WIX Filters, a global manufacturer of filtration products, marked its 75th anniversary with a Founder’s Day event highlighted by a $7,500 donation to Gaston County Schools as a kick-off to the system’s annual school supply drive.
The event also included proclamations from federal, state and local officials recognizing WIX’s spirit of innovation and rich tradition of excellence, a luncheon for WIX’s community partners and employees, and a visit by Richard Petty’s classic 1972 STP Show Car.
“This is a momentous day and milestone in WIX’s remarkable history,” said Keith Wilson, Affinia Group president and CEO. “For the past 75 years, this business has fostered a tradition of growth, innovation and excellence. WIX’s legacy runs in the blood of families around Gaston County – and beyond. Our rich heritage and powerful spirit will continue to flourish for years to come.”
In recognition of its 75th anniversary, as well as the importance of community involvement and the workforce of the next generation, WIX timed its donation to Gaston County Schools to coincide with start of the new school year on Aug. 25.
“We are honored to celebrate WIX’s Founder’s Day and accept this donation for Gaston County Schools,” said Jeffrey Booker, Gaston County Schools Superintendent. “As the ninth largest school district in North Carolina with 56 neighborhood schools, these funds will help prepare our students for the upcoming school year. We thank WIX for its continued support of education in Gaston County.”
What began with three employees, two screwdrivers, a pair of pliers and a typewriter in 1939 has evolved and innovated into a global company that manufactures more than 210 million filters annually for customers in over 80 countries. WIX today employs over 4,500 people worldwide, including 1,500 in the Gastonia area.
WIX Filters was founded on Aug. 1, 1939 in an old cotton mill in Gastonia by Jack Wicks and his business partner, Paul Crenshaw, who needed an inexhaustible supply of pure white cotton thread waste for the filtering media of their new company. At the time, Gastonia and Gaston County produced more combed cotton yarn than anywhere else in the world.
Wicks and Crenshaw soon saw a need for filter replacements that would simplify the filter changing process and, within 15 years, they turned the filter market upside down with the invention and patent of a spin-on oil filter design – known at the time as “twist of the wrist” – that quickly became the industry standard.
Bill Anton, a machinist/mechanic who joined WIX in 1961, remembers when the spin-on filter was developed.
“It was a milestone event for our company and one I still vividly recall,” said Anton, who celebrated 53 years with WIX on July 31. “It is this type of dedication and pride that has kept me part of the WIX family for so long. WIX wouldn’t be what it is today without its incredible culture of kindness and friendship. WIX is truly a good community company, a prosperous organization and a great place to work.”
The Founder’s Day celebration included proclamation presentations and remarks from federal, state and local representatives, including Mike Fenley, Field Representative for U.S. Senator Richard Burr; Travis Manigan, Charlotte Regional Liaison for U.S. Senator Kay Hagan; Uconda Dunn, Economic Developer, North Carolina Department of Commerce; Gastonia Mayor John Bridgeman; Gaston County Commission Chairman Tracy Philbeck; and Gaston Regional Chamber Board Chairman Rick Houser.