Each Member and Associate has special expertise in international trade and is dedicated to helping businesses in our state to begin and expand their global sales.
Mr. Ortiz helps companies with their International Business/Exporting, Cyber Security and Technology Commercialization/Acquisition needs and training. He teaches the ArDEC’s various export-related classes as well as the AEDC’s MEP ExporTech training program. He is a Certified Global Business Professional as well as a U.S. Department of Commerce Certified Export and Trade Counselor and is fluent in Spanish.
Keith Smith Company is the leading independent producer of broiler hatching eggs and day-old chicks in North America, with operations in Arkansas, Texas, and Mexico. Mr. Smith is bilingual and has lived and worked in Central America. As VP of Sales, he leads the company to excel in solving problems, meeting difficult challenges and serving clients to create mutual success.
In his current role, Mr. Desai oversees nearly all of the company’s purchasing decisions – including $500 million in annual purchasing requirements – as well as inbound and outbound logistics. His leadership has helped gain Welspun the reputation of delivering products before time and above quality. From Section 232 duties to transportation challenges, Mr. Desai guides Welspun through seamless transitions.
Mr. King serves Grapette International by developing and maintaining their customer base for soft-drink flavors in China and Southeast Asia. He is their primary liaison with freight forwarders and ocean carriers in booking and arranging export shipments to Asia, the Caribbean, South and Central America. He has served as Treasurer of ArDEC since January 2020.
In this role, Mr. Aardappel serves the state of Arkansas as the U. S. Government’s premier export promotion agency. He oversees the day-to-day operations of the U.S. Commercial Service’s clients in Arkansas and works closely with ITA staff in the U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide to help Arkansas businesses find partners.
Mrs. Whitman formerly worked for Global Ties Arkansas, a branch of the U.S. Department of State. She supports the work of the Members and Associates, keeping everyone informed through emails and social media postings. She also maintains the ArDEC website, as well as producing our webinars. She is proud to contribute to Arkansas’ efforts for economic development with her extensive skill sets.
Mr. Bricker provides general sales support for all products offered by the International Banking Department of Arvest Bank, including International Trade Finance, International Treasury Management (FX Payment Solutions), International Trade Services, and Standby Letters of Credit. He is familiar with international trade agreements and trade issues, current international trade regulations, International Chamber of Commerce governing rules, industry trends and current political and cultural conditions worldwide.
Moisture Shield Composite Decking
Mr. Burgess is the Owner and Vice President of Operations for Power Technology, Inc. He was Chairman of the Arkansas District Export Council, 2016 SBA “Exporter of the Year”, 2016 SBA Region VI “Exporter of the Year”, and a recipient of the President’s “E-Award for Exports”. Mr. Burgess exports to 30+ countries per year and has experience in EAR \ ITAR export control regulations.
Mr. Catlett assists select private companies in developing commercial, legal and political strategies for their growth into domestic and international markets. He has been a goods and service exporter for 30 years, owned several business companies in US and Europe and is Managing Partner of his Law Firm.
Ms. Dumas focuses on helping small to mid-sized companies successfully import their goods and products into the United States. Heather is a Certified Customs Specialist and holds a Customs Broker license. She understands how to quickly navigate through time sensitive red tape, legal jargon and tight fiscal parameters.
Mr. Gaines areas of experience include working with freight forwarders, creating international shipping documents, and using EXIM bank to provide insurance on shipments, as well as exhibiting at Trade Shows internationally and using the US Commercial Services to market our business.
ArDEC Member, Past Chair
LH Global Solutions
Export Service Provider
As a consultant, Ms. Hořáková focuses on helping international companies succeed in the global marketplace. She has more than ten years of experience in economic development, foreign direct investment (FDI) and trade, at the Arkansas Capital Corporation where she worked primarily with Asian investors and at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission assisting European companies to expand in Arkansas. Lenka served as the ArDEC Chair from 2018-2019.
Mr. Johansson is highly involved in the global trade aspect of ECOJOHN, working closely with their international partners and distributors to ensure a very effective supply chain. He has developed efficiency in exports by understanding different international cultures as well as regulations, contracts, economics, and logistics. In 2018, ECOJOHN won the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Global Trade.
Mr. Lazenby helps companies succeed in their global retail ambitions in both ecommerce and brick & mortar. He brings creative solutions to complex business challenges by finding new solutions to known issues by finding powerful insights contained in data and leveraging them to empower and drive productivity and results. Legacy supports clients with key retailers like Walmart, Target, Costco and Amazon around the world.
Ms. Maingi is responsible for registration of Safe Food’s technologies with various regulatory bodies. She builds relationships with industry regulators, commercial service personnel and internal stakeholders in Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador, Columbia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Safe Foods won the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Global Trade in 2018.
Gina Radke is an Owner and CEO of the Aerospace Manufacturing company, Galley Support Innovations. She serves as an International Trade Advisor to the US Congress and been named 5 Women to Watch in International Business. She is considered one of the most influential people in Arkansas and was named a 2019 “STEP AHEAD” Honoree by the Manufacturing Institute in Washington DC.
Mr. Risner oversees a holistic marketing approach and brand strategy for Alliance in seven distinct industries in 55 countries. His department is responsible for positioning Alliance’s growth strategy, cultivating opportunities in new and existing markets, and growing demand for Alliance products. He also serves on the leadership team responsible for setting the corporate strategy, goals, and annual targets for the company.
Mr. Rothschild is a senior level executive with more than 25 years of international experience.
Mr. Sinclair serves at Lycus Ltd., LLC, a manufacturer of ultraviolet absorbers with an international market located in El Dorado. A strong finance professional, he also served as the Chief Financial Officer and Marketing Director when Lycus won the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Global Trade in 2017.
Mr. Stark serves as Sales Manager for Garreco, LLC in Heber Springs, a manufacturer of high-quality dental lab products. He was a member of the 2017 class of ExporTech, which provided extensive exposure to all aspects of export business relations. He won the 2017 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Global Trade for their superior work in exporting to Germany, Canada, Ecuador, Nicaragua and the United Kingdom.
Dr. Vibhakar currently serves as Joe T. Ford Professor of Finance in the Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance at the University of Arkansas Little Rock. Prior to his current position, Dr. Vibhakar served as Managing Director of Asia Pacific for CFA Institute residing in Hong Kong from 2007-12. He was responsible for developing the Asia Pacific market and providing member services in the region. During 2012-2015 he was responsible for developing strategies to restore trust in the financial markets, a global initiative of CFA Institute covering over 80 countries.
Following his extensive career with SBC, now AT&T, Walther has served in the administrations of two Arkansas Governors along with appointments from two U.S. Presidents. President George W. Bush nominated him to serve as Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), and President Obama to serve on the Board of Directors for the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Walther received U.S. Senate confirmation for both appointments. Governor Asa Hutchinson appointed Walther to lead the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration in 2015.
Lender Relations Specialist & District International Trade Officer
Mr. Duda recruits and trains SBA lenders on eligibility, underwriting, and proper servicing of all SBA loan programs and advises them on SBA SOP revisions and policy updates. He also performs annual compliance reviews with Arkansas Small Business Technology and Development centers and micro-lenders, as well as conducting multicultural outreach initiatives and serving as the Program Manager for the Emerging Leaders program in Arkansas. He is the export contact for the Arkansas District office.
Chief Executive Officer
Arkansas World Trade Center
Export Service Provider
A respected business strategist both in Arkansas and across the globe, Denise Thomas has more than 25 years of experience in international trade. She has built a career connecting people and products through bilateral partnerships that focus on ethical sourcing and sustainability.
Denise is passionate about helping small businesses grow and access the global marketplace, and she uses her expansive network to empower professionals with the tools they need to increase clientele and connect with the right partners.
Serving as Director of Western Hemisphere Trade for the World Trade Center Arkansas, Melvin has led many delegations on successful trade and diplomacy missions and is a vital resource to top foreign state officials. He has written multiple articles on trade for state and national publications. He is completely fluent in English and Spanish and understands several other languages.
Co-Chief Executive Officer