How FMSI Is Growing Up, and Getting Bigger


DETROIT, Mich.–For aftermarket brake manufacturers, it’s hard to produce brake pads without relying on The Friction Material Standards Institute (FMSI). But as the non-profit has been around doing its work since 1948, there are a lot of upstart companies and engineers around the world who don’t really know what it does.

Under leadership of President Frank Oliveto, a veteran of the brake industry, though, the organization is expanding its reach to Latin America and China. And whereas brake measurements up until recently were being done just with a ruler and caliper, 3D imaging is now part of the library of brake measurements going forward, and the organization will gradually provide 3D going back ten years as they have time.

The mission of FMSI is simple. It’s a central source for brake measurements on all the original equipment brakes that hit the market so that all the companies worldwide making aftermarket brakes have a reliable benchmark for every product.

That said, some companies produce aftermarket brakes without subscribing to FMSI. And Oliveto says, “That is actually a violation of our intellectual property, and we do talk to those companies.”

In year two of a five-year expansion and modernization plan, FMSI is communicating more today with members and non-members more than in the past–monthly correspondence, for example, to encourage the global brake industry to contact FMSI to see if they qualify to be members.

Part of the modernization effort is partnering with a new data management vendor to improve the efficiency and accessibility of the digital catalog, which, after all, is the principal asset of the organization.

FMSI is a lean operation with just one full-time employee who wears several hats. The President’s job is not a full-time position. And there are nine directors who contribute time to the non-profit. Oliveto singles out Rick Jamieson from ABS Friction Inc., who serves as Treasurer, as well as Bill Carney of FDP Virginia who is the current chairman.

If you are a brake company operating in the world and have not been a member, and you are in the aftermarket brake production business, what should you do?

First, says Oliveto, contact FMSI and if possible visit the FMSI office for an application and conversation to see if the company qualifies for membership. The office is equipped with presentations such as one detailing concept to creation,” he says.

Brake Weekend

FMSI this May 30-June 2 is holding its annual meeting, now called “Weekend Brake.” Oliveto has turned the meeting, which had at one time been just a regular business meeting, into a series of themed sessions, combined with networking, golf and an FMSI board meeting.

The sessions will include “High Performance Brakes” featuring Terry Ledwidge of Link Engineering, Charles Greening of Greening Test Labs; Richard Katz of KB Auto and David Mohr of PFC Brakes. Attendees will also get a global brake market update from Scott Huston from HIS/Markit. And there will be a panel on Regenerative Brakes featuring HT Chang of BPI, Tim Duncan of Link Engineering, Gregory Ladley of ADVICS NA and Dan Berletchick from RAY-LOC.

There is still time to register for the Brake Weekend by contacting FMSI through its website

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David Kiley is Chief of Content for The BRAKE Report. Kiley is an award-winning business journalist and author, having covered the auto industry for USA Today, Businessweek, AOL/Huffington Post, as well as written articles for Automobile and Popular Mechanics.