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Five questions with Ron Ary

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, April 26, 2012, at 12 a.m.

There aren’t a lot of resumes out there like Ron Ary’s, a professional rodeo star turned environmental consultant.

Which is fine with Ary, whose company Enviro Remediation has all the work it can handle wrestling issues from asbestos to underground storage tank removal. Ary works with Mike McGill of Wichita, who handles inspections with his company, Environmental Management.

The career transition is easily explained, Ary said.

“Well, rodeoing isn’t a very good-paying proposition,” he said, chuckling. “In fact, it’s pretty unintelligent. You have no security and you’re subject to injuries.”

Yet it was hard to shake off his childhood love, Ary admitted.

“My dad started taking me to rodeos as a little kid, and I just grew up into it and continued with it — until you have this epiphany one day that tells you it’s not the smartest thing to be doing.”

The reason for the epiphany? Mouths to feed, Ary said, laughing again.

“I got married and started having children,” he said.

How did you get into the environmental business?

I had a friend who I sold steel for in the grain-handling business who started an asbestos company when the industry started 20 years ago. He asked me to join him, and I took care of Kansas for him. It was a multi-state company.

Then, he got into the nuclear waste business and it broke him. He hired engineers and they never produced anything, so when he went out of business, I picked it up as my own company and continued with Kansas.

What’s the workload like?

We’re pretty busy. Any time there’s a demolition or an interior renovation, asbestos needs to be addressed prior to that taking place, and that’s pretty much what we do. Mike does the inspections, and our company does the work of taking asbestos out. We also do things like mold, underground storage tanks and things like that.

What’s your peak time?

When school’s out, we get incredibly busy because the asbestos has to come out of those buildings before renovations start. We always go first, and since there’s a limited amount of time for the general contractor to do the renovation, you get a very limited amount of time to do the asbestos.

How big is the territory your company covers?

We have some work on the books in Wichita, but we’ve finished everything we need to do at the moment. We’ve been working downtown for Farha Construction on some projects like the old Zelman Building, but in Wichita right now we have nothing going. We’ve finished in Newton, and right now we’re working in Independence. We just did a little job this week in Topeka.

Asbestos removal is nothing new. Does the amount of time you’ve been in business threaten the future of your business?

You’d think it would be diminishing returns. Nobody’s putting asbestos in any more, and we’re always taking it out. But I’ll tell you, people put so much of the stuff in back in the day that we’ll be around a long time.

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com

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