It was 1972…

The Godfather was a box office hit…

American Pie topped the music charts…

Pong was the first popular video game…

And in Houston Texas, 3 engineers realized the world needed their help.

Joe Fowler was just 26 years old, and already an expert in numerical analysis and physical systems modeling.

Harry Sweet had been Joe’s professor at Texas A & M and was known for his theoretical skills.

And Ray Latham was a friend of Joe’s from A & M, and the chief engineer at a tool company.

With the mission to provide high level engineering services to help companies solve their difficult technical problems, the three engineers joined forces and founded Sweet, Latham, and Fowler.

These guys were in the right place at the right time. America was in the midst of a nuclear power plant building boom. And every piece of equipment in every plant needed a certified stress report. Sweet, Latham, and Fowler was one of the few firms with the ability to do it.

Ray Latham left the firm in 1973 to establish Reflange Incorporated, which became a successful manufacturer. Harry Sweet was then a majority partner, so they renamed the firm Harry J Sweet and Associates.

Soon after, another energy sector came calling, which would give the young firm a chance to make its mark.

The firm began working for the offshore drilling and production industry and developed the first commercial software to design and analyze marine risers. Joe Fowler, along with Ron Young, a young PhD with experience in modeling car crashes, were the primary authors of this revolutionary riser software called Damned Efficient Riser Program or DERP.

In the late nineteen seventy’s, the firm began the development of an independent third-party test laboratory. This enabled them to provide performance testing of full-scale components like casing, riser, and tubing connections, and all types of equipment.

Tom Asbill was the driving force behind this business. Tom started out analyzing oil fields using modeling and calculations, but this type of work frustrated him. He knew that analysis was important, but he was convinced that the firm could get more work if they offered testing too.

Thanks to Tom’s vision and the hard work of so many others, the company has become a renowned and respected provider of testing services with more than 130,000 square feet of combined laboratory space in several different facilities across the nation.

About this time, Harry Sweet became increasingly uncomfortable with all these changes. So, in 1984 he resigned, and Joe Fowler was elected President. But with Sweet out of the picture, what should they name the firm?

Joe believed it would be best if the name did not include any individual’s name, but instead described what they did. He asked the firm’s employees for their suggestions and one particular response stood out above the rest. And so, on December 12, 1984, the company became known as Stress Engineering Services.

Despite Stress’ new name and expanding testing work, they were still lacking certain instrumentation skills. That’s when Jim Albert joined Stress in 1985 as their first electrical engineer. Under Jim’s guidance, Stress’ instrumentation and measurement services grew to include everything from remote monitoring systems, and vibration monitoring, to asset health monitoring systems and more.

In 1986, Stress moved to its current world headquarters in northwest Houston. But despite their new home, and larger test lab, they were in the midst of a major downturn in the oil industry. So, the firm would have to once again innovate its way into new sectors.

And that’s when a fateful call came from Cincinnati. The consumer goods maker Procter and Gamble had a problem: its shampoo bottles were leaking. Their screw-top cap was failing, spilling suds on consumers’ groceries, and costing the company millions.

There was only one firm with the skillset to solve it: Stress was an expert in analyzing and testing the threaded connections in oil pipes—which weren’t all that different from the threaded connections in shampoo bottles. Stress successfully applied this same sealing technology to stop shampoo bottle leaks.

This work resulted in Stress opening their Cincinnati office in 1992. Soon after, Clint Haynes left P & G and joined Stress to lead this effort. Under Clint’s direction, Stress has successfully expanded into several areas including, product development, packaging, medical devices, instrumentation, shipping, and a variety of other innovative technologies.

But Stress was just getting started branching out into new industries. They decided to apply their technical skills to midstream oil and gas delivery. With millions of miles of pipelines stretched across the world, Stress quickly became a global leader in failure analysis, composite repair research, integrity management and full-scale laboratory testing of pipelines.

In the downstream refining market, Stress began its work on Coke Drums which are large steel vessels that extracts the hydrocarbons at the end of the refining process. These vessels are continuously subjected to high pressures and temperatures which makes them prone to cracking and failures. Richard Boswell pioneered this work which paved the way for Stress becoming experts in Coke Drums as well as other downstream engineering services.

When engineering a solution, it is critical to understand how the materials will perform in their specific environment. So, in 1991 Stress began offering materials engineering and metallurgical services. Over the years, the materials engineering group has continued to excel and expand its services, as demonstrated with the opening of a Corrosion Technology Laboratory in 2014.

With the new millennium fast approaching came new challenges for Stress to solve. And the firm would continue to find novel applications for their design, analysis and testing expertise.

The program DERP had served Stress well for many years, but with the changes in oil & gas production, they decided to team up with a major oil company and develop an in-house software program that performs fully coupled global analysis of deep-water drilling and production systems. This state-of-the-art software is called RAMS, which stands for Rational Analysis of Marine Systems.

Through the years, Stress has reacted swiftly to emerging markets and technologies by expanding their service offerings. That philosophy remains true today.

The consumer product work that started with those leaky shampoo bottles, has now evolved into a forward-thinking design and innovation group for product realization. From consumer-packaged goods and complex medical devices to drug delivery systems and IoT connected smart devices, Stress works with some of the most innovative products on the market.

To make sure consumer goods make it to market safe and on time, Stress has taken its experience in managing big data, product testing, and predictive analytics, to innovate new ways of optimizing packaging and transportation that saves customers millions of dollars.

Now Stress is even helping explore the final frontier. As the private sector has ventured into space, and national security is of vital importance. Stress has entered the aerospace and defense sector to provide their advanced design, analysis and testing services to these industries.

And as the world transitions towards cleaner energy solutions, Stress is fully prepared to assist the rapidly growing renewable energy industries with the same level of service and expertise that it is known for.

From outer space to subsea, for a half century this firm has been providing high level engineering services to help companies solve their most difficult technical problems.

Back in 1972, few could have predicted the success…of an engineering firm that predicts failures.

And while it’s hard to predict what the next 50 years may have in store, one thing is for certain: there will be new tough technical challenges that need to be solved. And Stress Engineering Services will be there to answer the call.


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