Celebrating almost 47 years of business, B.G.E. Service & Supply Ltd. (The Filter Shop) has grown to be a leader in delivering air filtration solutions and improved indoor air quality throughout Western Canada and the northern territories. The company provides clean air solutions for clients across multiple industries.
Darrel Sutton joined B. Guthrie Engineering in 1968 as a sales person selling replacement filters for HVAC equipment and establishing filtration contracts within the growing commercial building industry in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Although he had no previous education or knowledge of the product lines and the filtration market he was entering, he anticipated there would be an ongoing demand for indoor air quality and thus replacement air filtration to service these customers.
Sutton quickly learned the business and developed a real passion for helping clients achieve exceptional indoor air quality. He took satisfaction in “ensuring that they had clean air in their office buildings and in their facilities to protect the people and the processes,” shares Sutton’s daughter, Roberta MacGillivray, president of The Filter Shop. The Filter Shop is proud to be a second generation, family-owned business with a focus on the future.
While B. Guthrie Engineering’s attention focused on Cooling Towers and Air Handling Units, it offered Sutton and his family the opportunity to buy the filtration business, which he did, bringing life to B.G.E. Service & Supply Ltd., The Filter Shop. In the early years of The Filter Shop, it acted as the sole distributor of AAF Canada. The large manufacturer had plants in Montreal and the U.S. with their own direct sales offices in B.C. and Manitoba.
In the early 1980s and again 1990, several labour disruptions took place, limiting The Filter Shop’s ability to source inventory and quality products from AAF. It found an Edmonton manufacturer of air filters, which provided the company with an opportunity to meet its increasing demand. This also led the company to consider the competitive advantage of local and custom manufacturing. The Filter Shop later acquired the Edmonton air filter manufacturer, FilterTech Industries, bringing the manufacturing arm in-house. The company was now able to produce specialty and custom solutions, just-in-time from the Edmonton location, complementing the shipments from its major supplier. “We were able to make really unique custom products and have special sized filters ready for our customers while they waited,” explains MacGillivray.
Later in the 1990s, AAF Canada asked The Filter Shop to look after distribution in Vancouver, Prince George and Winnipeg, so The Filter Shop seized the opportunity and took over those branches and established itself as the company’s western Canadian distributor.
The rest, as they say, is history. The company continued to grow, experiencing success in its manufacturing division, which continues to develop and create unique products to better serve the western Canadian market. The Filter Shop will work with clients to ensure that it carries and produces the right filters, for the right applications, every time. It custom designs filters for the unique needs of Western Canada, using recycled materials where possible.
Its 70,000 square foot head office, manufacturing facility and distribution warehouse in Edmonton, as well as its six other inventory holding locations, enables The Filter Shop to maintain a significant stock. Inventory is more flexible to adapt to new and changing industries. “Each branch is fully stocked with The Filter Shop’s clean air solutions as well as specific products tailored to the unique needs of that regions’ customer base. We work with each customer to ensure we have the right filters for them at the right time.”
The company offers a number of products to serve the heating and air conditioning needs of buildings. Understanding that moving air through a building is the largest cost of energy in commercial properties, the company works to balance the filtration requirements of a building. The building, its occupants and its operations must be protected from contaminants that may be introduced both from the outside air and re-circulated air in the space.
“It’s the healthy balance of efficiency and effectiveness. How clean is the air and how much of that air can be delivered? That’s where The Filter Shop can help,” explains MacGillivray.
The company offers a variety of durable and high-quality air filtration (pre-filters, secondary filters, HEPA filters, air filtration equipment), odour and gas filtration and dust collection (cartridge collectors, bag collectors, wet collectors). Of course, it also provides its custom designed and specialty product offerings which help clients to increase efficiency, productivity and the overall well-being of their buildings. Custom products are designed to last longer so clients change filters less often which reduces the total operating costs.
The Filter Shop patented the Bio-Pac, a bag filter that provides a secondary line of defence against micro-particles to protect the health, safety and comfort of people and buildings. Bio-Pac filters can contribute to green projects and the achievement of LEED Certification. The filters are considered an environmentally friendly product as seventy percent of the polypropylene and recyclable steel component materials used can be recycled.
The company is adaptable and collaborative, taking full advantage of opportunities for innovation and expansion in its product offerings. “I think that’s the neat thing about filtration; there is a need for it everywhere, and we get really excited about working with some of Canada’s best companies and rolling up our sleeves to understand their environments.”
The Filter Shop works with different industries including oil and gas, advanced manufacturing, micro-electronics, pulp and paper, agri-foods, all levels of government, commercial properties, educational institutions and data centres. It also works with health care and pharmaceutical facilities. The company recently has added expertise, under the USP 797 guideline, for the certification of Sterile Compounding Pharmacies (through its BioLab division).
As a family-owned business that is operating in Western Canada, much of The Filter Shop’s competition comes from large corporations. What sets the company apart from its competition is a commitment to its people, processes and the environment. Not only does The Filter Shop invest in its own people and its communities, but also in the industry associations to which its customers belong.
The Filter Shop has also made significant contributions for those who suffer from renal failure, helping people to save the costs and time associated with traveling to centres such as the University of Alberta Hospital for dialysis treatment. “It marries so well with The Filter Shop because we are about filtration, and kidneys are one of your most important filters. We’re really proud of our contribution, and we continue to look for ways to participate in important causes such as the renal program.”
Last year, The Filter Shop committed $500,000 in order to increase access to kidney dialysis in northern Alberta, a move that has improved the quality of people’s lives as they wait to become a candidate for transplant. Darrel Sutton’s eldest sister, Diane, was the first Canadian to receive kidney dialysis, an advancement that added several years to her life.
As well as its charitable contributions, The Filter Shop employs people with disabilities, helping them have access to meaningful employment, in a positive working environment. “We were in need of people and that just became a natural place where we could add to our Filter Shop family.” The company has also been recognized as an employer of diversity.
The company has developed an internal training program, The Clean Air Clinic, to educate its employees and its customers alike. It’s not just in-house product training; it is an education program for property managers, building operations, and HVAC technicians to learn more about indoor air quality and the role that filters play. The company has enhanced its manufacturing processes by automating manufacturing to complement its people. A reinvestment of capital equipment and improved business information systems has further expanded its productive capacities, and it has even had to add a second shift to meet growing demand.
MacGillivray jokes about the efficiency of the company’s crews. “We’ve done some studies in our Edmonton branch. When it’s roll up the rim time at Tim Horton’s, we are able to get our contractors in and out faster than you can get a cup of coffee.”
It is clear that the company’s commitment to filtration is next to none, as both the Sutton family and The Filter Shop enjoy a rich history that provides a strong foundation for a promising future. The company continues to invest to increase productivity and experimental development.
“Our long-term goal is to continue with the vision and the passion that my dad started the business with, to continue to grow our business. And, as we add more people to the organization, that we continue to understand that it is about clean air for the health and safety of people and places.”