Filter Paper Alternatives

Filter Paper Alternatives

LPS has been a member of the Independent Laboratory Distributors Association ( since 2014. This trade association pairs manufacturers and distributors from all over the world and meets bi-annually. We attended the most recent conference in Scottsdale, AZ on October 21st.

These meetings keep us attuned to the lab industry as a whole as well as the new products vendors are continuously bringing to market.

While there are many topics I found interesting I decided to focus this issue on what may sound very boring - filter paper. Bear with me on this as there is far more to this story than you may think!

GE Whatman purchased by Danaher

As I have reported in previous issues, the second largest scientific equipment and supplies company in the U.S. is Danaher Corp, ranked 132 on the Fortune 500 list, second only to Thermo Fisher Scientific. Hach was the first to declare that their authorized distributors would only be permitted to sell their products to end users, not other distributors. Now this policy has been extended to their Cytiva division, which now includes GE Whatman in 2019 for $21.4B, and Pall Life Sciences, acquired in 2015 for $13.6B.

Hach, Pall and Whatman products have been sold by large distributors to smaller resellers and distributors for nearly a decade. Cytiva has been a member of ILDA all this time, and has actively sought smaller distributors to sell their products. But that arrangement has come to an end. Why? Even the Cytiva rep had no answer to this question, nor could he say why he even bothered to show up at an ILDA meeting.

Why should this matter to you?

If Danaher takes the obvious next step in this process - selling direct to end users and cutting out all distributors (as they have done with other Danaher companies) - you will pay whatever they ask if you wish to continue using their products. If they continue with this policy as it currently exists, you will still pay more for their products as big distributors now have a “semi-exclusive” and there is no incentive to discount. We’ve seen this before when VWR (now Avantor) had a near exclusive on Pall filtration products.

All of this means that you will need to look for other vendors, and expect to pay higher prices for products that are truly commodity items like glass fiber filters or syringe filters.

What is LPS doing to safeguard our clients from this ploy?

Danaher is betting heavily on brand loyalty. Brand names like Hach, Pall and Whatman are as much a part of the lab vernacular as Kleenex is to facial tissue. This analogy applies here because when you go to your grocery, you find a number of less-expensive alternatives to the Kleenex brand on their shelves. The majority of people are just as willing to blow their nose on a tissue that costs a buck or two less rather than pay for the brand name.

Where this analogy breaks down is that even if you’ve never tried a store-brand tissue, trying the alternative is cheap and easy and pretty much risk free. If you’ve been using Whatman 9cm Grade 4 filter circles for the last 40 years, knowing what the exact equivalent is from other brands is not something you’ve spent time investigating.

We have. And we have great options for you to consider. Whether it is chemicals that are exact equivalents to Hach’s or filter paper that is a 1:1 equivalent to Whatman, we have done our homework.

In most cases, you can search for the item on simply by putting in the Hach or Whatman part number! It’s that simple.

Can you trust alternative vendors? Are their products of equal quality?

These are questions that anyone involved in lab testing should ask. When “cheap alternatives” are mentioned, we can all conjure up an image of some product we once bought that was made in China that could only be categorized as “a cheap knock-off.”

All of the vendors we offer as alternatives manufacture products in the U.S. or Germany. These companies have long histories of making quality items extensively used by other labs around the world. And most of these companies are willing to sample their products free-of-charge for you to evaluate. Even the grocery store won’t do that!

We will have more on this program in upcoming Pulse Issues.

Related Products