Since the 1800’s when the rubber industry began, Akron gave birth to 5 major rubber companies; Goodyear, Goodrich, Firestone, Seiberling Tire and Mohawk Rubber. From them others were born in the U.S. and all over the world. Their genealogy produced descendants such as the rubber, tire, polymer science testing industries and education in those fields.
Smithers Scientific Services is one of these descendants; here is the SSS story:
Located near the heart of downtown Akron, Smithers Scientific Services stands as a monument of progress in Akron along with much local history and popular attractions such as the annual All-American Soap Box Derby Race and the University of Akron to name a few.
What began in April 1925 as an impartial testing ground for an infant tire industry starting to thrive in and around Akron, Ohio, has evolved into a multi-disciplined, independent laboratory and consulting firm with an international client base.
From a one-man tire analysis operation 84 years ago in a garage in South Akron; Smithers Scientific Services has grown into a “big-small” company.
Smithers’ humble beginnings have withstood the test of time, from initially serving the tire industry with tire analysis reports, to emerging as a leading supplier of technical, engineering and consulting services to a global clientele.
The company continues to publish the tire analysis reports, which contain such data as the physical characteristics and chemical properties of tires, measurements and drawings of tires and infrared polymer analysis of tire compounds. As a result, these technical reports collectively constitute a unique historical frame of reference for tracing the evolution of the pneumatic tire.
Clients can elect to receive printed or electronic versions of the tire analysis reports. Opting for the electronic versions allows clients to use the information in their own custom designed databases.
“Up until 1972, Smithers was basically a tire analysis lab,” reports Jim Dowey. “Today the SSS organization is made up of a number of specialty areas that all provide world class service to our clients. Specifically this includes: Material Testing, Product Testing, Component Testing, Tire Service Reporting, Winter Testing, The Smithers Report and Consulting. The focus went from tires to analyzing a variety of rubber, polymer and medical products and formulations. Through the consulting division, there were projects in distribution management, inventory control, strategic planning and due diligence in acquisitions and mergers,” continued Jim.
This diversity of services successfully paid off for Smithers, especially in the ‘80s and ‘90s when
a wrenching consolidation of the worldwide tire industry resulted in a flurry of foreign takeovers, altering strategic planning for many Akron, Ohio-based companies.
Smithers’ client base grew to include designers and manufacturers of, not only tires, but also automotive, aerospace, elastomeric, plastic, steel, chemical, medical and transportation products.
A major part of the SSS organization is the Ravenna Tire & Wheel Test Facility. The facility is located just 24 miles from Akron, in Ravenna, Ohio. Ravenna is also home to another famous son, automobile designer Chris Bangle, who was the former Chief of Design for the BMW Group and Rolls Royce.
Ravenna’s history began in November 1975, when Compliance Testing Inc. (CTI) in Ravenna became part of Smithers Scientific Services, with just four roadwheel machines. Over the years, the
Ravenna operations expanded to include fifteen roadwheel machines, 22 passenger/light truck, 20 truck and 9 heavy truck/OTR positions, a Flat-Trac II force and moment tire testing unit and a Flat Surface Tire Dynamics machine, to name a few.
Ravenna also provides a wide range of on and off-site testing services custom tailored to specific customer needs.
“Today, SSS continues to be recognized worldwide as a leader in the fields of testing, problem solving, consulting, product development, and product analysis,” said Dowey. Clients range from individuals to Fortune 500 multi-national corporations and government agencies.