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Generational Business Series Part #4: SEITZ Filtration (PALL)

Generational allies have been a key to the 85+ year success of Scott Labs. This series explores how generational relationships have driven personal and business results. This entry explores how inter-generational relationships are not only with ownership.

Seitz Filtration and Scott began collaboration in 1990 out of mutual need. Seitz was/is the best manufacturer of depth filtration in the world. Despite being competitors, we collaborated with Seitz on items like a harmonized MSDS. Treating others as the "loyal competition" is not unusual in the wine industry. Mutual respect led to mutual opportunity during a 1989 meeting. A new partnership allowed us to play to our strengths. Seitz in production; Scott in technical distribution.

It is no small secret around our office that I love all things filtration (and all things Seitz). Why? Thanks for asking.

  • The invention of ALL sterile filtration was to solve wine re-fermentation in the Seitz brothers in 1887. Not for water or medicine, but wine. Like microbiology (Pasteur) and microscopy (Robert Hooke), wine leads the way to innovation! Filtration history is rich. The history of Seitz as an industrial anchor to its region and wine making is paramount. We have excellent competitors in depth filtration, but they would agree with Seitz being the source of most if not all current suppliers. Begerow/Beco was founded by the former Operations manager of Seitz, Filtrox was founded by the Seitz Swiss agent, Carlson Filtration was founded by the British Col. Carlson who occupied Seitz’s town in WWII and brought the production line home to England; and ErtelAlsop was the recipient of the Seitz trademark for USA in post war reparations. If the wine world is small, filtration is tiny (but reads like a Clavell novel).
  • Filtration remains the most assured way to protect wine quality. Today, we have myriad tools to support microbiological and visual stability. Filtration is a reliable solo act in achieving stability goals. More importantly, it is an effective “dance partner” with other ingredients, processes and processing aids. Below is my favorite illustration of a filter chain (circa 1995).
  • The folks that make it are passionate, knowledgeable and solve problems. As mechanical as the result is, the construction of filtration media is still an art by artists. I don’t think I felt like an artist when I was die-cutting filter sheets as a 13-year-old, but maybe I do in retrospect. Unlike my last posts, the Seitz generational narrative is about non-ownership relationships. Seitz was still private in 1990. After a series of sales and resales in the 90's it is now part of Pall Corp, now an entity of Danaher. So little 'ol Scott Labs and a Fortune 500 Company (rank 162....). Still, if you visit the Seitz factory in Bad Krueznach (BK), Germany you will talk to real people. You will eat real (German) food in the commissary, and you will solve real problems together. The history of wine processing in BK and Seitz is so deep it even overshadows the rich wine heritage of the Nahe.

Anders, Vagnars, Heacock and Peterson are the Scott Labs filtration gunslingers who drove success. We pass knowledge with Seitz back and forth resulting in demand-based product development. Example: Scott’s team produced the first all-cellulose filter sheet and transferred this to Seitz in the early 90’s. On the Seitz team the "recent" addition of Carsten Nissen (2005) accelerated collaboration. Carsten came from another filtration firm in BK supporting other wine supplies including yeast. He understood the Scott model of providing whole solutions (not just filtration) for the wine industry. Advances under Carsten favor the winemaker's production reality and quality needs. A direct result from the give and take of information. Today Scott is the leader in wine filtration in the USA, with Seitz products dominating our portfolio.

In 2018 Carsten's son Lars-Tristen worked as an intern at Scott Labs. During the day he developed and helped implement quality improvement process. In the evenings and weekends, he got to explore California with our team. As a capstone he took a road trip around the west with his dad. Before departing I broke bread with them both. I felt so privileged to have them impact our business and culture so positively.

Companies may be shaped by their leaders, but they are defined by their people. Generating and sustaining family relationships between companies comes down to the people themselves, not ownership. It has been an honor to receive and provide support between families. The universal result is an enduring bond, which stimulates better, stronger and more transparent collaboration. Seitz/Pall is a massive and successful corporation. Relationships with its people like the Nissen's make it a sustainable success.

Business is personal. Generational business is more. It's family.

Zachary Scott, CEO, Scott Laboratories

P.S. Seitz has lots of cool historical schwag! Below see tie clip and local sporting pin.