Company name: TUV Product Services
Owners: Germany-based TUV Suddeut-schland ($1.5 billion company)
Number of employees: 7 (Providence)
Type of business: Product testing
Location: 222 Richmond St., Providence
Year Founded : 1987 (1997 in Providence)
Annual revenues : WND
Richard M. Greenwald, Ph.D., is U.S. technical director of sports/orthopedics laboratories for TUV Product Services. Greenwald and a handful of employees work out of first-floor office space at 222 Richmond St., in the heart of the capital city’s Jewelry District.
The work is unique – to say the least, particularly in a building that is also home to an advertising and public relations firm, a health insurer and several accountants. At TUV Product Services, the typical work day can find hockey pucks and baseballs flying through the air. Racing helmets being smashed. Weights being dropped on trampolines and treadmills running for hours at a time.
“We break things,” said Greenwald. “We make noise.”
TUV Product Services, which opened its Providence location in 1997, is the offshoot of a huge German company that is synonymous with safety standards in Europe. There a “TUV” designation has long been associated with quality and safety. It is a measurement by which government safety standards on all kinds of equipment is measured.
In America, companies most often enlist TUV Product Services to make sure a product is meeting minimal safety requirements.
But as the race to establish the all important “product differential” heats up, Greenwald expects the demand for higher quality to increase. Under such a scenario, the product testing available at TUV Product Services becomes critical as companies strive for certification to the highest level of quality standards, he said.
“We are trying to provide American clients with a system to test their products to a greater than minimum standard — providing them with market differential,” Greenwald said.
Market differential, Greenwald said, is critical in a competitive environment.
“What if a company wants to show that their product is tested beyond the minimum standard,” he said. “The only reason to do that would be for market differential.”
TUV Product Services has 220 employees in America at five locations, including one in Danvers, Mass.
All of the TUV offices provide consulting, third-party inspections, testing and certifications. Clients include the makers of sporting goods, such as bicycle and hockey helmets, baseball bats, treadmills and skis. Other customers include machine makers and manufacturers of “active implantable” medical products and devices, like plastic hips.
Greenwald is quick to point out that while there are testing houses throughout the country, TUV is the only one to test to both American and European standards. To do so, he said, gives the company a unique competitive advantage. And focusing on sports equipment, he said, simply makes sense because it is such a growing industry.
“We provide U.S. manufacturers selling into Europe a point of local contact,” said Greenwald. “There are many regulations in the European market that American companies don’t know about. In the U.S., recreational sports is a vast market.”
Greewald believes TUV is poised to capitalize on growing consumer demand for quality and safety. He envisions a day when companies – attempting to distance themselves from competitors – reach for a higher standard, be that a better racing helmet or medical product.
“There are many products about which Americans tend to assume a level of safety,” he said.
Greenwald is a biochemist, having studied bio-mechanics at the University of Utah.
“I’ve been studying knee injuries in sports – particularly skiing injuries for years,” he said. “As a researcher, my goal is to come up with safe products.”
To Greenwald, the first floor space on Richmond Street is the ideal location. It’s between Rhode Island Hospital and Brown
University, where he is an adjunct professor.
“We’ve developed a great collaboration with the orthopedic department at Rhode Island Hospital and Dr. Michael Ehrlich,” said Greenwald. “We share research and testing facilities to help assist medical residents in their research efforts.”
Greenwald sees TUV as a “know-how center.” A center where minds are at work and resources are aplenty. A center where the resources include medical product testing – and 90-mile-perhour fastballs.
“If a company is doing product development, they could do their mechanical testing here,” said Greenwald.
At 222 Richmond Street. First floor.