In April, AATCC will honor Nicole Nichols-Wilson, president and founder of Pure Filter Solutions (PFS) as the 2012 recipient of the Association’s Young Entrepreneur Award. Nichols is being recognized for designing, manufacturing and marketing dewatering filtration products that prevent pollution of valuable water resources.
Nichols-Wilson was a consultant in the filtration industry during 2006 to 2007, when she became aware of the need to create a product that would filter chemical contaminants from water found in manholes and vaults in the utility industry. She researched this issue and learned that the current decontaminant solution of vacuum trucks was expensive, and oftentimes, companies that were not using vacuum trucks were “simply discharging the contaminated water into public waterways, e.g., down street storm drains.”
Nichols-Wilson saw the need for a better filtration product, but she also recognized that she needed to understand the federal, state, and local government regulations, as well as environmental regulations, on water sustainability in the utilities industry. Her extensive, broad-based research culminated in the production of her first prototype, made in her home with two heavy-duty sewing machines and a cutting surface devised from an old ping pong table. She used various combinations of potential filtration fabrics and settled on a unique combination of polypropylene nonwovens. She had independent testing performed on the filters she created to determine the best design for efficiency and wear. She then began creating these filters in her home and marketing them to “some of the largest companies in the world.”
As orders for her products began to grow, Nichols-Wilson’s workspace moved from her home to a factory equipped to provide customized products to utility companies in different states with different contaminant water issues. In 2007, she became founder and president of Pure Filter Solutions. Within two years, Pure Filter Solutions became a profitable company, selling three versions of its filters nationally and internationally.
Nicole Nichols-Wilson used her own savings to purchase equipment and fabric to develop prototypes for testing, and sought advice from educational contacts and faculty advisors at her alma mater, Georgia Tech. Her patience and tenacity led to the creation of a company that helps customers comply with governmental regulations and keeps the world’s surface waters clean with a low cost, textile-based product.
The Young Entrepreneur Award recognizes entrepreneurs less than 40 years of age operating in the broader textile industry. An entrepreneur is defined as a person who has possession of a new enterprise, venture, or idea, and assumes significant accountability for the inherent risks and outcomes of the creation. The Association will present the award at the AATCC International Conference Awards Luncheon that will be held from April 11, 2013, in Greenville, S.C., USA.