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A Century of Filtration Heritage – A Brief History of Donaldson

A Century of Filtration Heritage – A Brief History of Donaldson

A Century of Filtration Heritage – A Brief History of Donaldson

A Century of Filtration Heritage – A Brief History of Donaldson

At Alexis, we’re big fans of the Donaldson product range. As a world-leading manufacturer of filtration solutions, trusted by major OEM manufacturers from across the globe, Donaldson has a well-earned reputation for producing high quality, reliable solutions that work in the real world.

We have worked with Donaldson since the formation of our business, and today, offer our customers a comprehensive range of fuel filters, oil filters, air intake filters, lube filters, hydraulic filters and coolant filters, alongside exhaust components.

One of the questions we’re often asked by customers is “Who are Donaldson?” – so in this post, we’re going to look at a brief history of the brand over the past 100 years.

Agricultural beginnings

Donaldson was founded in 1915, by a former tractor salesman named Frank Donaldson Sr. After visiting a customer whose tractor kept breaking down in a dusty field, he came up with an air cleaner to protect the engine from clogging.

The invention worked. This was the first effective air cleaner for a tractor engine, and following the success of this innovation, Donaldson Company Inc. was born.

Starting out in a Minnesota metal shop, with his father and brother, Frank began manufacturing his invention in earnest – selling these to the local farming community, and Frank’s connections in the tractor industry.

New licenses and industry expansion

Donaldson prospered, and soon, the company acquired the licenses for the Wilcox Bennet air filter, before introducing the Simplex, a filter that also prevented engine damage.

In these early years, the company founded a business relationship with agricultural machinery manufacturer Deere & Company, a key client in the early development and growth of the business.

By the 1930s, the company had expanded its product range to include a series of tractor filters, including the NS, and was going from strength to strength.

Contraction and change of direction

The Great Depression had a serious impact on the US agricultural sector, which in turn, affected Donaldson’s business. The company was forced to sell some of its filtration patents to stay afloat in line with the global downturn.

The advent of WW2 provided opportunities for Donaldson to diversify into different industries, and the business began to expand into filters for aerospace, hydraulics and military vehicle applications.

In the decade that followed the end of the war, the company thrived, gaining market share and going public in 1955.

International expansion and acquisitions

The company went global in the 1960s, establishing subsidiaries across new European and global markets including the UK, Germany, South Africa and Australia.

By the 1970s, the company was moving into new areas of filtration, acquiring both Torit Corp and Majac Inc. At the same time, it was developing a new hydraulic fluid filtration system, becoming a true global leader in the process.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Donaldson continued to expand, acquiring French muffler maker Technov and air filtration specialists Airmaze Corp, before launching the Donaldson Korea company.

The New Millennium

The company has continually invested and diversified throughout its history, and since the turn of the century, has acquired several key filtration businesses and industrial parts manufacturers. These have included major businesses including DCE Dust Control, Ultrafilter international AG and Aerospace Filtration Systems in a series of multimillion dollar deals.

In 2015, the company marked its centenary with the opening of a series of state of the art manufacturing facilities, based in Poland and Columbia.

Donaldson Today                                                                

In 2017, Donaldson is a multi-billion dollar business, operating in more than 44 countries worldwide. Producing engine and industrial filtration products for all kinds of applications, it works with major OEMs in the construction, mining, agriculture, aerospace, defence, commercial vehicle and industrial sectors across the globe.

Continually investing in new products, technology and innovation, it holds more than 1600 active US and international patents – testament to its position as a leader in filtration.

Alexis and Donaldson

Prior to founding Alexis Filters, MD Neil Martland spent a successful career working for Donaldson as a sales manager.

He has maintained an excellent relationship with Donaldson – and our customers benefit from his unrivalled product knowledge and strong partnership with the firm. In practice, it means that whatever your requirements, Alexis will be able to provide the right Donaldson filter, quickly, and at an unbeatable price.

For additional information about Donaldson, Alexis or any of our filters, please contact Alexis Filters today on 01482 711259 or email sales@alexisfilters.co.uk today.





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“I moved over to ALEXIS FILTERS some 4 years ago when our previous supplier changed brands. Since then the staff have helped with the transition to DONALDSON which is a quality product. They have been very helpful and the service has been very good especially on short notice requirements usually having whatever we need on stock!”

Chris Adaptable