22 May 2011

My Air Cleaner Business

I began my air cleaner business, Pure Air Systems, Inc.,  in 1986 with little capital and one bank customer.  Back then, the Data Center managers from various banks all knew each other and played softball on weekends, so it was easy to get referrals to other bank Data Centers.  None of that holds true anymore.  Since banks don't want the public to know where their Data or Money Centers are, one has to track down their managers, via telephone or email, and, if they're interested in speaking with one further, they'll then tell you where the heck they are located.

Data Centers are dusty enough with paper and ink dust from processing millions of checks a day, but Money Centers, where they process both paper money and coinage, are absolutely filthy; hence, the need for air cleaners, which remove particulates from the air and keep them out of the equipment and, more importantly, out of workers' lungs.  Coin rooms are especially bad.

With all the bank takeovers, in recent years, all the little bank contracts I once had came down to, ultimately, one big one, that being Wells Fargo.

My second contract (in 1987) was with Florida National Banks, which was taken over by First Union, which was taken over by Wachovia, which became Wells Fargo in 2011.   Some of the other Data Centers I dealt with simply closed up shop or moved out of the area.

I never sold air cleaners at list price, even to banks, because I am more concerned with having the regular income that comes from servicing the air cleaners, each month.  I'll still get a profit off of a sale, but I like to give the customer a price break.

I recently became one of two Florida dealers for Alen Air Cleaners, residential, media-type units, whereas I had previously dealt mainly with commercial, electronic air cleaners. 

Electronic air cleaners (good ones) have cells in them that create a charge on the particulates and then collect them inside.  The cells must be changed for clean ones periodically.  Media air cleaners contain, basically, very efficient filters of various media types, which must be discarded and replaced with new ones periodically.  Both types of air cleaners have their pros and cons.  I am happy with the brands that I carry, for their appearance, efficiency, prices and ease of use and service.

Since I am an Electrical Engineer, I have no qualms about repairing air cleaners when they fail, rather than selling the customer a replacement unit.  I'll never get rich that way, but I'd prefer to treat my customer right, even if my customer is a large corporation.

Even though a/c filters give one a small profit margin, I have also begun touting them for added business.  Too, I hope to build up more commercial air cleaner sales and servicing for added income as well as increasing the company's worth for when I wish to retire and sell it.  That will be years from now, but I've already had two people express an interest in taking it over, one individual and one South Florida air cleaner distributor.