When we were kids, our parents sent us to camp to sharpen skills and interact with people we might otherwise not have had a chance to meet. As a grown-up, if you work for a leader who shares this mindset, conferences, seminars and opportunities for continued education and training become part of your business culture.
Servant leaders understand that access to information and to the people with specialized information gives their businesses an edge. This access increases opportunities to make strategic decisions that can save companies a lot of money and also create revenue opportunities. It is an invaluable opportunity to meet, trade business cards and build relationships with experts, consultants and industry colleagues whom you can feel comfortable calling when issues arise.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend the National Association of Foreign Trade Zones annual spring seminar in Charleston, S.C. My CEO is one of those leaders who gets it. He knew I'd meet dozens of foreign trade zone grantees, operators, consultants and government leaders who you can bet will become critical resources as trade zone activity in the nine-county Rochester region continues to accelerate.
Questions have been steadily trickling into Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc. and its International Business Council. These questions are from companies interested in zone benefits not just from Monroe County but from our most recent foreign trade zone grantee, Genesee County, as well as from the Ontario County Industrial Development Agency. The Ontario County IDA recently applied for grantee status with the ability to extend zone opportunities and potential savings to companies in Ontario and the five adjacent counties of Livingston, Wayne, Seneca, Yates and Steuben.
Our regional U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Board representative, Liz Whiteman, will be flying into Rochester from Washington, D.C., in mid-June to be one of 30 expert speakers presenting and meeting one-on-one with local business leaders at the annual IBC Upstate N.Y. Trade Conference & Expo at Rochester Institute of Technology.
The committee that developed this year's conference agenda took a "been there, done that, wish somebody told me this back then" attitude. The result is a daylong conference jam-packed with breakout sessions and speakers you'd be hard-pressed to find together at any other time. Here is a closer look at what the conference will offer.
Constellation Brands Inc. president and CEO Robert Sands will discuss the company's strategic bets on international markets and how those bets have created one of the world's leading alcoholic beverage companies.
Stephen Leach, foreign exchange economist at Citibank N.A., will take a look at the economic implications of political happenings in markets of interest and discuss where he thinks the global economy is headed.
Michael Zimmer, president of global document outsourcing at Xerox Corp., will join Richard Rosenbloom, CEO of Ambrell, and Michael Nuccitelli, CEO of Parlec Inc. and owner of Century Mold Co. Inc., in an opening panel discussion focused on their companies' successes in increasing revenues through globalization.
Nuccitelli is back home in Rochester after recent trips to China and Mexico, with a fresh perspective to share.
"This is a great opportunity to make our community aware of successes within our community, as well as to give companies the opportunity to network and hopefully add to Rochester's reputation as a major area of exports," he says.
One of his key messages to trade conference attendees will be: "Grow, or become irrelevant."
Rosenbloom says, "In the past, through my association with the IBC, I was able to network with people and companies who traveled the road of global expansion and learned along the way. Giving back what the IBC helped me obtain is my way of saying thank you."
His company, Ambrell, now exports nearly 55 percent of its induction heating systems to more than 50 countries.
Conference tracks, breakout sessions
In between the conference's opening, lunch and closing keynote presentations, attendees will have a chance to network and attend four of 14 breakout sessions. The sessions are divided into three tracks: "Early Exporters," "Experienced Exporters" and "Current Trade Issues."
Three people from Klein Steel Service Inc.-Deborah Kurvach, compliance manager; Michelle Westrich, controller; and Jon Kleinman, procurement manager-will present a breakout session on "First Steps Into International Business." A checklist with each step in the international business process will be included in the presentation, Kurvach says.
"If you have never imported or exported anything, what would you say if one of your customers asked you for help in this area? Would you say, 'Sorry, that's too hard. We won't help you'?" Kurvach says. "We had this experience when a customer asked us for help that required us to import and later export.
"We chose to help our customer and followed a very deliberate planning process. We want other small businesses to see it's not too hard. You can do it, and there is a lot of help in the Rochester area to make sure you do it right."
Other breakout sessions available in the "Early Exporters" track will include "Importing 101: An Overview of Incoterms" with Frank Reynolds, U.S. delegate for the Incoterms 2010 revision, "Ex-Im Bank Financing" and "Tools of the Trade."
Marilynne Locke, a conference presenter and director of international trade finance for Harris Corp.'s RF Communications unit, says smaller and middle-market companies that can't afford to retain special-function staff, such as trade finance, contract and international-tax experts, will benefit from both the seminar and the opportunity to network with experienced professionals.
Rochester native Dulce Zahniser, a presenter and managing director of Virginia-based Towpath Group International LLC, says companies may see going overseas as a daunting task, but "information can spark the pursuit of an international strategy."
"After this conference, (small and medium enterprises) will reaffirm that American markets are finite and there is a big buying world out there. About 95 percent of the available customers are outside the United States' borders. SMEs will be introduced to the tools that can help them grab these market opportunities."
"I think all types and sizes of businesses will benefit from attending the trade conference," says John Ward, a professor at RIT's Saunders College of Business and IBC trade conference committee member. "Most of the core learning is applicable across industries. Small businesses will benefit by getting some vital information that can help them begin to participate successfully in international markets, while large businesses will find many interesting sessions with information relevant to their needs."
For experienced exporters, breakout sessions include "Building Effective Distribution Channels," "Top 10 Mistakes Businesses Make in International Employment," "Tackling Trade-Secret Theft" and "Transfer Pricing and Export Control Reform: Update, Impact and Implications."
"Being up to speed on rapidly evolving export control reform is essential, as organizations of all sizes must adjust and be ready for the dramatic changes," says John Priecko, president and managing partner of Trade Compliance Solutions and a conference presenter.
There has been talk of export control reform for almost four years, notes Jason Waite, partner at Alston & Bird LLP of Washington, D.C., who will be Priecko's co-presenter.
"Now we finally know that real and lasting action will be taken," he says. "If you missed the last four years of deliberations on reform, it's OK. This session will summarize the reality of the regulatory changes you'll need to understand for the future."
Whether it is foreign trade zones, distribution channels, trade-secret theft, obtaining capital or export compliance that keeps you up at night, the IBC Upstate N.Y. Trade Conference & Expo may be just the conference to find the people with the solutions you've been searching for.
"I wish I knew how much information is out there from organizations and individuals who have already gained experience in working across borders," Ward says. "I know I made many mistakes that could have been avoided if I had reached out more to tap into others' experience."
While there may not be log cabins and sleeping bags, this camp for businesspeople is sure to provide important insights. Consider this your invitation to attend.
The IBC Upstate N.Y. Trade Conference & Expo will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, at RIT. For more information visit RochesterBiz.com/IBCEvents or call the IBC at (585) 530-6200.
Leah George is managing director of international trade at the International Business Council, an affiliate of Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc.5/31/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email email@example.com.