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Touring NSF International

Main entrance to the NSF International headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Main entrance to the NSF International headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan
The NSF facility is housed in a sprawling building just 30 minutes from Detroit.
The NSF facility is housed in a sprawling building just 30 minutes from Detroit.
Flammability testing on an aftermarket panel.
Flammability testing on an aftermarket panel.
Pressure testing.
Pressure testing.

By Ed Salamy, Executive Director

The aftermarket parts industry has quickly become familiar – and comfortable – with NSF International. The globally respected organization has delved deeply into the testing and certification of aftermarket parts, and has extended this service further down the supply chain by certifying parts distributors and body shops.

NSF’s Bob Frayer is a regular attendee at the ABPA annual convention, where he has also conducted breakout sessions aimed at educating members about certification processes and policies. So when Bob invited me to visit the NSF world headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I jumped at the chance. I booked my flight into Detroit and made the short drive from the airport to Ann Arbor.

Sports fans know Ann Arbor as the home of the University of Michigan and the World’s Greatest Quarterback, former Wolverine Tom Brady. (Are my New England roots showing?) The town is also a growing hive for high tech businesses, making it an ideal location for the professionals of NSF.

Upon arriving at the NSF facility, I was surprised to discover how big it is! The expansive building sits high atop a hill overlooking the road below.  My next surprise was the difficulty I had in finding a parking spot for my rented Kia. I later learned that this facility alone employs over 400 people including engineers, chemists, physicists, administrative and customer service personnel.

While we know that NSF certifies collision parts, the company also certifies hundreds of additional products, including water filters, pool drains, pool filters, plastic piping, plastic composting rates, kitchen appliances – the list is seemingly endless and would take up far too much space to be included in this report.

After an enjoyable lunch at the NSF employee cafeteria, Bob took me on a thorough tour of the facility.  Walking down lengthy hallways, I had an excellent view of the many labs behind large safety windows.  As I walked down the many hallways and peered into the assorted labs during my tour, I was particularly impressed by the cleanliness of the facility and the attention to detail the employees exhibited.

My tour culminated in the labs used to test collision parts. I can’t get into specifics on the various testing procedures, but it was interesting to see them in action.  I was able to see the equipment used to certify all the collision parts that they currently oversee, including lamp assemblies and reinforcement bars.

I also received an education from the NSF team on how issues are resolved with the manufacturers and how labels are applied.  This system also includes the new two-part label that has been requested by the industry for NSF certified parts.

NSF International, along with other certification organizations, will play an increasingly important role as the aftermarket parts industry battles for market share with OEM manufacturers.

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