Wade Merritt is president of the Maine International Trade Center and the state’s director of international trade. The Bangor native sat down with Mainebiz at MITC’s Portland Fish Pier headquarters to chat about his unconventional path to international relations and how his organization helps Maine businesses tap into foreign markets.
Mainebiz: How did you get into this field of work?
WM: Funny story! I grew up in Bangor, and my father ran the catering operation at Bangor International Airport. There were a lot of international flights that were coming through there, a lot of European tourist charters that would be making their way from the U.K. down to Florida and would have to stop in Bangor to take on fuel and food. From a very early age, my dad would have clients and vendors over to the house. They would come over because they would cater the aircraft on the next leg down, so I grew up with a soda can collection from Italy and Mexico and Germany and the U.K that I still have. We’d also have newspapers that would come off the flights and end up in our house. My first job, the summer when I was about 15 or 16 years old, was working for my dad, taking garbage off of international flights and throwing it into, essentially, a pressure cooker. Believe it or not, that’s what triggered my international interest.