David Schneider is one of the few people I’ve ever met who knows and loves Trade Data as much or more than I. We first met when he was employed by the State of Oklahoma as an analyst. They, along with many other International Trade Offices, Trade Associations and World Trade Centers, were customers of CenTradeX.
In fact, David was the one who originally evaluated our product for purchase by Oklahoma. He knew the intricacies of data, he knew the suppliers (our competitors) and he knew the hard questions to ask. Ultimately, we (rather our product) won him over and he became an enthusiastic advocate. Several years later, after a decade plus doing suit-and-tie government service, he decided to go independent.
More comfortable and productive as a Beatnik Nuevo working out of a local coffee shop, donning earring, tee-shirt, jeans and a laptop, David generated high quality analyses and reports on various aspects of trade. Since he was now a free agent, we didn’t waste anytime grabbing him up as our Chief Analyst. It was a good arrangement. He retained his autonomy, worked virtually and set his own schedule while we obtained the services of a five star veteran trade professional.
His first project was sizeable. It was during the tainted toy crisis of ‘07. Children’s playthings coated with toxic levels of lead based paint had been imported from China and distributed by major U.S. toy companies. Reports of acute sickness and death among children were causing widespread panic and a flurry of stopgap measures.
CenTradeX, in association with ECRM, Walmart and the Arkansas World Trade Center, undertook a massive study into the issue. Utilizing the Waterborne Import Shipment Data from U.S. Customs, China transactional import-export data as well as other statistical and company databases we analyzed over 400,000 toy shipments exported from China into the U.S. by 4,000 retailers over an 18-month period.
Mr. Schneider, as Chief Analyst was ultimately responsible, under our direction, for the comprehensive in-depth report that resulted. Sources at Walmart testified that it was “the best report of its kind they had ever seen”. A New York Times business reporter (who ran the China beat) requested and used excerpts for stories he was writing. Not a bad first project for David.
Thereafter, he cranked out product sourcing analyses, market research, global industry reports and state export studies as regular as clockwork. Unfortunately, the ultimate sale of CenTradeX assets in 2010 saw our business relationship come to an end. I miss the comradeship and data jokes we used to exchange. A sign of real geeks is when they revel in data humor.
I checked in on David a month or two ago. He freelances out of the same coffeehouse, teaches a class or two on international trade at his local college and still has a love affair going on with data.
Mr. Schneider represents another example that the transformation of data into intelligence is, was, and forever shall start and end with people not just technology.