Champion Laboratories, Inc. has grown from a small midwestern company to become a quality and technology leader and one of the world’s largest suppliers of filters and filtration products and related services.
The company was largely borne out of the vision, dedication and hard work of a single man, Howard Gaither, in the small town of West Salem, in Southern Illinois.
In 1955, West Salem needed business development and employment that only the establishment or relocation of a manufacturing plant could bring. As a member of the West Salem Development Association, Howard Gaither played a pivotal role in establishing and then building the business that would become Champion Laboratories.
It is hard to imagine the company, which Gaither directed as president from 1955 to 1981, in a stronger position today. A major supplier of automotive filters and PCV valves for OEM's and the aftermarket, the company manufactures Champ and Luber-finer brand filters, as well as accessories and filters for many private label accounts. Kleener Cabin Air Filters clean the air drivers and passengers breathe inside their cars.
Champion's Luber-finer brand is a recognized leader serving the heavy-duty trucking, construction equipment and mining industries as well as the marine, farm machinery and industrial engine markets with a wide range of engine and cooling system filters.
This success story would probably not have happened had it not been for Gaither's entrepreneurial spirit and determination. In 1955, he heard about a small, one-man filter operation called Kleen Pak Manufacturing Company. Gaither met with the owner, negotiated the sale of the company and moved it to West Salem.
He knew that business and industrial expansion is key to any town's future growth. Without his vision and persistence, West Salem and the nearby town of Albion might have become ghost towns, succumbing to the economic struggles that hit rural America hard in the late 1950's and 60's.
Gaither scored an early triumph in 1959 when he had an idea for the engine-end relief valve that would effectively eliminate virtually all contaminants inside a spin-on oil filter. It became a major innovation in the industry, setting the company apart from its competitors and earning the business of many OEM's.
Through the years Champion has been part of several different parent companies, but perhaps no pairing is as famous as when STP Corporation and racing enthusiast Andy Granatelli acquired Champion in 1970. Gaither and Granatelli formed a hugely successful partnership that resulted in expanded business opportunities.
Through the years, the company has continued building on its achievements to become the global enterprise it is today.
Founded on Howard Gaither's persistence and pioneering spirit, Champion Laboratories is a multi-million dollar, world-class filter company well positioned to serve its customers.