Robert Roche is a businessman and entrepreneur with over 30 years living and doing business in Japan and China. His experience includes the start-up and/or management of over 40 companies, as well as numerous philanthropic initiatives and civic contributions around the world.
In 1993, along with Mr. Tadashi Nakamura, Robert Roche founded Oak Lawn Marketing, Inc. an omni-channel brand response company in Japan. In 2009, NTT DOCOMO, Japan’s largest mobile phone operator, purchased 51 percent of Oak Lawn Marketing. Mr. Roche currently serves as the company’s Executive Chairman.
In 1997, Robert Roche co-founded Acorn International, which has since become a leading media and branding company in China and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ATV). Mr. Roche currently serves as Executive Chairman of the company.
In 2004, Mr. Roche stepped away from his day-to-day responsibilities at Oak Lawn Marketing and moved his family to Shanghai. There he expanded his investments, supporting numerous start-up companies, including financing and co-founding URBN Hotel, China’s first carbon-neutral multi award-winning hotel in Shanghai, built using materials recycled from 1920s-era Shanghai buildings. In 2008, Mr. Roche assumed ownership of Redhorse Performance, an automotive supplier specializing in fittings for race cars.
In 2013, Mr. Roche became the co-founder of IS Seafood, a company that imports Icelandic fish to China. The company employs a network of industry leading cold chain logistics specialists and uses state-of-the-art processing and packaging techniques. In addition, Mr. Roche is an investor in FansTang, a wholly owned subsidiary of China Branding Group ("CBG"), which is a China-focused branded cross-platform media and entertainment company with staff in Hollywood, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu.
Mr. Roche also has business interests in the U.S., including Sand Hollow Resort in Southern Utah, and Gallup Land Partners, LLC, a 26,000 acre development in Gallup, New Mexico.
President Obama named Mr. Roche to the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, and he served from 2010 through 2014. Mr. Roche served as a Board Member of Organizing for Action and as a member of the Advisory Council for the non-profit U.S./China Strong Foundation. Mr. Roche is a co-founder of the Business Forward Foundation. He currently serves as a Board Member for the Center for American Progress and the Center for New American Security.
Mr. Roche’s other civic contributions include service as Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce Shanghai, and as a Member of the American Chamber of Commerce Japan Board of Governors. Mr. Roche also served on the Board of Directors of the USA National Pavilion at the Shanghai 2010 World Expo.
In addition to funding his own foundation, which financially supports international, educational and other community initiatives, Mr. Roche’s philanthropic work includes endowing a chair for Interreligious Research at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, and establishing a Master of Laws (LLM) in International Business Transactions program at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.
Mr. Roche received a degree in Economics and Japanese Studies from Illinois State University-Normal, IL, in 1985, studying abroad at Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan, Center for Japanese Studies in 1983-1984. He earned his Juris Doctor from Denver University, Sturm College of Law in 1988, studying abroad at Nanzan University, Department of Law as a Research Student in 1986-1987. He is admitted to practice law by the State of Illinois Bar.
Mr. Roche is married with three children and speaks fluent Japanese and intermediate Mandarin Chinese.
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