David Huerta, Senior Lab Manager at the Simpson Strong-Tie home office in Pleasanton, California, was present during the renaming of the Karen Colonias Research Laboratory. The lab was renamed in honor of our former CEO, Karen Colonias, who was instrumental in driving our company forward during her 38 years with the company, including 11 as our CEO. David shares his perspective on the lab’s functions and operations, as well as its importance to our company’s legacy.
As the current lab manager of the newly renamed Karen Colonias Research Laboratory, I’m proud to share what our lab does and what Karen meant to us.
Our lab is responsible for testing new and existing connector, fastener and Truss plate products in support of our product development teams. The lab is accredited to over 20 ASTM Standards and Acceptance Criteria. We routinely test existing products, prototypes, and construction applications, using a variety of equipment not only on individual components but also on full assemblies. Additionally, we focus our research on corrosion, wood assemblies including mass timber, and concrete. Our lab boasts state-of-the-art computer and testing equipment such as MTS TestSuite software, environmental chambers, and a materials lab capable of evaluating products at a microscopic level.
Karen Colonias was instrumental in leading us to become innovative. She joined Simpson Strong-Tie in 1984 as an engineer in the research and development department, where she was responsible for the design and testing of new products and code development. At the renaming event, I was able to present Karen with a memento from her engineering days, a framed print of her original hand-drafted production drawing of an HD5A along with her first patent for that product.
While managing the Engineering department, Karen always looked to hire EWPs, or Engineers with Personality. Karen genuinely cared about all of us, not just professionally but personally, wanting everyone in the department to grow in their careers and be successful. Her leadership and vision were key in shaping our lab and creating a culture of innovation.
In honor of Karen, we’ll continue to strive for excellence and push the boundaries of what is possible. The Karen Colonias Research Laboratory will always be a testament to her legacy, and we are proud to carry on her work.