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Randy Wrage: Trip exceeded my expectations

Posted: April 23, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 23, 2014 2:00 a.m.

In January of this year, I was invited to be a part of a trade delegation visiting Shenzhen, a city in China. The trip was being organized by a gentleman who had worked at the county’s economic trade council and had now moved on to greener pastures.

The trip was scheduled to coincide with Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich’s visit to a major economic conference in Boao, China.

We could, essentially, leverage the supervisor’s presence and meet a broader and more important group of people during our visit. There were 10 delegates in total.

Initially, I was doubtful that such a trip would be beneficial to a Los Angeles-area real estate developer. China is a long way away, and I have limited experience in dealing with foreign nationals as either clients or investors.

Larry Rasmussen suggested I was being short-sighted. With typical clarity, he pointed out that we are just now starting to genuinely trade with China.

We’ve been importing goods from there now for dozens of years, but the Chinese trade economy has grown beyond the point of being the manufacturer of our goods.

They are creating their own products, and consuming their own manufacturing production.

Larry pointed out that the trade relationship is only beginning, and it could only serve our business to participate in such an outreach effort.

The trade delegation was scheduled to visit Shenzhen, China, and Hong Kong. Shenzhen is the third largest city in China. It is similar in physical size to the county of Los Angeles.

The city had roughly 200,000 people in 1979; today its population is approaching 15,000,000.

It is home to hundreds of major corporations. With the supervisor’s help, we were able to meet with 16 major business entities — and meet hundreds of new friends.

I returned from the week-long excursion on April 13 exhausted, jet-lagged, wiser, satisfied.

The trip exceeded my expectations in several regards, but one in particular is really worth sharing. The schedule arranged by the organizers was appropriately stuffed.

We typically left the hotel(s) no later than 8 a.m. and returned some time after 9 p.m. Business visits, business lunches, business meetings, business dinners.

The toughest and most potent members of our delegation, without fail, were our supervisor and his wife, Mike and Christine Antonovich.

Mike and Christine joined us the first morning immediately following an overnight flight. LAX to that part of the world is 15 hours. The Antonoviches came straight from the airport, made the first meeting at Shenzhen New World Group (9 a.m.), and were still going strong at a dinner for 20 people that evening hosted by CoolPad.

The following day started in a very formal meeting with the mayor of Shenzhen, where the supervisor and mayor discussed a range of topics including trade, pollution, the Koreas and world peace. It was an ethereal experience for a local businessman to even be in the room.

Mike and Christine Antonovich carried the banner for Los Angeles County in every meeting, every handshake, and every photograph.

I was utterly amazed at the stamina they exhibited, and I am forever in their debt for their hospitality in inviting me to be a member of this delegation and the service they provide for the people of Los Angeles County.

Randy Wrage is a Santa Clarita native. He is associated with Spirit Properties, a Santa Clarita development company that builds and owns industrial, office, and retail properties.



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