Globe Awards: Tacoma celebrates international trade

Editor’s Note: Dana Greenlee’s technology column, which normally appears on Friday, has been unceremoniously bumped for coverage of the Globe Awards. Her column will return next Friday.

Tacoma businesses were honored Thursday night for their role in promoting international trade, as the World Trade Center Tacoma held its tenth annual Globe Awards Dinner at the Tacoma Convention Center at the Sheraton.

Representatives from Asia, Africa, Europe and even Afghanistan – which is in the process of establishing a World Trade Center in Kabul – joined members of the U.S. Congress, county and city officials and business leaders at the largest international trade event in Tacoma.

“This is the highlight of the year for us,” said Andreas Udbye, World Trade Center Tacoma executive director, during opening remarks.

The big winners of the evening were the Port of Tacoma, Tacoma Guitar Company Inc. and Auto Warehousing Company, recipients of the Globe Award, Marco Polo Award and George Francis Train Award International Business Commemorative, respectively.

The prestigious Globe Award was presented by James Washam, president of the South Puget Sound District of KeyBank, to Dick Marzano, president of the Port of Tacoma Commission.

The Port of Tacoma was honored for its major leadership role in the economic development of the region.

A gateway for international trade, the Port of Tacoma is the sixth largest container port in North America.

Each year, more than $19 billion of international trade and $3 billion of Alaska trade, move through the Port of Tacoma.

The Marco Polo Award, which recognizes a small or medium-sized business for success in international trade, was presented by Kelly Haughton, strategic director of Russell Indexes, to Tacoma Guitar Company President Ferdinand Royce.

Founded just seven years ago, Tacoma Guitar Company (Tacoma Guitars) has since become one of the leading guitar manufacturers in the United States.

The company is estimated to be the third-largest manufacturer of acoustic guitars in the nation.

More than 450 active U.S. dealers, 26 Canadian dealers and 25 international distributors carry its products.

Professional artists that use the “Tacoma” brand include Peter Frampton and the Dixie Chicks. (In fact, Tacoma Guitars donated a guitar autographed by Frampton to the event’s silent auction.)

Upon coming to the stage to accept the award, a modest Boyce praised the company’s 96 employees for the success Tacoma Guitars has enjoyed in its short history.

President and CEO of Auto Warehousing Company Steve Seher accepted the George Francis Train Commemorative from David Graybill, president and CEO of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber.

Tacoma-based Auto Warehousing is the largest auto processing company in the country, with 28 facilities and 1,000 employees throughout the U.S.

The company handles nearly 3.3 million automobiles annually, with the Tacoma operation projected to have handled approximately 170,000 vehicles last year.

Auto Warehousing’s latest venture Auto Transportacion Logistica, a joint endeavor with Transportacion Maritima Mexicana, in Mexico, designed to grow the business throughout Central and South America.

During his acceptance speech, Seher hinted at even further growth of the company in the near future.

The continued success of the Globe Awards shows the community recognizes the importance of international trade, said Linda Lee, chair of the Board of Directors of the World Trade Center Tacoma.

She pointed out that when the first Globe Awards Dinner was held 10 years ago, it drew a crowd of about 200, compared with the 500 who were present at this year’s banquet.

“It has become the trade event of the South Sound,” she said.

Adam Smith, representative of the 9th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, echoed the importance of international trade to the city, the region and the state, during his keynote introduction of guest speaker John Warner, former senior vice president and chief administrative officer of the Boeing Company.

“We really need to stay focused on those issues,” Smith said, referring to the international economy and access to those markets.

“Engagement is critical,” he said. “We cannot cut ourselves off from the rest of the world.”

“We must rebuild support for world trade,” Warner said, adding the stagnant economy will rebound and that Washington state must be ready to capitalize on that moment.

The state can do that by promoting education, having unified leadership behind a vision, acting like a global center by inviting more foreign business leaders to the area, a regional view and all leaders of various segments of a community working from the “same page.”

Commenting on Boeing’s move of its global headquarters from Seattle to Chicago, Warner said it was not because of a bad business climate in Washington, but an internal decision for future growth of the company.

“It has widely been misunderstood why Boeing moved its headquarters,” he said.

The evening’s festivities ended with Udbye saying, “Let’s have a good 2003, a prosperous 2003.”