Stronger International Markets Buoying Florida
Still, challenges remain.
? Small Business
An Advocate Waits on a Lost Year to End
Neal Asbury, president of Greenfield World Trade and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Champion Exporter of the Year in 2008, has 80 employees, a business that sells in 130 countries, $50 million in revenue and offices in Dubai and Hong Kong along with his base in Weston. One other thing he has is a pulpit — a weekly radio show broadcast in seven cities nationally in which he advocates for free and fair trade and small businesses.
Greenfield World Trade President / Weston
The Neal Asbury Show Radio host
» Coming up: Asbury will have a book, “Conscientious Equity,” out next year that he says will illuminate trade inequities and describe how the world can work together to cure social ills. [Photo: Eileen Escarda]
Asbury, 52, started in international trade in lower Manhattan just out of college, before moving to Singapore to be a sales manager at a trading firm there. He spent 25 years in Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai before coming to Florida in 2000. First hand, he says, he witnessed the artificial barriers put in the way of American products. "It really tore me up," Asbury says. "I know Americans can compete. We’re just not given the opportunity to compete. The world trading system is corrupt and skewed against us."
That said, Asbury describes himself as a "fair and free trader." He supports NAFTA and notes the Clinton administration’s promotion of American exports as proof that free trade isn’t a partisan issue — just after he bashes the Obama administration as the "most anti-trade, uninspired administration since World War II."
“The world trading system is corrupt and skewed against us.”
Asbury says his firm is the largest exporter of commercial food service equipment in North America, with manufacturing in Harrisburg, Pa., and Fort Pierce. For the first nine months of 2008, foreign trade was on a tear and propped up Florida’s economy. Then the credit crisis hit, locking up trade financing. The recession migrated to the developing world, hitting Mexico, which accounts for half of Asbury’s Latin America market, particularly hard. Early 2009, "was really dismal, about the worst I’ve seen in my 25-year career in international trade. The recovery of Mexico ... hasn’t occurred," Asbury says.
Beyond that, he says, business seems to be improving. Says Asbury, "2009 will be the lost year. I think we’re all hoping 2009 goes away."