North American Filtration, Inc – It all began in the pool
North American Filtration, Inc., is the holding company to five companies, representing eight major product lines servicing the chemical, food processing, water and wastewater industries. The Company was founded by David J. Painter in the early 1970s.
The love of the pool: Dave had a strong background and passion for swimming. Competing in high school and continuing at Lehigh University where he swam for four years, captaining the team his senior year to many victories. After college, Dave continued swimming as a form of exercise and eventually joined a masters swimming team where he competed until his passing in 2016.
At the 2015 YMCA Masters National Championship, Dave broke the national record in the 50 Yard Freestyle, finished first in his age group for the 100 Yard Butterfly, the 200 Yard Individual Medley, and the 100 Yard Individual Medley. He also placed second in the 50 Yard Butterfly, earning 5 medals total; 4 gold and one silver.
The entrepreneur: After graduating with an MBA from Harvard, Dave Painter gave “big business” a try working for Handy & Harman as VP of Sales and Marketing. It wasn’t long however until his entrepreneurial spirit kicked in. Dave realized he would never have the patience to endure big company bureaucracy so; he set out to build his own.
Dave started as a manufacturer's rep for Neptune-Benson. Subsequently purchased the rights to several equipment lines, which led to the foundation of Mer-Made Filter in 1978 which manufactures commercial FRP filtration systems. From there, he continued growing and expanding the business via the acquisitions of:
1988: Acquired International Reinforced Plastics: A provider of fiberglass fabrication applications and incorporated into Mer-Made Filter. Located in Denmark, South Carolina.
1994: Acquired Liquid/Solid Separation Corp. from Multi-metal Wire Cloth Inc., creating our second operating division which is now LEEM/LSS. The second product group of this division, LEEM Filtration, was acquired in 2002. LEEM/LSS manufactures and sells Pressure Leaf Filters, Tube Filters, V-Wire Screening Materials and provides various stainless steel products for our other NAF divisions. Located in Ramsey, New Jersey.
2000: Acquired two new product groups from Waterlink, Inc., MTS-Mass Transfer Systems and Sanborn Technologies. MTS-Mass Transfer Systems manufactures and sells engineered solutions for jet aeration and mixing of wastewater. Sanborn Technologies provides packaged centrifuge and filtration systems to various industries for the recycling and minimization of industrial fluids. Located in Walpole, Massachusetts.
2010: Acquired Chemtrac, Inc. which is a manufacturer of Process Monitoring and Control Instrumentation. Located in Norcross, Georgia
2016: Acquired NEFCO, a major provider of engineered fiberglass products to the Water and Wastewater Treatment Industry. Located in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
The Philanthropist: Dave appreciated and realized his good fortune and was very generous. He supported many charities such as the local animal shelter, non-profits such as the local YMCA as well as his church; and, as you might expect, swimming! Dave has been a significant donor to the Lehigh swim and diving team and, established a scholarship in his name that his family continues to support to this day. A story his granddaughter often shares speaks to the generous and kind heart Dave had. “At my graduation from the University of Vermont, I was showing my grandfather around Burlington. Unfortunately, there is a large homeless population that one can get immune to after a while. As we were walking through a local park, a homeless man approached us. As I was looking in a different direction, my grandfather pulled out a few spare dollar bills and handed them to this man. When I asked him why he would do that when more then likely it would be used for drugs or alcohol, he said to me, “I am lucky, blessed and thankful enough to have the means to spare a few dollars for someone who is down and out. Who am I to judge how he uses that money?” Heartfelt words from a kind and generous man.