Meet Andrea FitzGerald
MEET ANDREA FITZGERALD
Andrea founded Sidco Filter Company with her father, Sid, in 1997. Since then, she has played a critical role in all aspects of the company’s operations taking on various roles throughout the company including President of Sidco Filter.
Today, Andrea serves as Vice President of Strategy and is focused on leading the organization’s push to widen our market reach. In this two-part Q&A session, the third-generation entrepreneur discusses her work and family philosophies, the importance of team composition, and how Sidco stays ahead of the industry curve.
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Get to know her in our Q&A session below.
What was your background prior to starting Sidco?
Prior to Sidco, my background was in sales, marketing, and IT. I combined all three of those skills to build the foundational pieces to make Sidco successful. With help, I built our internal ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, set up our HR functions, and then built our marketing and sales strategy. Each of these areas has evolved over the years as the company has grown.
Why did you choose to start a business in the filtration industry?
My first exposure to filter manufacturing was back in the ‘80s. My Dad made our first batch of filters on our kitchen stove. He cured the molded ends right on our stovetop! Sid had a lot of prior industry experience and we really saw a potential need in that market. When you are a smaller company, you have to be able to work in every area at some point. So over the years, I have developed a very well-rounded and intimate knowledge of filters and the industry.
What do you enjoy about working in the filtration industry?
Working with great customers. Everyone is so friendly and helpful and we have a great level of collaboration. Once you build a relationship with customers and suppliers, you tend to keep them for life – if you’re doing a good job. They will always need to replace the filters, so it’s about creating a long-term relationship with those that you’re serving. We have always had a focus on providing a high level of service to our customers and continue to do so.
What were some significant challenges or instances of adversity Sidco has faced? How did you deal with them?
There was a time I felt like I had some gaps in my filter manufacturing knowledge. Being inside one company for so long, you don’t get as broad a view as people with experiences from a variety of other companies. To keep up with the needs of Sidco, I had to find ways to enhance my skills. One of the best things that I did was reading a book called The Goal, by Eliyahu Goldratt. His book is about lean manufacturing and Six Sigma and how you can leverage different principles that people have to enhance manufacturing. It was extremely helpful in getting us to the next level in our process capabilities.
Do you have any “passion projects” outside of Sidco?
I enjoy working with kids. In 2017, I helped start a student robotics team with kids in the Geneva City School District – the Panther Robotics team. The students won the “Rookie Award” at the Finger Lakes competition at RIT, producing the highest score of any first-year team. The students were profiled by the Finger Lakes Times – You can read the article here.
Teaching kids about technology and collaboration is very important to me. Learning these things will help them to achieve greater success in the future.
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