Bureau Veritas checks safety in buildings, elevators, fuels

Bureau Veritas, a global provider of inspection, certification and laboratory testing services based in France, aims to make sure that many of the goods and services we use and consume in South Florida are safe. It ensures that construction projects, fuels, shipping imports and exports — among other things — meet regulatory standards. 

But it’s not exactly a household name here, even though it has a pedigree that’s nearly 190 years old.

Bureau Veritas was originally formed as Bureau de Renseignements pour les Assurances Maritimes (Information Office for Maritime Insurance). Jules Verne even mentioned it in his novel, “20,000 Leagues under the Sea” in 1870: He noted that the company kept track of the number of steam and sailing ships sunk each year.
Nowadays, it’s a much bigger company — 400,000 clients in 140 countries; 6,000 clients are in North America. And it offers a much broader range of services that broadly aim to verify standards and reduce risk for business while providing safety to the public.

Bureau Veritas provides the certificates that attest to quality, quantity, safety, technical specifications and compliance with private or government norms that are often required for products to be used (like airplane fuel), for construction projects to move ahead (permits) or for banks to disburse funds for international trade (letters of credit). Before issuing those documents and giving its approval, the company tests the products. 

“Bureau Veritas works everywhere, offering our clients a third-party, unbiased opinion,” said Natalia Shuman, the Sunrise-based CEO for the North America region, which includes Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean as well as the United States. 

The company’s services also include inspection, classification of marine assets, auditing, training and outsourcing. It works with sectors such as aerospace, agriculture and food, automotive, chemicals, oil and gas, mining and power generation. 

“We work for private companies and governments to ensure buyers with quantity and quality of products, equipment, foods and raw materials,” Shuman said. 

If the Bureau Veritas name is familiar to some, it may be because it’s the largest elevator-inspection company in the United States, Shuman says. And in Europe, “people know that toys with the Bureau Veritas label are safe.” 

In South Florida, its services tend to be concentrated in the transportation and building industries. For instance, Bureau Veritas technicians, engineers and scientists test the quality and purity of jet fuel at regional airports, certify that mechanical systems in public and private buildings are up to code and analyze the steel to be used for bridges and tunnels for the Florida Department of Transportation.

Shuman joined Bureau Veritas in April after serving as COO for North Asia at the staffing firm Kelly Services, where she had worked for 23 years. Born in Uzbekistan, she graduated from the St. Petersburg University of Economics and Finance in Russia and completed a dual global executive MBA program at Columbia University and the London Business School.

As CEO for North America, Shuman oversees 6,000 employees, 129 field offices and laboratories, including 158 employees in Florida, and offices/labs in Davie, Doral and Fort Myers. She was the first woman to join the global executive committee at the company. 

“Florida is an important market for Bureau Veritas in several sectors, and with its aging infrastructure, construction will be a key growth market,” Shuman said. “As Florida grows, we will add jobs and help to ensure sustainable growth.”

The company put its North America operating center in South Florida nearly 15 years ago in large part because of its transportation infrastructure and proximity to important customers at PortMiami, Port Everglades, the cruise industry and the strong construction sector. 

In conducting a typical product test, a Bureau Veritas technician will take a sample of jet fuel from storage tanks at a local airport, transport it to a nearby lab, and announce results within five to seven hours. “This is a 24-hour business and we have to be close to all our clients,” Shuman said.

Article courtesy of MiamiHerald.com

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