Shaking Things Up with Washington Labs CEO Mike Violette

How would your cell phone perform at -85 degrees Fahrenheit, after being subjected to hurricane winds and rain, followed by violent shaking similar to forces uses in space? Washington Labs could show you, but it might not be pretty.

Before many manufacturers ever put certain products on the market, there are standards they must meet. When the U.S. Armed Forces wants to take a product in the field that is mission-ready, they rely on a full-service testing facility like Washington Laboratories, Ltd in Frederick to simulate high altitudes, extreme heat, turbine wind and more. This kind of reputation for “finding what doesn’t work” helps product manufacturers make their products better, and safer.

A young Mike Violette was always fascinated with science and engineering and how the universe and things worked. This evolved into an interest in solving technical challenges. Mike began his career with his father and grew Washington Labs from a two-man consulting company to over 50 people in North America, Asia and Europe.

“I suppose that I have always worked for myself. The last ‘real’ job I had was slinging burgers and barbecue in high school,” said Violette. During college, Mike had a painting business and did oddball electrical work on the side. He said, “Being an entrepreneur has really been accidental, but straightforward – respond to some demand and figure out how to get it done – and get paid for it.”

His full-service EMC, wireless, electrical safety and environmental testing company just celebrated a grand opening for their expansion at Stanford Industrial Park on Winchester Blvd. Doubling their square footage from 6,000 to 12,000 allows Washington Labs to increase operating space and environmental testing services. “One of the main areas of interest and further growth is in the wireless industry, looking at opportunities in the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G communications technologies. With the expansion in Frederick, we are well-positioned to serve expanded services in the defense and industrial market.” The facility can perform a combination of stress tests on a single product and accelerate the life of the product to see how it might perform years from now.

The Frederick location can test everything from devices that are installed in nuclear power stations and sophisticated communications technologies, to wheelchairs, infant beds for preemies and sophisticated equipment flying in space. Adding that he “knows I-270 VERY well” with locations in Gaithersburg and Frederick, Violette found that Frederick’s vibrant technology ecosystem was also a good fit as the company depends on innovation, R&D and product development. “As long as there is a demand for new innovations, there will be a demand for testing those devices,” he said.

International work is a key element of the company’s future success, which helps feed Mike’s travel bug and affords him the opportunity to make connections and partnerships overseas. “My 50-person international team is a part of five companies that make up various partnerships. Our team focuses on finding solutions to our clients’ problems,” said Mike. He tries very hard to blend the global network together and develop deep trust and reliance, adding “Our business is truly international. Developing a network to help our clients has been key, and connecting with people to develop new business is very cool.”

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