Interviews | May 03, 2022
SICPA Keeps Security at the Forefront
In 1927, Swiss entrepreneur Maurice Amon opened his own business. Originally called “Société Industrielle et Commerciale de Produits Alimentaires” (Industrial and Commercial Food Products Company) and later shortened to SICPA, the company initially sought to “supply the Swiss agricultural and food industries with its main product: a special fat used in the milking of cows,” explains John LaBrant, an authorized sales consultant at the company.
But Amon quickly realized the special fat could be used for other purposes, like creating special inks to keep banknotes secure. By 1947, SICPA was supplying security inks for the printing of Spanish currency. From there, the company was off to the races, LaBrant says.
“SICPA has drastically expanded its footprint and now supplies security inks for the majority of the world’s banknotes,” he says, adding that the company’s “product portfolio has grown to include both material, digital and hybrid solutions to protect currency, identity, brands and billions of products annually.”
As SICPA’s business grew, so did its global presence. The company now employs 3,000 people in 35 offices across six continents. According to LaBrant, this global presence has helped SICPA in a number of ways. It has allowed the company to build up relationships with governments across the globe, broadening the market for its security inks. What’s more, it has given SICPA “an extensive network of resources and access to local talent pools,” LaBrant says, helping the company deliver solutions across different markets.
SICPA’s North American operations are headquartered in Springfield, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. The Springfield office focuses on maintaining the company’s relationship with the U.S. government, including “providing a reliable supply of security inks for banknotes, passports, Social Security cards, visas and more,” LaBrant says.
SICPA manufactures security inks to combat a number of challenges. Accordingly, its inks feature a range of security levels depending on the function of the product needing protection. At times, the products feature multiple different security measures — as LaBrant puts it, “optimal solutions are multi-layered.” The table below provides examples of the different levels of security.
But SICPA does more than just make security inks, LaBrant says. The company also offers its customers digital communications and educational tools, “court-level” forensic analysis and other services.
LaBrant points out that there are many different ink manufacturers and distributors in the world. But he believes SICPA is unique because it is “the only ink company whose core business is security inks.” With this specific focus on protection, authentication and verification, SICPA has carved out a niche for itself. The company is now responsible for the security inks on 95% of currency worldwide, including all inks on U.S. currency. “Security [is] at the heart of everything we do,” LaBrant says.
SICPA’s first involvement with Brand Chain came back in the late 1990s. By 1998, SICPA wanted to expand its security business for non-government clients, so it attended and exhibited at events hosted by the International Business Forms Industries (IBFI) and Document Management Industries Association (DMIA), a forerunner of Brand Chain. For years after, SICPA remained affiliated with the association, but eventually drifted away for a few years before rejoining Brand Chain last fall.
Security [is] at the heart of everything we do.
With the company’s renewed involvement, LaBrant has several goals in mind. He hopes SICPA can develop strong relationships with fellow members. SICPA sent a team to last year’s CEO Summit in Chicago and plans to attend future events so that it can foster these connections and relationships. “[CEO Summit] was a great opportunity for SICPA to reconnect with members and gain a better understanding of [the community],” LaBrant says.
Meanwhile, LaBrant hopes SICPA can help its fellow members when it comes to security. He wants to bring SICPA’s experience to the brand protection space, shedding light on security and authentication in the brand solutions industry. LaBrant also hopes to “provide insight into how to implement multi-layered security solutions” as SICPA becomes more involved in Brand Chain in the future.
Almost 100 years after Maurice Amon started SICPA, the company has moved far beyond its original mission. Now SICPA hopes to leverage its expertise with security inks as it rejoins the Brand Chain community.
“We hope to be a valuable community resource for the brand solutions supply chain,” LaBrant says.
LaBrant and nearly 3,000 other members take advantage of all Brand Chain has to offer. Interested in joining them? Find out more about membership.
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