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April 03, 2015


The Smithers Group was founded in 1925 as Smithers Laboratories, operating under that name until it merged with Hochschwender & Associates to create Smithers Scientific Services in 1972. The next big move didn’t come until 1993, when Smithers Quality Assessments opened to address the need for management systems certification (as told in a recent Crain’s Cleveland article).

When the Smithers Group acquired Springborn Laboratories Inc., a contract research and regulatory compliance firm for the pharmaceutical, agrochemical and chemical industries, in 2002, it “took (Smithers) into the world called environmental risk or environmental toxicology,” according to CEO Michael Hochschwender. Now known as Smithers Viscient, that facet of the organization works with chemical companies and pharmaceutical industries to assess the environmental risks of a drug, household product or pesticide.

Hochschwender refers to the acquisition as “big diversification” for three reasons:

  • Smithers is in the science business, but are unique in the belief that there is an environment in which scientists will be very successful at business. The environment at Smithers is about technology being an enabler of good scientific business.

  • The acquisition positioned the Smithers Group for stability when the automotive industry took a hit during the recession of the early 2000s. Rather than exiting the market or sunsetting capabilities, other parts of the business maintained the balance to resume when the industry picked up again.

  • It created critical mass for all company operations. It’s important for the Smithers Group to be confidently mobile with the ability to make smart decisions towards beneficial opportunities, something that’s preserved in all current and future considerations.

The Smithers Group continued to grow with the acquisition of Rapra Technology in 2006, which provided a new presence in Europe and the UK. Today, Smithers Rapra provides analytical, research, testing and information services to the rubber and plastics industries. Four years later, Pira International was welcomed into the Smithers Group family, expanding capabilities to provide knowledge-based information and testing services to organizations and supply chains in the packaging, paper and print industries. It also increased the Smithers footprint in the US with new facilities in Michigan and the West Coast.

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