Employee Profile: Larry Kvidera

Living abroad sparks career in international trade

When Larry Kvidera boarded a flight for Tokyo, Japan, it was the college student’s first time on an airplane. Growing up in a small Oregon town, he would be spending the year as an exchange student at Waseda University in the world’s largest city.

A man holding small dog.“I didn’t know what to expect when I went over,” Kvidera said. “Once I got there, I just fell in love with it.”

The year abroad was influential. It confirmed Kvidera’s love of foreign cultures, travel and good food. It also, ultimately, led to his current role as the trade and marketing manager for The Northwest Seaport Alliance.

After graduating from Oregon State University with degrees in international business, marketing and Japan Studies, Kvidera returned to Tokyo. He taught one year at an English language school and then spent five years with a small Japanese medical supply import company. He traveled extensively throughout Asia, cementing his desire for a career working on the global stage.

Upon returning to the Pacific Northwest, Kvidera spent a decade with the Evergreen Building Product Association, a nonprofit trade group that helps U.S. companies export building materials. A year with the Washington State Department of Commerce led him to the Port of Tacoma in 2008.

Kvidera’s time in Japan gave him an innate appreciation for other cultures and business practices, while his time with the trade association gave him a strong background in international markets, said Tong Zhu, chief commercial and strategy officer.

“He’s just a natural when it comes to understanding trade policy,” she said. “He gets the industry challenges we’re dealing with and has a solid, comprehensive understanding of the issues.”

His knowledge shines through in his work, Zhu noted. She deemed him an “unsung hero” because he works behind the scenes to ensure NWSA staff have the information they need for successful meetings with customers and other partners.

Kvidera’s team is responsible for marketing, business and market research, cargo reporting and forecasting, and the customer outreach program. Kvidera is quick to credit his teammates — LaTonja Brown and Bill Dorner — for all his success.

“For me, it’s no single thing I’ve done but that I’ve got these two great people working really hard,” he said. “They both are fantastic people and very smart.”

A more recent addition to Kvidera’s resume is the North Star Awards, the NWSA’s annual customer recognition program. Introduced in 2019, the program recognizes supply chain partners in two categories: the Cargo Anchor Award for economic impact and the Environmental Stewardship Award.

Opportunities to work on new projects like the awards program, and to build new skills and learn new things keep Kvidera engaged in his job.

“It’s a fascinating industry, and we’ve been through so much in the 11 years that I’ve been here,” he said. “And it just never slows down. There’s always something on the horizon that means change.”

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