Trade Day 2024 Speakers

Trade Day 2024 Speakers

Keynote Speaker

Luke Holden
Founder & CEO
Luke’s Lobster

A third-generation lobsterman, Luke Holden grew up in Cape Elizabeth, ME. After attending Georgetown University, he moved to New York to start a career in investment banking. He was disappointed to find that every lobster roll available was overpriced, drowning in mayo, and diluted with celery. He craved a real Maine-style lobster roll and simply couldn’t find one. In 2009, Luke returned to his roots and longstanding relationship with the Maine lobstering community with the idea to cut out the middleman and bring Maine lobster to the heart of NYC, with the help of his father, lobsterman and lobster processor Jeff Holden, and later joined by his brothers Bryan and Mike.

Luke’s Lobster has grown beyond New York City, with homes in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, Newport, Tokyo, Singapore, and Maine. Luke’s Lobster chooses partners who uphold their commitment to sourcing superior, sustainable ingredients and strive to support other small businesses. Preserving our fisheries will forever remain at the core of the business. Luke’s Lobster is dedicated to the health of the shellfish in our waters and the fishermen who live off them, allowing for the success of future populations and ecosystems, and thus ensuring our oceans continue to exist as a key source of food and livelihood for people all over the world.

In 2018, Luke’s Lobster furthered its commitment to sustainability and socially conscious business practices by becoming a certified B Corporation®. Luke’s is now the highest scoring B Corp Certified seafood company in the US. That same year, Luke’s was named the Global Supplier of the Year by Whole Foods Market and received the Purpose Driven Empowerment award by the retailer. Luke’s Lobster is also part of the 2018 INC 5000. In March of 2020, the company launched an e-commerce business, shipping sustainable seafood direct to consumers across the US, continuing to source directly from fishermen in the Gulf of Maine.

Currently, Luke sits on the board of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, which he helped found. He has been named one of Real Leaders 2018 Top 100. Over the years, Luke has also been included on the Forbes’ 30 under 30, Inc 30 under 30, Zagat’s 30 under 30, and Crain’s 40 under 40, and was most recently interviewed on NPR’s How I Built This podcast and The Today Show. He lives in South Portland, Maine with his wife, Laisee and three daughters, Poppy, Banks, and Hadley, and loves sharing his passion for fishing and the ocean with all four of them.

Luke Holden photo


David F. Erb, Jr.
Edward H. Best & Co.

David Erb is currently the President of Edward H. Best & Co. in Thomaston, Maine where he leads a skilled team in the production of industrial textiles. The company produces endlessly woven wool and synthetic textiles for applications around the globe, ranging from products used in the production of automotive tires to wallpaper and laundry pods. These products have been produced on the same lines in the state of Maine for more than 135 years.

Most recently, David worked as Senior R&D Program Manager at the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center managing multimillion dollar Department of Defense programs for the US Army, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, and many others. Previously, as Director of Research and development with Tex Tech Industries, he worked in the development of advanced materials creating diversified products for aviation, protective apparel, defense, and industrial applications.

David’s education includes an MBA, as well as degrees in Industrial Technology and Metallurgy. He holds more than 20 US and International Patents in high performance materials including ballistic vests, aircraft insulations, aircraft seating, and other technologies. David served in the USAF (both Enlisted and as a Commissioned Officer) in the field of Aircraft Maintenance for B-52 and KC-135 Aircraft and was deployed around the world culminating in nearly 30 years of service. He is married with three children and resides in Readfield, Maine.

David Erb photo

Claire Hawkins
Director, Natural Resource Markets & Economic Development
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry

Claire Hawkins was appointed to the Commissioner’s Office at the State of Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry (DACF) in August 2020 as Director of Natural Resource Markets & Economic Development. She works closely with the Commissioner and Bureaus to provide strategic advisory on public investment, trade and market development, policy, fund administration, international affairs, research coordination, and collaboration across economic development and industry organizations. Claire regularly serves on boards and committees related to food & agriculture, outdoor recreation, forestry, finance & investment, emerging technology, and innovation. She acts as Maine’s Chair for forest bioeconomy collaboration under DACF’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry. She is also Maine’s Member State Representative for Food Export-Northeast.

Claire has broad expertise in market research and strategy. She spent 10 years in the private sector working with Fortune 500 clients representing various industries on projects related to market access and capture, competitive advantage, product development, and consumer engagement. Before joining DACF, Claire was Director of Investment Operations at the Maine Technology Institute, where she worked to refine and administer investment programming for start-ups. Claire is particularly interested in the intersection of sustainability, innovation, and investment strategy. Her expertise has been featured through speaking roles associated with the World Bioeconomy Forum, federal and private trade missions, embassy events, and regional and national investment initiatives.

Born and raised in Stonington, Maine, Claire recently returned home to the island with her husband, Seth, who is a Merchant Mariner. She looks forward to year-round boating and trying her best to keep wet dogs off the furniture.

Claire Hawkins photo

Audrey Hodgdon
Managing Director – Hodgdon Tenders
Hodgdon Yachts

Audrey Hodgdon officially joined Hodgdon Yachts in 2014 and is the sixth generation of her family to be involved in the boatbuilding business, which began in 1816. She currently is the Managing Director of Hodgdon Tenders in Damariscotta, Maine with sales and marketing responsibilities at Hodgdon Yacht Services in Southport, Maine.

In her roles, Audrey is responsible for the oversight of the construction of 30-40 ft. luxury tenders for the superyacht market, strategic planning, driving global sales, marketing programs, the development of new boat designs, exhibiting at the Monaco Yacht Show, and helping to establish the company’s future direction.

Prior to joining Hodgdon Yachts, Audrey worked in marketing roles across a variety of industries and as far away as New Zealand. She is proud to have served on the board of the U.S. Superyacht Association for eight years.

Audrey Hodgdon

Melissa LaCasse
CEO & Co-Founder
Tanbark Molded Fiber Products

Melissa Lacasse is the CEO and co-founder of Tanbark Molded Fiber, a manufacturing start-up focused on replacing single use plastic with bio-based solutions. She is passionate about developing new markets and opportunities for Maine heritage industries.

Happy to change the face of manufacturing by challenging the status quo, Melissa co-founded Tanbark in 2021. She wants to arrest the plastic epidemic and believes in shared prosperity. Tanbark allows her to use her skills in B2B sales and business development. She is also skilled in fundraising  and content syndication from a career in public radio.

Melissa is Chair of the Board for Maine Technology Institute, where she serves as the Sector Representative for Advanced Technologies for Forestry and Agriculture, and also serves on the Board of Trustees for Maine Public.

Melissa LaCasse photo