03/14/2023: True Story: Indian Springs’ Robert Wolniak Talks Innovation
The Entrepreneurial Spirit is alive and well at Indian Springs Manufacturing. Hear their true story about growth and perserverance from President, Robert Wolniak, as featured in the latest Spring Issue of the bank’s publication JOURNEYS. Now available online, in the branches, as well as at select area Wegmans stores.
Indian Springs is a manufacturer of hazardous materials, emergency equipment, specifically, capping kits for stopping leaks on hazardous, compressed gases such as chlorine, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, and vinyl chloride. Indian Springs has been around since the 1950s. The original mission of the company was to be a job shop making custom manufactured parts for local companies. One of these companies was Solvay Process.
President Rob Wolniak says “They were manufacturing chlorine on Onondaga Lake, and they developed what we called ‘chlorine emergency kits.’ These are capping devices for chlorine containers in case of a leak.” The engineer there who developed these kits happened to be a friend of the owner of Indian Springs, and they subcontracted the manufacturing firm for the parts for their kits. “They were bought out and we’ve been making the kits ever since,” says Rob.
The Challenges of Manufacturing Today
Chlorine can be dangerous. It requires safe handling. There are many municipalities who find it too dangerous so they look for alternatives. So, chlorine’s actually being phased out in the United States. Rob states “…But chlorine is used for disinfection all over the world. So what we’ve lost in the United States, we’re actually gaining internationally. In places like the Middle East, South America especially, we have very big growth markets.” The world is changing. Manufacturing is coming back to the states, which is great. Now, the only hard part is that manufacturing is very difficult. “You’ve got to find a way to add some value to your product. If you’re not adding, if there isn’t an additional value proposition in your product, then competing just on price is extremely difficult,” says Rob. “You’ve got to look at customization and innovating all the time. If you’re not innovating, unfortunately, you’re going to fall behind.”