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Manufacturer Fights to Protect Company Reputation, Employee Jobs

“If the price is too good to be true, it probably is,” said Jim D’Addario, chairman and CEO of D’Addario & Company, Inc. Located in Farmingdale, D’Addario & Company, Inc. is a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of strings for fretted and bowed musical instruments, drumheads, drum practice pads, and guitar and woodwind accessories.  With 800 of his 1,000 employees working at the Farmingdale location, D’Addario has been working tirelessly to protect their jobs and the D’Addario brand image.

Through an investigation conducted by D’Addario and his management team, he learned that counterfeit, sub-standard strings were being manufactured and packaged in China and sold online as D’Addario products at discounted prices. The inability to gain their fair market share in China prevented D’Addario from adding jobs, had the company been able to legitimately sell their high-quality products in China. Instead, D’Addario has spent the last several years investigating the counterfeit products.

D’Addario reached out to his peers in the music industry and to local elected officials for assistance.  Congressman Steve Israel, who represents New York State 2nd Congressional District, was very proactive in setting up appointments  with the U.S. Trade Representatives and U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. Accompanied by a staff member from Israel’s office, those visits proved instrumental in guiding Jim and his team to the next steps.

D’Addario hired two law firms—Patton Boggs LLP in Washington, D.C., a leader in intellectual property law, and Jan Liu of LexField Law Offices in Beijing. The firms helped move along the patent process, stalled for five years in the China Patent Trademark Office. In Beijing, investigators were hired who went to shops, purchased counterfeit D’Addario products, and conducted factory raids with Chinese authorities to seize counterfeit strings and packaging.  

In June 2010, Jim D’Addario took the evidence and information gathered from these investigations and testified before the U.S. International Trade Commission. This testimony brought greater attention to the problem at D’Addario and its potential impact to Long Island jobs. On December 6, 2010, Senator Chuck Schumer visited D’Addario and its employees at the Farmingdale headquarters. There he called upon the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to crack down on the makers and distributors of counterfeit D’Addario products. Senator Schumer’s visit to D’Addario was key to getting to remove all counterfeit products from their site only a few days later.

Although the D’Addario products can no longer be purchased at this site, this solution is temporary. As long as the counterfeit products are being manufactured, they will find their way to the market putting Long Island jobs at risk as well as chipping away at the brand equity and reputation that D’Addario & Company, Inc. has maintained through four generations of string makers.

D’Addario will also be working with his colleagues at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), a not-for-profit association that unifies, leads and strengthens the $17 billion global music products industry. A NAMM task force will meet this month to develop industry strategies to deal with counterfeiting and intellectual property issues. The unified NAMM will be able to garner more support from the federal government to act on their behalf.

D’Addario remains steadfast in his determination to protect the quality and reputation of the products that his family has worked at for generations. D’Addario is keenly aware his employees are frightened, but he and his management team “are devoted to protecting their jobs.”

When asked what the Farmingdale and Long Island community can do to support his company, Jim D’Addario reminds us that as Americans, we need to get back to looking at where things are made.  If a quality American product can be purchased at a fair price, this is where you should be buying it, primarily to support the economy and jobs for all Americans.