Independent K-12 School in Atlanta

The Paideia School

Blair Cumming Falivene ‘00 interviews Nicole Nichols Wilson ‘98 about her water filtration system.

Blair: I hope you are well. Are you somewhere amazing? I really appreciate you doing this interview. Hopefully it will be fun.

Nicole: Yes, I am somewhere amazing, I am home! For just this week, I just got back from New Orleans, Atlanta and Houston and I am back to ATL on Saturday.

B: Please tell us a little about Pure Filter Solutions and where you came up with the idea. How did this evolve from your work in textiles?

N: My background is in filtration, market and product development with a degree in Polymer and Textile Chemistry from Georgia Tech. Working in the textile industry, and my love to help the environment; I was always looking for ways to combine the two. I came across an application that needed a better solution, water was accumulating in underground utility structures and this water needed to be removed for utility crews to do their job. Past procedure was to use a vacuum truck or discharge the water to the street. I developed a unique combination of fabrics to create a multi-stage filtration system that would remove contaminants from the water as it was discharged. Our PURE® Filter Sock decreases liabilities and costs for utilities while helping to keep our surface waters cleaner. I took my savings and started making filters in my mother’s basement, business grew quickly and I needed help. It was perfect timing my brother Weston had just finished his masters at University of Edinburgh, so I brought him on to manage sales and we moved manufacturing to a facility in North Georgia and we have been growing ever since. We are now in the Oil and Gas industry, spill cleanup and many other unique applications.

B: I see that you work with your mom and brother (former Paideia student, Weston Aldridge). What is it like to run a family business?

N: Extremely rewarding and at the same time it can be tough, the good outweighs the tough. I know I can always trust them and count on them to be there for me and vise versa. Working together has brought us even closer together.

B: Where there any teachers or classes at Paideia that inspired you to get into your line of work? Can you tell us about them? N: Rick Goldstein guided me to follow my love of science and Robert Falk, my math teacher in Junior High, helped to inspire my love of math. There were also many like Donna, Clark and Marianne that made writing and English (my worst subjects) so much more enjoyable for me.

B: Can you tell us about your Paideia experience? When did you start?

N: I started in 7th grade, in Jane and Jamie’s class. Boy was that a unique experience. Those two were just what a kid with ADD and no organizational skills needed. Jane didn’t mess around, she is a great teacher and I have to give a lot of credit to her for teaching me how to study which was critical for being successful in college.

B: How did Paideia influence who you are today?

N: In many ways. I learned how to study and manage my time at Paideia. I was raised with a good work ethic and I learned how to apply it at Paideia. When I got to Georgia Tech I was used to a heavy work load, unlike most students. I speak to prospective students for the MSE program at GT and their parents every year and I always tell them that my high school prepared me for Georgia Tech. (I would like to note that GT was still hard as heck!)

B: I know you live in Canada. How do you stay connected to Atlanta and your Paideia community?

N: My company and family are in Atlanta, so I go back about once a month to visit my family, the plant, etc. I enjoy getting the monthly newsletter too; it brings a piece of home to Canada every month.

B: You came back to speak to HS students about your work with textiles, How would you encourage other alums to get involved with Paideia?

N: Go back to a class that relates to your career and show the students how passionate you are and the different paths they can choose for themselves. The more opportunities that the students know are out there, the better.

B: Okay, a bonus… We know you like to travel. Can you tell us about a favorite trip? Do you travel for work or for fun? What is next on the bucket list?

N: Yes, I do, I can thank my mom for that! Tough question, but I would have to say Ecuador or Colombia. I love to travel; there is so much to see in the world and so many interesting people to meet. I travel for work and for fun. My husband and I love to surf, so we try and plan our trips around surf destinations. While traveling for work if I am in a unique location, I will tack on a few days for an outdoor activity (surf, ski, hike). We just returned from Colombia surfing on the Pacific coast, next month we go surfing in Mexico and then surfing in Spain in November!