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27485 George Merrelli Drive
Warren, MI 48092
(586) 754-9000
History of Detroit Testing Laboratory, Inc.

DTL Headquarters 1913-1924
Detroit Testing Laboratory’s history is synonymous with the history of the American automobile industry. It was the first automotive testing laboratory in America and is the only laboratory to survive from the earliest days of the industry. From its founding in 1903, as a provider of quality control testing for local foundries, Detroit Testing Laboratory’s expertise and reputation grew. Founder William Putnam, who was considered a peer by many of the giants of the automotive industry including Henry Ford and Billy Durant, and his partners Jesse Stoddard and Charles Lamont set up shop in a one-room loft in downtown Detroit eventually expanding the company and moving to larger facilities in Detroit in 1913.

In its first half-century, the company grew with the burgeoning auto industry, employing up to 40 people and becoming the sole supplier of metallurgy testing and fuel analysis for Cadillac, Ford, Buick, Oldsmobile, Durant and Hupp.

Chemical Testing at DTL Circa 1940
Detroit Testing Laboratory was acquired by Dow Associates in 1948. Placing an emphasis on research and development, DTL expanded its services to include analysis and testing of a wide range of materials and products and quality control in areas of chemical, metallurgical and mechanical engineering; organic and inorganic chemistry; physical, environmental and functional testing; and fundamental procedures in physics, chemistry and mathematics.

Fuel Filter Analysis Circa 1950
By 1968, automotive testing services had grown to include testing of seat belts, brake hoses, door latches, hinges and brake systems. In 1976, DTL was purchased by Pier Talenti. The subsequent acquisition of Ann Arbor Testing Laboratory added photometric testing to serve automotive and marine industries. As the auto industry embraced the use of plastics in the 1980s, DTL offered complete automotive interior and exterior component testing services. New facilities in Marysville and Willow Run, Michigan enabled DTL to expand fuel and electrical testing.

Additional success and capital investment enabled DTL to move to a 65,000-square-foot facility in Warren, Michigan in 1989. At the same time, capabilities expanded in materials testing

DTL-Inc Warren, MI
as well as full-vehicle and environmental testing. Soon after, electrical and electromagnetic interference labs were combined into the new facility from DTL’s Willow Run facility. By 1991, a polymer and composites, thermal analysis and rheology laboratory was added. The following year, the shock and vibration laboratory grew to include additional shakers and environmental chambers. In 1993, a horizontal-impact test sled was added to enable DTL to test infant/child restraint systems, side-impact air bags and other safety components.

Increased research into alternative fuels prompted DTL to consolidate its fuels testing facilities in Center Line, Michigan in 1995. Since then, the facility has been expanded six times. Commercial calibration services were added in 1997 and have received A2LA accreditation and achieved ISO 9002 compliance.

In 2006, during another period of intense growth, DTL moved to its current headquarters and testing facility in Warren, Michigan. This 80,000 square foot facility was designed from the ground up to increase throughput and efficiency and has become the industry benchmark. In 2007, DTL opened the first hybrid and electric vehicle battery testing lab in Detroit, Michigan, once again establishing itself as a pioneering company in the automotive industry.

In 2009, DTL opened its first laboratory outside of Michigan. This facility, which is totally dedicated to military, aerospace and consumer products, is located in Melbourne, FL. This facility, in cooperation with our main test facility in Warren, Michigan, will allow DTL to expand the work we perform for these industries and set the new benchmark for testing services for these customers.

In 2011, DTL will open its second satellite laboratory in Michigan in Bothell, WA. Its focus will be on aerospace, military, medical & consumer products.

The ownership and employees are extremely proud that after over 100 years we remain the leader among testing labs in the United States. While our reach spans many industries now, DTL remains strongly entrenched within the automotive industry. Today, the company is following a growth strategy that includes the formation of single-source, one-stop testing service partnerships with OEMs and their suppliers. Strategic acquisitions will enable DTL to consolidate our market share. As ever, our focus will always be superior customer service.

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