processes where non-compliance issues would risk heavy monetary fines. Our systems have ranged from thousands of dollars to over $17 million for a single project. We can design a solution to any ventilation issue for any type of manufacturing process.”
IVI specializes in designing new systems and updating inefficient existing systems. One of the business’ largest portfolio pieces was a Greenfield foundry in Tennessee. For over two years, the IVI team worked seamlessly to design, fabricate and install a high-efficiency ventilation system for the plant. IVI continues to work for the owner of the plant today, making upgrades and performing service on existing facilities.
With a growing portfolio, IVI is on track for years of continued growth. Mining and the paper industry are both on the rise, creating new demand for the team. With these growing markets, Gerry is planning for internal and geographic growth. Gerry admits that he would like to see the business expand further; therefore, the team is looking to expand with another facility in the southeastern United States.
Although IVI remains a unique business with a unique set of services, the company has always emphasized safety for its employees as the No. 1 priority. With in-house engineering and information technology support, the business is able to meet customer needs within a cost-effective budget. Having these services in-house saves money down the line for clients, who otherwise would have to shop services elsewhere before fabrication and installation. While the company continues to grow and change, IVI Inc. maintains a strong commitment to value, quality and service.
Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in US Builders Review” badge that links directly to your article!
Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing