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Inaugural Mid-America Trade Summit Honors ITC at SIUE Clients

December 18, 2018, 10:35 AMITC-Client-Recognition
The International Trade Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (ITC at SIUE) is celebrating the success of its clients Sev-Rend High Performance Packaging and Smart Controls LLC, both of which were honored as successful exporters during the inaugural Mid-America Trade Summit held Nov. 14-15 at the University of Missouri.

The event drew approximately 90 exporters, trade assistance providers, trade professionals, educators and students from six states. It was hosted by the MU International Trade Center, in conjunction with the Trulaske College of Business and the Illinois SBDC/ITC network.

“The trade summit provided an outstanding opportunity for small businesses, service providers, consultants, faculty and students from across Mid-America to network with business leaders and successful exporters, as well as expand their knowledge of topics related to international trade,” said ITC at SIUE Director Silvia Torres Bowman.

A focal point of the event was the recognition of 12 successful exporters from across the Mid-America states. Among the honorees were Collinsville-based Sev-Rend High-Performance Packing and Fairview Heights-based Smart Controls LLC representing Illinois and the Southwestern region. Both were nominated by the ITC at SIUE.

“Sev-Rend has taken great steps as a company in the past several years to emphasize and improve our business exposure within Mexico and Central America,” said Sev-Rend Vice President of Sales and Marketing Tony O’Driscoll. “Almost everyone in our organization has had some hand in our success at exporting. To have that recognized by the state of Illinois is a real credit to our team and validation of our efforts.”

O’Driscoll emphasizes the positive impact the ITC at SIUE and the state have had on Sev-Rend’s success, including offering support surrounding newly imposed tariffs that helped the company leverage its resources for competitive advantages.

“None of our export success would have been possible without the vision of our owner, Robert Williams, and general manager, Greg Petermeyer,” O’Driscoll noted. “They have put Sev-Rend on a path to accelerate growth by recognizing the need to expand beyond the U.S.”

“The state of Illinois and the ITC have also been key to our success,” he added. “Their support has introduced us to ongoing business partners and helped Sev-Rend gain brand recognition beyond our Mexican growth target. With their support, we’ve gained business relationships in Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica.”

According to President and CEO of Smart Controls LLC David Kniepkamp, attending the Mid-America Trade Summit was a “game changing experience.”

“As a small business, Smart Controls uses the expertise of many to conduct international marketing, sales and trade,” Kniepkamp said. “Having focused attention on our efforts in the presence of so many prestigious companies was humbling. The summit allowed insight, and sharing of efforts and experiences with others directly involved with international trade.”

Kniepkamp notes perseverance has been key to Smart Controls’ success.

“The ITC at SIUE has been a flagship for Smart Controls, with support and direction of best practices to understand and work in the global market,” he said. “The knowledge obtained has served to improve Smart Controls’ ability to efficiently conduct international trade.”

“Both Tony and David delivered insightful presentations, sharing best practices and lessons learned from years of experience in selling products around the world,” Torres Bowman said. “Their inspiring stories kept the audience engaged. It was a great pleasure to have them participate and contribute to the summit.”

The Mid-America Trade Summit also featured keynote presenter Shawn Askinosie, founder of Askinosie Chocolate in Springfield, Mo. His topic was “Finding Meaningful Work in Today’s Global Economy.”

Additionally, representatives from Boeing HorizonX, Black & Veatch and the Trulaske College of Business shared insights and discussed emerging topics linked to “Global Technology and Innovation Trends.”

The SIUE School of Business’s Internship Coordinator Amanda Russell attended the event’s networking reception.

“Attending the trade summit networking reception provided a great advantage to increase the School of Business’s profile amongst our small businesses and service providers in the region,” said Russell. “Connecting with these business partners allows us to develop more internship and full-time employment opportunities for our students.”

“By partnering with the ITC, School of Business students have opportunities to cultivate professional development relationships with global companies right here in southern Illinois,” Russell added.

The International Trade Center at SIUE serves entrepreneurs and small businesses in southern Illinois by providing individualized, no-cost export consultation, identification of foreign buyers, agents and/or distributors through trade leads, international market analysis and more.

The ITC is funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as a service to the region’s entrepreneurial and business community. It has a longtime partnership with the Illinois Office of Trade and Investment (OTI), which maintains a full-time staff of both foreign and domestic-based international trade and marketing experts. OTI also manages 6 foreign trade offices located in Belgium, Japan, Mexico, Canada, China and Israel.

As a key member of the Illinois SBDC Network, the International Trade Center delivers these important services to its clients while supporting the goals and objectives of both the SIUE School of Business and the University at large.

Photo: (L-R) CEO of Smart Controls LLC David Kniepkamp, ITC at SIUE Director Silvia Torres Bowman and Sev-Rend Vice President of Sales and Marketing Tony O’Driscoll.

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The Illinois SBDC International Trade Center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville as a service to Illinois small businesses

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