Tested to the Max

A Tulsa company quietly tests a variety of household products used by Tulsans every day.
SGS Consumer Testing Services, part of a global testing services company, combines technical expertise in three areas: What heat and fire do to upholstery and mattress products, what water does to plumbing and what cleaning products do to household surface materials.
Mattress testing is the most dramatic as SGS burns products. Fire makes a world of difference in mattress testing and there’s no substitute for watching bed sets burn.
“Clients pay us to destroy their product,” said J. Brian McDonald, SGS Tulsa operations manager.
The facility tests prototype faucets, tub and sink surfaces for longevity, wear and scrub resistance. For example faucets are turned on and off 500,000 times, representing a lifetime of use.
In the materials testing lab, tile, rock, stone, tub and sink surfaces are smeared with a government standard “dirt” — basically black shoe polish — then scrubbed hundreds of times to reveal any wear or weakness.
“We test anything that water flows on, in or through,” McDonald said. “Faucets, showers, tubs, toilets, water arresters. Take a walk through a Lowe’s or Home Depot and you will see products that were tested in our labs. The prototypes were tested here.”
Flush With Success
Plumbing is just a fraction of the testing that is performed at the SGS Tulsa facility. With a $1.1 million budget, the facility has seen steady growth over the past five years, McDonald said. Without going into detail, McDonald said the Tulsa operation is expected to exceed revenue projections again this year.
The success of SGS comes from word of mouth advertising, McDonald said. Sales staff includes McDonald and Scott Parkhurst, who also manages the Plumbing Sector, and a Dallas-based salesman.
There are 10 full-time employees plus 12 part-time workers that conduct burn and materials testing at the facility, 1535 N. 108th East Ave., next to U.S. 169 near the Pine Street exit.
The scope of the Tulsa operation fills a niche, McDonald said.
“The fire and plumbing is not done anywhere else,” he said.
SGS offers services that include on-site quality systems inspections at customers’ factories as well as product testing and certification in-house at SGS labs. Tulsa-based SGS can both test and certify products for their adherence to the Uniform and International Plumbing Codes, offering market advantages including rapid turnaround, competitive pricing, and testing labs around the world, McDonald said.
SGS awarded certification for plumbing products earlier this month to D’Vontz, which has garnered international awards and recognition for the design and development of their fashion plumbing products and accessories. The D’Vontz copper line will be the first to receive the SGS-USTC certificate of compliance.
The announcement this month is a logical extension of SGS’ testing services for the plumbing industry and a way for manufacturers to use the same testing and certification service for products produced anywhere in the world, McDonald said.
Repeat Business
Tulsa’s SGS facility unveiled its second mattress testing cell in the Tulsa laboratory three years ago. The completion of that cell doubled the mattress testing capacity in Tulsa. The lab has since added a third cell.
SGS also provides prototype testing, complete production article evaluation, follow-up inspection, listing and labeling, independent test witnessing, and liability claim investigation for the plumbing industry. The company performs complete evaluations of fixtures and fittings for compliance to the applicable standards. Testing is accepted by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials Inc., American Society of Sanitary Engineers, International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation Affiliates and National Evaluation Service.
The SGS Tulsa office is part of SGS North America, which is a member of the SGS Group, the largest control and inspection company in the world — employing 55,000 people and is represented in more than 130 countries by 210 affiliated companies. SGS North America, with headquarters in New Jersey, has offices located throughout the North American continent.
McDonald, a Tulsa native, went to Oklahoma State University with ideas of becoming a mechanical engineer. He learned that OSU was one of just two schools offering a fire protection engineering degree. Eager to enter the field, he enrolled and took the introductory class — and failed. Undeterred, that made McDonald want to earn the degree even more.
He earned his degree then went to work at Underwriter’s Labs in Chicago for two years before returning to Tulsa in 2003.
When possible, SGS donates materials to churches and the Parent and Child Center of Tulsa, McDonald said, to help under privileged families trying to get on their feet.
“It depends on the market,” he said.

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