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Although Southern California World Trade Week awards are presented during official activities in May, the organization seeks potential awardees year-round.

Southern California World Trade Week awards include:

  • World Trade Week Bob Kleist Leadership Award 
  • World Trade Week Export Achievement Award
  • World Trade Week Foreign Direct Investment Award
  • World Trade Week Service Achievement Award 
  • Stanley T. Olafson Bronze Plaque

View a pdf of award descriptions

2014 Award Winners


Stanley T. Olafson Bronze Plaque

This prestigious plaque recognizes an outstanding member of the world trade community in Southern California who has contributed above and beyond job requirements throughout a long career in international trade. Stanley T. Olafson Bronze Plaque Past Recipients

Mario Cordero

Chairman Mario Cordero of Long Beach, California, was designated chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission by President Barack Obama on April 1, 2013. Prior to being designated chairman, Cordero served as an FMC Commissioner. In his role as chairman, Cordero brings more than 30 years of private legal practice and decades of public service – including serving eight years on the Board of Harbor Commissioners for the Port of Long Beach (POLB).

Prior to serving at the federal level, Chairman Cordero was very active in the Long Beach Maritime Community. Initially appointed by the then-Mayor of Long Beach and confirmed by the Long Beach City Council in 2003. While a POLB Commissioner, Chairman Cordero spearheaded the POLB’s pioneering Green Port Policy, a policy aimed at reconciling economic growth and environmental stewardship to achieve long-term, sustainable port development. During his years serving on the POLB’s managing body; he served as both a vice-president and president. He also used his time and leadership position on the POLB to educate the public about the importance of a robust Port, an effort that included new and expanded community outreach initiatives.

Concurrent with his leadership positions on the POLB, Cordero took an active role in the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), a multi-national trade association representing more than 130 public port authorities throughout the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America. Notably, he served on the executive board for the AAPA’s Latin American delegation. In this role, he led efforts to develop cohesive policies for greater cooperation, increased trade, and joint-growth across the combined North American and Latin American footprint.

Actively seeking to share the knowledge and opportunity he gained with his education, Cordero tries to find time to teach. In the past, he has served as adjunct professor for the Long Beach City College, where he taught political science. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in political science from California State University, Long Beach, and his Juris Doctor from the University of Santa Clara.

Export Achievement Award

Recognizing local companies, especially small and medium-sized firms, which have experienced significant and continued growth in export sales and now derive a significant portion of their revenue from exports. 


MyChelle began with a passion as pure and natural as the Rocky Mountains. Since 2000, the company has been obsessed with creating the most effective, nontoxic skin care products. The products deliver powerful, quick and visible results without using harsh ingredients or toxic chemicals. The company believes that beauty is so much more than skin deep. It’s self deep. Every moment is an occasion to be beautiful and with MyChelle, your most stunning self will be there to greet you every time you look in the mirror.

True Religion, headquartered in California, was founded in 2002 with the intention of redefining premium denim through an emphasis on fit, quality and style. More than a decade later, while the brand has evolved within the marketplace, it remains committed to achieving excellence in authentic American-made denim with a cutting-edge appeal for today’s consumer. The brand has succeeded in becoming an innovator in exceptional lifestyle branding and a global leader in premium denim across divisions for men, women and children. True Religion manufactures and markets denim and sportswear, selling through a diversified network of retail, ecommerce, wholesale and licensing channels worldwide.

Foreign Direct Investment Award

Recognizes foreign companies that have established U.S. operations in the five-county area and have made significant contributions to the Southern California economy through financial investment in California companies or the establishment of local facilities.


In 1992, Omni-Lite Industries California Inc. begun as an idea in the living room of Calgary, Alberta native David Grant. In 1996, Omni-Lite’s products were featured in the Atlanta Summer Olympics in a special pair of gold track shoes developed with Nike that were for Michael Johnson, who set a world record in the 200m sprint. These early successes led to Omni-Lite venturing into other industries, such as aerospace, automotive and defense. Eventually seven U.S. patents were granted to the company, covering unique materials, special designs and process innovations.

Omni-Lite started a nano-materials development company named California Nanotechnologies Inc., which was spun off and now trades publicly. Omni-Lite continues to develop technology related to progressive cold forging and has invested heavily in research and development and training. Prior to spinning off California Nanotechnologies, Omni-Lite invested in training for new technologies such as spark plasma sintering and scanning electron microscopy.

The company has purchased more than $21 million worth of real estate and equipment and approximated $12.85 million worth of goods and services from local vendors. About $11 million in salaries and wages have been paid to employees locally.

Today Omni-Lite employs a group of 40 dedicated engineers, technicians, managers and support staff in Cerritos. Omni-Lite continues to develop and manufacture precision components utilized many Fortune 500 Companies including Adidas, Airbus, Alcoa, Boeing, BorgWarner, Caterpillar, Ford, Nike and the U.S. Military.

Service Achievement Award

This award honors service companies—such as banks, freight forwarders, brokers or insurance companies—for sustained, exceptional service and commitment to world traders in the five-county Combined Statistical Area (Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.


Connections Unlimited is facilitating trade between U.S. manufacturers and overseas distributors.

Our idea: Connect the right U.S. manufacturers and distributors overseas.

Our goal: 100 percent client satisfaction - transforming complicated international transactions into virtually domestic sales.

Our philosophy: Give manufacturers and distributors the products and service they need to succeed.

We know the biggest challenge for a U.S. company is the fear of unknown. Fear to make mistakes and lose time and money along the way in global markets with a lot of red tape.

Our contacts, 22 years experience, bilingual capability, expertise and cross-cultural ability gives Connections Unlimited the know-how to help your company to grow and profit in the competitive international arena.

For more information, contact Global Initiatives Senior Manager Jasmin Sakai-Gonzalez, 213.580.7569.