Ryan Dahlgaard, sole owner and president of The Filter Shop, knows what it’s like to work hard. With a solid background in the corporate world, he loved being part of that culture and enjoyed being in a fast-paced, demanding environment. But, after a while, he realized he needed to make a life change, and soon the idea for The Filter Shop was born.
The Filter Shop started more than 17 years ago in the summer of 2004. Dahlgaard said leaving a corporate job and becoming a business owner came out of the recognition that he needed to spend more time focusing on what was important.
“It is a very personal story,” he said. “I was learning that the success and money was not all that I was hoping it would be. My family was not my first priority, and I could see the cracks getting bigger.”
So, he and his wife started to do some soul searching. It was during that time that he realized that something needed to change – not just professionally, but personally, too. Today, he is in a completely different spot than he was then.
“At that time, we really didn’t go to church,” he explained. “I didn’t know what it was to have a personal relationship with God. All I knew was I needed something else because working 70+ hours a week and canceling vacations so I could finish a project was not working anymore for me. That’s how God grabs you sometimes … He lets you go down your own path. Through all this, He was starting change my heart, and through several trials I made the decision to make a change. Enter The Filter Shop and an opportunity to start something brand new … from the ground up.”
Today, Dahlgaard’s faith is central to how he runs his business. The Filter Shop serves as a master distributor of HVAC filters, UV lights, HEPA filters, water filters, filter housings, air scrubbers, and much more. The company generally focuses on the commercial and industrial markets, providing filters to the paint industry, oil and gas industry, and many more. The Filter Shop’s inventory is one of the largest in the Midwest, and it also provides different types of air filter installation services by National Air Filtration Association Certified Technicians.
The Beginning Versus Today
When The Filter Shop first launched, it operated out of an 800-square-foot warehouse.
“The original intention was not to have multiple locations or big warehouses – just take care of the people we were fortunate to get as customers,” Dahlgaard said. “We want to do the little things right every time and provide a customer service level that this industry is not used to, every time.”
Yet, business really took off. The combination of focusing on quality customer service and product selection worked and helped catapult the company to where it is today. In the eight years after opening, it moved locations five times to keep up with growth. Dahlgaard kept hiring more employees, including those to help in the warehouses, as well as delivery drivers, and front office staff.
Today, the company has two locations in Omaha and Des Moines with over 35,000 square feet of warehouse space. The Filter Shop employs 30 people between the two locations.
It took four years of running the company to turn a profit, but now, it is averaging double digit increases year over year, and it is set to hit $10 million in sales this year.
“Our staff is absolutely amazing,” Dahlgaard said. “We have the ability, and are in fact, taking on bigger and bigger clients that are on the national level as well. I credit that to our level of customer service that we strive to show our customers every day.”
As with most businesses, there have been challenges that The Filter Shop has had to tackle head-on. Getting through the last couple of years with the pandemic was one of those hurdles because indoor air quality and breathing clean air has become such a huge topic.
The Filter Shop was poised to tackle the demand for filters with persistence and creativity.
At the onset of COVID-19, Dahlgaard and his team knew they would have to adapt. So, they came together right away, forming weekly meetings, where they determined ways that they could continue to ensure deliveries would still get out to their customers.
“We also studied up on COVID and became the go-to place for information on what needed to be done by our customers,” he said. “We provided details as they came out and created processes internally to get that information to our customers. Overall, I would say that we not only grew because of the situation, but that we actually became a much stronger group.”
On the Horizon
Looking ahead, The Filter Shop forecasts continued growth. Both locations will be undergoing construction in the coming year, and the warehouses will soon be expanded to total more than 50,000 square feet of space.
“The filter industry is a fantastic industry to be a part of right now,” said Dahlgaard. “It is literally right in the middle of most discussions about how to keep occupants safe and healthy. Clean air is what people are talking about, and The Filter Shop is excited to be a part of that discussion.”