Address: 200 S 4th Street Albion, IL
Since the humble beginnings of Luber-finer in 1936, Champion Laboratories, Inc. has grown into a global leader in automotive filter manufacturing. There have been many milestones along the way, highlighting their evolution as a private label automotive filter manufacturer and their success as a filter manufacturing partner. Here is a chronological history of how they became a trusted fuel dispenser filter supplier, a respected manufacturer of heavy duty filters and more.
In 1936, Luber-finer began operation from a Los Angeles garage offering oil filters for passenger cars. Early success led to a demand for truck applications and the development of the Luber-finer® 750 bypass filter.In 1955, Kleen Pak Manufacturing Company was relocated to West Salem, IL. Howard Gaither was elected president of the company.In 1956, Pyroil purchased Kleen Pak. In 1959, Champion Laboratories patented the engine-end relief valve for spin-on oil filters, a major innovation in the industry. In 1964, Tom Mowatt joined the company and worked alongside Howard Gaither.
Starting in the 1970’s Champion Laboratories and parent company Pyroil were acquired by STP Corporation and racing enthusiast Andy Granatelli. In 1974, Pyroil became a division of Champion Laboratories.In 1975, UIS, an international corporation headquartered in New York, purchased Champion Laboratories, providing strong financial backing for the company. In 1977, race car driver Jackie Stewart was named spokesman for a national advertising campaign. In 1979, Champion Laboratories acquired Luber-finer®.
At the beginning of the 1980’s Howard Gaither retired and Tom Mowatt became president in 1981. In 1983, Champion Laboratories acquired Lee. In 1988, Pyroil was sold to Valvoline. In 1994, York, South Carolina manufacturing facility received ISO 9002 registration; Champion Laboratories was the first filter manufacturer in the United States to be certified.
In 1995 big things were happening. Eurofilter, Ltd. was acquired to increase penetration into global markets, and Kleener cabin air filters were introduced, marking Champion Laboratories entry into a new, emerging aftermarket segment and reflecting the company’s leadership position. Another great year was 1996. Luber-finer created new packaging designs and logos for all its filters, adding installation instructions communicated through universal symbols, and Champion is one of only 158 companies around the world recognized by General Motors with the prestigious QSP Supplier of the Year award. In 1997, the ISO 9001/QS-9000 registered.
Commencing the 2000’s with another excellent start ISO/TS16949 Certification happened in the West Salem Plant. In 2001, Luber-finer® introduced the Imperial XL extended life oil filter. In 2002, Champion Laboratories achieves ISO/TS16949 Certification, Company-wide and, Champion Laboratories, manufacturer of Luber-finer® Filters, announces a $38 million investment in expansion of the Illinois and South Carolina facilities, including a 50,000 sq. ft. expansion of the Illinois facilities and new production equipment in both Illinois and South Carolina. In 2003, Champion Laboratories, along with five other United Industrial Syndicate companies, were purchased by The Carlyle Group. United Components, Inc. was formed by Carlyle to manage and grow the company. In 2004, Tom Mowatt retired and John Evans became President. Champion launched the innovative heavy-duty Zgard 9750 By-Pass filter with a unique zinc composite filter media. Champion also successfully launched the new “Ecore Advanced Technology” spin-on filter.
In 2005, Champion was lucky enough to celebrate its 50th Anniversary. In 2006, Champion Laboratories reached industry recognized service levels and customer satisfaction.Last but not least, in 2016 Luber-Finer renewed its commitment to empowering fleet managers, and those who support and service them, by launching Luber-Finer® University, a comprehensive interactive training and learning portal.
The community looks forward to what they will accomplish in the future!