Press Releases

July 17, 2003

Simpson Strong-Tie to Improve Building Safety with New Structural Testing Technology

Stockton, Calif. – Simpson Strong-Tie Company, Inc., a leader in structural building technology and testing, opened a world-class structural engineering and research laboratory in Stockton, Calif., Tuesday, July 15, 2003. The Tyrell Gilb Research Laboratory furthers Simpson's mission to improve building safety in a cost effective manner by using new research and technology to understand how earthquakes, high winds and other natural disasters affect buildings.

More than 70 members of the structural engineering community and members of the trade press were in attendance at a grand opening event held at the Tyrell Gilb Research Laboratory. A laboratory tour and special testing demonstration marked the exclusive event. A two-story wall structure swayed side-to-side from forces created by one of the laboratory's test rigs. Later, a simulated earthquake – similar in magnitude to the Kobe, Japan quake – jolted and shook, partially destroying a three-story wall section.

"I'm glad to see a corporation in the private sector invest in a laboratory with state-of-the-art testing equipment," says J. Daniel Dolan, Ph.D., P.E., professor of structural engineering for Washington State University. "Simpson's laboratory and testing will help validate years of design methodology and allow the engineering community to know where we stand with current structural design and safety. Simpson will be able to use this technology to design new products that offer a higher level of structural performance."

"At Simpson, our product designers focus on creating products that make buildings stronger and safer, and at the same time are designed in a way that reduce the cost of installation," says Tom Fitzmyers, CEO of Simpson Strong-Tie. "Our development team incorporates research with customer feedback to design and manufacture products that are more efficient, more cost effective and easier to install. Our new lab will allow us to continue to bring the most innovative products to the market."

Last Tuesday's demonstration featured the lab's highly specialized equipment, which test a structure's ability to resist earthquakes, high winds and other natural disasters. Full-scale structural components were built and tested using the lab's seismic shake table and one of two of the lab's cyclic/static test frames. The shake table recreates ground motion, moving back and forth horizontally at the foundation level. The cyclic static test rig applies force laterally to the top of a wall structure. Together, the two types of testing provide an accurate measurement of a structure's resistance capabilities.

Simpson Strong-Tie designed its two cyclic/static test frames in-house and teamed with MTS Systems Corporation, an international mechanical testing and simulation equipment supplier, to build the shake table. One of the unique features of the testing equipment is its ability to accurately measure a structure's earthquake resistance by testing a standard wall section. "Our ability to simulate full building response without building and testing a four-sided structure is significant," explains Steve Pryor, building systems research and development manager for Simpson Strong-Tie. "Not only does this cut down testing time, but it also speeds up research and product development efforts."

Simpson's new lab was named in memory of Tyrell (Tye) Gilb who led the company's research and development efforts for many years. "Tye's legacy of innovative product development will live on through the work done here," says Fitzmyers. "The new laboratory's testing capabilities will allow us to advance our structural design technology, which will improve building safety and ultimately help save lives. That would have made Tye very proud."


About Simpson Strong-Tie

Since 1956, Simpson Strong-Tie has been helping people build safer structures economically.

A leader in structural systems technology, Simpson is one of the largest suppliers of structural building products in the world. Simpson's commitment to research and development, and product testing is evident in the consistent quality and delivery of its products and services.

Simpson Strong-Tie products are sold through a network of retail outlets and marketing partners. For more information about Simpson Strong-Tie, visit the Web site at

Back to Company News ยป