What drew you to be a part of the OKGIT?
I served on many similar groups in New Jersey while I was traveling to many countries selling our products, so when we relocated our corporate office to Tulsa, I felt like I could be of service to the same state-wide community efforts here. I met Lloyd Hardin (Oklahoma Honorary Consul for Japan) at an international luncheon event in Tulsa and he encouraged me to join OKGIT and provide my experience to the group.
Tell us about your international experiences and how that is reflected in your work in Oklahoma?
I had many years of experience in international sales and marketing when working out of our office in New Jersey. This included activities like setting up luncheons with speakers from many countries, the services sectors and more to help small businesses demystify selling and buying from offshore markets. I had been on the NJDEC, the NJ World Trade Association and the New Jersey World Trade Council helping to promote international business awareness in the region. These groups all helped educate the New Jersey business community to the potential for expanding their businesses through import and export. These businesses found that the networking and exposure to a wider international business and cultural group might help spark ideas and opportunities that could help increase the chances for state and local companies to grow and succeed in national and international markets with their goods and services. I thought I could “lend a hand” to the effort OKGIT makes to do the same good work out here.
Why is it important for you that Oklahoma has strong international ties?
I think it is very important, especially these days, to maintain a wider perspective of who and where your market for product may be. I think that when you are properly prepared to engage in international business you not only bring ideas, goods and services that have merit domestically to other countries and markets, but you will find that you engage with and learn from your customers and partners you inevitably end up working with to provide different and possibly better ways to sell, make & improve your offerings. As your business grow, it helps the state by creating jobs, increased income, and growth, and projects a can-do image to other businesses that may be looking to invest and grow here in the state.
George L. Lee, III serves as Vice President of Red Devil, Inc., a manufacturing company with its headquarters in Tulsa. George joined the business in 1980 in sales management for export markets. He continued his career in product specific marketing and sales, serving both domestic and international markets, in the glazier’s tool segment and paint machinery segment. He developed and managed sales, service and parts distribution relationships with Europe, Africa, Asia and South/Central America. He was also responsible for facility startup in Ireland for machinery manufacturing to support sales and parts supply efforts into the EU. He relocated from New Jersey to Oklahoma in 2008, after closure and sale of the Red Devil manufacturing facility in Union, NJ, and the opening in 2005 of the new corporate office in Oklahoma.
George has been Past President and Chairman of World Trade Association of New Jersey, Board Member of New Jersey World Trade Council, and appointed to the New Jersey-New York District Export Council by the late Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown. He has traveled extensively to over 35 countries on 6 continents pursuing international business for Red Devil. He received his BA in Economics from Rutgers University in 1980.
Red Devil manufactures a broad and diversified line of hand tools and chemical products for professional and home maintenance and improvement – more than 400 different products in all. In addition to producing caulks, sealants and tools under its own brand name, the company also manufacture private label products for some of the nation’s largest hardware and home center chains. Its 135,000 square foot production facility is located in the Mid-America Industrial Park in Pryor, OK. The company has been a family owned business since 1872.