By Karen R. Smith
Aries Filterworks, A Division of Resintech, Inc.
1 ResinTech Plaza
160 Cooper Road
West Berlin, NJ 08091
Telephone: (856) 768-9600
Fax: (856) 768-9601
NJ: 60,000 quare foot manufacturing/warehouse/office complex on a 20-acre campus
Regional warehouses in the Midwest, Florida, Texas and California
Stocking distributors throughout North America
When Larry Gottlieb was a senior in high school, his father Mike took the plunge and started his own resin business, ResinTech, Inc.. At the time, the senior Gottlieb was working at Sybron Chemicals. He’d been in ion exchange for 15 years, but had taken a lateral promotion and was running a different business unit, but longing to begin his own resin company. Realizing times might be tough for a while as his new venture got underway, he organized a family vacation, which was bound to be the last one for a while.
Upon their return, Mike headed down to the basement and started working as the sole employee of Resintech. He listened to instructional books on tape to learn multiple languages (seven at last count) so he could broker his own resin purchases internationally. “I remember one weekend, he flew to Hungary – two and a half days, that was the entire extent of the trip. He negotiated the supply agreement, flew home and placed his first order,” Gottlieb recalls.
That order and the ones that followed were stored in semis stacked behind a local warehouse. Larry’s job, after school and on weekends, was to crawl through into the back, pull samples and bring them back to the house, where his father would test them at the kitchen counter. Building the business was slow going, so to help ends meet Mike took a consulting job for Belco Pollution Control that necessitated a trip to China. There, he met Frank DeSilva who was working for Belco in that country. And one hire led to another, and another, as the client base grew. “Eventually, there were five people working in our basement, with a complete testing set up in the kitchen!” said Gottlieb – and around that time, the business finally moved out of the family home for good.
While Larry became an engineer, his brother Jeff became a banker. Both joined the family business, which had continued to grow during their college years. As the primary resin supplier to (the Vaponics division of ) Osmonics, they were contacted when that company wanted to sell their disposable filter division. The Gottliebs decided to buy it and that became the foundation of the firm’s Aries Filterworks Division, started on January 1, 2000. “Over the next five years, we bought five additional businesses. They all catered to our core strengths and that is why our expansions have been so successful,” Gottlieb explained.
“Everything we do is based on ion exchange. Media filters, specialty absorbents, regeneration – it all boils down to ion exchange. We purchased Vaponics; a portion of Hydro Components (after Electropure purchased them); Ion Exchange Products (a filter line) and WinLab (for laboratory water purification systems); our final purchase in that phase of our expansion was American Filter Works, which was the largest by far,” he outlined, noting that all of these acquisitions were small businesses that ResinTech could consolidate in house, eliminating a lot of duplication by centralizing many functions, enhancing design features and ultimately making better quality products less expensively.
Today, Gottlieb heads Aries Filterworks, which is a division of Resintech, Inc.; ACM Technologies is a sister company of Resintech. There are new facilities, like the 15,000+ square foot specialty regeneration building in Maryland, now up and operational.. “It’s really taken off beyond our expectations,” Gottlieb said. At this facility, ACM regenerates a variety of ion exchange resins that more traditional regeneration facilities don’t process, separating heavy metals from the waste water and removing them as solid cakes, in some cases for disposal; in others, for recycling and reuse by industry. In addition, the facility serves as an outsource for water treatment dealers entering the portable exchange side of the market. “There is a void on that side of the industry, created back when US Filter bought up dealerships and removed on-site portable exchange facilities in favor of consolidating that centrally. But buy-outs ensued and when the dust settled, there were suddenly a lot of dealerships out there without the on-site means to regenerate as in previous years,” according to Gottlieb.
For Gottlieb, the synchronicities of the business today keep the dynamic fresh. Dad Mike is still the guiding light(he is really the technical resin guru); Larry is an engineer who looks forward to solving new problems and creating new technologies each day, while Jeff is the business expert who understands the bottom line and how to get there, through acquisition, through investment and through consolidation. “He manages the overhead and really understands dollars in/dollars out,” he said.
Resintech’s California outpost has been expanded, now topping 20,000 sq. ft. with 20 employees; today the National Sales Director is Frank DeSilva. “After all these years, Frank is family too,” Gottlieb grinned.
Today, Aries Filterworks makes residential filters – ‘me too’ products as Gottlieb refers to them, filters utilizing carbon, KDF®, resins, phosphates, etc. They also make commercial products, which entail more custom designs, lab water products and some unique custom applications. On top of that, Aries is expanding in unanticipated areas, like home medical products that utilize custom OEM filters.
“I think the key to our family’s success is that we stick to our strengths. That often means additions, which might sound counter-intuitive but really isn’t. In our expansions in Los Angeles, we added the capability to do our own injection molding. So that is another step we now fully control, from start to finish,” Gottlieb explained.
Gottlieb, normally not one to blow his own horn, did enjoy Resintech’s new trade show booth at this year’s WQA Aquatech at Mandalay Booth in Las Vegas, and admitted it made the firm’s expansion obvious even to an uninformed show-goer. “It was time to expand our presence on the floor just to take better care of our customers!” he said.
Laboratory water is an area of unique interest to Gottlieb, who has become a committee member on ASTM’s D-19 water group. Many organizations today are writing their own specs for water because of the critical nature of laboratory applications. Type 1, type 2, type 3 – each has a designation in that arena and accuracy is mandatory. “We are working on a new lab system now that is truly state-of-the-art; it will incorporate a number of features that will increase ease of use in the lab, like a touch screen feature center and a single modular filter pack,” Gottlieb explained.
Unlike many companies today, everything the Gottlieb family sells today is made in the USA. “We put a lot and ID number on each and every piece we make. That means we can track every step of every product – because we made it all. It provides us with complete control and enables us to take total responsibility – there is a lot of peace of mind in that,” he summed up.
Looking forward, Gottlieb sees increased success for the entire water industry in different sectors of the market, from serving the needs of an aging population to dealing with water shortages in areas of western residential development and everything in between. For Resintech, its divisions and sisters and the Gottlieb family, he has one wish: “I want us to continue to do what we do best, together.”