Leading the industry in the manufacture of air filtration and dehydration equipment, Flair Corporation serves numerous and diverse industries throughout the world. April Terreri learns about this company’s unique approaches to both small shops and large OEMs.
It’s likely that the average man, woman and child on the street have never heard of Flair Corporation – even though they use the company’s products every day, either directly or indirectly. Whether those occasions are happy ones spent in a theme park, or critical ones spent by the bedside of a loved one hospitalized and in need of purified air, Flair’s products are there.
Manufacturing air filtration and dehydration equipment, Flair Corporation serves industries as broad as the needs of modern-day society, including power generation, chemical, petrochemical, transportation, automotive, machinery, semiconductor, pulp and paper, metals, glass, food and beverage, purification, telecommunications, health and medical, and entertainment. Among Flair’s most notable distinctions is its capability to serve a wide variety of industries through its diverse product range. “We go to market in a unique way compared to our competitors, which might go after either the industrial customer or the process-industry customer or the chemical-industry customer,” says Kevin Ray, marketing manager for the Ocala, Fla.-based company.
Three Groups, One Mission
Flair’s three major groups — filtration, industrial products and engineered products —handle the full gamut of applications requiring compressed air equipment. Each unit offers several brands of products for that particular industry sector. Flair’s filtration group manufactures the Dollinger and Technolab brands, which focus on process-related filtration applications. The industrial products group offers the Deltech and General Pneumatics brands, as well as rental products and fluid coolers. “All of these products focus on the typical industrial customer, whether that happens to be in an automotive or food-processing facility, an assembly plant or the typical auto body shop using compressed air to paint cars,” explains Ray. The engineered products group focuses on process-related industries. Flair’s product brand names in this group include Kemp, Pneumatic Products, Delair and Siva.
Flair markets its numerous products through manufacturers’ representatives, through industrial distribution channels and through the major OEMs in the industry, for whom Flair manufactures private-label equipment. “We even ship direct to some of our OEMs’ customers,” notes Ray.
New Breath of Air
Just about every manufacturing operation in the world requires dry and compressed air. Ray says, “Refrigerated dryers are unique products that can be used in just about any application where people are using compressed air. They remove the contaminants and impurities from the compressed gas. Then we clean up that air or gas to the point where it meets the specific requirements of the customer’s application.” Moisture is removed through a mechanical refrigeration system or a chemical absorption system using a desiccant.
“We are in a unique position because virtually every industry in the world uses compressed air,” he adds. “Our goal is to develop products meeting the specific needs of those various industry applications.” Flair’s dryers and wide range of filtration systems can remove oil, dirt, rust, scale and moisture, and even odors and tastes. Hospitals use compressed air in a number of applications, particularly in those applications requiring the supply of pure air, free of carbon monoxide, to patients or to babies in neonatal intensive-care facilities.
Other critical applications include the cleansing of tanks used in industrial tank farms. “In these instances, people actually have to go into the tanks to clean them, and they need safe breathing air,” says Ray. These situations include refineries, where byproducts generated from the manufacture of gasoline and oil-based products must be removed. Paint pigment facilities also require the periodic cleansing of residue. Other applications requiring clean and safe air include nuclear power plants and co-generation plants, chlorine chemical manufacturing plants and semiconductor manufacturing plants.
Under the Siva brand name, Flair offers a solvent recovery system its engineers designed to recycle solvents and to help keep the environment clean. “Solvents boil at different temperatures and during the distillation process, the various solvents are collected and recycled,” explains Ray. “We can bring the solvents back to their original condition, allowing our customers to re-use them rather than dispose of them. It saves our customers money.”
On the fun side, theme parks use Flair equipment on amusement rides. Hotel and casino kitchens also use compressed air to help lift and pour soup out of huge cauldrons. Automated laundromats also use compressed air in their folding equipment. “You don’t want oil from the compressor on people’s sheets or towels,” Ray says.
The Next Stage
Flair was a wholly owned subsidiary of United Dominion until this past May, when United Dominion was acquired by SPX Corporation. In its announcement of the purchase, SPX said it planned to apply its Value Improvement Process® to its new holdings. This process will achieve operating efficiencies, enhance productivity and improve customer quality and service, SPX said. Flair now operates 11 manufacturing facilities worldwide and employs about 1,000. Each of the 11 facilities reports to one of the corporation’s three major divisions.
This new association will help the company as it prepares for the aggressive growth expected from its industrial group. “The typical industrial applications are growing the fastest, and we’ve positioned our group to be ready with additional support within our customer service, technical sales, applications engineering and after-sales service groups,” says Ray.
The company recently introduced its newest product line, the Hydrogard HX series. “It’s a refrigerated dryer unique to the industry in that we were able to reduce the weight by about 50 percent,” says Ray. The new unit has a more compact design, so it will take up less space on the factory floor. “We were also able to go to market with a significantly lower price — up to 25 percent lower, depending on the size of the unit.”
Flair is striving to maintain its dual role as both a leader and a standard setter in the industry. “The industry has about four companies considered industry leaders, who are helping to shape industry standards,” concludes Ray. “It’s a very fragmented industry with a lot of smaller companies, and we hope to achieve more consolidation with standards for manufacturing quality products safely. We hope that we will be not just one of the market leaders, but the market leader.”