IPS Testing Marks 25 Years in Business

 

APPLETON, WI | IPS Testing, an independent testing laboratory serving multiple industries across the US and internationally, marks its 25th anniversary this year. 

Since opening its doors in 1989 as Integrated Paper Services, the company has grown from its start-up days of filling a testing need in the Fox Cities left by the relocation of the Institute of Paper Chemistry to Georgia. IPS now offers comprehensive testing and analysis processes for companies in the pulp and paper, packaging, nonwovens, and consumer products industries.

The company reports it recently earned the honor of becoming the first independent laboratory to achieve ISO 17025 Accreditation for the flushability testing services it provides to manufacturers of flushable wipes.

Other recently expanded company services include a number of product stewardship measures such as recyclability and regulatory testing. “Today our client base encompasses the entire product chain from mills to converters, printers, retailers, and big-box stores for national brand equivalency testing,” says Chris Reitmeyer, VP of IPS Testing.

IPS president Bruce Shafer recalls the forces that needed to come together for IPS to become a reality. “First of all, when the Institute of Paper Chemistry moved to Georgia, it left a void in the Wisconsin market for testing and analysis of paper and nonwoven products. These are major industries within our region and often testing can be very time-sensitive. Georgia Tech wanted the Institute but had plenty of its own lab equipment. Secondly, a number of key staff members wanted to stay in Wisconsin. Thirdly, several area companies came forward with support to keep a laboratory in the Paper Valley. We needed all three of these factors to come together to give IPS its start.”

At the outset, Shafer says, IPS continued the work previously performed by the Institute, which encompassed five disciplines: Pulp, Physical Testing, Analytical, Fiber, and River Studies. IPS also assisted paper mills with product development, quality control, and defect analysis. The five disciplines are still represented today by five bars in the IPS company logo.

“Three of the initial five disciplines still represent a major part of our current business, one example is fiber analysis,” Shafer says. “Our scientists can break down a paper product and determine the trees that were used to make the paper.…The fiber make-up can affect many of the properties of the paper. Regulatory pressure prohibiting the use of endangered species has made this testing an essential quality assurance tool, while other areas such as river studies have fallen away because they are no longer required.”

IPS Testing’s laboratory was first located in Appleton’s Fox River Flats area. The company moved to its current facility in Appleton in 2007, and in 2012 expanded this 17,500-sq-ft facility to 21,500 sq ft to allow for the addition of its flushability testing laboratory and expanded services for the testing of consumer products.

Shafer says, “Paper is our heritage and continues to represent about half of our work. The industry is strong, particularly packaging and tissue and towel. The remainder of our work is tied to nonwovens and consumer products. Wet wipes, diapers, and surgical gowns are all made from nonwovens. The consumer products market is very competitive, which means that manufacturers rely on testing to continuously improve their products.”

The continued need for product testing driven by today’s competitive marketplace sets the stage for IPS to continue its steady growth path, Shafer adds, which has allowed the company to double in size in the last four years.

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