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Three Companies Invest in the Region’s Future Talent Pipeline (Global Career Bridge Part II)

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.


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