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Northeast Ohio International Business Network (NEOIBN) Dinner

On Thursday, August 11th, we went a dinner and program put on by the Northeast Ohio International Business Network (NEOIBN) at the Cleveland Yachting Club in Rocky River.

Prior to driving over there, we spent some time in the Lakewood Library doing research. When we walked into the library the skies were dark but not too ominous but soon the thunderstorm and the tumultuous rains begin. When it was time to leave, we made a run for our car and even though we moved as fast as we could we were soaked by the time we jumped into the driver's seat and slammed the car door. Fortunately for us, there was a Laundromat just a few blocks from our final destination so we hustled over there, changed into our gym clothes, and tossed our wet IMG_3564garments into a dryer for 10 minutes on high temperature. The end result was our garments soon became just enough dry to wear to our event.

When we arrived at the Yachting Club, we told our story to Ms. Hu Huang (a good friend of Ms. Margaret W. Wong's) and longtime NEOIBN member Mr. Roy Knapp, President of Consultech, who got a kick out of it and, even though getting drenched was not funny at the time, we, ourselves got a kick out of talking about it.

Actually wet clothes seemed to be the least troublesome thing about the brief but intense rain storm that we had just experienced. On our way over we passed several broken (and that is the word for it) trees and downed power lines. When we arrived at the Yachting Club we learned that all of the power was out including the lights and the air conditioners. Thus, the program and dinner would take place in a room where the light would grow dimmer as the evening went on and the temperature would grow higher. Soon most of the men removed their suit coats and spent the evening in their shirt sleeves.  A consolation was that the ovens that cooked our dinner were powered by gas but the poor cooks and servers had to use their iPhone flashlights to see what they were doing in the kitchen.

We talked to Mr. Knapp for a little about the keynote speaker for the evening who was Judge Timothy C. Stanceu, Chief Judge of the United States Court of International Trade. Mr. Knapp said that the judge was an old friend of his and considered him to be a brilliant jurist but also quite "earthy" and "a lot of fun" as a human being. Mr. Knapp, himself, had an impressive background; he was the last president of the Cleveland World Trade Association which "morphed" into NEOIBN.IMG_3579

We said hello to Ms. Jolanta Luzaite, CPE with Meaden and Moore who immigrated to the United States from Lithuania and was a client of Ms. Wong's a few years ago.

We had a long conversation with Mr. Dave Vuicich, an international businessperson recently retired. He told an interesting story about how he helped an engineer who immigrated to the United States from Romania obtain his citizenship. He also talked about how he was once detained in Saudi Arabia due to visa problems which didn't surprise us based on what we have often heard.

We soon got to meet Judge Stanceu who was indeed "earthy" and "fun" in a very positive kind of way. We talked to him about how challenging it was for some companies to obtain H-1B visas for prospective international employees and he listened very sympathetically.

During dinner we sat with Ms. Tricia Allen, Executive Director of the British Chamber of Commerce, and her husband, Mr. David Allen, who we saw the prior weekend at "British Car Day." Also at our table were Mr. Howard Gudell and Mr. David Silk, Principals of SGI Global Business Advisors.

The emcee for the evening was Mr. Chris Langmack from Niagra Systems, LLC who had a good sense of humor and a blessedly loud voice which worked to our advantage because we were seated at the back of the room and, due to the power outage, the microphones were inoperable.

IMG_3568Mr. Langmack introduced Mr. Knapp who announced that this evening our dear friend, Mr. Don Esarove, Chairman of NEOIBN, would be honored for his lifetime commitment to exemplifying global ambassadorship on behalf of the business community. Our friend Ms. Ingrid Bublys, President of IB International, said that Mr. Esarove had received citations from Governor John Kasich, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish. Along these lines, a representative from U.S. Senator Rob Portman's office was there to present Mr. Esarove with an acknowledgement also. Most of all, it was said that U.S. Senator Portman wanted to thank Mr. Esarove for his friendship and good advice over the years.

Dignitaries who were there to pay tribute to Mr. Esarove in person were Mr. Michael E. Miller, Regional Director of U.S. Commercial Service for the U.S. Department of Commerce and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson who presented him with a Key to the City.

Alas, since there was no microphone and we were sitting way in the back, we couldn't make out the exact words of Mr. Esarove 's brief "thank you" (he has a soft voice) but we could tell that he was very moved to be so honored.

Due to the fact that the electric lights in the room were not functioning and the evening was wearing on, things were starting to look a bit gray at this point. But Judge Stanceu lightened things up with a rousing address on the importance of religious, economic, and political freedom to the success of this country which is true now and was true when it was founded. He told insightfull stories about such people as Moses Cleveland, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, James M. Spangler (who invented the suction sweeper which evolved into the Hoover vacuum cleaner), Robert Colgate (of Colgate Palmolive fame), and James Duane (44th Mayor of New York City and first post-colonial American mayor). Above all, he talked of Ohio and how its early adventurous, frontier mentality was instrumental of the forming of several great businesses which figured prominently on the international trade front.

When he finished, Judge Stanceu received an enthusiastic round of applause but by this time the room was definitely dark so everyone left soon afterwards.

Let it be mentioned, however, that on this occasion Mr. Don Esarove received the very exquisite gift of a "binnacle" which Wikipedia describes as "a waist-high case or stand on the deck of a ship, generally mounted in front of the helmsman, in which navigational instruments are placed for easy and quick reference as well as to protect the delicate instruments. Its traditional purpose was to hold the ship's magnetic compass, mounted in gimbals to keep it level while the ship pitched and rolled."

It was excellent and appropriate gift for Mr. Esarove to receive because, just as the binnacle steadies the compass, Mr. Esarove has been the steady force behind the success of NEOIBN and other such trade organizations that he has been involved in for many years.

The inscription on the binnacle read:

"This gift is presented in recognition of a LIFETIME of ACHIEVEMENT and SERVICE to the International Business Communities of Ohio and America. Your steadfast vision in the face of relentless headwinds and strong hands on the tiller wisely-guided and calmly steered the NEOIBN, its members, and its many constituents through the years of unprecedented economic storms. We are and will forever remain in your debt."


Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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