Hundreds of people gathered Thursday evening for the World Trade Center Tacoma‘s annual gala, a celebration of the importance of international trade that highlighted a handful of businesses and political leaders.
The Tacoma World Trade Center is part of the international network of 330 trade centers and the Pacific Northwest’s only full-service trade center.
News Tribune publisher David Zeeck moderated a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities of international trade with representatives from Grakon, a Des Moines-based commercial vehicle manufacturer; Access the USA, a Lacey-based company that arranges foreign investment in the U.S.; and Johnny’s Fine Foods, a Tacoma-based food seasoning producer. All agreed that language barriers and cultural misunderstandings are top challenges for American companies looking to expand outside the U.S.
Zeeck asked the panel for one piece of advice they’d have for companies ready to sell in foreign markets. Lisa Szybura, marketing director for Johnny’s Fine Foods, summed it up with two thoughts:
“Get to know your customer and how they do business. You hand someone in Korea your business card differently than you hand it in Mexico,” she said. Her other piece of advice: “Know which way traffic is coming before you step off the curb.”
The 19th annual presentation of the Globe Awards was held at the Hotel Murano pavilion. As we reported earlier this week, the winners are:
The Lifetime Achievement Award: Secretary of State Sam Reed, for his advocacy on international trade and relations for the State of Washington.
The 2012 G.F. Train International Business Commemorative Award: Congressman Norm Dicks, for his long-standing economic development leadership.
Exporter of the Year Globe Award: Boeing. Exports have now reached 80 percent of Boeing’s overall sales making the company Washington State’s number one exporter.
Importer of the Year Globe Award: Grakon, LLC for its 200 percent increase in imports of its commercial vehicle lighting systems during the past two years.
Service Provider of the Year Globe Award: Access the USA, LLC, for its success in generating $212 million in international investment into Washington State’s economy since 2009.
Emerging Business of the Year Globe Award: Johnny’s Fine Foods, for its recent successful international expansion. Exports of its spices and dressings now comprise 10 percent of its business.