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Alba Wheels Up Exec on LA Trade and Trans-Pacific Challenges

Los Angeles has long been a linchpin of global trade, and one logistics executive has received special recognition for his contributions to the business of moving goods through the city’s ports and portals.

Vincent Iacopella, executive vice president for growth and strategy at freight forwarder Alba Wheel’s Up International, has been named the 2020 recipient of the Stanley T. Olafson Bronze Plaque Award presented by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Stanley T. Olafson Award dates back to 1933 and is presented to an outstanding member of the global trade community in Southern California who has contributed to the advancement of world trade and international relations above and beyond job requirements.

Iacopella, who is also chair of the Pacific Coast Council of Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders, and vice chair of the District Export Council of Southern California as Los Angeles, discussed the company, the current state of trade and the award with Sourcing Journal.

Sourcing Journal: What role does Alba Wheels Up play in the Los Angeles trade community?

Vincent Iacopella: I believe that we have been a leader through tremendous change…being the Section 301 China duties that were greatly disruptive from a process and cash-liquidity perspective. We were a leader in discussions with CBP, we were a leader with discussions locally in Los Angles before Covid in how companies navigate through all of these new regulations and added taxes–helping with strategies for the businesses. Our role has also been as a beacon helping them though new opportunities and changes, such as the explosion in direct-to-consumer and what that does to supply chain and sales cycles. Today’s logistics environment is as dynamic as ever and requires the right skills and expertise to expedite freight in this new regulatory world.

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SJ: You’ve noted that the Los Angeles area plays an important role in U.S. trade. Why is that and does it always get the recognition and support it deserves?

VI: The Los Angeles area plays an important role in U.S. trade and it has been a privilege to be part of the Southern California global trade community. L.A. is the biggest Westernmost American city, but it’s also a Latin American city and it’s also an Asian city, so it’s a tremendous crossroads. The numbers show L.A.-Long Beach being a global powerhouse for global trade–that’s undeniable. I think L.A. is recognized globally and I look forward to continuing to promote global trade issues in Southern California and advocating for importers and exporters.

SJ: What would you say are two or three of the key trade issues today?

VI: We are still dealing with trade policy with China and the EU. We are active in discussions with companies that are diversifying production in Asia. There are also trans-Pacific logistics issues that are arising out of Covid and then the new trade issue or phenomenon right now is the pivot from apparel to personal protective equipment and working with companies on agility and government regulations around it.

SJ: What does it mean to get this award mean and why is it important?

VI: It means a lot. I wasn’t expecting it and it’s a very Los Angles, global trade-focused award. It has a lot of history in L.A. and is given to an individual who has exhibited leadership in global trade and fostered relationships in imports and exports in Southern California. I’ve been doing that for 32 year since I came out here in 1987 and have been in trans-Pacific trade ever since. I know the market really well and to be recognized like this was surprising and a little bittersweet, having been notified in April in the middle of Covid. It will now be presented on Sept. 22 in a virtual event.