Ray Bowman recognizes the importance of international trade to local businesses. And as the new executive director of the Oxnard-based California Central Coast World Trade Center, he intends to ensure that area businesses make the most of their foreign opportunities.
"I've spent my career helping companies and there were very few that I couldn't help either to develop new international business or to be more effective in what they were already doing," he said. "There are a lot of huge businesses in the area like Amgen and Patagonia. One of the key issues will be helping local companies have the best competitive advantages possible."
Bowman took over the top position at the trade center two weeks ago, following a 12-year-career providing import and export consulting to clients such as Toyota Motor Co. and Allied Signal Inc.
In addition to lending his own experience to the trade center, Bowman said he plans to get the center's 110 members to network among themselves, taking advantage of each other's varied backgrounds.
"I'm going to try to broaden the base of expertise at the center. I want to be able to offer a lot of technical advice," he said. "One of my visions for the trade center is for people to be able to call us for all of their questions instead of making 20 or 30 different calls."
Bowman said there are very few businesses, large or small, that couldn't benefit from some specialized assistance when it comes to international dealings.
"Businesses have questions on banking and finance, letters of credit, qualifying for NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement], figuring out what NAFTA is, finding a market overseas," he said. "International business is always changing, relationships between countries change, customs laws always change."
Bowman said he plans to increase the number of courses and seminars offered by the trade center. On Dec. 6, the center is scheduled to bring in two consultants from a Toronto brokerage company to discuss how to most effectively export goods to Canada.
"We have a very large potential constituency here," said Bowman. "There are small businesses that need our help planning and getting started, and there are larger businesses that are going to need our help on current issues."