Building-products manufacturers in North America will have access to an expanded array of testing and certification services as a result of federal approval of a new tie between two of the region's largest firms.

The OK by U.S. antitrust officials paved the way for the Dec. 24 acquisition by Intertek Building Products, Arlington Heights, Ill., of Architectural Testing Inc. (ATI), York, Pa., for $95 million in cash.

Intertek Building Products, a unit of London-based Intertek PLC, bought ATI from a private equity firm and the firm's management shareholders. The unit is one of 16 in the U.K. parent firm that provide global services—through more than 1,000 labs and other facilities—that include auditing, inspection, testing, training, quality assurance and certification.

Intertek says it has 36,000 employees based in 100 countries.

The two companies are “complementary,” says Gavin Campbell, Intertek senior global vice president of building products. ATI’s service has focused more on architectural products, such as windows and curtainwalls, while Intertek’s focus has been on fire safety and similar systems, he says.

ATI has 14 testing laboratories in North America and Intertek Building Products has about six.

“ATI cements our position in North America,” Campbell says. “We see North America as a platform to develop service offerings and then expand them and export the business model globally. We want to be in the markets where the high volume of construction will be.”

He expects those markets to be in India, China and the Middle East, but adds, “The market is coming back in North America” for architectural buildings and housing particularly.

Intertek proposed the purchase more than six months ago, and the companies have cooperated in obtaining regulatory approval. “This feels less like an acquisition and more like we’re joining a family of like-minded individuals,” says Richard Biscoe, ATI’s president.

Biscoe cites two major benefits for ATI in the merger: international access and enhancement of its certification capabilities. ATI has wanted to take its services internationally, but lacked the experience and sophistication to do so, he says.

In addition, Intertek’s proprietary Warnock Hersey mark will now be available to ATI laboratories to certify wood fire-rated doors in North America.

The deal also will expand the testing market for both companies, because Intertek has a stronger presence in Canada and ATI in the U.S., Biscoe says.