Volume 9 | Issue 1 | Year 2006

Water. As the saying goes, is everywhere. Indeed, life depends on the presence of water. The movement of water – called the hydrologic cycle – is a continually constant process of vaporization, condensation, precipitation and liquidification and solidification. It is the source of life.

Sometimes, though, the types of life borne by water are not conducive to our quality of life as human beings. Naturally occurring bacteria, minerals and gases as well as potentially harmful parasites easily find a receptive home in water supplies. And, sad to say, we live in times when water supplies can be vulnerable to terrorists and natural disasters. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “The United States has one of the safest water supplies in the world. However, national statistics don’t tell you specifically about the quality and safety of the water coming out of your tap. That’s because drinking water quality varies from place to place, depending on the condition of the source water from which it is drawn and the treatment it receives.”

Therefore, even while water supplies are probably safe, there’s a host of reasons to treat it to ensure highest purity before it enters into your home. This is where Harmsco, a family-owned business based in North Palm Beach, Fla., becomes a liquid asset to any business or homeowner concerned about water quality and safety.

Harmsco was founded in 1958 by John Harms, whose last name serendipitously reflects what his business is trying to prevent. Harms developed a unique “up-flow” filter design that serves as the basis to manufacture and market high quality filtration equipment worldwide. Upflow design eliminates the chance of the filter collecting air, and thus ensures its effectiveness in trapping particulate matter.

Harmsco Up-Flow Cartridge Filters were patented and introduced to the market in 1968. In 1972, Harmsco developed a complete line of filter cartridges that featured more cost-effective pleated polyester as an alternative to the marginal performing conventional cartridges of the time. In 1992, Harmsco introduced a line of Hurricane filters used in swimming pools and industry to separate dense solids using centrifugal forces prior to cartridge filtration for extended filter life, increased dirt holding capacity and reduced maintenance costs – a Hurricane Cartridge Filter Housing needs to be cleaned only one-third as often as conventional filters of the same size. In addition, Harmsco filters are distinguished by their quick and easy assembly.

Harmsco utilizes a variety of cutting-edge Filtration Medias, some include Silver Zeoite technology and AgION(tm) anti-microbials. Silver has been used since ancient times to kill bacteria and purify water. Harmsco’s filters combine inert organic materials with silver in the filter media to eliminate some 650 strains of odor-causing bacteria, and inhibit mildew and mold growth. AgION is an EPA-registered technology that combines silver treatment with a unique delivery system that precisely controls the efficient release of silver ions; this technology is also compatible with silver combined with zinc or copper and is used in certain applications. Patented by a Massachusetts based company, AgION Technology was selected because it is a safe and durable alternative that treats a broader spectrum of fungal organisms than more traditional synthetic organic chemicals.

Solvent Solutions
Innovations such as this have made Harmsco a market leader in the water filtering industry. Equally key, according to Michael Rudowitz, vice president of sales and marketing, are three competitive differentiators. “We have a reputation for high quality products, with an extensive investment in research and development to bring the best problem solving technology to market,” he explains. “And we provide customers with solutions that best fit their needs, using cost-competitive components.”

Manufacturing is performed in two facilities in Florida that comprise more then 160,000 square feet. Although Rudowitz concedes that Harmsco is feeling some pressure from lower-cost, offshore manufacturers, he notes that the company’s longstanding track record of high quality and performance outweighs simple cost comparisons. Housings are made of stainless steel and, like every manufacturer, Harmsco is feeling the effects of rising steel costs. However, with the cost of oil, everything is going up, especially plastics.

Harmsco serves both commercial and residential customers, providing a range of filters and filter-systems for potable, municipal, ground, process, surface, storm water, and wastewater applications, as well as pool and spa systems. One thing in particular the company is noted for is its pre-filtration for reverse osmosis systems. Although Harmsco prides itself on developing custom solutions, Rudowitz points out that, “We don’t custom build the products. A solution is made up of proven products. What is customized is the configuration and types of products that best address customer needs.”

The company employs its own direct sales force as well as manufacturer representatives to address sales channels. Rudowitz notes that Harmsco has an extensive international business, though revenue scales still tip towards the North American side by a 60/40 margin.

Secure Filtration
A new market opportunity is what Harmsco calls its Homeland Security Water Filters. “It’s an unfortunate fact of life these days that people are much more conscious of how they might be vulnerable to a possible terrorist attack or natural disaster,” Rudowitz says. “We introduced this product line both to address these fears and provide a high quality water treatment system at the same time.” The Homeland Security Water Filters are available in three different sized models, and each is comprised of a pressure vessel that has two distinct compartments, an upper multistage cartridge filter and a lower, complex ultraviolet (UV) reactor, that are internally plumbed together. “Ultraviolet light has been used, and accepted, as a disinfectant for years,” Rudowitz says. And the intent is to make doubly sure, literally so, that as many kinds of microorganisms are caught as technically possible. Water must first flow through the three-stage cartridge filter and then enter the UV reactor. This maximizes the UV’s effectiveness and filters out larger waterborne Protozoa that are generally not affected by UV radiation. Smaller microorganisms such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, and Hepatitus A virus are lethally affected when exposed to UV.

Forward-thinking ideas combined with equally forward-thinking technology is what makes Harmsco a market leader in the water filtering industry. Rudowitz anticipates that the company will continue to greatly contribute to the need for water filtration systems in the foreseeable future. By going with the flow, the only straining Harmsco is doing is on behalf of its customers.