‘A great location to access talent and technology’: Q&A with SICPA North America leader Greg Dunn

Springfield is the headquarters of the North American subsidiary of SICPA (Société Industrielle et Commerciale de Produits Alimentaires). Lausanne, Switzerland-based SICPA is a leading global provider of secured authentication, identification and traceability solutions and services. Founded in 1927, the privately owned company is a long-trusted advisor to governments, central banks, high-security printers, and industry.

SICPA’s mission is to “enable trust through constant innovation.” For more than 70 years SICPA has been at the forefront of research and innovation in security inks that are at the core of the company’s expertise.

SICPA has offices and factories on five continents. With about 2,800 staff representing more than 50 nationalities, the company provides technologies and services to most nations.

Greg Dunn, president and CEO of SICPA North America, talked with the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority about the company, its technology, and why Fairfax County is a great place for SICPA’s North American headquarters.

FCEDA: What does SICPA do?

Dunn: SICPA is a trusted global provider of security inks as well as secured identification, traceability and authentication solutions. With high-technology security inks and taggants at the core of its expertise, the company protects the majority of the world’s banknotes, security and value documents, and a wide range of consumer and industrial products. We also provide proof of compliance, tax and authenticity for billions of products annually, including pharmaceuticals, electronics, and industrial goods.

SICPA’s North American headquarters are in Springfield, Va., servicing government agency clients in the Treasury, Homeland Security and State departments as well as 45 U.S. states, state and 160 local jurisdictions. In our commercial business we work with leading brand owners, security printers and innovative solution partners.

FCEDA: Please describe your company’s use of innovative technology.

Dunn: SICPA’s innovations cross physical and digital boundaries – all with the focus of enabling trust. We often pair the two together to ensure our customers can stay ahead of counterfeiters and other illicit operators, whether for government-issued identity documents and currency or products for safety and intellectual property protection.

A key focus for innovation is to ensure seamless trust as processes bridge the physical and digital worlds – looking at the identities of people, organizations and products paired with relevant data, processes and transactions. A few examples include:

  • Continuous research and development for new security inks or other features, often in partnership with our clients;
  • Blockchain-based digital seals for creating verifiable credentials that are equally secure and tamper-proof in printed and digital formats; and,
  • Traceability and consumer engagement solutions with coding that can’t be copied and reused.

FCEDA: What differentiates SICPA from others in terms of technology?

Dunn: At SICPA, we are firm believers that no one and no organization can be self-authenticating. With a 100-year track record of innovation, SICPA partners with governments in the U.S. and across the globe to enable trust where it matters most including in the currency that sustains our economy, the food and drinks we consume, and the medicine we take. SICPA uniquely provides:

  • Essential building blocks of technology and expertise to architect this trust across both physical and digital domains;
  • The most advanced portfolio of security inks and taggants for proven overt, covert and forensic authentication features that are trusted to protect the world’s most valuable assets including more than 90 percent of the world’s currency; and,
  • Supply chain and distribution controls that allow for all stakeholders to be able to validate proof of origin, lawful acquisition, and responsible sourcing.

FCEDA: Who are your primary customers?

Dunn: Throughout its history, SICPA has dedicated itself to helping governments, central banks, high-security printers and companies throughout the private sector to find comprehensive solutions to widespread security issues. We work closely with federal, state, and local governments, auditors, and private brands to fight fraud.

FCEDA: When was your company founded?

Dunn: This is a very interesting story. Our company was founded by the Amon family in Switzerland in 1927. SICPA began as a supplier of products for the agricultural and food industries—its main product was a fat used to milk cows. But it was quickly discovered that our products had key applications in the printing industry. By 1938, SICPA shifted its focus to the printing industry and security. Today, the global company is still headquartered in Switzerland and run by the third generation of the Amon family.

FCEDA: What is the main business focus of SICPA’s Fairfax County office? When and why did you open your Fairfax County office? 

Dunn: Springfield is the headquarters for our U.S. operations. We opened our first facility in 1983 to service key federal contracts. In 1985, we began operations at our current location where today we have core business functions, software development and operations, technology labs, and manufacturing facilities.

FCEDA: What makes Fairfax County a great location for your business/organization? 

Dunn: Having our headquarters in Fairfax County, just outside of the nation’s capital, provides convenient access to our key federal government customers as well as lawmakers and officials in Washington, D.C. Fairfax County is a great location to access talent and technology and implementation partners. Plus, the proximity to Washington Dulles International Airport supports easy travel connections with colleagues at the global headquarters in Switzerland.

FCEDA: Do you have any expansion plans planned and if so, how many jobs do you expect it to generate?

Dunn: Yes! We are making a major investment in our Fairfax County facilities. We are just completing a modernization effort at our manufacturing plant in Springfield, including a brand-new site. This is very exciting for us and it represents the importance of the U.S. market to the company’s overall global work.

FCEDA: What else would you like to share about SICPA?

Dunn: I am so proud of the company, our team and its’ accomplishments. Our customer relationships run not just for years, but for decades as a result of the unique value that we deliver. We continue to innovate by applying our proven technologies to solve new use cases and extending the global technology portfolio with new technologies and solutions developed through our talented U.S. team.  We look forward to continuing to grow the business leveraging the many benefits of running our U.S. headquarters and core manufacturing operations right here in Fairfax County.