By T.J. Hug
The Village Reporter
In any business, the most successful ones, at least, it’s not enough to simply give a customer what they want.
No, those who stand out in any industry are the ones who are able to look ahead; to anticipate what their customers will want in the future. Doing so requires vision and drive, however. Making business decisions strictly based on the bottom line will lead to mediocrity at best.
That’s why Artesians of Pioneer doesn’t do business that way.
Started fifty years ago by aspiring entrepreneurs Bruce and Clara Kidston, who moved to the Williams County area from Detroit. Their first venture into the world of business ownership came in 1959, in the form of a drive-in movie theatre located in Montpelier. It didn’t take long to realize that revenue would run stagnant during the colder months of the year.
It was in 1964 that the couple set out on their second attempt at industry, though this time with significantly better results. Bruce had a background in water dating back to his days in Detroit, which prompted them to build a company around that experience.
Artesians of Pioneer began as a humble water softening company, serving the Williams County area.
“Basically, we were a lot like Culligan.” Ed Kidston, current Chief Executive Officer of Artesians, recalled.
Graduating from Tri-State University, better known as Trine today, in 1981, Ed immediately immersed himself in the family business. It was his idea to expand the business, with a special focus placed on serving municipalities. This strategy led to Artesians building water systems for several small towns.
Today, the company has serviced hundreds of municipalities.
When Ed, who bought out the shares of his three brothers, Bob, Bill, and John, was in his twenties, he set a goal for himself. His aim was to build at least water treatment plant in each of Ohio’s eighty-eight counties. Since then, that has not only happened, but Artesians has done so much more.
“We’ve expanded our footprint dramatically.” Kidston stated.
Doing business mostly east of the Mississippi River, Artesians has recently taken a client further west, expanding its reach even further. The company has representative firms in fifteen different states, including Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Kentucky, New York, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Georgia, and both North and South Dakota.
While there is a tendency for Artesians’ clients to be small towns with populations of 20,000 people or less, the water firm isn’t afraid to hunt bigger game, so to speak. Recently, the city of South Bend, Indiana examined its options for providing the cleanest water for its 100,000 or so residents, testing filters from all over the world.
They chose the M.A.R.I.S. Media filter, a product unique to Artesians.
M.A.R.I.S. was so named due to the fact that it will efficiently remove manganese, arsenic, radon, iron, and sulfur from water supplies. It’s merely one of many innovative ideas pursued by the Artesians of Pioneer.
“We’ve always thought outside of the box.” Claimed Kidston.
Indeed, Artesians is one of the very few companies offering the service of recycling water to its clients.
“Rates have quadrupled,” Kidston said of water and sewage prices, “and (they) will quadruple again in the next ten years.”
Which is exactly why Artesians has moved into the water recycling field. They can take water that would normally by dumped with sewage, treat it, and sell back the water at a higher quality for a reduced cause.
One business who is receiving this service through Artesians will be saving $1.5 million a year in sewage costs. Currently, they’ve entered into a contract with a large steel company, which has plants scattered throughout the globe, to investigate the implications recycling water may have on the business. If all plants are treated, early projections predict that the procedure could save them between twenty and thirty million dollars a year.
Kidston attributes the success of Artesians to the family-oriented style in which the firm is run.
“We’re now into our third generation.” Announced Kidston.
His son, Michael, is the Vice-President of Artesians. The younger Kidston has been instrumental in expanding the reach of the business since taking on that role.
“I’m really, really proud of him.” Ed gushed.
With a family mentality, Artesians focuses less on quota numbers, and more on customer satisfaction. Kidston takes great pride in the way his company handles itself.
“Not only is Pioneer on the front of the building,” Kidston stated, “but the Kidston reputation is there, too.”
That Pioneer on the building is important to him as well, though.
“We’re Pioneer people.” Kidston said. “Frankly, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
Seeing as how he’s also a second generation mayor of the village, it’s hard to argue with either of those statements. Both Bruce and Ed have run Pioneer for at least fifteen years apiece.
The Kidston family involvement in the community is not limited to the men, however. Of his two daughters, Jodi Fizer is not only a Vice President of the company as well, but, along with her husband John, owns Wynn’s restaurant at the Ramada Inn of Holiday City as well. Kidston’s other daughter, Kati Burt is a nurse in Toledo in addition to her own Vice Presidential duties, but her husband Ryan is also a vital part of the Artesians team as a Vice President.
Kidston has supreme confidence in both his son and son-in-law as to how they will take care of the company.
“There’s not a doubt in my mind that Michael and Ryan will take Artesians to a whole other level.”
They’d better. The last generation has set the bar pretty high.
T.J. Hug can be reached at