Colwich-based ERI Solutions to focus closer to home

03/27/2014 12:00 AM

03/26/2014 10:41 PM

After doing most of its work out of state for nearly a decade, risk management consultant ERI Solutions is focusing on business opportunities at home as well.

“We want to protect the Wichita community and give them options for safety,” owner Nathan Vander Griend said.

Headquartered in Colwich, ERI was started primarily to help members of the biofuel industry prevent losses and find insurance.

“It was a new industry, and they didn’t have adequate safety and loss control in place,” he said. “They couldn’t find insurance at a reasonable cost.”

That meant working mainly in Corn Belt states Iowa and Illinois, although the company also had a couple of clients on the East Coast.

“We put in a lot of windshield time,” Vander Griend said.

Vander Griend said he was company founder Bruce Pearson’s first employee and eventually bought out Pearson, who still works for ERI part time. ERI currently employs 21 people with backgrounds in manufacturing, engineering, insurance and government regulatory agencies.

In 2010, the company started offering additional services, such as assessing the deterioration of assets of manufacturers.

“One of their biggest risks is they don’t know when things are going to fail. We test equipment to see how it’s deteriorating, so instead of waiting for it to fail, we fix it before it fails.”

ERI also started looking for business in other industries – “any manufacturing setting you can think of.”

One Wichita-based client, Vander Griend said, is the Berry Cos., which distributes construction and industrial equipment. ERI’s history in the heavily regulated biofuel industry prepared it for just about any other, he said.

Vander Griend said cost is the biggest reason why some businesses don’t invest in risk management – and it’s also his main argument in favor of doing just that.

He said an average workers’ compensation claim can cost insurance companies about $10,000, but it may cost the insured company four to five times that much.

“Next year, when renewing the insurance, it’s going to cost them more,” he said. “They could face legal repercussions. OSHA could fine them.”

“If you can see the bigger picture, it pays for itself.”

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