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Is Brand Important?

Does Brand Matter When Buying Refrigerants?

It really depends on who you talk to in the industry. Some swear by American Made Refrigerant only, others are all about price and say that there is little or no difference in the foreign products.

You always hear about people who will only buy American Made products but it seems that as the years go by this mentality has lessened over time. Chinese product isn’t the cheap stuff that breaks in a day or two anymore. China’s economy is growing and with that growth comes bigger and better companies. These companies are making better product than companies of the past as well.

So, it begs the question would you pay ten, twenty, or even thirty dollars more per cylinder of Refrigerant to buy American made? If so, then that leads to the next question of what companies actually make their products in America? In 2014 there is only one manufacturing company, DuPont, that I know of that is still making one-hundred percent of their product here in the United States.  All of the other major players such as HoneyWell, MexiChem, and other miscellaneous manufacturers either only have a small percentage of their product manufactured in the United States or none at all.

Anti-Dumping on R-134A

R-134A 30 pound cylinder jug.
R-134A 30 pound cylinder jug.

I’ve discussed this in previous posts but this relates back to brand name versus price. In late 2013 MexiChem, a refrigerant manufacturer, filed a lawsuit in the International Trade Commission.  The law-suit basically said that the Chinese R-134A refrigerant product was being dumped into the United States market at an unfair price and in excessive quantities.

The Chinese R-134A product was twenty, sometimes thirty, dollars below the North American manufactured product. This caused the companies that do manufacture here to lower their prices to compete with the off-shore product. Customers didn’t seem to care that it was Chinese product. All they saw was dollar signs. Think about it, if you were to buy a pallet of forty jugs of R-134A for thirty dollars cheaper per jug you would be saving $1,200 per pallet. That is a significant savings especially when you consider that many customers go through five to ten pallets a year.

MexiChem’s goal with the lawsuit that they filed was to impose hefty tariffs on the R-134A imports. This would allow the Chinese product to still come in but would punish the imports with the taxes and raise the overall cost on Refrigerant for all consumers across the country. It’s a sensible move for MexiChem but in my eyes it is only hurting the consumer.

If I was in MexiChem’s boots I would have looked at my company and my product and asked myself, “How can I compete better with this imported product? What can I do better? How can I lower my final cost?” Instead they went the route of lobbying the government to impose unneeded taxes on a growing import.

Luckily, a ruling came back last week from the International Trade Commission that said the R-134A imports are NOT harming the North American market and there will not be increased tariffs on the product.

Conclusion

With what I have seen over the past few years is that at-least in the refrigerant industry brand does not seem to make a difference.  I rarely see customers asking for a specific brand, instead the question is what is my price? What is the best price you can do? Brand rarely comes into question. They want the Refrigerant and that is all. They don’t care where it comes from.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

Owner.

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