The issues of counterfeit refrigerants and illegally imported gases have pulsated throughout the industry this year with the steadiest beat of concern coming from DuPont. The refrigerant manufacturer has relentlessly pursued legal action using customs and law enforcement officials to stop counterfeiters and importers of illegal gases. But DuPont went well beyond on enforcement activities in the market. The company has also focused on the development and incorporation of product validation technologies on its packaging so users can easily confirm the product they are buying is an authentic DuPont-supplied refrigerant. One example of such developments is a labeling technology for canisters to verify the legitimacy of refrigerants being purchased by contractors.
Among those within the DuPont company closely involved in this multifaceted initiative is Elizabeth Sassano, global marketing manager for DuPont. She has led the global brand protection program for DuPont for the past two years and has been actively developing tools to highlight the criticality of this effort, even creating a four-minute video — available on YouTube — explaining the concerns related to this industry issue and the new technology from DuPont.
Sassano’s leadership and dedication toward curbing illegal imports and counterfeit gases makes her one of The NEWS’ 2013 NEWSmakers.
“There have been increasing cases of counterfeiting around the globe,” she said. “There are many negative impacts from these situations including loss of sales; threats to business continuity via equipment failure; and ultimately safety, health, and environmental issues.”
Sassano holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering with an emphasis on biomechanics from Drexel University in Philadelphia. She noted DuPont’s concerns over counterfeiting and illegal importing started back in 2008, just about the time she joined the company’s fluorochemical business. At that time, DuPont was getting feedback about market share in some parts of the world that weren’t symmetrical with the amount being sold — a sure sign of counterfeiting. Then, in 2011, reports started coming in about fatalities in the shipping industry because of contaminated refrigerant canisters. That struck at DuPont’s “core values,” she said, when it comes to safety.
“We use both covert and overt tactics to stop counterfeiters in their tracks,” said Sassano. She further referenced successful enforcement action in Hangzhou Province, China, where a raid of facilities led to the seizure of counterfeit cylinders and packages.
“The investigation confirmed that these were counterfeit refrigerant cylinders carrying the trademarks DuPont™ and SUVA®, as well as trademarks of another major manufacturer,” DuPont reported in a statement.
In addition to ongoing legal actions against counterfeiters, DuPont also introduced its patented Izon® security label as part of its Brand Assurance Initiative.
“The DuPont Izon security label offers immediate visual verification that you have purchased genuine DuPont refrigerant,” said Sassano. “What makes this security label unique is that the 10 dots that comprise the label cannot be viewed at the same time. To ensure that the container is genuine, tilt the security label to view one dot on the left edge, two on the right, three on the top, and four on the bottom. Dots should appear and disappear on each side of the security label as it is tilted.”
Greg Rubin, global business manager, DuPont Fluorochemicals, reflected on the company’s initiatives and Sassano’s leadership role.
“DuPont continues its commitment to providing innovative, safer, and environmentally friendlier solutions to the market. As a result, it was a natural extension of our core values to establish our Brand Assurance Initiative. This multifaceted program leverages value-chain security and marketplace enforcement.
“Beth Sassano has been instrumental in building this initiative into a comprehensive global program dedicated to protecting the integrity of our products. She is a champion in the industry for raising awareness and providing practical solutions to vast counterfeit issues with the goal of retaining confidence in genuine, high-quality products.”
Publication date: 12/23/2013