My Point of View column in last month’s FROSTlines newsletter (Refrigerant Anti-Dumping Order: Think of It as the Price of Quality) generated some spirited feedback.
The “affirmative preliminary determination” from the U.S. Department of Commerce seemed straightforward enough: the department ruled that HFC refrigerants from China have been sold in the U.S. at dumping margins ranging from 91.99 percent to 210.46 percent. The Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade Commission were signaling that when their final determinations are made this summer they were likely to side with a coalition of U.S. HFC producers who had petitioned that Chinese producers have injured the U.S. industry by selling the refrigerants at unfairly low prices.
So, my take on it was this was a good decision for America and American companies, and although the prices might go up, the industry would benefit by having the “cheap, low quality” Chinese refrigerant being off the market.
However, one reader — someone whose opinion I value — wrote, “How did you determine that all of the refrigerant produced in China was low quality? Do you have a lab and know how to operate a gas chromatograph? Or did you send samples of Chinese gas to an independent lab?”
He also pointed out that much of the R-22 being sold in the U.S. originates in China.
“Were you aware that the largest deposits of fluorspar are in China, and nearly every refrigerant company on earth has to buy from them?” he asked. (Fluorspar, he explained,is the commercial name for the mineral fluorite (calcium fluoride, or CaF2), which, when pure, consists of 51.1 percent calcium and 48.9 percent fluorine.)
Finally, he expressed dismay that I would editorialize on the Commerce Department’s decision when I wasn’t familiar with the years of backstory that had led to it.
In the process of doing so, I had inadvertently insulted and offended suppliers who are proud of their businesses, products, and quality. I consider myself a proponent of this industry, and I certainly never set out to do something that could be considered, as the reader put it, “a horrible disservice.”
I truly appreciate the time and effort this reader put into writing to me. Keep in mind, these columns are one person’s take on a very complex and multi-layered industry. I have heard many times that in order to be successful in the HVAC and refrigeration industries you can never stop learning. That’s not just true of company owners and technicians, but everyone — myself included.
So if you agree, disagree, or think I’ve totally missed the boat on something, please know that I always welcome your feedback at 248-786-1707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.