A guy walks into a automotive parts store and says I need a K&N air filter for my 1970 Olds Cutlass S and one for my new dream gaming computer enclosure, can you hook me up? The parts guy says, yeah, I can. The next question now has to be, is that a real scenario, or balderdash? And the answer is - it's real.
The enclosures are patented as no other manufacturer’s enclosure is designed to work with the computer's air flow, or with K&N filters.
"One thing that I would like to say is that, without K&N filters, we would not have a product. The K&N filter is the heart of our product," says Pete Maddox, Managing Member at Commerce Technologies LLC.
Clean-Aire Computer Enclosure are used by companies such as Arch Coal, Bell Helicopter, CTS Cement, GE Aviation, Conoco-Philips Pipeline Co., Caterpillar, Georgia Gulf Chemical, Central Hudson Gas & Electric, Chevron, Toyota, Layne GeoConstruction, and Aire Liquide Electronics.
Commerce Technologies is headquartered in Orange, California, they are a full-service IT company. Nearly eleven years ago, two of their customers had significant hardware problems due to extreme dust and dirt. One customer was a distributor of exotic tropical plants, using PCs and servers in their greenhouses, and the other was a sheet metal fabrication company. In order to maintain their systems, CT had to perform a complete tear-down and cleaning of their PCs and servers every six weeks.
"Although this was a great profit center for us," admits Maddox, "we considered it a huge waste of our customers' money. So, we started researching the issue and looking for enclosures that could protect their systems."
What they discovered were huge, ugly metal boxes with HEPA filters. And, not only was the price of the enclosures excessive at over $700 each, the cost of replacement filters at up to $30 per month, per computer, added up real fast.
With the introduction of their new "Little Guy" enclosure Commerce Technologies expects to expand into Australia, United Kingdom and Europe.
"So, we began designing our own enclosures with specific criteria in mind, the filter had to be reusable, the cost of the enclosure had to be reasonable, and they had to look good in an office or a warehouse," explains Maddox.
"One other important factor for us was that the enclosure had to be designed to work with a computer's air flow, so the fan/filter had to be in front of the computer's air intake, and the exhaust holes had to be in the upper back of the enclosure, behind the power supply exhaust fan."
"In testing filters, we used baby powder and we tested every filter we could get our hands on, but none of them could stop the baby powder. Then I went to the auto parts store and picked up a K&N filter. I found the perfect size in the late '80s Camaro filter, it's seven inches square. We emptied an entire bottle of baby powder directly into the filter, with an 81 cubic-foot per minute fan pulling air into the enclosure. What a mess outside the enclosure, but barely a speck of powder made it inside."
"When we installed our enclosures for our first two customers, we immediately eliminated the need for cleaning the computers every six weeks. In fact, the K&N filter worked so great that our cleaning schedule switched to only dusting the systems out every 18 months. In addition, our customers' maintenance costs immediately decreased by 40%, because tape drives, CDs and floppy drives were no longer failing. And, their systems were no longer crashing due to overheating caused by dirt."
Any amount of profit that was initially lost on customer maintenance has been increasingly augmented by the sale of Clean-Aire Computer Enclosures. In fact, in 2010 sales of company's enclosures more than doubled from 2009.
"We saw a significant increase in the number of repeat customers last year too," adds Maddox. "Another reason for our growth is that we are one of the few, if not the only, company that builds custom enclosures to fit large servers and gamers' PCs."
Since creating their first enclosures back in 2000, Commerce Technologies has now shipped their enclosures to every state in the Union, as well as Canada and Mexico. Their enclosures are in use in coal mines, cement plants, oil fields, landfills, chemical companies, recycling plants, electric companies, and any number of other companies, including auto repair shops. And, it certainly wouldn't be a stretch to see them used in a racing environment soon as well.
The Commerce Technologies Clean-Aire Computer Enclosure design is patented, as it was designed around the natural air flow of a computer.
"We create a positive pressure inside the enclosure while maintaining a high rate of air flow. This is accomplished by using a fan that produces 81 CFM of air flow, forcing air into the front of the enclosure. No other manufacturer's enclosure is designed to work with the computer's air flow. Other manufacturers placed their fans in the back and their filters on the sides, thinking that it was best to draw air into the enclosure and force it out. In other words, our design works with the computer's air flow and our competitors' design sucks."
In an effort to continually expand their enclosure applications CT is introducing their "Little Guy."
"Our 'Little Guy' provides the same protection without the huge enclosure," says Maddox. "This is important because we have a huge demand overseas, but the cost of shipping is prohibitive for the oversized enclosures. We've had inquiries from Australia, the United Kingdom, and across Europe. We are also looking at providing these for the military."
"I'm not sure, but I expect that we are the largest reseller of this particular filter in the country. And, if we are not yet, we will be. In fact, we hope to become one of the largest resellers of K&N filters period, even though we will only be selling this one filter."
"One more thing we plan on doing this year is working more closely with K&N, because I believe we have a unique opportunity here. No other auto air filter manufacturer can say that their filters are so good they've been used for the last 10 years to protect PCs and servers in some of the dirtiest places on earth."
Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a K&N dealer in your part of the world.