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  • Monday, September 28, 2020 8:26 AM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    Mrs. Samantha January has been a member of ITC since March of this year and decided to join for the networking opportunities and to get involved in her community while interacting with professionals in her field. Like some in the industry, Mrs. January has not traveled internationally often, and instead has done so domestically. Of all the places that she could go to internationally, Japan is at the top of the list. And thanks to being in quarantine, she has had plenty of time to plan her next trip.

    Currently, Mrs. January works as the Logistics and Compliance Coordinator for Essence of Australia. It is a position that she has been in since November of last year. She transitioned into the field of International Trade when she began a position as International Supply Chain Analyst for Dean and Deluca. In her words, “I fell in love with the challenges it presented and working with people all over the world. No day is like any other, and I was able to put some of my Anthropology degree to use!” Some of the goals that she currently has for her career include wanting to continue to work for companies that have remarkable workplace culture and to be continue to cultivate knowledge in her role and use that expertise to drive the business forward.

    Fun Facts & Advice:

    Name three people (dead or alive) that you would invite to dinner:
    Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    What was the last book you read?
    The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes and curr
    ently reading An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz. She has also been reading Moby Dick on and off for 3 years and her goal for 2020 is to finish the book.

    Who inspires you?
    My biggest inspiration comes from my daughter. Becoming a woman that she looks up to and is encouraged by is my utmost goal. I also find inspiration in ambitious and powerful women. I am fascinated by the great thinkers and doers, past and present. I love reading their stories about how they overcame great odds to change the world.

    What advice would you give someone who wants to get into International Trade/International Business?
    Cultivating your love of learning is instrumental to longevity. Understand and respect cultural differences and remain flexible in workflow expectations.

    What is something unique about you that is generally not known?
    I am a novice interior decorator! My husband and I are renovating an outdated home from top to bottom. Juggling home renovations, during a global pandemic at home full time with a toddler, has been interesting to say the least!

  • Tuesday, September 01, 2020 2:56 PM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    Ona Coker has been a member of the ITC for 2 years and decided to join in order to gain a better network of professionals within the international trade industry in Kansas City, as well as a better understanding of the events and activities in International Trade happening in Kansas City. Like many in this industry, Mr. Coker has traveled quite a bit, including noteworthy countries such as England, France, China, Nigeria, Mexico, and Canada. Of all these places, his favorite has by far been Shanghai, China. In his words, “The reality of the city far exceeded my expectations. My experience traveling there further bolstered my philosophy that there is so much learning that can be done when you travel, as long as you keep an open mind.”

    Currently, Mr. Coker leads the Export Services/Fulfillment team at Dairy Farmers of America in executing global trade operations. His current position is Assistant Director of Export Fulfillment, and he has been with the organization for 5 years in this capacity. He has always had a passion for international business and trade and is motivated by the opportunities to facilitate trade and global business across cultures and countries. After graduating with a degree in International Trade and a minor in French, Mr. Coker worked with Expeditors International of Washington as a broker. During the 7 years that he spent at Expeditors International, Mr. Coker worked concurrently in a consulting capacity with a U.S. based company to help them penetrate the West African market with their product. He helped them to source their product from China at a competitive rate and then worked to import the product into Nigeria where it was distributed locally. Shortly after, he got the opportunity to work as a multinational company under the Koch umbrella, called INVISTA. There, he worked as a Global Customer Service leader and Trade Compliance SME with dotted line responsibilities to teams in Latin America, Asia, and Europe. Through the skills acquired at this organization, he was led to an opportunity with Dairy Farmers of America and his current post. Some of the goals that he has for his career include becoming an influencer and thought leader, as well as a catalyst to bring about change in the global trade industry, specifically within the realm of global digitalization.

    Fun Facts

    Three people (dead or alive) that you would invite to dinner: 
    Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela, and Sam Walton

    The last book you read: 
    Start with Why by Simon Sinek, and currently reading Good to Great by Jim Collins.

    Who inspires you? 
    My mother has been my biggest inspiration. From an early age, I have seen her take the opportunity to further educate and improve on herself time and time again. This philosophy has been embedded in me from such a young age and became one of my core principles. One must always look for the opportunity to improve one’s self in every facet of one’s life.

    What advice would you give someone who wants to get into international business/ international trade? 
    I would say be open. Never be rigid in your thinking and how you deal with people, especially in the global arena. Understand that most people in the world are different from you. Their cultures are different, and you have to be able to be ‘fluid’ enough to cope when you deal in those circumstances.

    Something unique about you that is generally not known? 
    I love farming. I have engaged in several farm projects to help improve agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. Mechanized Farming/Sustainable Agriculture done right will have a big impact on Africa.

  • Tuesday, September 01, 2020 2:51 PM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    Narbeli Galindo, a dedicated member of the International Trade Council, has begun a new chapter in her career. She went from leading the Kansas City's global trade efforts under the Economic Development Council for the last five years to teaching at Baker University as the William Everett and Mary Ellen Mealman Endowed Chair of Business Leadership and Innovation. In addition to teaching international trade and business courses at the school, Galindo will help develop courses in entrepreneurship, according to a release.

    Galindo’s interest in international relations goes back to her childhood. The daughter of a United Nations diplomat, she lived in Geneva, Switzerland from age 10 through high school. She came to the Kansas City area to pursue a job in international marketing at Sprint. As of August 1st, Galindo will actively engage with the Greater Kansas City business community in meaningful ways that promote the interests of students, the Department, and the University, as well as to teach a couple of courses in International Trade and Introduction to International Business. She will also lead the Entrepreneurship Department helping to demonstrate the importance of business leadership and innovation; coordinating with the University’s Development Office in producing an annual event that will celebrate business leadership and innovation with awards given to leaders in the business community and students; and developing relationships with potential donors that will advance the Department’s mission and academic reputation. Baker ranks No. 3 on the Business Journal’s list of area MBA programs, with local enrollment of 274 last fall and is the oldest university in Kansas.

    In addition to working for Baker University, Galindo will also be running her own Global Expansion Consulting firm working with various local and international businesses and organizations to expand their global reach and promote EB5 investment projects.

  • Tuesday, April 14, 2020 7:52 PM | Mary Odom (Administrator)


    In an interview with Tony Harrelson, Domestic Transportation Manager at Scarbrough International, more questions than answers seems to be the new normal. Tony provides his insights below.

    From your perspective, how is the trucking industry handling the COVID-19 crisis?

    I can understand why no one has been able to answer the question. It is truly a challenging time. I see and hear conflicting information each day. For example, I talked to one of my truck load carriers last week, and Monday and Tuesday he moved nothing; then Wednesday to Friday he moved enough to make his weekly average. Then I talked to him again yesterday, and he has already made his weekly average in one day.

    Large Domestic Brokerage companies like Echo Global and TQL are laying off and furloughing employees.  

    What are you experiencing at Scarbrough Freight?

    • LTL wise, no real delays, outside of deliveries to Amazon DCs, if the product is not considered “essential”.
    • LTL carriers are making deliveries on time. The only exception is if the delivery is in an area that is hit hard by COVID (New York) they will not deliver until they confirm the business is open. So, there could be an extra day of transit while the terminal schedules a delivery appointment.
    • I have spoken to and received emails from carriers that service the airports or CFS locations in California and NY/NJ area, and they are seeing a reduction in freight. One carrier in NY/NJ area only has about 2-3 drivers coming in each day, and he rotates his driver everyday so he can have some work for each driver.

    What are seeing industry wide?

    • At the start of COVID, there was a sharp increase in the total number of shipments and now it has dropped off sharply and is at or just below pre-COVID levels. Shippers, that are not essential and the auto industry, have scaled back. Dedicated asset-based carriers that have dedicated lanes now have fewer lanes, and they may not be in the same lanes they normally run, so capacity is displaced.
      • For example, XYZ trucking normally does 10 loads from KC to Philadelphia. Now there are only 2 loads, and the other drivers are going in different directions and not ending up in the normal locations, so companies are trying to get drivers back into position.
    • Spot rates are coming down in most markets.
    • Read today where LA and Ontario, CA are starting to see imports arriving and freight is coming into the warehouses, and this will cause the capacity to starting firm up but, currently still a little below pre-COVID levels.

    What is your concern for the near future?

    My concern is what will happen to capacity when the produce season starts up. Will it coincide with companies coming back online after being down for COVID? Then we could have a large swing back in the other direction from a loose market to a tight market.

    Tony Harrelson, CTB
    Domestic Transportation Manager
    Scarbrough Transportation

  • Thursday, April 09, 2020 3:12 PM | Mary Odom (Administrator)


    New resources have emerged in the spirit of international cooperation to track the status of ports worldwide. This article compiles several of these resources for the Kansas City international trade community.

    1. World Ports Sustainability Program Task Force has established the World Ports COVID19 Informational Portal. The portal features latest industry updates based on a daily screening of reports from individual ports, port associations, shipping organizations, governments, international regulators and specialized news outlets.

    2. Hellmann Worldwide Logistics has created a portal with daily updates to all the airfreight, seafreight, road & rail, and contract logistics for all countries in which they operate. The portal includes 80 countries. 

    3. Wilhemsen Group, ship agents have created an online map showing port-related regulations and restrictions. 

    4. North P&I Club provides a daily country update on its website of port-related measures that are impacting shipping. Their data feeds into a live COVID-19 map created by the V. Group showing restrictions by country. 

    5. BIMCO, the global association of shipowners, operators, managers, brokers and agents, you will also find latest information on measures taken by various countries to combat the COVID-19 outbreak that could impact sea transport. 

    6. MH&L, Material Handling & Logistics created a slide show of COVID-19 Transportation Rules for US Trading Partners. 

    Jay Devers, ITC Board Member
    Managing Partner
    Bestway International / Hellmann Worldwide Logistics


  • Thursday, April 02, 2020 8:43 AM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    The last 4th Friday Breakfast event hosted by ITC on February 28, 2020 was about the much discussed and confusing USMCA, United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, also known as “the new NAFTA”.

    If you ever wondered how “the single worst deal ever approved” turned into the “largest”, “most significant”, “modern” and “balanced” trade agreement, you are not alone. This event attracted professionals from various local businesses as well as the academic sector and government agencies. Representatives from the Department of Commerce, Economic Development Council, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, KS Foreign Trade Zone, Consulate of Mexico, University of Kansas, Benedictine College, as well as local international lawyers, freight forwarders, manufacturers and traders gathered to learn more about this new trade deal.

    Tiffany Melvin, JD. President of North American Strategy for Competitiveness (NASCO), presented a session to explain USCMA beyond borders and politics. Here are some key take-aways:

    • USMCA keeps intact 90 percent of the old NAFTA, but modernizes the governance of digital trade; though one could argue USCMA is truly NAFTA 2.0 or NAFTA 0.8.
    • Most people don’t realize that with NAFTA being in place for the past 15 years, 25 cents of every dollar of goods that are imported from Canada to the US is actually “Made in USA” content, and the number for Mexico is as high as 40 cents of every dollar.
    • USMCA could be put into force as early as July, but there is still much work to be done, and it could be pushed back.
    • Changes to NAFTA in USMCA
      • Features new auto manufacturing regulation (might negatively impact economy)
        • RVA was increased from 62.5% to 75% (new methodology)
        • 40% labor value content to be produced by workers with minimum $16/hr pay
        • 70% steel & aluminum need to originate within North America
        • Core Auto parts: 75% RVC in average (value)
        • 5-year transition
      • Opens Canada’s dairy market to U.S. farmers
      • Stronger enforcement and improved dispute resolution system
      • Customs and Trade Facilitation
        • Reduced need of NAFTA Certification of Origin (spreadsheets acceptable)
        • Focus on Technology
        • No more preferred brokers at ports of entry
        • Transparency in Customs Audits
      • Modernizes the governance of digital trade
      • High Standard for environmental rules – clear and enforceable
      • Regulates Mexico trucks crossing the U.S. boarder
      • Offers more protection for patents & trademarks

    The lifespan of the agreement is 16 years and its effectiveness will be reviewed after 6 years.  North American companies need to comply with the agreement on day-to-day basis, yet the uniform regulations are still being developed. It is important for the companies to work with lawyers and software companies to develop tracking mechanism to prove compliance and measure the effectiveness of USMCA.

    Ruiping Ramboldt, ITC Secretary
    Director of Global Sourcing & Logistics
    Staples Promotional Products

  • Tuesday, March 31, 2020 11:33 AM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    Beyond cash, there are 3 main ways a company can protect their Accounts Receivable in this environment: Trade Credit Insurance, Letter of Credit, or Non-Recourse Factoring.   

    Trade Credit Insurance is intended to ensure that any invoice you send out to a customer will be paid, even if the customer defaults on the payment, or enters bankruptcy. Depending on your policy, you may be able to insure a single large customer, segment of export only buyers, or your entire accounts receivable portfolio (domestic customers can also be included).  The way that export insurance works is simple. If you deliver a shipment, goods, or services to a customer, and they do not pay due to bankruptcy or simply do not have the ability to pay, your insurance company will compensate you, up to the limits set by your policy.  Transactions over a certain value must be approved by your insurer, via credit checks to verify the legitimacy of a buyer.  In today's environment this 3rd party extension of your credit department can be a valuable tool.

    An export Letter of Credit (LOC) is another very popular way to safeguard your cash flow and ensure that you are paid by a buyer when your goods or services are delivered. Unlike Trade Credit Insurance, export letters of credit are issued by banks.  A letter of credit is, essentially, a commitment by a bank to pay your company (the exporter), on behalf of the foreign buyer (the importer). When properly drafted, a typical letter of credit is an extremely secure document.  Once issued, the LOC will be “called” as soon as your credit terms are met. For example, if your goods are delivered on “Net 30” terms, and must be paid for 30 days after delivery, the issuing bank will draw and send the funds to you exactly 30 days after the delivery of goods. This ensures that you receive payment in a timely manner.

    A Non-Recourse Factor will purchase your Accounts Receivable for a discounted amount of the face of the invoice.  These discounts can be based on a variety of considerations including the credit worthiness of the customer.  Once purchased, the Factoring company will assume all risk of non-payment if they are using a Non-Recourse contract (Recourse contracts will make the client pay back any un-collected debt).  

    Which option is best for you?  When considering the ways to mitigate the risk of export trade take into consideration cost, administrative responsibilities, customer relationships, and the ability to cover the risk needed.

    David Clark, ITC Board Member
    Vice President, Trade Credit and Political Risk Insurance
    ARI Global, Inc. 


  • Thursday, March 26, 2020 5:07 PM | Mary Odom (Administrator)


    Navigating the volatility of international trade during the COVID-19 crisis will require intentionally confronting the opportunities and carefully planning your recovery strategy. Advice from Jay Devers, an ITC Board Member, for SME’s in the Kansas City area on several key points were compiled from the Kansas Global Trade Services Roundup website.

    1. Expect severe and ongoing volatility. “Companies can expect massive volatility in global freight and logistics. The trade lanes are highly interdependent and respond differently to different types of disruptions. For example, the transpacific ocean freight trades lanes are starting to return to normal. But, just as quickly, air freight lanes to and from parts of Europe are completely haywire right now due to the travel bans changing the amount of capacity that is available. The nature and direction of your freight will influence the challenges you have ahead.”

    2.  Stay current on global operations for various countries by monitoring Hellmann Worldwide’s “Corona Crisis – Global Operations” portal where updates are posted frequently on airfreight, seafreight, road & rail, and contract logistics.

    3. Embrace  international opportunities instead of pulling away. “COVID-19 has exposed many organizations who had become complacent in the bustling international trade environment of the last 10 years. Compared to this global pandemic, the issues of late have been mostly trivial and relatively simple to mitigate. Take steps not to be in that category of exposed company.” 

    4. Proactively communicate and build relationships with existing/new global partners. “Place extra emphasis on communicating with your customer.  You are important to them and odds are that they are have similar thoughts, concerns, meetings, and emails.” 

    5. Be intentional about improving your company and preparing now for future global opportunities. “Most agree there will be a bounce back, probably this year, as soon as next month in certain categories. Where do you stand compared to your competition when that happens? What has the volatility done to your competitors and your service providers? What have you learned to make yourself and your company more valuable through all these trials?”

    By Jay Devers, ITC Board Member
    Managing Partner
    Bestway International / Hellmann Worldwide Logistics

  • Tuesday, March 24, 2020 12:54 PM | Mary Odom (Administrator)


    The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering businesses in designated states and territories low interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). By the authority of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplement Appropriations Act, as of March 23, 2020, all counties in the states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa have been approved as eligible for disaster loan assistance. 

    SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans are working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period.  The loans can go up to $2 million and will offer extended repayment terms up to 30 years.  Companies will have till December 21, 2020 to apply.

    The application process is online.  The best place to start to see if your business is eligible, begin your application or check the status of the application is https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela .   Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339.

    By Larry Cresswell, ITC Advisory Board Member
    Export Finance Manager
    Office of International Trade
    U.S. Small Business Administration

  • Thursday, December 19, 2019 10:25 AM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    This is Part III of the 2nd Annual Global Career Bridge report and focuses on the best advice from the hiring managers at the three host companies on how to break into the international business field. As a recap, the 3 host companies were Scarbrough International, Design Resources Inc., and DEMDACO. Students met with top executives at each company, and no question was off limits.

    The President & COO of The Scarbrough Group of Companies, Adam Hill actually started as an intern and moved up through the ranks to the top position. His advice to students who are about to graduate is “Be yourself in an interview.” An authentic interview gives candidates a better shot at finding a great cultural fit with a company. Another employee at Scarbrough started as the receptionist over a decade ago. Alyson Schroer was promoted from receptionist to various positions and is now the Corporate Operations Manager and a licensed customs broker.

    In order to obtain a customs broker’s license, a candidate needs the perseverance of a saint because the pass rate of the exam is only 15%. Most candidates study for 6 months, pay approximately $1300, and sit for the 4-hour exam. At Scarbrough, employees receive reimbursement for the exam cost as well as a raise when they pass the test. In addition to this license, freight forwarder employees should also obtain the Certified Customs Specialist designation and/or the Certified Exports Specialist designation from NCBFFA which is the National Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association. Both designations require at least one year of experience in international trade to be eligible.

    Kathy Shanks, Human Resources Director

    Kathy Shanks is the Vice President of Human Resources at Scarbrough and has worked there for 21 years. Employees that work at the company for at least 10 years earn their very own reserved parking spot. Another perk is the pet-friendly office. Adam Hill introduced the students to his dog, Ella who follows him around the office on occasion.

    Scarbrough offers internships in operations in other areas. These are paid internships for all three semesters (fall, spring, and summer). Qualities they look for in employees are:

    • Customer service focus using a one-stop centralized service model
    • Genuine person who is not hung up on titles
    • Integrity, trustworthy
    • Be able to own a mistake and accept criticism
    • Organized
    • Proactive
    • Aggressive but tactful
    • Positive energy & enthusiasm

    Students interested in internships should contact Alyson Schroer via email. (acshroer@scarbrough-intl.com)

    At Design Resources Inc., students met with Alisha Davis, Human Resources Director who provided them with job descriptions of five entry-level positions for college graduates:

    • Account Services Representative
    • Licensing Administrator
    • Assistant Merchandiser
    • Compliance Coordinator
    • Import/Freight Coordinator

    Although internships are not standard at DRI, there are entry-level openings for college graduates that students can apply for when they are close to graduation. Ms. Davis encourages students to ask engaging questions of the interviewer (except questions about promotional opportunities). Ask questions about the company culture to see if the company supports what the student values. Research the company before the interview so that you know something about the general business lines and specific product lines if possible.


    Employees at DRI shared their excitement about Corporate Challenge which is an annual Olympic-type sporting event that allows companies throughout Kansas City to interact with each other through a variety of competitive and non-competitive activities. Their philosophy is to promote employee fitness and recreation through such activities as softball, volleyball, swimming, running, darts, horseshoes, and fishing. The 2019 season involved over 240 companies in the Kansas City Metro.

    Participating in Corporate Challenge has been a highlight for several employees and contributed to a positive, healthy company culture. “DRI is infused with the most encouraging, energetic, and positive people I have ever met. I couldn’t ask for a more family-friendly environment to share my skills and creativity,” said Toia, an Import Assistant. Anh Sirridge, the Vice President of Global Procurement & Compliance said, “The variety of activities is one of the things I appreciate most about my job.” And finally, Danielle, a Sales Administrator says “I think the #1 reason people love to work at DRI is the culture. When you pair amazing opportunities and incredible talent with a company culture that inspires a positive outlook, you can’t help but whistle while you work.”

    Finally, DEMDACO, located in Leawood, Kansas offered great advice that will work for any college student. The Cultural Conversation Leader, Jonathan Jones and the Director of Supply Chain, Christina Stevens explained a very important advantage that college students have called “The Golden Ticket.” This refers to the open door that students have into any company of their choosing for an informational interview. They recommend making a list of the top companies that students are targeting for future employment, and call them to set up an in person visit. Having the status of a student is the Golden Ticket to meet hiring managers, executives, and inside employees who can help you successfully navigate their hiring process and understand the company culture. This open door closes as soon as you graduate, so you must set up these in-person visits while still a student.

    Christina Stevens, Director of Supply Chain

    DEMDACO offers internships in their supply chain department. Students will work on eliminating waste in the supply chain inventory management system. Interested students should contact Jonathan Jones (jonathan.jones@demdaco.com) and include a current resume.

    All of the host companies recommended using LinkedIn to research companies, connect with insiders at target companies, and find job openings. Since Kansas City is a tier two city, students with 500 personal connections on LinkedIn can actually reach any target company through introductions from their network. Make sure your profile is fully developed and that you are sending connection invitations to all of the professionals that you meet in your informational interviews.

    The GCB event took place on October 18, 2019 and drew students from 4 local universities (Park, University of Kansas, University of Missouri, and Benedictine College).

    Left to right: Mary Odom, Joseph McKirahan, Gustavo Fernandez Agreda, Connor Riley, Gabriel Truby, Hans Peter, Claire Westra, Alyson Schroer, Sydney van Ophem, Reghan Callahan, Kevin McGraw, Nhan Nguyen, Stefanie Rettenbacher, and Ruiping Ramboldt

    ITC would like to thank Design Resources, Inc., Scarbrough International, and DEMDACO for supporting the Global Career Bridge and for investing in the talent pipeline in the Kansas City region. ITC holds the Global Career Bridge every year as a workforce development initiative that connects the region’s trade companies and our academic institutional members. If you would like your company to be considered as a host for the 2020 event, please contact ITC President Alyson Schroer (aschroer@scarbrough-intl.com).

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