After three decades in the air filtration industry, September 11 of this year saw Clean Air America starting its next epoch in business as Clean Air Industries. The leading developer, fabricator, and installer of complete next-generation air filtration systems to extract smoke, oil mist, other fumes, and dust from ambient air has successfully concluded a merger with Amtech LC in Russellville, Kentucky, heralding a vastly expanded product offering and a notable shift in its company culture.
Clean Air Industries manufactures genuinely made-in-America air filtration systems, as opposed to mere assemblies as many others do under the same stamp. From its recently purchased Trumpf laser flat metal cutting equipment for large, thick, steel sheets to its painting facility, electrical controls manufacturing capabilities, in-house testing, and air filtration, everything is done on-site.
As a result, Clean Air Industries is trusted by educational institutions such as vocational trade schools, where its proprietary WeldStation™ weld fume extraction technology is in high demand. The company also serves large industrial companies in the automotive and other manufacturing industries, with the ability to provide turnkey engineered air filtration systems that help ensure the health and safety of learners and employees.
While the company has a wide range of standard portable units and components that make up larger air filtration systems, every system it installs is custom-engineered to blend into customers’ operations as seamlessly as possible. Apart from the ease, the best part of buying an air filtration system from Clean Air Industries is that its facility is equipped with the most advanced technology and engineering available, demonstrating the benefits of its product ownership firsthand.
The past two years preceding the company’s most recent acquisition brought tremendous positive change and improvement. “With our new ownership group came a brand new culture, a renewed dedication to quality, and a commitment to world-class customer service,” says Head of Marketing, Theodore Rigas. In the process, the team has also developed new ways of providing customers with improved support and overall purchasing experience.
Rigas is full of praise for the new Russellville outfit. “Amtech LC has a track record of designing and developing great industrial air filtration equipment,” he says. “Combined under the Clean Air Industries banner, we can offer solutions for pretty much any air quality challenge in the industrial and educational sectors. It opens up doors to offer a lot more turnkey solutions.” Thanks to the amalgamation, Clean Air Industries now has access to Amtech LC’s invaluable skills and knowledge of industrial-power central collection units, popular for trapping a variety of airborne particulates.
Accompanying these acquisitions, the Company also built a new leadership team, appointing President Mark Salamone last year following a notable tenure at CECO Environment. He was joined by the Head of Engineering Kyle Bjork, who came over from Air Quality Engineering in the same year. Theo Rigas joined the team just under a year ago, together with Chief Commercial Officer Josh Hannah, both formerly employed by the Absolent Air Care Group.
“What makes our new leaders great is that they are all problem solvers who have a high sense of urgency. Because they have industry experience, the learning curve is not quite as steep,” says Owner and Chief Executive Officer, Part Willings. “Their experience is also helping guide our strategic and capital allocation decisions, ultimately making our time-spend more efficient,” he adds.
The company’s overall success is rooted in its employees’ expertise. Collaboration and satisfied employees who enjoy being a part of a healthy team that functions optimally are the mainstays of this reinvigorated company’s success.
The original acquisition of Clean Air America was completed in 2021 and Rigas ascribes the vastly improved corporate culture and remuneration to Willings. He “has done a phenomenal job of driving change and creating a family culture,” he says.
Alongside the evolution of its culture, several new staff members have been appointed in key positions to help set the company on a new and positive trajectory. Throughout this process, existing staff picked up the slack where necessary and helped support the change in every way they could. Of this, its leadership is particularly proud and grateful.
As part of this makeover, the team is reimagining its product offering by consulting with customers and working through what works well and what could work even better. “We are taking a high-level look at what kind of products we can redo or enhance,” Salamone says. Product issues are never ignored but instead studied and used to improve future iterations of every model.
This initiative will see the launch of a unique product at the beginning of October: the Defender Downdraft Table series—a series of next-generation modular workbenches with automatic ventilation. The Company put the new name out for its team to vote on, giving everyone a sense of ownership in this exciting new addition to its product line.
The ownership “wants people to know that everybody’s voice matters, and there are no bad ideas. It has made for a great culture and a great team,” says Rigas.
As a result, people here have built strong personal relationships in a comparatively short period. That sense of belonging has fostered a renewed sense of pride in everything the company does—something that has stood it in good stead so far. Part of the reason for this newfound strength that binds its team together is a monthly newsletter written by Willings himself, sharing significant moments in the lives of its staff members—be those personal accomplishments, big events and interests, or those of their immediate families. “The best employees do not need managing,” he says.
“You are at work more than you are at home. It is great that we bond and share fun times at and after work,” agrees Salamone.
Expertise is not all this company shares, either. The team also shares a commitment to doing good and contributing resources where they are needed, taking care of local sports teams in need of equipment, sponsoring community groups, and supporting welding organizations like the American Welding Society (AWS).
Having a team with such strong core values means that the company can effectively meet its customers’ increasing demands for shorter lead times. This capability is supported by continuous investment in equipment and technology to keep it in stride with customer needs.
As it remains focused on strategic growth, the company is ready to expand its workplace safety solutions throughout North America’s fabrication industry and beyond with the support of distribution partners while identifying new acquisition potential. “Most of our industrial customers were—and still are—working through significant backlogs, so the remainder of the year should be strong,” says Willings. “We are optimistic that 2024 could be exceptional, as our pipeline currently sits at a new record for both industrial and educational opportunities.”