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Businessman goes from employee to supplier after redundancy

A LOCAL business owner who started his own company during the recession is now supplying to the firm who made him redundant.

David Franks was one of hundreds at Pentair Filtration in Billingham to be let go in 2008 when the plant was re-located to Belgium.

Eight years on he is running his own independent business which supplies filtration products as far as Australia and Japan, as well as his former employer.

RISING FROM THE ASHES: From redundancy to owning a global company in eight years

RISING FROM THE ASHES: From redundancy to owning a global company in eight years

David made the decision to start fresh with his own company, AFL Filtration, during the worst financial crisis in 70 years.

“People said I was crazy to start my own business right in the middle of the recession,” he said.

“But I have worked in filtration since 1996 and truly believed in the product. I had nothing to lose – the company started with just me, one customer and one product.

“Now we have 40 regular customers in more than 13 different countries and I have four people working with me.”

David says that the company would never have got off the ground if it wasn’t for the support of Aycliffe businessman Gerald Wiper, who offered space in his warehouse for free while he got on his feet.

David also got in touch with another employee made redundant by Pentair to help kick start sales.

He added: “We started in a niche market with what we knew to be an excellent product. From previous contacts and colleagues we slowly began to grow and expand our products in the market.

“When the business started to grow however, we realised we needed more space to work in.”

AFL’s defining moment arrived when they were contacted by multi-billion pound company Pentair Filtration – who had laid Dave off six years earlier.

They approached Mr Franks – their former UK Operations Manager – to take a look at some manufacturing products they had sent to Belgium.

“Pentair are one of the highest grossing filtration company on the planet,”David said, “It was one of proudest moments of my career.”

“To have them come to us for help showed me I was right to start my own business and believe in myself eight years ago.”

 

ROOM TO MANOEUVRE: The new factory space is a far cry from the small space in 2008

ROOM TO MANOEUVRE: The new factory space is a far cry from the tiny corner in an Aycliffe warehouse in 2008

“Our aim is to expand both sales in the UK and worldwide.

“There have been highs and lows, but I am proud of what I have achieved and am excited for the future of AFL.”

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