Since it opened in the early 2000s, Action Filtration, located at 221 Raymond Street, has become a staple of the Hope business community and is one of several companies in town that has made Hope a globally-known name.

Originally, Les and Becky Benesh founded HFS Industrial Supply in 1989 in Brownsburg, Indiana. Around that same time, Paul Trotta opened P&M Fabrications here in Hope on South Street.

Nearly a decade later, P&M broke ground on Raymond Street and hired an additional four employees. Then, in 2004, P&M Fabrication and HFS Industrial Supply merged to become Action Filtration under the leadership of co-owners Paul Trotta, Jr. and Les Benesh.

Today, Action Filtration employs nearly 50 people and occupies a 24,000-square-foot location on Raymond Street. The business has contracts with several companies locals will certainly recognize, including Nestle, Solo Cup, General Motors, General Mills, the Indianapolis Star Newspaper and Cummins Inc. The company also has another plant located in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

According to a statement offered by the company’s co-owner, Les Benesh, Action Filtration is “a manufacturer and distributor for industrial filtration products.” The company manufactures replacement filter bags and cartridge filters for all dust filtration and is also an international supplier for all filtration products. The company also supplies hydraulic filters, HVAC filters, water filters, support cages, and a variety of specialty design filters.

Recently, the company’s industrial engineer Joe Chambers and Carla Ellington, who oversees personnel quality lean support, sat down to discuss Action Filtration, a bit about its mission and processes, as well as its place in the community and what that means for the company, as well as the town of Hope.

Since opening, Action Filtration has also established another location in Rice Lake Wisconsin. Why has the company chosen to remain headquartered in Hope?
“I would like to say it was more of a sentimental value for the owners since their father started here and just to carry on being here,” Chambers says. “It has a good central location for our distributors getting on Interstate 65 or 74 and some of our local distributors are to the north and south of us. It is just a good central location.”

Carla, you have been with the company for nearly 15 years, what do you enjoy about being part of the business district here in Hope?
“I love that it is a small environment so you get the small town feel and close-knittedness family group within a large, industrial atmosphere at the same time. Joe and I have both worked for large international corporations, as well as the small town businesses, we both like the fact we have the large corporation, but the small company feel at the same time.”

Joe, what would you say it is that makes Action Filtration stand out locally against other large companies?
“The larger corporations here work nonstop and it is fast where you get in and get out. Here, we are still trying to make great products and get out orders out on time, but it is a family atmosphere where they work with you. They don’t put pressure on you, but they make sure they get their point across that production has to get out. If someone has something going on in their personal lives outside of here that is causing them heartache, the company always steps up and helps out any way they can and you don’t see that at larger corporations.”

What would you say is one of the greater challenges of being a small business in a smaller community like Hope?
“We are constantly, daily, weekly and monthly always utilizing lean manufacturing as our precedent to keep things moving forward and keep things going,” Ellington says. “So we are constantly growing and learning because the environment changes daily nowadays.”

Due to the pandemic, your company has adopted a leaner model when it comes to manufacturing. Joe, would you please elaborate about what kind of impact that has had on your business?
Every company we talk to has an attendance problem and large corporations have to decide what line they are not going to run. For us, when we are short handed we try to be more lean, look at our schedules and orders and cross-train our employees so they can bounce back and forth between areas so we can compensate for absenteeism. It is a struggle, but we do all we can to get our orders out on time and employees moving along.

Many of Action Filtration’s contracts are with some pretty big-name brands. Carla, would you please describe the rapport the company has with these brands and the benefit that brings to your business?
“One thing I can say is I myself have been with the company going on 14 years, so when a customer calls in or emails it is a first name basis. They get that one-on-one treatment. Many of these customers have been here as long as I’ve been with the company. They call in and talk to the owners directly. They have that one-on-one connection and I think that is why they have the longevity of keeping that customer service going.”

Where do you see Action Filtration in the future, Joe?
“We just bought a new piece of equipment and we are trying to expand some of our product lines. We have a new pleated bag line that we are trying to experiment and draw in new customers. We are also constantly looking at ways to expand our business and reach new customers on a daily basis. We aren’t downsizing by any means, we are moving forward every single day.”

Carla, what kind of benefit do you see that type of forward thinking having on the community of Hope?
“More employees. We hope with the expansion to fill the vacancies we have related to the pandemic and hope that we continue with the growth.”