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OPEI Trade Mission to Thailand and Vietnam is a Great Success for Regional Airport

Ohio Experience- Rickenbacker

Located in Columbus, Ohio, the Rickenbacker International Airport and surrounding foreign-trade zone and logistics ecosystem services a wide swath of the Eastern US, including the Northeast Ohio and Northwest Pennsylvania area. We were joined on our trade mission by Bryan Schreiber, Manager of Business Development for the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, which runs freight-centric Rickenbacker and administers foreign-trade zone #138, one of the busiest in the country. Bryan happens to be a NE Ohio native, the son of UAW workers, and grew up just minutes from the GM Lordstown plant. Now in Columbus for the last several decades, Bryan still supports the OPEI region through his efforts to bring international business directly to our region, as opposed to utilizing larger, more congested and more expensive gateways like Chicago and New York.

“Particularly in the international logistics business, there is no substitute for being present on the ground in a foreign market to understand the lay of the land and meet with key potential business partners in person”, said Schreiber. “The trip that the OPEI put together in conjunction with the Ohio SBDC Export Assistance Network and their Asia business facilitator ORISSA was one of the most productive missions I have been part of.”

The partner company in Asia, ORISSA, surveyed participants in advance and came back with a target list of companies and agencies to work with. This was a mix of educational meetings to understand the trade, economic and demographic dynamics of each country, and targeted business meetings with potential customer companies in the region.

As part of one of the pre-planned meetings the group met with the Mr. Do Xuan Quang, SVP and Head of the International Relations Committee for the Vietnam Logistics Business Association. A seasoned veteran of the industry, Mr. Do also happened to be the Vice President of Cargo for Vietjet Airlines. This is where the conversation became more interesting, as Mr. Do had prior aspirations of acquiring freighters for Vietjet and potentially serving the Ohio Valley through Columbus / Rickenbacker. “Had we not done the Trade Mission, I would have never met Mr. Do”, said Bryan. Mr. Do and a partner have since traveled to Ohio to see Rickenbacker for themselves. While at the time of this writing they are still in the formative stages of acquiring their freighters, he keeps in close contact with Bryan and they have had follow-up meetings at global air cargo conferences since.

While not yet on Vietjet, this past spring Ohio did start receiving its first air cargo freighters out of Vietnam through Rickenbacker, bringing PPE into Ohio, Pennsylvania and surrounding states destined for the fight against COVID-19. “The resources and contacts that OPEI brought to the table during our trade mission have been invaluable to me in understanding the SE Asia market, players and logistics dynamics. This has not only opened a door for us to pursue Vietjet, but has given me knowledge to help our other partners develop international business to and from the Vietnam / Thailand area and our region. It was both productive, and an honor and a pleasure to be part of the group, and I would definitely participate in a future mission”, said Schreiber.

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