(Akron, Ohio) – January 5, 2023 - Smithers, a leading provider of testing, consulting, information, and compliance services, announces the fifty-year anniversary of the Smithers Winter Test Center
in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP). The site supports the automotive, tire, and consumer products industries, with over 800 acres of test surfaces
and engineering services designed to assist with technology validation in harsh winter conditions.
Smithers’ winter testing operations began in Raco, Michigan, located in the state’s Upper Peninsula, in 1973 after Smithers acquired Compliance Testing Inc., or CTI. Smithers Winter Test Center occupies an airfield originally built by the United States government in 1940, with a large triangle of runways, each measuring roughly a mile long and 300 feet wide. The United States Air Force took over of the site during the Cold War. In 1972, ownership of the site was transferred to the United States Forest Service, and it became part of Hiawatha National Forest.
“The start of our relationship with the Forest Service was a real turning point in Smithers history,” said Sean Connolly, Director of Test Track Operations, Smithers. “Taking over the site meant we could dramatically increase our testing capabilities and provide many more services to our valued clients.”
Over the past fifty years, Smithers has made significant investments to the Smithers Winter Test Center based on industry changes and client needs. The three original runways have been outfitted for specialized surface testing, including split mu, alternating ice and asphalt, and packed snow handling. Smithers added handling courses, several ice and snow circles, ice pads, hills of varying grades, and facilities to support testing.
“We’re constantly striving to add modern amenities based on changes to the automotive industry and what our clients need,” said Connolly. “Providing our clients with what they need is the most important factor in every decision we make regarding site expansion.”
Recent investments include:
- Two test freezers for on-site cold soak testing of vehicles and components
- A ChargePoint Express 250 DC Fast Charging Station, plus on-site power upgrades
- A state-of-the-art event center with space for 110 people
- A new off-road vehicle course including articulations, twists, ditches, slopes, and off-camber sections
- Upgrades to the site’s existing courses and hills
The Smithers Winter Test Center is a meaningful contributor to the local economy in Sault Ste Marie and the surrounding area. The facility hires up to 100 seasonal employees every year, and local businesses have added additional roles to support the influx of visitors in the winter season. Additionally, both Smithers and its on-site clients spend significantly on local goods, services, and construction.
Connolly and the Smithers team continuously look at additional services, tracks, and facilities to maintain the site as an industry-leading proving ground. “The automotive industry is changing every year. Our clients’ technologies are pushing the envelope, and meeting their needs has always been the primary driver of growth and expansion at the Smithers Winter Test Center and all our other testing facilities around the globe,” said Jim Popio, PhD, Vice President, Smithers Materials Science and Engineering Division. “I’m eager to see what the next fifty years will bring, for us and for our clients.”
Anniversary celebration will include special events for clients during the winter testing season. To learn more about the Smithers Winter Test Center, contact Sean Connolly at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about Smithers, please visit https://www.smithers.com/
Founded in 1925 and headquartered in Akron, Ohio, Smithers is a multinational provider of testing, consulting, information, and compliance services. With laboratories and operations in North America, Europe, and Asia, Smithers supports customers in the transportation, life science, packaging, materials, components, consumer, dry commodities, and energy industries. Smithers delivers accurate data, on time, with high touch, by integrating science, technology, and business expertise, so customers can innovate with confidence.