I returned from the Overseas Korean Traders Association’s (OKTA) three day trade workshop and the overall experience with the program was excellent. Former OKTA’s graduates, staffs, and directors planned out the program six months ahead. The guest speakers, import/export trade workshops, business plan case studies, and networking activities were well incorporated into the hectic schedule. I am appreciative to the founders, directors, staffs, sponsoring companies, and all the contributors that have made this program a success for the young Korean-American entrepreneurs.
The trade workshop took place in the Wilshire Plaza Hotel (as mentioned in the previous OKTASC entry). Each year, OKTA Junior staffs accept around 50 applicants to the trade workshop. OKTA could invite more participants but that would lessen the effectiveness of networking. Perhaps the program budget could not accommodate additional participants.
Speaking of budget, OKTA fortunately attracts successful businesses to sponsoring the program. Without their sponsorships and support, there would be insufficient funds necessary for the program’s expenses: hotel accommodations, meals, program materials, guest speakers, field trips, and etc. Here is a full list of trade workshop sponsors:
- GOLD Sponsors
Royal Imex Inc., Everest (Bags), Wilshire State Bank, Dura Coat Products Inc., Group Win (Golf)
Center Bank, KNA Memorial Hall, ENS Tradings Inc., Hite Jinro, Wilshire Plaza Hotel Los Angeles, Lotte Hotel LA Office
Hanmi Bank, Nara Bank, Flexfit LLC, Asiana Airline, KCC Transport Systems Inc., J 2 Group Inc., Commonwealth Bank, eWaste Center Inc., Sunrise Distribution USA Inc., Mantis Technologies, Contempo Inc., Ameriko Inc., Da Se In America Inc., UPS, Woo Ri Sool, Khan Soju, Boo Chang Do Tofu House, Best Western Palm Resort, DreamLife, SinJin America, Kyungmin Trading Corp., Damo Clothing Inc., DNH Management Co., Aries Trading, S&S Inc., Has Been Limited, Summit Wholesale, Leeway Global, WooJin Trading Inc., Elite Golf, Hannam Market, Nanowell, Uniti Bank, TaeYang Airline
OKTA 2007 Trade Workshop DVD Part 1/2
OKTA 2007 Trade Workshop DVD Part 2/2
OKTAJR trade workshop emphasized heavily on networking amongst the participants. Since OKTAJR is a division of the Overseas Korean Traders Association of Southern California (OKTASC), the majority of the participants worked and lived in the Los Angeles County with the few exceptions (outside county and states). I was impressed with the interesting background of the people I met. And I had a great privilege of meeting many of these entrepreneurs from different walks of life and working with them for three short days.
The age range was wider than I had expected. The youngest member was 18 years old (sophomore in college) and the oldest member may have been in their late 30s. The diversity was present not only in the age range. The English language was not as prominent as I thought it would be. For instance, my group spoke Korean most of the times. One of my team member lived and worked in South Korea most of his life and recently immigrated to the United States for his MBA at UCLA. He is working in the consulting field and his contribution to the team was invaluable. He had many inputs and opinions on the American lifestyles and cultural differences between the two country. I was able to pick his brain and learn more about the Korean business culture.
Our class got a chance to see a full-scale apparel manufacturing company in City of South Gate. Koos Manufacturing, Inc. is a successful jean manufacturer that employs around 700 employees as of year 2007. Koos not only manufactures high-end denim jeans, the company also has the entire operation running under one roof: fashion designing, payroll, marketing and sales, and distributions. Excellent operation management if you ask me because not many apparel manufacturers have the entire operations running in one location. After the assembly line tour, we asked lot of questions on how the company thrived in the industry. The competition in the apparel industry is very competitive especially in Los Angeles, and the profit margin is quite thin in the textile industry but Koos Manufacturing, Inc. continues to do well annually.
Koos Manufacturing, Inc.
2741 Seminole Ave.,South Gate, CA 90280
The next tour site was the Korean National Association Memorial Hall located near the University of Southern California (USC) campus. I encourage all Korean-Americans to visit the KNA Memorial Hall and spend a good hour or two reading the articles and exhibits beautifully displayed. Check out their website to learn about the non-profit organization in details. Admission is free. Operating hours are Monday through Saturday 10AM to 4PM and Sunday is closed.
Korean National Association Memorial Hall
1368 W. Jefferson Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90007