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Bureau Veritas North America has grown by acquiring some of the leading names in testing and certifi cation. Now is the time to establish a strong corporate identity Businessexcellence September 07 72 Back in the early 1820s, when shipping was the major means of transporting goods, catastrophic storms in Europe caused some 2,000 shipwrecks and 20,000 deaths. It was a disaster for insurance companies. Thanks to the activities of companies like Bureau Veritas, we are now much better informed about risk of all kinds, so the occasional tsunami or hurricane Katrina does not wipe out the whole sector. Founded in Antwerp, Belgium in 1828 as the Information Offi ce for Maritime Insurance, the company provided information to underwriters about the condition of ships and their equipment. It changed its name to Bureau Veritas a year later, adopting as its offi cial insignia an emblem of the female fi gure of Truth emerging naked from a well—the aim being “to seek the truth and tell it without fear or favor.” A branch offi ce was opened in Paris, France, in 1830, which did so well that the company’s headquarters moved there in 1833. In the last two centuries, the global economic environment has evolved beyond recognition, and Bureau Veritas has taken advantage of the opportunities offered by a growing focus on quality, health, safety and environmental issues, not to mention a proliferation of new regulations. The company now has eight global businesses employing over 26,000 people in 700 offi ces and laboratories in 150 countries around the world. These businesses are: Marine, Industry, Inspection and In-Service Verifi cation (ISV), Health, Safety and Environment (HSE), Construction, Certifi cation, Consumer Product Services, and Government Services and International Trade. A simple shopping list of the company’s activities would take more space than this article permits. Bureau Veritas has pursued a vigorous policy of acquisition over the last ten years, bringing over 50 organizations under its umbrella, several of which are in the United States. The acquisition of two well-established US fi rms with testing labs in Asia—ACTS (Acts Testing Labs) in 1998, and MTL (Merchandise Testing Laboratories) in 2001—added consumer products testing to the company’s portfolio. But the acquisition of San Diego-based US Laboratories Inc. in 2002 is perhaps the most signifi cant. Founded in 1993 by Dickerson Wright, US Laboratories had nationwide recognition for its quality control specialty services to the construction, energy, public works, defense, aerospace and related engineering and architectural design industries for private commercial, public interest and public sector clients. The company provides geotechnical, structural, environmental engineering, project management, construction quality control, building inspection and materials testing services. Other acquisitions have followed, notably, in early 2004, Berryman & Henigar and Graham Marcus, whose services include code compliance, program and construction management, asset management and environmental services. The Group also acquired, in early 2005, Linhart Petersen Powers Associates (LP2A), specializing in services to US municipalities, particularly for construction code compliance. Later, the acquisition of OneCIS, the inspection division of the OneBeacon insurance group, gave Bureau Veritas access to inspection and assessment of pressure equipment to ASME standards. And in 2005, the acquisition of Clayton and NATLSCO reinforced Bureau Veritas’ QHSE capabilities. US Laboratories and the others continued to offer their services to customers under their own names for some time after being acquired, but Truth emerging

September 07 Businessexcellence 73 according to Dickerson Wright, now senior vice president, North America, the current challenge for the organization is to leverage all of their divisions into one BV brand. Bureau Veritas North America already has 72 offi ces in the US (probably more by the time you read this article), and generated over $300 million in annual revenues last year. Group president and chief executive offi cer Frank Piedelièvre remarked in his message in the 2006 annual report: “The aim of the Bureau Veritas brand is to become a global reference. As we expand further, we want it to be recognized as the best name for inspection, testing and certifi cation activities in the areas of quality, health & safety, environment and social responsibility.” In a twist sometimes known as ‘what goes around, comes around’, Bureau Veritas is itself likely to undergo at least a partial change of ownership in the near future, as WENDEL, the French private equity house that owns 98.8 percent of the group, has begun preparations for an initial public offering (IPO) for what could be potentially a $5.5 billon fl otation in October 2007 on the Paris Bourse. Bureau Veritas North America