German firm invests in Washington-based Pamlico Air filter business
Mann + Hummel Group, an industrial products company based in Ludwidsburg, Germany, said it made a strategic investment in Washington, N.C.-based Pamlico Air, a air filter manufacturer started by Harry Smith and Travis Stephenson in 2019. Terms weren’t disclosed by Mann + Hummel, which has annual revenues of more than $5 billion.
Pamlico will join forces with Mann+Hummel’s Tri-Dm Filter subsidiary, which is based in Louisa, Va., and mainly focuses on commercial and industrial markets. “Both companies share the same market understanding and value for our customers, which is why we see great growth opportunities ahead,” said Mark King, president of Tri-Dim, which Mann+Hummel bought in 2018.
Demand for filters has increased amid the pandemic and desire for fresher air in homes, offices and industrial sites. Pamlico operates plants employing a combined 1,300 in Washington and Wilson, along with plants in Reno, Nev., Wichita Falls, Texas and Lake Wales, Fla. A new 200,000-square-foot plant in Goldsboro expected to eventually employ 300 will open in the next month or so.
Smith is a Greenville businessman who served on the UNC System Board of Governors between 2013 and 2020, including several years as chairman He is co-founder of Rise Capital, a private equity business and previously led Flanders Filters, a Washington, N.C.-based company that was acquired several years ago.
“We are excited for our employees and our customers,” Smith says. “We had no intent to do this but the more we got to know the Mann+Hummel folks, the more we felt the partnership was right.”
Air filter manufacturers are struggling to meet demand because of pandemic concerns, Smith adds. “It’s an incredible space and awareness of the importance of clean air is only going to increase.”
Family owned Mann+Hummel employs more than 22,000 people at about 80 global locations and is involved in many different sectors. Since 2016 Mann+Hummel has owned Wix Filters, a Gastonia-based maker of auto filters and other products.
“By investing in Pamlico Air, we see a tremendous opportunity to accelerate the growth of our Life Sciences & Environment business unit,” Mann+Hummel CEO Kurk Wilks said in a press release. “We highly value Pamlico Air’s expertise and leadership in the area of retail and wholesale air filtration.”
Smith will continue to lead Pamlico, according to the release.