Filtration Group President and CEO Steve Felice understood his primary goal when he assumed leadership of the company in January 2014. “My role has been to integrate the business and create a global leader in filtration,” says Felice, who previously served as president and chief commercial officer of Dell. “My job clearly has its challenges because we had 18 different companies and we merged them into one. But it is fun and rewarding. We have quickly established one of the largest filtration companies in the world.”
Those companies offer a variety of solutions in filtration, from filters used by museums to protect collections from humidity, mold and contaminants, to filters used in healthcare, such as nebulizers and inhalers. “There are many, many aspects of filtration, and we have built the capability to solve the needs of many different applications,” Felice notes.
Additionally, societal changes such as population growth, healthcare demands, serious environmental concerns, increasing governmental regulations and depleting resources will lead to new filtration needs.
“There’s a desire and a mandate to make things more efficient, safer and cleaner,” Felice says. “There is a need to purify. People have become more conscious about these things.”
Healthcare requirements are more stringent as well, leading to a demand for more and different types of medical filtration solutions, he says.
Felice believes he has met many of the challenges of his position, but he derives other forms of satisfaction from the job, such as leading a company that constantly strives to create a cleaner, greener and healthier world. “You want to know you’re helping society,” Felice says. “Our people feel good about the job they do.”
Benefits of Alignment
Filtration Group has four divisions: environmental air and distribution, fluid, life sciences and process technologies. The divisions were structured after the company acquired nearly 20 companies over the past six years including several shortly before Felice joined the company. We’re growing at a very rapid rate,” he says. Fortunately, the companies that Filtration Group acquired had some commonalities.
“We found common ground built on a foundation of engineering innovation and customer responsiveness,” Felice says of the divisional structure. “We found the synergies. We now have what we need to continue to grow and build a leader.”
The timing is right because no company in the extremely competitive filtration industry possesses more than a 5 percent share of the $70 billion global market, Felice explains. Additionally, the filtration market is expected to grow approximately 6 percent a year. “We’re in a marketplace that is going to have high demand,” he says.
The company’s life sciences division offers a variety of solutions for the medical, biosciences, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals and home healthcare fields. “Life sciences is an area of significant importance for us,” Felice says. Indeed, the company provides numerous filters used in lab testing, DNA testing kits, drug pumps, blood filtration devices and smoke evacuation systems used during surgery and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) solutions. It also provides solutions for venting and diffusing devices used in numerous medical treatments.
The environmental air and distribution division focuses on clean air whether it is in paint and industrial finishing, HVAC, gas turbine, clean space or microelectronics solutions. The fluid division, meanwhile, offers filters for transmission, hydraulic, mobile and compressor fluids.
The division is an important one to Filtration Systems because the future of automobile technology is changing at a rapid pace as manufacturers build cars that are more efficient, pollute less and perform better, Felice explains. The division focuses on improving oil cleanliness, maximizing performance and meeting warranty levels, Felice says.
Finally, the company’s process technologies division provides solutions in the energy, oil and gas, chemical, mining and minerals, food and beverage, and water-processing markets.
Through its 39 manufacturing facilities, state-of-the-art-labs, extensive engineering capabilities and hundreds of patents, Filtration Group designs and manufactures numerous filtration products including screen, suction and pressure filters; advanced filtration systems; belt filters; liquid filtration products; press filter cloths, woven and spiral belts, cartridges and coalescers; dust bag filters; and separation products.
Creating a Culture
In many instances, Filtration Group employees in each division know one another from the days when their respective companies were industry competitors, Felice says. The familiarity is a significant benefit, Felice says. “It’s a highly fragmented industry, but we have a very unified team,” he says. “We continue to integrate the businesses. Now we have size and scale.”
Redefining company culture was another important challenge faced by Felice and his leadership team. Unifying a disparate workforce is never easy, and Felice’s task was to create a singular way for the company to do business. “It was time-consuming,” Felice says. “You have to make a concentrated effort at it. It’s a multi-year journey.” But merging the various corporate cultures and methodologies is beginning to show results, Felice says. For instance, the company’s engineers, sales and manufacturing teams are extremely passionate about the company’s goals as well as their day-to-day work, Felice notes. That passion is on display in each product it offers.
Partners in Progress
Filtration Group has relied on its partners for much of its success, Felice says. For example, Redwood Logistics serves as the company’s outsource logistics provider. The Chicago-based company manages three primary processes for Filtration Group: transportation contract negotiation, transportation management system deployment and turnkey management of inbound logistics, says Bennett West, senior vice president of supply chain. He believes the partnership will continue to benefit both companies in the future.
“They have created value by leveraging our total volume in the transportation market and also by being a repository for all of Filtration Group’s transportation and logistics data,” Bennett explains. “As we build out our logistics and distribution strategy, I expect Redwood to pick up more process responsibility, and I expect Filtration Group to use a broader range of Redwood Logistics’ capabilities, such as warehouse management and freight forwarding.”
Approximately half of Filtration Group’s revenue is generated in North America, but the company also has a significant presence in Europe and Asia. Additionally, Filtration Group has locations in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand as well, Felice says.
“It’s an exciting time to be a part of Filtration Group,” Felice says. “At the end of the day, we are building a terrific business and making the world a cleaner, more efficient place to live.”
Keys To Success
Founded in 1942, Filtration Group serves nearly every market segment and has one of the largest global footprints in the filtration industry. The company has achieved its success in a variety of ways but chief among them are an unrelenting pursuit of excellence driven by a deep-rooted desire to better serve customers, Felice explains.
Additionally, Filtration Group strongly believes in building the best possible workforce and investing heavily in its employees through the use of ongoing training and other initiatives, he says. The company also places a strong emphasis on technology and strategies that are designed to help the company grow and hold its position as a market leader.
Additionally, Filtration Group constantly strives to innovate and improve its filtration technology in order to manufactuer higher quality products and design more efficient processes, Felice says. Such a strategy makes the company a leader in providing customer solutions for its clients no matter how specific their product requirements , including custom sizing to specific material and coatings, Felice explains.
Filtration Group’s first acquisition took place in October 2009, and the most recent ones occurred in June 2015 when the company purchased Kaydon Filtration and Purafil. The majority of the company’s acquisitions, however, took place between May 2013 and November 2014 when Filtration Group acquired six companies.