Hawaii Global Links Newsletter
New Commercial Service Director Looking Forward to Challenges
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
John Holman likes climbing mountains and helping businesses export.     

Before John Holman was appointed the new Director of the Pacific Islands for the U.S. Commercial Service (USCS), he conquered Mt. Kilimanjaro.  He likes the challenge of climbing mountains.  And he likes the challenge of helping Hawaii companies become more competitive overseas.

The USCS is a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC).  Holman manages its Hawaii Export Assistance Center, which is located at the Foreign Trade Zone at Pier 2 in downtown Honolulu. The goal of the USCS is to assist local companies in selling their products or services in international markets. Growing export sales helps to diversify the economy and create new jobs for local businesses.

The USCS has over 100 offices throughout the United States and in over 80 countries at U.S. Embassies abroad. The local office can help local Hawaii companies by providing:

Free counseling for developing and refining export strategy.

Free market research for targeting the best international markets by country and industry.

The Gold Key Program, which identifies pre-screened buyers or distributors, and arranges individual meetings with them in overseas markets.

Assistance in participating in domestic and international trade shows, where company promotion and matchmaking activities with buyers are often facilitated.

Guidance on navigating issues relating to international logistics, regulations and standards.


Mr. Holman provides a seminar on exporting
products at the Natural Energy Laboratory of
Hawaii Authority in Kona on the Big Island.

"Although the Commercial Service has had an office in Honolulu for almost 25 years, one of our greatest challenges has been getting the word out to local companies that we are here to help them," says Holman.

He added:  "We face a number of challenges in Hawaii, from high operating and production costs to long shipping times. But we are also in a great position to leverage our geographic location and links to the Asia region in targeting those markets."

Holman points out that Hawaii has a strong brand name, and is known around the world as a place of both natural beauty and a healthy lifestyle. He feels that this bodes particularly well for local companies involved in the tourism, agriculture, cosmetics, education, aquaculture, and renewable energy sectors that want to expand their international sales. 

Holman works closely with the Hawaii Pacific Export Council and the State to conduct educational seminars for local companies interested in exporting.  Since local companies often lack large resources, it is important that they know that the Department of Commerce is available to help.  He would like to help them sell internationally to strengthen the local economy by becoming more dynamic and taking advantage of growing markets even when the U.S. economy slows down. He also hopes to shift the perception that Hawaii is not just a great place to vacation, but is also an excellent place to do business with some quality local firms.

Along with his colleagues in California and Nevada, Holman would like to see the state positioned as a "stepping stone to Asia" by connecting companies in the Islands with Commercial Service offices throughout the Asia region.

Holman sees parallels in his passion for mountain climbing with exporting.

"The idea of exporting can be intimidating for many small companies and may seem like a tall mountain to climb," he said, "but the reality is that if you have a proven product or service, you can be successful internationally. And once you learn how to do it, the potential opportunities are unlimited. When local companies overcome their fears and put forth the effort to take advantage of these opportunities, it can feel like reaching a mountain's summit."

Prior to his arrival in Honolulu, Holman served at Commerce headquarters in Washington D.C. as a Senior International Trade Specialist. In this role, he helped facilitate the largest trade mission in U.S. history (to India), managed the Market Research Library, and was involved in strategic planning and marketing initiatives. He also served in Beijing as a Foreign Service Officer during a temporary assignment in 2007.


Up to the challenge:  Mr. Holman conquers Tanzania's
Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Holman began his career with the DOC with Import Administration where he helped to ensure that foreign firms were competing fairly in the United States.  He joined the Department after completing his MBA at San Diego State University.  While there, he established a Study Abroad program in Melbourne, Australia.  He graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University in 2000 with a Bachelor's degree in Business and Psychology.  In his free time, he enjoys traveling, writing, hiking, diving, snowboarding and studying personal finance. 

Holman urges local companies to mark their calendars for the second week of April 2009, when the Islands Business Opportunities Conference and the U.S. China Green Business Exchange will both take place. He expects the two conferences to attract between 1200-1500 attendees from around the Pacific region. More information can be found at http://islandbusinessopportunities.com/ and http://green.hawaiiconvention.com.

Holman's next personal challenge will be to complete his first triathlon.  After that, it will be back to climbing mountains.  He hopes to eventually reach base camp on Mt. Everest.  Until then, helping local companies sell internationally will be the daily challenge he enjoys most.

Find out more about selling to international markets by visiting http://www.export.gov/, www.buyusa.gov/hawaii, or by contacting the Hawaii Export Assistance Center at 808-522-8040.


Last Updated ( Monday, 29 September 2008 )
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