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  • 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).

  • Thursday, December 05, 2019 9:25 AM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    This is Part II of the Global Career Bridge (GCB) report and features the host companies. 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). This group of amazing students spent the day touring 3 international businesses, networking with professionals in international business, asking thoughtful questions, and contemplating their own career trajectories.

    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

    The three generous host companies were DEMDACO, Design Resources Inc., and Scarbrough International, all of which know the value of workforce development activities and investing in their future talent pipeline. The first host of the day was DEMDACO, a wholesaler whose name comes from combining Demi & Dave with Company. Their purpose is “to pursue business the way it ought” and their mission is “to strive to Lift the Spirit.” They started as a wholesaler of gifts, but now they deal in a wide variety of home products and décor with a Scandinavian clean line design mixed with a farmhouse chic style. You’ll recognize their number 1 product that’s carried in all Hallmark stores: Willow Tree figurines. Other stores in their customer base include Barnes & Noble, independent gift shops, hospital gift shops, and the like.

    Next year, DEMDACO will transition to retail by opening their first retail location at the Legends. This store will be a research lab used for market research on consumer behavior to gain intelligence and increase DEMDACO’s branding. The plan is to keep the retail transition in the US only because it’s new to them.

    Because DEMDACO imports 93% of all their products from China, the tariff List 3 & List 4 will impact all of their products by the end of 2019. No one in the US produces their products, so they are faced with switching to importing from another country or raising prices. Both options have negative consequences since other countries have longer lead times and increasing prices causes order volume to go down. Furthermore, daily changes in tariffs has a ripple effect to many other departments. For instance, increases in prices have to be changed in the printed catalogs which can be out of date immediately after printing. Likewise, the supply chain department known as the “Heart of the Company” must change the lead times when sourcing from other countries.

    Jonathan Jones, Cultural Conversation Leader

    Christina Stevens, Director of Supply Chain

    Design Resources Inc. is a world class product development and sourcing company, importing custom-designed apparel and headwear. They’ve been in business close to 25 years and have 180 employees, 5 divisions, and 3 distribution companies (DRI Caps Direct, DRI Duck, and BCS Apparel). Products are marketed by their clients which include corporate accounts, major retailers, college bookstores, golf and resort brands. DRI differentiates itself from other companies by providing services for all stages of the product development and sourcing cycle, fully integrating creative development, merchandising, and operational needs.

    Anh Sirridge, VP of Global Procurement & Compliance

    Design Resources Inc. is C-TPAT validated (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) which gives their clients security, peace of mind, and faster import clearances. They operate under a workplace Code of Conduct in their factories and employ Independent International Monitors to sure they are compliant with all laws of each country and be a social asset to every community in which they operate. This includes social compliance such as no under-age workers and no forced labor or trafficked workers. They also work with an accredited third party testing lab to ensure compliance with materials.

    Also a member of C-TPAT, The Scarbrough Group of Companies, headquartered in Kansas City with local presence in every major port in the world, is a complete international and domestic supply chain service provider, offering U.S., Mexican, and Canadian Customs brokerage, Import & Export Transportation Solutions, Domestic brokerage and asset-based trucking, Warehouse fulfillment and distribution services, Trade Compliance & Supply Chain Consulting, Large Equipment and Project Cargo moves, as well as Parcel Audit Savings. In 2019, they have over 100 employees and are able to clear customs anywhere in the country. In fact, 55% of their import staff are licensed custom brokers. Since 1984, Scarbrough has continued to satisfy its clients by following its motto on a daily basis: “It is our job to make your job easier. 

    Alyson Schroer, Corporate Operations Manager

    Some of the interesting topics Scarbrough discussed during Global Career Bridge Day included the different commodities and clients it served, the regulatory compliance issues those companies face, and the fact it created a customized solution to many Midwest importers looking to save time and money in global transportation. For example, it is very difficult to export to Brazil. The export documentation and Brazilian Customs and regulations are extremely specific. Scarbrough is able to help clients comply with regulations in USA and outside of the USA. Scarbrough’s clients are made up of importers, exporters, distributors, wholesalers, manufactures and retailers.  These clients import and export goods and make up a several industries, including alcohol, firearms, plastics, automotive, household goods, toys and games, clothing, and more.  Kansas City is in the animal health corridor and Scarbrough handles a very large number of animal health imports and exports as well. Scarbrough is happy to still service its very first client since 1984, McCormick Distilling. Adam Hill, President & COO explained to the group that it’s easier to import firearms than to export them, and one of the strangest items they’ve imported was monkey brains for a university research lab. 

    Over 15 years ago, Scarbrough found a common pain in Kansas City and created a direct consolidation import program. This program allowed several Kansas City companies to share the cost of one full container, freeing up inventory, shortening transit time and lowering costs. Today, this program has grown significantly with including both import and export lanes around the world, direct to and from several locations in the United States.


    Kathy Shanks, Human Resources Director

    The next blog post (Part III) will feature the best advice from the hiring managers at these three companies on how to break into the international business field.


  • Tuesday, October 29, 2019 6:18 AM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    The 2nd Annual Global Career Bridge event took place on October 18, 2019 and drew students from 4 local universities (Park, University of Kansas, University of Missouri, and Benedictine College). This group of amazing students spent the day touring 3 international businesses, networking with professionals in international business, asking thoughtful questions, and contemplating their own career trajectories.

    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

    This will be a 3-part series focusing on the following aspects of the event:

    1. The college students
    2. The hosting companies
    3. The hiring managers’ best advice for students

    Out of the twelve students that attended, three of them granted interviews during the event. What is surprising about them is the variety of majors these students are pursuing, everything from accounting to political science, and the more obvious major of International Studies. What is not so surprising is that all three of these interviewees have traveled abroad either with family or through formal study abroad programs.

    First, is Sydney van Ophem (pronounced aupem) who is a Junior at the University of Kansas. 

    Sydney van Ophem, Double Major: Accounting & French

    Sydney started studying French in first grade and has done extensive international travel including France, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and the Baltic Seas. It has helped her to be fluent in French, but it doesn’t hurt that she has family in the Netherlands. Her goal is to relocate to Europe to work abroad in accounting or finance such as auditing or taxes, and eventually enter the C-level of a company.

    Extracurricular activities that have helped her to develop leadership skills include a sorority Vice President of Philanthropy and the Treasurer of the French Club. She wanted to attend the Global Career Bridge to meet employers and see how Kansas City companies operate their global business activities and how the trade wars are affecting their business.

    Next is Gabriel Truby who is a Senior at the University of Missouri and will graduate in December 2019.

    Gabriel “Gabe” Truby
    Major: International Studies, Minors: Geography, Spanish, & Business & a Certificate in Multicultural Studies

    Gabe’s college experience has been nonlinear in that he took a year of from his studies to work and further hone his career goals. After 2 years of studying at Mizzou, his mother was involved in car accident in Costa Rica where she lives and was hospitalized. So he decided to find a job and take some time to discover his interests and direction in his career. While working near the Kansas City Convention Center in downtown, he got inspired by the business people that convened for meetings there. He used his customer service skills to land a sales position with no prior experience. During this time, he developed his people skills and customer-centric focus.

    When he applied to Mizzou again, he changed his major to International Studies and dedicated himself to his studies. He became the New Member President in the Pi Sigma Epsilon fraternity and competed in their sales competition. Then he applied for the study abroad program and was accepted for a program in Spain and Germany. Since he had been studying Spanish, it was the perfect trip for him. The study trip included touring companies in Berlin and Barcelona.

    Gabriel eventually wants to visit India and Japan to get a different perspective on the way business is done and the cultural ideals that are not westernized. His career goals are focused on global trade as well finding a good work-life balance. Today’s event was an opportunity he didn’t want to miss because seizing opportunities is in his DNA, especially now that he’s in a job search mode.

    And last but not least, Joseph McKirahan who is a Senior at the University of Kansas and will graduate this December.


    Joseph McKirahan, Major: Political Science, Minor: History

    Joseph chose political science as his major because he likes how governments interact with each other, and knowing history is a key part of understanding those interactions. He was selected while in high school to attend Illinois Boys State and was elected as Mayor. The experience inspired him to pursue political science.

    Although he doesn’t plan to run for office, he aspires to become a lobbyist on Capitol Hill so that he can have an impact on industries that can only thrive when lawmakers consider the unintended consequences of regulations. He decided to attend today’s event to get an understanding of the business aspects of the economy, how companies operate, and how the political environment affects businesses. He learned that there are many differences between what he’s learned in school about supply chain logistics and how it actually operates in the real world.

    One particular college course on the European Union piqued his interest on international relations, especially the historical context of its formation and evolution over the years. He’s been able to travel with his family to several countries already including Germany, Poland, Austria, and the United Kingdom and loved experiences different cultures and see ancient architecture. He’d really like to visit southeast Asian cultures to experience the art and culture. As a Lord of the Rings fan, New Zealand is also on his bucket list. He plans to leverage is travel experiences in his current job search that he hopes to land by the new year.

    The next blog post will feature the three companies that hosted the students and the unique aspects of their global trade operations. If you would like to visit with any of these students about internships or job openings at your company, please contact Mary Odom at office@itcgkc.org.

  • Wednesday, October 02, 2019 7:00 PM | Mary Odom (Administrator)

    One of the signature ITC events of the year, INCOTERMS for AMERICANS, was held last Thursday September 26th at Kansas City’s landmark building, Union Station. INCOTERMS is such a critical and essential part of international trade that the event was sold out long before the day of the event. A diverse audience of lawyers, bankers, US Trade Representatives, freight forwarders & brokers, and of course, people from a wide range of industries experienced a once-in-a-decade expository presentation.

    The speaker was the renowned Frank Reynolds, who has been a member of the INCOTERMS drafting group for over 30 years, served thirteen terms on the U.S. Department of Commerce District Export Council, wrote or co-authored eighteen books on international trade topics, all the while operating his own export business. People traveled from near and far to attend Frank’s seminar, and one of our attendees has followed Frank’s INCOTERMS seminar for over 10 years and flew from Portland Oregon to see Frank in person.


    The day was filled with great information and vivid examples from small books to giant ocean yachts. Below are some highlights of the seminar content:

    • No major changes for the 2020 version
    • Total 11 codes broken down into 4 groups
      • E Group – Departure, place at Seller’s side
        • EXW
      • F Group – Main Carriage Unpaid, place at Seller’s side
        • FCA – Free Carrier
        • FAS – Free Alongside Ship
        • FOB – Free On Board
      • C Group – Main Carriage Paid, Place at Buyer’s side
        • CPT – Carriage Paid To
        • CIP – Carriage and Insurance Paid To
        • CFR – Cost and Freight
        • CIF – Cost Insurance and Freight
      • D Group – Arrival Contracts, place at Buyer’s side
          • DAP – Delivered at Place
          • DPU - Delivered at Place Unloaded
          • New term for 2020, formerly known as Delivered at Terminal
          • DDP – Delivered Duty Paid
    • INCOTERMS should always be accompanied by a geographic place
    • INCOTERMS are used exclusively in sales/purchase contracts, they are not law. Trading parties should have additional language to cover insurance, product specification and quality, delivery, payment arrangements, governing laws and regulations etc.
    • EXW – Minimum obligations for the seller, foreign buyers often use this but it has a lot of complications (liabilities of loading at seller’s place, origin country export policies etc.). FCA is a better term if the buyer wants more control of the shipment.
    • Major change for the layout of the book INCOTERMS 2020
      • 10 sections of A notes (Seller’s Obligations) and B notes (Buyer’s Obligations) are listed side by side for easy understanding (Page 21 to Page 133)
      • All 11 codes’ Buyer/Seller obligations are listed under each of the 10 categories for easy comparison (Page 135 to Page 182). This is practically helpful when buyer/seller is trying to determine which is the most favorite term to use
    • It is recommended that everyone to read through these notes rather than relying on simplified “Wall Charts”
    • For Domestic use, UCC has expanded FOB to include omni-transportation means
      • FOB Origin, Freight Collect (does not specify loading)
      • FOB Origin Car or other Vehicle, Freight Collect
      • FOB Origin, Freight Prepaid
      • FOB Destination, Freight Collect
      • FOB Destination, Freight Prepaid

    For the first time, the ICC’s 2020 Drafting Group opened up to include experts from Australia, China and Turkey as well as from Europe and the United States. Over the 2 ½ year revision process, over 2,000 suggestions were received from the 130+ ICC national committees and related organizations. The resulting 2020 version incorporates changes in both substance and presentation.

    Incoterms® 2020 rules will come into force on January 1, 2020.  It is the ninth Incoterms® revision since their inception in 1936. Professionals in the Kansas City region are ready for the new year.

    By Ruiping Ramboldt, ITC Secretary

  • Tuesday, February 19, 2019 8:04 AM | Jay Devers (Administrator)

    Hear ITC Alum and global scholar Tamara Dancheva make the case for democracy in greater social impact in this month's Pax Tecum Global Podcast.

    After her time in Kansas City at Rockhurst University and the ITC, Tamara studied at the London School of Economics, is Head of the Human Rights at Liberal International in London.

    https://www.paxtecumglobal.org/the-global-podcast

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