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We want to serve you better as you seek to grow your exports. Please take a few moments to get to know our new Vice Chairmen!

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Max Avery, Vice Chair

Max Avery grew up in the Arkansas River Valley and is proud to call it home. His career began with Arkansas-based telecommunications company Alltel. From there, he headed business development at KGI to expand the company’s manufacturing capabilities and expand its exporting capabilities worldwide, resulting in the company receiving a President’s “E” Award for Excellence in Exporting in Washington, D.C. He is the founder of CDL Academy in Fort Smith, a truck driver training program that services students of all walks of life but focuses on partnerships with United Way, Project Restore Hope, and 100 Families to identify and train people who are transitioning from hardship and need stability and advancement in the workforce.

I have been a member since 2018 and recognize the tremendous value that the ArDEC brings to companies in our state. Our continued mission to educate, empower, and encourage Arkansas-based companies on export matters has made a tremendous impact. In this role, I will be able to contribute to the influence and growth of this organization. 

 A few items I would like to see in the coming year: 

  1. Video content in “snack-able” format to share through social media channels on various topics. 
  2. A booth or table at appropriate events such as chamber trade shows within the state which could allow us to reach entirely new candidates for assistance. 
  3. Export related business development content to help companies cultivate new ideas to grow their business and as a means to further promote the successful webinar series that has been conducted. 

Ideas or questions? Contact Max


Ken Gaines, Vice Chair

Ken Gaines is the President and CEO of The Steco Corporation, a manufacturer of industrial lubricants under the Tap Magic name brand. We export product to several countries around the world including India, Australia, Mexico, Canada, UAE, Malaysia, Colombia, and others. Areas of experience include working with freight forwarders, creating international shipping documents, and using EXIM bank to provide insurance on shipments in the event of non-payment. We have also exhibited at Trade Shows internationally and utilized the US Commercial Services to market and grow our business. 

The District Export Council plays an important role in growing business in our state. Exporting to other countries allows Arkansas to maximize the benefits of using our expertise in providing products and services. The DEC helps support the businesses in the state in this endeavor and I think the educational programs are a key component to making these companies aware of the support available to them. One way to increase awareness of these programs is to possibly partner with other professional groups to provide these seminars (AMA, NASP, SHRM, any groups in Marketing/Accounting/Sales/HR). This may draw in some larger companies, but it would help spread the information on who the DEC is and what they can do for business in the state of Arkansas.    

Ideas or questions? Contact Ken 

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Please feel free to contact us with your questions and suggestions:

Heidi Whitman, Administrative Coordinator

Navigating Cyber Risk in 2022 Trade 

Thinking about the most daunting hurdles your company may face in 2022, you’re likely to jump to supply chain disruptions, geopolitical risk, or COVID-19 repercussions, but there’s another player that’s stealing the stage of global trade. In today’s increasingly interconnected world, global internet connection and smartphones give subject matter experts the ability to conduct business in a global arena. While this provides the possibility for great opportunities, it also means that every business is just a few steps away from cyber fraud.  


According to a recent Industry Insight column for Springfield Business Journal, Ollis/Akers/Arney CEO Richard Ollis states cyber risk is now topping concerns among companies. Our neighbor in Missouri, Ozarks Technical Community College, recently suffered a near $1 Million cyber fraud incident that resulted from a mere impersonation of a vendor, not a complex vertical scheme that you would likely associate with an attack that large. Fraud and cybercrime take many shapes and forms whether it be monitoring your inbox and slipping in their wire information last minute, or spearfishing attempts to your employees. What we thought we knew about cyber-attacks is proving to change every day. 


How do you navigate this ever-changing environment? Luckily there are many tools already in place that will help your business retain their capital, secure your transactions, and decrease your risk: 



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