25 YEARS OF QUALITY & INNOVATION
Cosworth Filter Division
FCL can trace its roots back to 1980, when Deryck Norville as a production engineer for Cosworth, started an in-house filtration division. His small team were tasked with the design and manufacture of a prototype washable foam air filter for the MK1 Leyland National Bus. Two dimensional pleated paper media, most commonly used and affected by moisture and exhaust fumes was found to have reduced efficiency in this application. In 1981, the 1st trial began on 2 buses at United Counties in Northampton (now Stagecoach United Counties), followed by an additional 10 trials within National Bus. Due to the success of these trials, the department looked to expand the range across all bus models used within National Bus.
In as little as 2 years, the Cosworth Filtration Division had grown sales to £100,000 a year and by the following year, United Counties had agreed to adopt the foam air filter – now known as the ‘Filtron’ as standard across the fleet.
By 1985, six other UK bus companies adopted the new foam filter as standard, and with sales of £300,000 the division looked to expand its team, taking on its first dedicated sales representative.
Competition in the Market
Meanwhile, Pipercross Ltd, a new company based in Lutterworth entered the bus market with an innovative dual stage, long life foam air filter intent on rivaling Cosworth’s Filtron. The Cosworth filter division reacted with a plan to expand the business and manufacturing capacity and entered into a partnership with Custom Foams, part of Beaverco PLC. From the early stages of this relationship, variants of the original foam filter were conceived including a unique line of disposal air cleaners, the 5 series.
Two years later, and with the financial support of Beaverco, Deryck Norville went on to head up a new standalone filtration company: Filtration Control Ltd, with a team of 3. By 1988 and having brought to the market the new wrap designs, which dramatically increased the filtration surface area and dust retention, sales were growing to beyond £500,000.
An opportunity then presented itself in 1987 when Pipercross Ltd, having had little success in the bus industry, but with an attractive range of competition filters was put on the market for sale. This strategic move into a new sector was orchestrated by Deryck Norville, and with the amalgamation of the two companies, a new premises was sought in Northampton.
Early 90’s recession
1990 saw turbulent times for UK businesses, and FCL’s parent company Beaverco was forced to reevaluate and restructure. This presented an opportunity for the FCL team, and driven by their determination, Beaverco agreed to a management buyout.
With Deryck as the company’s Managing Director and now one of 4 owners to include the other Directors still on the board today: Darran Johnson, Martin Jones and Paul Townsend, and despite the recession, the company saw sales grow to £1.5 million.
Following the privatisation of the national bus groups, companies such as First Group and Stagecoach consolidated its operations during the 1990s by purchasing management and employee owned bus companies. With this consolidation of operations, the first centrally negotiated parts contracts were awarded, and Filtration Control Ltd were successful in securing filter supply agreements with a number of companies, including British Bus (soon to become Arriva) and National Express.
Successful partnerships formed
1993 was a pivotal year for the company. Reaching a record turnover of £2.5 million, a partnership with OE filter manufacturer Fleetguard was formed, that continues to this day. The key objective was to expand into complete filtration distribution, and increase market share by offering a single and reputable source for all engine filters. With the increasing popularly of European engine manufactures such as Volvo and Scania in the UK bus market, another partnership was necessary to complete the full OE filter range. In 1996 FCL was appointed a distributor of Mann Filter, new to the UK and the brand of the large German company, Mann and Hummel Group, which today has operations in 41 countries and continues to be one of the major corporations in automotive components.
These important supply Partnerships with both Fleetguard (now known as Cummins Filtration), and Mann & Hummel enabled FCL to offer a complete OE filtration package to Bus sector, and firmly established a reputation of quality, technical expertise and high levels of customer service.
Today FCL is the largest distributor of Cummins Filtration in Europe, and Mann Filter for heavy duty applications in the UK.
Other Sectors followed as innovative products were pioneered by the company. In 1996 following the development of the Blue Diamond with MIRA, a patented, multi-layer long life and highly efficient reticulated foam air filter, the first trials in the rail sector were initiated. In partnership with Bombardier Transportation, the Blue Diamond and HVAC filter media was developed further to meet the criteria of DIN and BS standards for fire retardancy and toxicity. To meet these specifications a unique impregnated media was used without affecting the filtration efficiency.
Testament to its popularity, today the Blue Diamond is used across all major rail groups in the UK, and its sisters the Black Diamond and Series 5 filters for all major bus groups and these can even be found on the major bus fleets in Asia.
Further expansion of the company’s product range followed in 2004 when an opportunity arose to diversify into battery distribution, and again in 2006 when FCL was appointed a distributor of Greenchem AdBlue®, a urea based solution used in a process called selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen from the exhaust of diesel engined motor vehicles.
2008 saw the introduction of the series 5 foam air filters across the First Group America fleet of 65,000 school buses, And to enable a competitive break into the automotive industry, a new partnership was formed with worldwide filter manufacturer and Nascar sponsor Wix.
By the start of 2010 the company had grown to achieve a record turnover of £15 million, with 65 staff over 2 distribution sites.
With an appointment of a new management team in place, the Pipercross brand is now renowned in the motorsport industry. These high performance filters have helped race teams win major championships on the British, European and world stage.
The separate divisions within FCL – the AdBlue division and the Wix Automotive division had by now, become standalone companies – EFL (European Filtration Ltd) and FCSL (Filtration Control Solutions Ltd). Both new companies have enjoyed rapid expansion since incorporation, the fresh, dynamic team within EFL gaining ever increasing market share and promoting the Wix Filter brand in the UK, and FCSL securing group lubricants and coolants contracts in the UK Bus sector.
The FCL organisation continues to grow, with a combined turnover of £30 million, and bringing new products into exciting sectors worldwide. As a highly reputable company, relationships forged 25 years ago are still in place today, and whilst faced with economic challenges, FCL has proven to be adaptable and flexible to overcome these challenges, and bold actions have been taken to increase productivity and to position the company as a competitive force for the years ahead. The FCL production plant, also based in Northampton has developed to such an extent over the last 25 years that it now produces some of the most technologically advanced filters on the market.