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The Official Publication of the Gases and Welding Distributors Association


Meet 2017-2018’s Leadership Team

First Quarter 2018


A Dynamic Duo Leads Butler Gas


More Details & More Data


Not-To-Miss Dates Plus SMC Preview






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co nt e n t s

First Quarter • Winter 2018 • Volume 17, No. 1



PRESIDENT’S VIEW 2018: Getting Back to Basics BY NED LANE


DIRECTOR’S DESK Focusing on Services + Value Added BY JOHN OSPINA


EDITOR’S NOTE Members Forecasting a Bullish Year




Use GAWDA Resources To Cut Risk, Boost Sleep! BY MICHAEL DODD


The Infrastructure Bill: It’s Jobs, Roads, New Taxes BY RICHARD P. SCHWEITZER, ESQ.


ITR ECONOMICS: So Much More Data In Expanded Report BY ALAN BEAULIEU


PROOF POSITIVE Distributors Report an A+ Kind of Year in the Making BY DIANE STIRLING








THE MAJORS It’s All a Matter of Scope, Scale and Strategy

DAD-AND-DAUGHTER BUSINESS DUO At 70, Butler Gas Positions As ‘Distributor’s Distributor’


SUPPLIER ROUNDUP 2018 What’s Hot and What They’ve Got





How Do You Qualify Food-Gas Suppliers? BY THOMAS L. BADSTUBNER




Those Distracted Employees — and How Leaders Can React BY CURT STEINHORST


Use 21st-Century Strategies for Family Business Planning BY SCOTT FRIEDMAN AND MARY OWEN

2 • Winter 2018

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co nt e n t s

First Quarter • Winter 2018 • Volume 17, No. 1
















Bill Brod




Diane Stirling






Robin (Turk) Barnes


MEMBER-GET-AMEMBER IS BACK GAWDA Redoubles Recruitment Campaign





Hannah Gray

GET TO KNOW YOUR LEADERS President, Board of Directors Talk of Industry Likes and Goals


SMC SCHEDULE PREVIEW Get Ready to Meet Us in St Louie!


THE RUNDOWN ON REGIONALS Nine 2018 Dates — Pick a Few!

Welding & Gases Today (USPS 22-975) is published quarterly: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, with additional publications in Spring and Summer. • Non-member subscription rate is $195 per year. • GAWDA members (key contacts and branch locations) receive the magazine as part of their dues. • GAWDA members can order additional yearly subscriptions (4 issues) for $40. • Welding & Gases Today is published by Data Key Holdings, LLC. on behalf of the Gases and Welding Distributors Association. • Periodicals postage paid at Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and at additional mailing offices (ISSN 1558-5344). • Editorial correspondence should be sent to Editors c/o editor@WeldingAnd GasesToday. org. • Advertising correspondence and materials should be sent to William Brod, Data Key Holdings, LLC., 1415 W. Genesee St., Syracuse, NY 13204; telephone (315) 445-2347, fax (315) 422-1721. • Postmaster: Send address changes to Welding & Gases Today, Gases and Welding Distributors Association, One Oakwood Blvd, Suite 195, Hollywood, FL 33020 • Welding & Gases Today is the official journal of the Gases and Welding Distributors Association (GAWDA) and carries news and announcements concerning GAWDA. • It is not responsible for contents or opinions other than association activities. • Contents are copyright ©2018 Data Key Holdings, LLC. • All rights reserved. • Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher. • Questions and comments can be sent via e-mail to Editors, c/o editor@WeldingAnd • Data Key Holdings, LLC. reserves the right to print portions of all or any correspondence mailed to the editors without liability on its part and no such correspondence will be returned. • Visit Welding & Gases Today Online at

4 • Winter 2018

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2018: A Year of Back-to-Basics by ned lane

W GAWDA’s 2017-2018 president, Ned Lane, serves as president of Cee Kay Supply, Inc., in St. Louis, Mo. He’s worked in the welding and gases industry for 34 years on both the distributor and supplier sides. He can be reached at and 314-644-3500.

6 • Winter 2018

elcome to GAWDA if you’re a new member, and Welcome Back if you’re a returning one. It is a real honor for me to serve as your GAWDA president in 2017–2018, and I feel blessed to have your faith in me. My journey in this industry is a 34-year one, beginning with my first “real” job as a distribution scheduler. I’ve worked in many capacities since then – sales, sales management, operations and operations management. Significantly, I have worked on both the supplier and distributor sides of the business. These dual orientations and perspectives are assets to my leadership, I believe, and they certainly will inform how I carry out my duties. My term coincides with another big point in my professional career. This year is the 70th anniversary of the founding of Cee Kay Supply, an innovative distributor located in St. Louis. It’s where I acquired much hands-on skill and where I had great opportunities for leadership roles. Cee Kay also is where I learned important life and work-world values from Tom Dunn, CEO, and his wife, Vicky Dunn. Both have been exceptional sources of teaching and inspiration. Like so many wonderful people in this industry, they share the qualities of wholesomeness, integrity and strength of character, and like so many other GAWDA members, they’ve been a great help to me. GAWDA folks have a special willingness to share their knowledge, success and experiences. Many of you have helped me as I’ve made decisions in my workplace or provided me with the benefit of your experiences. I hope that will continue now. This is an association where you’re

never alone, where someone is always willing to help you achieve success. We are all ready and eager resources for one another. All anyone must do is reach out. As for 2018, look for some back-to-basics steps where we take a look at our people, processes and plan. Organization and operations are in my DNA, and my goal is to help strengthen and solidify our association by introducing some uniformity of structure and processes into everyday operations. That will include assessing the capacity, skills and strengths of GAWDA staff with an eye toward helping them achieve the highest levels of success, thereby strengthening the value they bring to the membership. This may eventually mean additional assignments, minor shifts in duties or additional staffing. It will include an effort to hire a human resources expert to join our consultant ranks to increase services to our members, too. Many of you have conveyed how having HR expertise readily available to assist with everyday personnel issues, as well as overarching assistance with recruitment and retention efforts, is an important matter. Who is recruited and hired for our open positions are some of the most critical decisions we make in business. In the near future, we all must deal with the impact of two trends: a lack of specifically trained personnel and the loss of many of our most highly experienced workers from the workforce. A consultant will help us all navigate these key issues. So, be sure to reach out to me if you have ideas, some thoughts to contribute or things you want to say. We’ll be working to make, “Progress, Not Perfection,” as I say, this year. As always, I’m only a phone call or an email away, and I would enjoy hearing from you!


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Next Steps to Moving GAWDA Forward by john ospina

A John Ospina is GAWDA’s executive director. He can be reached at GAWDA Headquarters in Hollywood, Fla., via telephone at 844-2513219 or via email at

8 • Winter 2018

s we reflect on the changes that have taken place over the past three years, and as this organization looks toward the future, one thing is clear: GAWDA’s leadership is intent on not only addressing members’ needs, but exceeding them. Since 2015, GAWDA and its membership have transitioned to self-management. Throughout 2016, we made improvements in meeting registration and attendance at annual events. In 2017, we enhanced meeting attendance with an electronic app and brought forward additional applicable business information by adding expert economic forecasting tools. In 2018, the new year will bring not only a continued focus on ensuring the delivery of services members expect, but an equal commitment toward seeking ways to improve the value proposition of a GAWDA membership. For many years, GAWDA members have learned to live with tremendous change. Industry consolidations, increased competition from abroad, increased compliance and safety regulations and a global recessionary period have all forced member companies to constantly change their business models to survive. For this very reason, we know our association’s offering of member services needs to remain flexible to mesh with the changing environment our members experience every day. We serve our members by providing a competitive edge, a unique mix of educational programs, networking opportunities and resource-based communication channels that make up our trade association’s main activities. During the Annual Convention in New York, 2017-2018 President Ned Lane launched a plan

to strengthen the GAWDA Headquarters operations through improved processes and additional staffing, if needed. Our staff is in the process of reviewing and evaluating all existing member benefit programs. We’ll be looking at how widely member companies use these programs, as well as how satisfied or dissatisfied members are with the programs they now have. If programs aren’t being used, we’re interested in knowing why. Sometimes, asking the question is more revealing than the usage data itself. This year, as we look with fresh eyes at the various member programs GAWDA offers, we believe it makes sense to start with the most basic questions. How much do you know about GAWDA member benefits? Is the value of these benefits clearly expressed? Are they easy to find out about? Do you feel like all the basic information you need from your association is readily available? Is it easy to participate in our programs? New programs that fail to cover these basic operational functions tend never to get off the ground. Even existing programs can suffer tremendous declines when they stray from these basics. President Lane brings years of experience to the process and has already made a huge impact on how our organization approaches the challenges we face moving forward. His understanding of the industry and the needs of fellow members has already begun to reshape the way we look at our value proposition and how we communicate with our members. We’re all excited to see where this journey takes us over the next several months and through the next few years. As always, thank you for your continued membership in GAWDA and your support of the industry.

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Pleasant News: A Positive Year Ahead by diane stirling

W Diane Stirling is editor in chief of Welding & Gases Today. A career journalist, public relations practitioner, communications strategist and online content creator, she is part of the GAWDA Media team. Get in touch with her at dianes@datakey. org and 315-445-2347.

10 • Winter 2018

elcome to a new year, and happily, one that appears to hold plenty of promise and prosperity for GAWDA members already. That statement is based on the conversations we’ve been having with distributor and supplier/ manufacturer members as we’ve composed this issue’s annual “Forecast” report. Perhaps buoyed by a very positive 2017 in most quarters, there seems to be much more business optimism this year. While last year’s reports were generally positive, we’d say they had a hint of caution to them. The strong past year and signs of more economic strength ahead seem to be the basis for a much more upbeat tone this year, perhaps refl ecting a sense of confident optimism. For instance, David Nangle, president of The Harris Group, believes 2018 is presenting economic conditions where, finally, he says, it’s “the wind at our back.” Tech Air CEO Myles Dempsey Jr., believes, “This is the most bullish outlook we’ve seen since the financial crisis almost 10 years ago.” Ned Pontious, president of Norco, echoes that he, too, is “bullish on the environment.” It’s apparent that GAWDA members have been acting where they see new opportunities, too. There are many new undertakings to read about in the 2018 Forecast article, plus much activity in the Industry News and Mergers & Acquisitions sections. Still, we recognize there is much more going on than what we’re reporting here. Some members have plans underway, but don’t want to reveal their competitive strategies. Others need to be cautious about presenting

forward-looking information. Several companies will be starting projects this year, but will implement them in subsequent quarters. So, look to ongoing issues of Welding and Gases Today, and to GAWDA’s twice-monthly GAWDA Connection newsletter, to stay up-to-date on member activity this year. Thank you to the executives who took time to share their company plans and their insights about what will happen in the industry this year. GAWDA members place a high value on sharing information, and this magazine is a great forum for that exchange. To that end, the supplier-manufacturer side of our Forecast 2018 article illustrates a wide range of new offerings that suppliers believe will help distributor members have an outstanding year by saving money, making money or expanding a product line. Speaking of expansions, the quarterly report from economic consultant ITR Economics is much larger and much more detailed now. GAWDA has asked ITR to present a much broader compilation of industry-applicable data to help members even better gauge business decisions in light of unfolding industry conditions. A good year lies ahead, it seems. We look forward to new and interesting GAWDA activities and stories to report. In the GAWDA spirit, please share your information with us. Not only will you be spreading your good news to members throughout GAWDA, but it’s a sure thing that hundreds of enthusiastic, interested readers will recognize your achievements and celebrate them along with you!

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Use GAWDA’s Resources to Minimize Risk by michael dodd

R GAWDA DOT, Security, OSHA and EPA Consultant Michael Dodd is president of MLD Safety Associates in Poplar Bluff, Mo. Members can reach him at 573-7182887 and at MLDSafety@

isk! I don’t have to explain the concept of risk to any of our GAWDA member company owners. They deal with it every day because they are in business. What I do need to talk about is how to reduce that risk in the areas that I deal with: DOT, OSHA, EPA and Homeland Security, along with cylinder filling and cylinder requalifications. Fellow GAWDA consultant Tom Badstubner and I just completed another compliance seminar. Held at member company Weldcoa, it was a duplicate of the seminar held at Chart earlier this spring. This year, our information was all about surviving Department of Transportation and Food and Drug Administration audits. Next year, we will be doing training emphasizing safety and risk in plant operations. These seminars are a great way to help your company manage compliance risk. Getting someone in your company trained and getting them involved in the different compliance issues facing businesses today is important.


GAWDA has a lot of ways to help members to comply with regulatory issues. The best way for any company to investigate the available programs is to contact the appropriate GAWDA consultant. Your membership 12 • Winter 2018

gives you free access by phone or email to ask any questions that you may have. As GAWDA consultants, once we are contacted, we can quickly give you an answer and provide you with many materials on just about any subject on your mind. The GAWDA website is another great place to get help. Archived on that site are many years’ worth of compliance materials on a variety of issues. All you have to do to access that information is get an ID and password from GAWDA headquarters. That access will provide you with many years of published DOT, safety, medical gas and food gas articles. It also will let you obtain all the sample safety practices that GAWDA’s Safety Committee has put together over the years.


While you are asking for your ID and password, be sure to ask to be placed on the Safety Organizer mailing list. That will place all the monthly consultant articles right in your email in-basket each month. As far as DOT subject matter, GAWDA consultants also have put together an excellent GAWDA Driver Training Manual. The manual makes an excellent driver safety meeting training tool that member companies can use in-house. If a company conducts training on one of the six chapters every two months, all your drivers would be fully trained in one year’s time through this program of simple safety meetings. The manual

GAWDA has a lot of ways to help members to comply with regulatory issues. The best way for any company to investigate the available programs is to contact the appropriate GAWDA consultant. Your membership gives you free access by phone or email to ask any questions that you may have.


offers a test with each chapter. If you would like a copy of this manual, just send me an email and I will be glad to send it along.


Are you ready for an audit? Don’t keep putting your head in the sand hoping that prospect will go away. I can assure you, it won’t. Still hoping that you won’t be noticed? I can assure you that you will be. Remember, as a business that is carrying hazardous materials over highways, your trucks are high profile. It’s a certainty that if you have a serious accident, you will be investigated.

INCREASE YOUR ‘SLEEP FACTOR’ Sleep factor — you know what that is. Every business owner and employees in charge or managing risk want to sleep better at night knowing that they are properly managing their company risks. I want to assure you that, no matter how much out of compliance you may be, getting back on track and in good compliance standing really is a lot easier than you think. Call your consultants now for help — and get started on that path. If you ever have any questions regarding these subjects, please contact me.

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How Do You Qualify Your Suppliers? by thomas l. badstubner

T GAWDA’s FDA and Medical Gases Consultant Thomas L. Badstubner is president of AsteRisk LLC in Lewisville, Texas. Members can reach him at 508-883-0927 and

14 • Winter 2018

he Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strengthened the requirements of medical and food gas manufacturers to qualify their suppliers. This is a part of the FDA’s movement toward a more “quality systems” approach to compliance. Two examples of the FDA’s current emphasis on supplier qualification are: Food/Beverage Gases - The new Food Safety Modernization Act explicitly contains a section called “Supply-Chain Program.” This supplier element of the food safety management system covers fully 16 percent of the entire new food regulations. See 21 CFR 117 Subpart G—SupplyChain Program. The Supply-Chain Program implementation schedule depends on the size of your food gas business. If your company sells more than $1 million of food and beverage gases per year, this program implementation date was September 2016. If your annual food and beverage gas sales are under $1 million, you have until September 2018 to implement the Supply-Chain Program. There are exemptions, in some cases, for businesses with food and beverage gas annual sales under $500,000. Contact for a worksheet to determine if you qualify for this exemption. Drug Gases - The draft Current Good Manufacturing Practice for Medical Gases, June 2017, has two supplier quality management sections which did not appear in earlier medical gas guidance from the FDA: “Quality Agreements With Suppliers” and “Supplier Qualifications.” While this document is still in the “draft” stage, it does represent the current agency thinking. Indeed, there have been instances where the agency has inspected to the “draft” requirements even before the final guidance is published.

In recognition of the FDA’s requirements for us to have a supplier qualification process, the Compressed Gas Association (CGA) has published two highly useful standards: • CGA M-7-2017, Standard for Qualifying Suppliers Used by Medical Gas Manufacturers, Equipment Manufacturers, and Distributors. This standard lists the industry’s interpretation of the FDA’s supplier qualification requirements and common-sense compliance techniques. • CGA F-3-2017, Guideline for Qualifying Suppliers Used by Food and Beverage Gas Distributors and Manufacturers. This publication shows how to develop procedures to qualify suppliers of bulk/cylinder gases, equipment and services. Both these publications should be on your “must-have” list if you are handling food, beverage or medical gases. You can download your copies at If you subscribe to the free GAWDA/CGA Safety Program, these publications are available at no cost to you. If you are not already signed up for the safety program, save yourself $126 by logging on to cga-subscription-program and downloading the registration form. The instructions for submitting the registration form are also listed.


We have developed a set of sample written supplier qualification procedures and training you can use to enhance your food and medical gas program. These sample procedures are intended to be easy to use and to comply with the FDA expectations for supplier qualification. GAWDA


members who subscribe to the GAWDA Medical Gas Program already have these SOPs available. If you decide to develop your own supplier qualification program, consider these features: • Written procedures about how to qualify suppliers. • What type of suppliers should be qualified. • Alternate procedures for provisional qualification of a supplier. • Options for qualifying a long-standing supplier with good quality performance. • How to conduct a quick risk-analysis to determine the qualification process. This can help determine when to conduct an onsite audit and when to conduct a remote qualification process. • What a “quality agreement” looks like between you and your supplier. This may be different from your traditional supply contract. • How you can handle supplier qualification when your

supplier is also a competitor. How to obtain assurance that your bulk medical gas supplier is not only “registered” and “listed” but is also “certified” by the FDA and has an approved “New Drug Application” number (NDA). • Besides bulk product suppliers, what other suppliers should be qualified (equipment, pest control services, consultants, VIPRs, device gases, etc.). • How to document the qualification status of your suppliers and track when a supplier must be requalified. Your supplier qualification program will involve certain tasks that you may not have already been doing. More work? Yes. Hard work? Not necessarily. Your CGA and GAWDA resources can make this process easier. Contact if you would like the sample supplier qualification procedures, training material or have additional questions about qualifying your food, beverage and medical gas suppliers. •


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Infrastructure Bill Promises Jobs, Roads and New Taxes by richard p. schweitzer, esq.

A GAWDA’s Government Affairs and Human Resources Legal Consultant Rick Schweitzer is president of Richard P. Schweitzer, PLLC in Washington, D.C. He is also GAWDA’s general counsel. Members can reach him at 202-223-3040 and rpschweitzer@

16 • Winter 2018

fter enactment of tax reform, the Trump Administration is now planning to unveil its proposal for a 10-year, $1 trillion-dollar investment in infrastructure sometime early in 2018. The White House reportedly will release a 70-page paper outlining the administration’s proposals for highways, bridges, airports, railroads and port systems, along with possible investments in the electric grid, Internet and other infrastructure elements. Congressional leaders have also signaled that they will take up infrastructure spending and funding early in 2018. In December 2017, President Trump met with senior administration officials and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), to discuss the proposal. Rep. Shuster is retiring after this term and hopes to make this infrastructure bill the capstone of his career in Congress. A major infrastructure bill will generate between 300,000 and 400,000 construction and maintenance jobs in the highway sector alone. Depending on the scope of the bill, more than half a million jobs may be created over the next several years from this legislation. The new highways will have technology allowing for electronic communication with the vehicles using the routes; the vehicles will talk to each other as well (and soon will have no drivers— but that is a topic for another column). The question is: How will we pay for it all? The Trump administration’s budget for 2018 proposed $200 million in new federal spending and $800 million from private equity investment. The federal share would have to be funded from new tax revenues, and the private investors also will need a revenue stream of user fees to service their debt.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing on Dec. 20, 2017, on assessing the needs of freight movements in this country. The hearing focused largely on the need for highway and bridge infrastructure funding. At the hearing, American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear offered a plan for infrastructure improvement. The ATA’s Build America Fund would include a tax of 20 cents per gallon on fuels, collected at the terminal rack and phased in over four years. The fee would be indexed to both inflation and improvements in fuel efficiency, with a 5 percent annual cap. ATA estimates that the fee would generate nearly $340 billion over the first 10 years, and would cost the average passenger vehicle driver just over $100 per year. ATA proposed to use the first tranche of funds to replenish the Highway Trust Fund at 2020 baseline levels, indexed for inflation. The second tranche would be directed to a National Priorities Program, funded at a minimum of $5 billion per year. This program would fund improvements to the costliest highway bottlenecks in the nation as determined by the Department of Transportation, based on criteria such as the number of vehicles, amount of freight, congestion levels, reliability, safety or air quality impacts.The final tranche would fund local projects, apportioned to the states according to the same formula established by the current Surface Transportation Block Grant Program. Although ATA proposed an increase in the federal fuel tax, Spear said they would accept alternative taxing methods if they are easy and inexpensive to pay and collect, have a low evasion rate, are tied to highway use and do not impede

ATA estimates that the fee would generate nearly $340 billion over the first 10 years and would cost the average passenger vehicle driver just over $100 per year. interstate commerce. ATA specifically would not support expansion of Interstate highway tolling authority or highway “asset recycling.â€? Compared to fuel taxes, tolls are an inefficient way to collect revenue, with an extremely high administrative cost. But alternative-fueled vehicles make it necessary to consider new ways to charge users for highway construction and repair. There is some support in Congress for a vehicle miles tax, which sounds fair but would require equipment on each vehicle to track the mileage and whereabouts of the movements. Privacy concerns have quashed that approach for now. Time of day fees, occupancy restrictions and special toll lanes are all on the table. These are now being used in various jurisdictions with the intent to raise revenue and reduce congestion. ATA would also support a new federal registration fee on all vehicles (not just trucks). They noted the structure is already in place to collect such a fee at a very low cost. The fee would be charged initially on electric and other alternative fuel vehicles that do not currently pay a fuel tax. A registration fee of $110 per year would raise nearly $29 billion annually if charged to all motorists; this exceeds the amount of revenue collected from the entire federal gasoline tax. Everyone wants highways and bridges that are properly constructed and maintained, state-of-the- art airports and world-class marine and rail terminals. We also want next-generation Internet connections and an electric grid that is reliable and secure from natural and terrorist attacks. The debate this year will be over how much we are all willing to pay to live in this new world. Winter 2018 • 17


NED LANE EASTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY Bachelor’s: Production Management Master’s: MBA/Finance specialization








Virtues Ned Taught His Kids* H A R D W O R K | PAT I E N C E BE HUMBLE | BE THERE


WE ARE BLESSED * Per his son Kyle, at the 2017 AC

First “Real” Job:


“Sales don’t buy the groceries; profits do.” * “Progress not Perfection.” * Per Tom Dunn, at the 2017 AC

18 • Winter 2018

AIR PRODUCTS & CHEMICALS Distribution Scheduler Air Products Roles St. Louis, Mo: Distribution Scheduler Midlothian, Texas: Distribution Supervisor | Arlington, Texas: Bulk Sales

MG INDUSTRIES Bulk Sales On-site Systems-Sales Regional Sales Manager

CEE KAY SUPPLY VP of Sales General Manager President


GAWDA LEADERSHIP Their 2018 Goals & Their Industry Love


t’s a new year, and GAWDA’s 2017–2018’s Leadership Team has new initiatives underway.

Association leaders, along with rank-and-file members, are known to have tremendous affection for this industry and a great regard for GAWDA as their industry’s leading advocate. It’s also evident that members have exceptional goodwill toward fellow GAWDA members and others in the industry. Those topics come up wherever and whenever Association members get together. We asked the members who are fulfilling leadership roles in 2017–2018 to articulate how they plan to serve GAWDA this year. Their comments present a look at their plans for service, and additionally, some insights into their personalities and interests.

HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS: GOAL: What do you hope to accomplish for G AW D A i n y o u r 2 0 1 8 term of ser vice? LIKE: What do you like best about this industr y?

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Winter 2018 • 19



Cee Kay Supply, Inc. St. Louis, Mo.

Welders Supply Co. A Raimy Corporation, Erie, Pa.


My term will focus on a “back to basics” philosophy highlighted by the “three P’s” of people, process and plan. With resources budgeted this year, we will be seeking out a human resources consultant, so an HR expert is available to help members with support on hiring and employment best practices. In terms of process, I want to take a continuous-improvement focus in what we do as an association. My goal is to make things better every day for GAWDA staff, believing that when you create optimum situations for employees, they take great care of your customers, and that helps everyone. As for planning, I think it’s good to take the time away from the daily grind to look at your business and get key employees on the same page. Through these three steps I hope to make things better every day for GAWDA staff, distributor members and supplier members. I’ve always found people in this industry very willing to share. I just needed to ask and they’d share critical information with me because they wanted me to succeed and they wanted the Cee Kay company to succeed. In GAWDA especially, you’re never alone. Even at my first GAWDA meeting, I found a lot of members willing to give me advice if I asked. Your directory is a goldmine. I’ve never met with a distributor that I didn’t take home something of value. You can have the same relationship with our supplier members. They’re also willing to be equally helpful to you in the success of your organization.



Mississippi Welders Supply Co. Winona, Minn. I hope to be a good steward and advocate for the organization. We need to continue to bring value to our members. I would like to make sure we keep on top of regulatory changes, in particular by working with GGA and FDA. And I would like to keep improving the GAWDA app and contact booth programs. This will bring value to both supplier and distributor members. I like the constant variety of issues that we face. It never gets boring. 20 • Winter 2018


As a past president now, one of my main goals is to support 2017–2018 President Ned Lane in his position. I also want to continue to support some of the projects I initiated during my term that are still being built out: the GAWDA website, the GAWDA Events App and consulting services of ITR Economics. I also plan to attend as many meetings as possible to talk about leadership opportunities in GAWDA and how rewarding it can be to members. Leadership roles are personally rewarding, and they’re also valuable for your business interests. The exposure you get, the number of people you meet, the way you get to meet them opens up doors and creates a level of familiarity that I think you can’t really get in any other way. In application of that, if I have a complex problem at my business, my rolodex of knowledge in this industry is huge, and because of how I’ve met people at GAWDA events, they’re very willing to help out. I really like the people of this industry. I enjoy their personalities, their integrity and character, the mixture of knowledge they possess and the genuine opportunity to have friendships. All that makes this industry special.



Atlas Welding Supply Co., Inc. Work to get more companies as members of GAWDA and to get more existing members involved in GAWDA to get more existing members. The tremendous cash flow.


ABYDEE BUTLER MOORE Butler Gas Products Pittsburgh, Pa. In my term of GAWDA service, the mission is to (a) attract and engage new distributor

GAWDA LEADERSHIP members; (b) continuously improve GAWDA membership benefits; and (c) entrench existing member companies in the value of the Association, specifically through CGA safety engagement and event attendance. The people and their relationship-centric approach is my favorite part of our industry. Beyond industrial, specialty and medical gases, we’re in the People Business, and I’ve been fortunate enough to work with and learn from amazing leaders in this industry. Saturated with family owned and closely held businesses, our industry is service orientated and asset intensive. I love the diversity of applications we serve and the impact we have on our communities.



Dale Oxygen Johnstown, Pa. My biggest drive and focus for the organization is to continue to grow the number of distributor members that are a part of GAWDA. It’s an ongoing conversation in the organization. As co-chair on the Member Services Committee and working more directly with executive leadership now, one of my goals is to find new ways to attract new distributor members and expand existing recruitment projects. Every single day, my family’s company is involved in so many different markets – health care, manufacturing, education, just to name a few. The fact that our business continues to be successful and grow while engaging in so many different critical markets is pretty profound. The support from within the industry from fellow distributors and key suppliers is a pretty amazing recipe. Lastly, the employees at Dale Oxygen make this career very worthwhile as well. They are committed to our cause. All things considered, I love being a part of this industry.



Oxarc, Inc. Spokane, Wash. I hope to continue to raise the membership’s awareness of the safety issues associated with cylinder filling operations and the work that the GAWDA Safety Committee puts forth. There are a lot of great sample safety practices published by the Safety Committee, as well as the committee’s efforts in pushing forward their Incident Sharing agenda.

I enjoy that I’m always learning something new, from new weld applications to gas mixtures for those applications, and the people that I get to interact with on a daily basis.



Red Ball Oxygen Co. Inc. Shreveport, La. As a board member, I hope I can pay forward what so many have done for me and continue to share ideas to make our industry, and our individual businesses, more profitable and resilient. Our goal should always be to provide rich and impactful business content and networking opportunities for our members. As an industry, we’ll rise or we’ll fall together, so let’s encourage each other and get even better at serving our customers! This industry is just chock-full of good, hard-working, friendly people. If you need a role model or a bit of advice, you sure don’t have to look far to find it. Folks are open and honest and willing to help you out – you just have to ask. I also love the fact that we make a tangible contribution to this country and to our economy. Our industry is right at the center of everything that is being built to make life better in this country, and that’s pretty cool.


JEFF JOHNSON Arc3 Gases Dunn, N.C. This year, I want to recruit more independent distributors to GAWDA by spreading the word wherever I go and to whomever I interact with in the industry. GAWDA is our networking link and a great resource for critical and important information for distributors. It’s important that independent distributors become members and get involved in GAWDA. I believe our group’s future and livelihood depends on distributor membership. So, it’s important that we continue to grow those numbers, especially in light of acquisitions and consolidations. I’ve been in this industry my whole working career. I enjoy seeing our employees grow and succeed within the business. I also like learning about so many different types of businesses and the other industries that we serve because of our diverse customer base. Winter 2018 • 21



Electronic Fluorocarbons Hatfield, Pa. GAWDA has a ton of information and resources to provide its members. I’d like to help communicate all of that to the membership. I understand the high value GAWDA can provide, so I want to be sure others know, and that they understand how to utilize all those resources. I’d also like to help increase membership this year, be part of ongoing web site and technology initiatives, and work on bridging the gap between distributors and suppliers, creating an understanding of how those relationships can form and be beneficial to both parties. I enjoy the people in this industry and the fact of how business relationships can be formed for mutual benefit. The relationships that are possible are excellent; people are always going to help you out. The knowledge that can be developed from the organization and from others in it is vast and it’s very beneficial.


JAMES O’CONNOR Norton Abrasives Johns Creek Ga. As a board member, my key goal is to help our trade association recruit new members. New distributor members are the lifeblood of our organization. Like other industries, the welding distribution business has seen significant consolidation through acquisitions. We need to continue to recruit new distributors just to keep our membership size stable.  And, if we can keep a healthy number of new distributors entering our organization, new vendors will follow and existing vendors will stay. What I like most about the welding business is the people I work with. The vast majority are willing to partner and work with key vendors to mutually grow sales. Distributors that I have worked with have always been willing to take the time to help me understand the distributor perspective, help me get a better view of what is important to distributors and what motivates them. After 30 years in the welding business, what I value most is the friendships I have made in this industry.



Indiana Oxygen Company Indianapolis, Ind. Being new to the board, I feel like I have a lot to learn. I’ve spent my first few meetings trying to learn how the board operates and the role each person plays. Technological changes in our industry and distribution channels, as well as a changing age demographic in the industries we serve, appear to be important topics of discussion among GAWDA members. I hope to help our Board of Directors keep these topics in mind when developing strategy for the direction of our organization. What I like most about our industry is the people. I realize how common this answer is, but it’s the truth. You’d be hard-pressed to find an industry as interconnected as ours. With that connectedness comes a willingness to help one another succeed.  I think there is a true understanding that the health of our industry, and even our competitors, is key to our own company’s success. Apart from that, I enjoy the opportunity to work as a member of my family’s business while being surrounded by many others who are lucky enough to share the same experience. 22 • Winter 2018



NexAir Memphis, Tenn. My hope is to work closely with the executive committee to provide value for GAWDA’s members. That value needs to be relevant now and in the future and should help members operate their businesses more profitably. As e-commerce continues to be more prevalent, an area that needs to be addressed by suppliers and distributors is creating industry standards for management of that content (pricing, pictures, forms, etc.). I like our ability to truly help our customers, and if you can do that, it builds long-term relationships. For most of our customers, the products we provide them are an integral part of their business. We have the ability, as the experts, to help them improve their businesses and build long-term relationships. I also like how our industry is full of really quality people in all aspects, including distributors, manufacturers and customers. I don’t know that you find that as prevalent in other industries.



Member-to-Member Recruitment Initiative Underway


AWDA is looking for 25 new distributor members and 15 new supplier members. Those are the goals set for the Member-Get-a-Member campaign this year. The program, being led by the Member Services Committee, assisted by headquarters staff and involving the entire membership, is an important program for 2018 for GAWDA. The program is designed to strengthen, grow and diversify the distributor and supplier business organization. Membership growth is a goal that will help to sustain the Gases and Welding Distributors Association even in an environment of continuing acquisitions and consolidations across the industry, according to 2017–2018 Committee CoChair Linda Smith of supplier member Chemweld, and Co-Chair Evan Bennear of distributor firm Dale Oxygen. The program was spearheaded in 2016 by then-President Bill Visintainer to increase the number of distributor and supplier members in the association, according to John Ospina, GAWDA executive director. The Membership Services Committee decided that the breadth, depth and expansive geography represented by the existing membership base was an effective way to reach many more potential members than possible by headquarters staff alone. It also was a technique that had proven successful for other associations, and was inspired by 24 • Winter 2018

longtime GAWDA and Member Services Committee member Ken Tidwell, of Horton Insurance, Ospina says. The program utilizes a personal, member-talking-to-member approach, versus a blast email or mail recruitment techniques. That’s because making a face-to-face connection is a tactic with proven success, Smith says. “It’s very compelling when another distributor tells you the benefits of GAWDA. You’re getting firsthand knowledge and experience of how they use GAWDA and how it benefits them. That’s a very powerful statement when it comes from another distributor.” Bennear agrees. “There’s nothing better for a prospective member than getting a referral from an existing member, especially when it’s distributor-to-distributor,” he adds. “There’s no formal kit, no formal presentation. For people in your region that you know personally, set up a phone call or meet in person. Every distributor has a network of fellow distributors they can call to pitch GAWDA.”


As an incentive and recognition, GAWDA awards a $100 Visa gift card to members for each new distributor member he or she recruits. The reward that can result from increasing GAWDA membership comes more from the value of strengthening and diversifying the association’s membership overall, however, according to Bennear.

“Sure, there’s potential monetary awards and recognition, but more importantly, for the long-term sustainability of the association, every member should try to gain new members, so the organization continues on for many years,” he believes. “I view GAWDA as an organization that you get out of it what you put in. This is a very easy way to give back to the organization while helping to grow our membership, without taking up a lot of a member’s personal resources and time.”


Just over a third of the 12 members added over the past year were recruited via the member-to-member program, according to Smith. Visintainer, who recruited three new distributor members last year, used GAWDA’s regional meetings as a tool to introduce potential new members to the people, programs and benefits of the association. He targeted companies in his geographic area who would find it easy to travel to one in their area, and used his network of vendors for tips. “If we can get them to a regional meeting, we’re pretty confident we can get them to join,” says Visintainer. “That’s not nearly as much of an investment in time or money [as going to a national meeting]. They don’t have to be out of their office more than one full day. Beyond our geographic area, I’ll talk to

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HQ & PROGRAM NEWS our suppliers who visit us, ask them if there are any new players out there, any startups, anyone you’re calling on who isn’t a member of GAWDA, and see if they can give me a warm handoff to see if we can invite them, or have that vendor invite them, to a regional meeting.” The effort “helps me help myself,” Visintainer believes, because “the stronger we are as an organization, the better my membership is. This is an area where we can have a positive impact on our association.” For Kelly Bladow, of Oxarc, a current GAWDA vice president, recruiting members comes pretty naturally in his everyday conversations. When he was visiting a small non-member independent, their discussion turned to resouces. “He was expecting an upcoming state DOT audit. I started explaining the value of the GAWDA consultants to him and

said how all the resources he needed were available through the GAWDA consultants. He was spending money with various other outside resources, but it was more than what the cost of a GAWDA membership was for him.” As a small filling operation, that company required all the CGA pamphlets that are free to GAWDA members, says Bladow. “I emailed him some information and the application form and it kind of sold itself. Now he’s a member.” Ronnie Bray, territory salesperson for Gas Innovations, says when you’re on the road, it’s easy to promote GAWDA membership to those you meet. “It’s just getting out and talking to people and trying to share information,” Bray confides. “As an outside salesperson I get around quite a bit. I’ve been in the industry for 28 years. I’ve been in relationships with these folks for a

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long time, and we’re getting younger people in the industry all the time. If I’m out calling on customers or going to functions, if the opportunity presents itself, I just tell them this is something you need to look at and consider.” The GAWDA website also features a series of promotional videos where current members talk about what they value and enjoy as members of the association. The videos can be found at:


All GAWDA members are welcome to seek new members. • Members can initially discuss the benefits of membership with a potential new member. • They should refer potential new members to GAWDA staff (Member Services Manager Stephen Hill) for more specific information and later follow-up. • Each new distributor member who joins via a Member-Get-A-Member efforts earns the referring member a $100 gift card as an incentive. After a potential member is referred, GAWDA staff continues the recruitment process by routing membership information and providing formal explanations of the range of benefits, services and programs that are available. Other program requirements to note: • The annual program period for the “Recognition Program” is between Annual Conventions. • Only new “Distributor” and “Supplier” member categories will be counted. A new member is any company that has either never been a GAWDA member or has not been an active member for two or more years. • Individuals and manufacturers representatives, while welcome to join GAWDA, are not included for this program. •

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A Distributor’s Distributor by agnes h. baker


he hallmark of many independent gases and welding distributors is family ownership. For Butler Gas Products (BGP) of Pittsburgh, 2018 marks its 70 th year in operation and the continuation of a family business with a dynamic father-daughter team at the helm. Chief Executive Officer and President Jack Butler is the son of Butler Gas Products founders John A. and Millie S. Butler. Jack’s daughter, Abydee Butler Moore, serves as the company’s chief operating officer and executive vice president. Together, they work side-byside carrying on the family tradition of excellence in industrial, specialty and medical gas distribution and production. Jack has been in the business his entire career, starting as a boy in operations. He’s pleased there’s another family member onboard to continue the business and describes Abydee’s decision to join the company with evident pride. “In 2009, we got really lucky with the number one pick in the college draft. We chose Abydee, and since then, business has never been better!” Jack says. Abydee’s level of commitment and contributions to the business her grandfather started, and her father has continued, are reflective of that view. In addition to her work involvement, she purchased a 20 percent share in the business in 2015, 28 • Winter 2018

Above: Butler Gas Products has an extensive fleet of cylinder, tube trailer, microbulk, and bulk transport, with expansive liquid capability in oxygen, nitrogen, argon and carbon dioxide. Left: Jack Butler and Abydee Butler Moore


Just as they provide leadership in their company, the father-daughter team serves the Gases and Welding Distributors Association (GAWDA), too. Butler Gas Products has been a GAWDA (formerly NWSA) member since 1960. Jack is a past president and still-active attendee. Abydee became first vice president at the fall 2017 Annual Meeting and is on track to be GAWDA’s 2019-2020 president.


joining her father and her mother, Elissa, as primary owners. Abydee furthers her scope and responsibilities this month as she assumes the title of chief operating officer, heading up all sales, service and operational activities.

Over 70 years, Butler has changed its operations out of necessity within its evolving business environment. In its early years, Butler Gas Products supplied Pittsburgh’s booming steel mills and manufacturing facilities. Welding hardgoods represented 80 percent of the company’s business then. “When steel started moving out, Pittsburgh changed and we had to change with it,” Jack says. “We made the shift from steel town to a more services-oriented community with significant medical, educational and research facilities by building the gas side of our business. Today, gas represents 90 percent of revenues.” The company considers itself first and foremost a regional gas manufacturer and distributor. Its manufacturing capabilities include acetylene, dry ice

and specialty gases. With a fleet of both bulk and microbulk transport, BGP has expansive liquid capability in oxygen, nitrogen, argon and carbon dioxide (CO2). For helium and hydrogen, the company has state-of-the-art filling capabilities. Butler’s major markets are many, consisting of: commercial construction, manufacturing and metals, medical (biomedical, specialty gases, healthcare), research and education, oil and gas, food and beverage, and wholesale distribution. Of these the company considers its wholesale distribution business to be its fastest growing. “Wholesale plays well with our asset investments,” says Abydee. At present, the construction, manufacturing and metals and medical sectors present growth opportunity, especially for the company’s microbulk business in 1,500-gallon tanks and under. Their fastest-growing gas markets are CO2, nitrogen and acetylene. Overall CO2 demand in the Pittsburgh area is increasing in key market segments like pH control, food chilling, beverage carbonation, welding gases and wholesale supply. BGP is also poised and ready to supply CO2 and other gases to the medical cannabis industry, which was legalized in Pennsylvania in 2017. While hardgoods represent only 10 percent of the business today, welding continues to be a significant market and one BGP does not ignore. Industrial manufacturing and steel mills still operate in the Pittsburgh area, plus recent oil and gas activity (fracking) is driving the heavy welding market. Providing hardgoods allows BGP to offer a total supply solution to its customers, including the certified welding educator (CWE) on Butler’s staff.


Its acetylene business makes BGP somewhat unique among independent gas and welding distributors, and that positioning presents the company with Winter 2018 • 29


Above: From up to 10 source gases, BGP’s specialty gas laboratory gravimetrically produces specialty mixtures from percent down to ppm concentrations. Right: BGP rebuilt and automated its industrial gas plant in 2014.

the ability to think like a manufacturer. BGP’s original acetylene plant was built in 1954, and then rebuilt in 1980. Jack notes, “We like making acetylene. What we do ourselves, we do well.” Expanding on that philosophy, Butler Gas now has other manufacturing facilities. They include an industrial gas plant, a specialty gas plant and dry ice–making capabilities.


Butler Gas Products positions itself as a “Distributor’s Distributor.” Jack explains, “With our manufacturing capabilities and our bulk transport assets, we are in the wholesale business and have been for the past 20-plus years. Consolidation among major producers has helped us, especially as they have divested their packaged gas assets.” “Our manufacturing capabilities and 70 years of asset investments mean we 30 • Winter 2018

can supply product to anyone in our region. Our geographic proximity to our supply partners’ source plants enables us to pick up product and add value upstream. Whether we’re making dry ice, manufacturing acetylene, mixing specialty gases or trucking CO 2, we become the distributor’s distributor,” explains Abydee. BGP operates within about a 100-mile radius of Pittsburgh for end users. For bulk customers and wholesale, its geographic reach is double that, extending beyond Pennsylvania and into neighboring New York, Ohio and West Virginia.


With the gas market its primary revenue driver, BGP concentrates on opportunities on that side of the business, and in the past five years, the company has made several major investments. From its experience as a manufacturer of acetylene, BGP knows the wholesale gas supply chain and is able to capitalize on that with its bulk liquid assets. In 2016, Butler Gas Products added a 5,400-gallon CO2 transport trailer to its fleet, which enables the company to pick up and deliver bulk CO2. This ability makes BGP more independent in feeding

The Butler Gas Specialty: Making Informed Decisions

The Decision Process for Expanding a Specialty Gas Filling Operation The success of Butler Gas Products, a 70 year old, 3rd generation family business, can be credited directly to their ability to think and plan for the long-term. Seeing the Opportunities with Specialty Gas Filling. “We are always thinking long term,” said Abydee. “It was clear to us that our specialty gas filling operation was an area where we could become more independent, and therefore more reliable for our customers.” Doing the Necessary Homework. As a participant in the BIG Group (Buying and Information Group), Butler investigated how other businesses were managing their specialty gas services, and how reinvestment in this area had very positive long-term results. Finding the Right Partner for a Long Term Solution. While touring the nexAir and Matheson facilities, Butler executives observed lab set-ups, and witnessed the operation of an automated blend cell. Both companies were using Weldcoa’s Precision Specialty Gas Products systems. “It was our Aha! moment,” admitted Abydee. “We knew they were the right partner for us.” Butler quickly determined that Precision’s products and services were a smart investment. “We have a reputation for being the expensive guy,” noted Hector Villarreal, President of Weldcoa. “But when distributors do a long term analysis we always come out as the better value. Our products work right out of the box, and they work well for a very long time– we guarantee it.”

Creating a Profitable Specialty Gas Filling Facility – that Sells Itself. Butler worked closely with Precision to determine the optimal configuration for their specialty gas filling operation, including all components, work flow, lab layout, and piping. Consideration was given to Butler’s existing customers, as well as other prospects for specialty gas.

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“Our goal for continuing to build our business and deliver for our customers was once again realized through our process of internal evaluation, research and alignment with experienced partners.” Abydee Butler Moore Executive Vice President of Butler Gas Products Company, Inc.

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Butler hires Precision Specialty Gas Products, a division of Weldcoa, to ensure quality and long-term dependability.

MEMBER PROFILE In 2017, a Master’s Program was added to the BGU curriculum.

its dry ice manufacturing and able to provide customers with consistent gas supply. “With bulk liquid assets, we do not have to depend on the classic distribution model and can remain nimble when there are supply chain issues, like plant shut-downs, especially for CO2,” says Abydee. BGP also completely automated and upgraded its specialty gas facility in 2013. That step was followed by the automation of its industrial gas plant in 2014. In addition to greater efficiency in packaged gas production and filling, both automations allow the company to produce more gas blends, shorten lead times and increase product offerings. BGP began filling hydrogen with a palletized system in 2010 for both industrial and specialty gases. Heliumfilling capabilities were upgraded in 2013, accompanied by the addition of a new jumbo tube trailer with a helium capacity of over 170,000 scf. “As a gas-focused independent, if we see a niche, we fill it,” explains Abydee. “We added high-pressure filling for helium, argon and nitrogen — 3,500, 4,500 and 6,000 psi — when we recognized that there was growing demand for this, 32 • Winter 2018

especially within our wholesale business.”


Butler Gas Products also continuously introduces new technology and automation in order to make operational systems and processes more efficient. Plans call for a new and more robust website to be launched this year. It will enhance existing offerings like online ordering. BGP estimates that about 10 percent of its customers now order online, and that group is steadily growing. Believing that a great distributorship is built around its ability to deliver product, BGP is constantly looking at ways to make operations safer and more efficient. Toward this end, two types of technology are being deployed. For safety, the company uses cab cameras, which help coach drivers on how best to handle the equipment and maintain 100 percent safety. GPS monitoring software is used to improve efficiency in trip planning and to keep the fleet running on schedule. Microbulk and bulk tank levels are monitored by telemetry level gauges, with the distribution team planning fills accordingly. In addition, BGP’s asset tracking system,

CYLTRAK, has been evolving since the 1980s and currently is fueled by TrackAbout. Both of Butler’s industrial and specialty gas production facilities are fully automated, as well. Its “tech bubble” extends to sales, too. The sales team uses Salesforce software, which enables the company to shorten sales cycles, increase deal closure and cut down on administrative time.


The company is structured by a well-defined value system that has been a guiding force since the company’s founding. It has four pillars. The first priority for the company is a goal of 100 percent safety. Next in importance are the people that comprise the workforce and the company’s recognition of the need to train and empower them. The third aspect of the value system is providing excellent service to the customer. The fourth is making the company profitable. Everything BGP does is measured against these standards and priorities; and they are the basis of a continuous improvement (CI) operation mode. Viewing operations from a continuous improvement perspective puts a

unique lens on how they look at the business. “We question everything,” says Abydee. “Is it safe? Does it add value to our customers? Can we eliminate waste? Is there a better way of doing things?”

“We don’t worry about what we can’t control. We invest in what we do well, and we try to add as much value upstream as we do downstream. We keep our focus on customers.” — Abydee Butler Moore Chief Operating Officer When a problem is identified, Sandy Gobrish, vice president, services and CI, builds a team to address it. That team defines the scope of the project and identifies solutions and deliverables. Jesse Pitell, BGP’s vice president of finance, is tasked with creating the measurables and monetizing the return on the solutions devised.


BGP recently introduced another strategic planning concept known as “traction,” designed to help a company better articulate its goals and navigate strategic planning. It is an entrepreneurial operating system led by a “visionary” who is in charge of the big picture and who sets the company tempo. That’s Jack in the case of Butler Gas. The second component is an “integrator,” a person tasked with connecting all the operational dots needed to get the job done. At BGP, that’s Abydee.


The Butlers believe the company’s associates are at the heart of the organization and its success. “We put a lot into people development and we believe in homegrown talent,” says Abydee. “We are proud that our industry PAR Report (performance analysis report, which is conducted nationally), in which we participate annually with the BIG Group (Buying and Information Group), puts us in the top quarter for compensation.” Like so many distributorships, Butler Gas Products is composed of a mix of highly experienced associates approaching retirement and newer hires with lots of energy but little industry experience. To ensure smooth transitions in its workforce, BGP has implemented succession planning at every level of operations. The company teams tenured staff with the up-and-comers, creating mentoring opportunities that work both ways. Longterm associates pass along their knowledge base. Younger


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MEMBER PROFILE workers guide older personnel through the ins and outs of the new technologies and management information systems, now including automated fill plants and iPads for every driver. Sharing information companywide and training are other ways BGP builds an engaged workforce. The company releases internal news monthly via a posted newsletter, and external news biweekly in its e-news campaign. Communications include associate profiles, products and applications. Additionally, the company has a systematized training program in place. Butler Gas University (BGU), founded by Barbara Glessner, Jack’s sister, educates all employees on how to operate under the “Butler Value System.” Every new associate undergoes a 45-day individualized training program. Four times a year, company-wide BGU training sessions are conducted. These hour-long seminars address a strategic issue the company is working on. Recently, a BGU Master’s Program was added to the training curriculum. Designed for employees with high potential, this self-selecting course is open to anyone who aspires to develop their career by learning more about business and the gases and welding industry. The program graduated five employees in its first year. Butler Gas Products uses a mix of traditional and new forms of marketing to reach its audience. Billboards still capture the attention of the customer on the road and press releases go out to local newspapers and industry publications. On the digital front, BGP considers its website to be an important marketing tool. Social media is used to promote the company along with electronic newsletters. Participation in groups and professional organizations in its region is also considered critical to BGP marketing efforts. 34 • Winter 2018

BGP uses a mix of new and traditional forms of marketing, like this billboard, to reach its audience.

To stay abreast of industry trends and solutions to some of its more stubborn challenges, the Butlers are big believers in the benefits of national and global industry associations. With the “once and future” presidents leading BGP, Jack and Abydee are especially strong proponents of GAWDA. They urge distributors, particularly small and mid-sized companies, to get involved and take advantage of its consultants, its alliance with the Compressed Gas Association and its networking opportunities. The Butlers believe GAWDA is an invaluable resource and credit the association with helping them achieve success.


As 2018 begins, the answer to the question, “What’s ahead?” remains elusive to many. However, the Butlers are forward thinkers, and while they may be unsure of precisely what to expect on the industry landscape over the next 10 months, they have a 100-year strategic plan in place nevertheless.

That plan includes the view that supplier consolidation is an opportunity to strengthen its position as a distributor’s distributor. “We don’t worry about what we don’t know,” notes Abydee. “We invest in what we can control, and we try to add as much value upstream as we do downstream. We keep our focus on customers.” Looking forward, Abydee continues, “We work hard to continuously develop our distribution assets. Investing in the gas business supports our vision of being the best regional manufacturing distributor.” With its continued focus on safety, people, customers and profits, Butler Gas Products’ vision of being the best in the region appears to be very much on track — and still in the competent hands of Butler family members — 70 years after its beginnings. Agnes H. Baker is a freelance writer with more than 15 years of experience covering the industrial, medical and specialty gas industry. Based in Massachusetts, she is at:

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ake a 2017 that showed positive economic growth consecutively for most months of the year. Add chart-busting stock exchange indexes that just wouldn’t stop. Mix in the optimism that a new type of government administration – outwardly perplexing but inwardly more efficient and more business-friendly - put forward. It was the recipe for a welcome economic mix throughout 2017, and the fodder for much more optimism as the year closed out. Now in 2018, many distributors and supplier-manufacturers are riding the wave of positivity, making moves where they need to, taking advantage of opportunities and acting on good conditions where before, they may have been waiting for better times to initiate expansions, new geographic footprints and new business ventures. Here’s what is happening at many of the large, medium and small distributor members that we reached. 36 • Winter 2018



We’re planning to make investments in two geographic areas within NORCO’s existing footprint to grow our gas business. We’re a little unique in that of all the independents, we’re the only one that operates our own air separation plants, so we are always looking at ways to further grow that business. At the same time, another area of focus for 2018 is to make investments to secure our independence. With the impending Praxair-Linde merger, we are always continuing to look at our gas supply. Those are two big gas suppliers for NORCO, so we’re looking at how to supply long-term for argon, helium and carbon dioxide, three critical gases to our business. So, we’re making internal investments to grow, to secure our independence and to grow our market within our current seven-state footprint.





75 LOCATIONS IN 7 STATES Idaho Montana Nevada

I’m very bullish on the independents in the market. Yes, Utah I’m concerned that one-fifth of the maWashington jors is going away (the Praxair-Linde merger), but it appears the Federal Wyoming Trade Commission is going to create another major, by all plants being divested out of the Linde deal. I think it’s always a good thing for the independents when these things happen. I think we’re more focused on customer service than the majors are. From a production standpoint, yes, there’ll be another player out there – a Messer, a private equity group that buys a billion dollars’ worth of assets, maybe another player with another opportunity for us to use that player to continue to battle against the mega-companies Linde, and Air Liquide and Airgas. I’m bullish on the environment. I’m excited for more opportunity, because I think there’s more opportunity for us as we continue to do our business every day. Oregon


In 2018, without a doubt, we’ll continue to invest in our people. We’re not any different than any other U.S. company with looming retirements of our key individuals. So, we’re working to train and hire for good bench strength and depth, and to continue to backfill positions and grow. We’re also in the process of leveraging technology where we can, in our operations, sales and customer support functions. Some of those initiatives are based on a saying we have: “We don’t want our customers to subsidize our inefficiencies.” We will continue to invest in our core business, the gas business, and other areas that can be beneficial to our customers. But leveraging technology and training will be a key focus. Our new headquarters has been a really good move for us. We were out of space at our previous location, and moving into what is considered an urban village has been very exciting. Our contractor made this into very usable space. Our employees love it, and it will be a great recruiting tool down the road.




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southern Missouri southern Kentucky

It will be interesting to see what happens in 2018. It seems like we’ll have a fairly positive business environment, which could have an effect on people who may have been considering selling their business. We attempt to stay in touch with those who have expressed an interest in possibly selling one day. But we currently have no acquisitions on the docket. And I think 2018 is going to look a lot different. The announced merger of two of the major producers — assuming that materializes — will definitely change the landscape for producers. It will probably require some divestitures, leading to the merger of two of the major players and possibly the


Winter 2018 • 37

FORECAST ISSUE WHAT’S HOT IN 2018 entry of another. We’ll have to wait and see what it looks like on the supply side. On the distribution side, I believe you will continue to see more consolidation. Some of the new tax laws potentially enacted for 2018 could be a real positive for some of the smaller businesses, and that could help drive evaluations and prompt some on the fence to sell. As far as our company, we have an interest in participating in that where it’s a good fit for us, culturally and geographically. We’ve tried to make sure our acquisitions make sense in the long term regarding cultural and geographic fit.

THE COMPANY: We wrapped up a suc-

cessful 2017 with our 23rd acquisition, Alliance Welding Supplies, Inc., in San Jose, Calif., opening a new region for Tech Air. We are always looking to MYLES DEMPSEY, JR., expand into new markets. We are also CHIEF EXECUTIVE doing smaller acquisitions (“tuck ins”) OFFICER in markets where we already operate. Whether opening new regions or addTECH AIR ing tuck-ins, we’ll go anywhere that it DANBURY, CT. makes good business sense. Over the 35 LOCATIONS last several years, we have completed four to five acquisitions per year – a IN 13 STATES very healthy growth trajectory – and we expect to keep up the same pace, and California maybe even more, in the short term. Colorado In just a few years, Tech Air has established a national footprint and Connecticut has demonstrated that for small-to Florida mid-sized companies looking to sell Georgia their businesses, we are an alternative to the giant acquisition firms. We see Maryland a lot more opportunity in the short run Massachusetts and fully expect acquisition activity New Jersey to heat up in 2018 thanks to steadily improving business conditions. For New York companies that have been waiting for Pennsylvania just the right time, now may be that Rhode Island time because the trend has always Texas been it’s better to sell in an upmarket. Traditionally, when business slows Virginia down in our industry, people have learned that a rebound generally isn’t too far away; so waiting a few years to sell may be a better strategy than making a hasty decision to bail out. They know there will always be buyers. 38 • Winter 2018

THE INDUSTRY: Clearly, 2017 – especially the second half –

was better across the board in our industry. We see that trend continuing and believe 2018 is going to be a banner year. For the first time in a long time, there are four big positives, all happening at once: stronger oil prices; tax reforms that are prompting business investments due to the appeal of immediate write-offs; a weaker dollar that is helping exports; and the potential repatriation of billions of dollars in overseas money, which will further spur investments. These signs are extremely encouraging. We expect to see high single-digit growth throughout our industry in 2018. This is the most bullish outlook we’ve seen since the financial crisis almost 10 years ago.

In 2018, we plan continued expansion, both organically and by acquisition. We are well capitalized with senior management who have made numerous acquisitions, GEORGE GOLLIDAY so are constantly reviewing opporPRESIDENT AND CEO tunities for growth. Currently, our efforts are focused in the Southeast AWG and the Midwest, where the econoAMERICAN mies are strong. We recently opened WELDING & a production facility in Columbia, GAS, INC. S.C., and new distribution facilities in RALEIGH, N.C. Greenville, S.C., Chambersburg, Pa., 73 LOCATIONS and Des Moines, Iowa. In 2017, we purchased a CO2 distributor that also IN 18 STATES manufactures dry ice equipment. We continue to invest in our specialty gas production capabilities at both Tier 5 DISTRIBUTION CAPABILITY Labs in Indianapolis and our internal TO 32 STATES facilities. We also continue to invest in talent. It’s all about people; they make the difference! Every AWG associate is empowered to take care of customers. Our associates are our only sustainable competitive advantage and this focus enables us to execute on growth objectives. A bit different than most in our industry, AWG has unique resources. Many associates are shareholders. With 73 facilities in 18 states, AWG has distribution capability in 32 states. This is the backbone of our Thoroughbred Industrial Cylinder Exchange network. We are also a full-service, turnkey supplier for cryogenic gases, with the assets, supply relationships and — most importantly — personnel who are well-trained and experienced in the installation and maintenance of bulk


FORECAST ISSUE WHAT’S HOT IN 2018 gas facilities. Our tankers pick up at the spigot and deliver directly to AWG bulk tanks we install at our customers’ sites. With our large distribution footprint, spec gas production, dry ice capabilities and cryogenic expertise, we are in the perfect spot to support other distributors. AWG has a diverse customer base and long-term relationships with universities, health care providers, laboratories and energy companies. We also provide beverage gases across the country. When you add the stability provided by our long-term supplier relationships, we are poised for a big year in 2018, focusing on profitable growth while driving productivity in our business. Our industry will continue to consolidate as evidenced by the pending merger. Consolidation will include our supply chain. We see that as an opportunity for independent distributors of all sizes. Companies that are well-organized, nimble, and well-capitalized will have a chance to seize on the opportunity. AWG is truly independent and best-in-class, and we plan to seize all opportunities presented.



Middle-level businesses are riding the positive economic tide, finding new niches, pushing geographic boundaries, improving internal systems – all while the going is good.

THE COMPANY: We’re optimistic for

2018 as many of our customers have plenty of work on the books that will require more supplies and capital equipment. Customers continue to inquire about automation because DOUG NYHUIS of the difficulty in hiring skilled PRESIDENT welders, so we see opportunities to PURITY help them through the process and CYLINDER GASES, INC. gain favor. Many of these customers GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. will be first-time buyers. 

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Training is a big initiative for our company, too, since we are rebuilding our bench due to retirements. The digital world continues to speed ahead and is not slowing down, so we will spend some time researching a way to stay relevant in the digital world.

THE INDUSTRY: There will be continued

10 in Michigan




consolidation and a high focus on the digital world. Distributors are going to look to automate as much as they can, filling cylinders, tracking of assets, ordering processes, etc. As distributors, we must provide the high technical support that customers are looking for because it is pretty hard to compete strictly on a transactional basis. “Value” is an overused word, but we need to give our customers a reason to buy from us versus going to the Internet.

THE COMPANY: This year, we’re begin-



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ning construction on a new fill plant. We’ve made a $5 million investment into a completely new facility and state-of-the-art fill plant equipment. The 12,000 sq. ft. plant along with another 6,000 sq. ft. office and conference center will be located at our New Castle property, adjacent to the existing fill plant and our distribution center. We’ll be able to do a lot more in-house than we’ve been able to do now, making us more self-sufficient and more in control of our own destiny on a lot of specialty gas mixes. It’s something we’ve been looking to do for the last 10 years, and it’s been in planning for the last three years. Our business has been fairly strong the last couple years, and we’ve got the cash and cash flow to do it. We

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FORECAST ISSUE WHAT’S HOT IN 2018 were operating with technology built in the 1970s and ‘80s, not the most efficient or cost effective. So, with this, we’ll be safer, more efficient, quicker, more accurate and have more automated controls. If this new technology can get us through the next 20 or 30 years to the next phase of our business, then we’ll be in great shape.

THE INDUSTRY: The big deal there is that we’re a Linde distrib-

utor, so the merger and what happens as a result of that — will there be a new player, will there be improvements in service and product offerings, what changes will there be, how will that affect distributors and end-user customers — that’s on our mind. There are a lot of changes that will need to be navigated. Usually in mergers and acquisitions, lots of people are changing companies and changing roles, so there may be opportunities to add talent to our team. Then there will be changes to the marketplace that we may not even know about yet. I think it will mean some goods and some bads — some opportunity for us in the short term, maybe some customer turmoil that we can take advantage of, and maybe a few employees who won’t make it through the transition that we can pick up. But ultimately, there will be a bigger, stronger Praxair-Linde representation, so we’ll be dealing with a big, strong competitor. They will be a force to be reckoned with even though it may take a while to get to that point. As we have for the last number of years, S.J. Smith will spend next year continuing to focus on our core business. We aim to drive profitability and remove waste from S.J. SMITH our processes through ongoing vendor COMPANY consolidation, analysis of our customDAVENPORT, IOWA ers and using tools such as routing software and cylinder tracking. As 12 LOCATIONS always, goals are set to further our I N 3 S TAT E S safety initiatives. We use Continual Improvement teams to help us reach Illinois our goals in all areas of our business, and we are always looking for better Iowa ways to serve our customers. Missouri This year, we will be spending time developing an integrated B2B website as well as upgrading our current ERP system. RICHELLE SMITH-BRECHT PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER


We expect the coming year to be robust for business. The upcoming merger of Praxair and Linde will be a hurdle for us to jump this year.


42 • Winter 2018

THE COMPANY: We’re finalizing our

expansion into our eighth branch in Columbus, and that will open up new, rather large markets for us in Northern Ohio. We have nine acres there, so this is not only an added branch and retail ERIC WOOD distribution facility, but it will serve VICE PRESIDENTas an opportunity to cover a portion SALES, INDUSTRIAL DIVISION of the state that we’ve never been able to do. We’re excited about it. O.E. MEYER We’ve seen tremendous growth COMPANY in 2017 in our welding and cutting SANDUSKY, OHIO automation, and we feel 2018 will offer more opportunities. Already this 8 LOCATIONS IN year, we have some capital projects on the books and orders on hand to bill in 2018, so we’re going into a new year with 100 percent probability for projects that will amount to a lot of money. While most of our competitors have gotten out of barcoding, we’re implementing it company-wide this year to bring more accountability, more accurate billing and better management of those assets. We’re also updating our distribution fleet with new semis and trailers and making capital improvements in the fill plant to become more efficient. Our goal is to fill more accurate mixes and increase our ability to do more advanced specialty gas filling, being less dependent on buying those gases. We also hope to grow market share by bringing automation- and technical-added selling to the marketplace. As we expand in new markets, it’s important for that growth to be profitable, and we look to provide technical solutions and build long-term partnerships, bringing advancements in technology, welding and cutting, and using technical expertise as our value proposition. We are doing more and more with advanced robotic welding and laser welding and expect to sell our first customized laser welding system in 2018. We also have a lot of new customers in our portfolio that were added from competitor businesses and as those customers become busier, we think we’ll start to see those fruits. We think federal tax reform is going to give our overall business more of a boost, especially if corporations and small shops have more money to spend. If we’re experiencing a growth in revenue in combination with paying less corporate taxes, we’ll also be in a better position to invest in


FORECAST ISSUE WHAT’S HOT IN 2018 We look to provide technical solutions and build long-term partnerships, bringing advancements in technology, welding and cutting, and using technical expertise as our value proposition.

THE COMPANY: Every year, we always

buy more cylinders, more tanks, more trucks, and that will be no different this year. It’s a very capital-intensive business and that will continue. This year, though, we are buying a new BRAD PETERSON ERIC WOOD CHAIRMAN AND liquid nitrogen cryogenic transport O.E. MEYER COMPANY CHIEF ACQUISITION tanker. We’re also buying what I call OFFICER a “building of opportunity.” It’s lo106-8212 1/4 pg. 4C _3.375 x 4.375_Welding & Gases Today_Jan. 2017 capital improvements. We feel it’s just going to go full circle MISSISSIPPI cated across the street from our main WELDERS and help everybody. location. We’ll be using it to house our SUPPLY As for the Praxair-Linde merger, we’ve been a large and Cryo and Transportation Departments. COMPANY, INC. loyal Linde distributor forever, so we have a lot of interest in We have plans to continue expandWINONA, MINN. how that plays out. We feel that it will have a positive impact ing our cryogenic business, and this in some regards because of speculation on how the FTC will 12 LOCATIONS year, like many GAWDA members, make Linde spin off into a different company, and we hope we are ready to implement the new I N 3 S TAT E S it’s a better company. We’re optimistic. We’ll continue to Food Gas requirements. For food grade operate, communicate and work with a lot of the same people CO2, we’re putting residual pressure Iowa and utilize the same Linde infrastructure to support our needs. valves on our 50-pound cylinders. For Minnesota It’s just going to be called something else. smaller cylinders, we’ll be inverting Wisconsin



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FORECAST ISSUE WHAT’S HOT IN 2018 Everyone in this industry recognizes that when the big guys combine and merge, there will be some fallout, and that will be to the benefit of others. BRAD PETERSON , CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF ACQUISITION OFFICER MISSISSIPPI WELDERS SUPPLY COMPANY, INC.

them before we fill them. We also plan to have a HARP-C and food safety plan in place. It’s what many in the industry are dealing with, but nothing new, big or surprising. I’m also always looking for how can we grow our business, so I’m looking out for other companies that may want to come into our fold and enlarge our operation. That’s a long game; you just don’t go out and knock on doors and buy them the next day. But, I’m still out there, knocking on doors and calling people.

purchasing authority and power. They’re used to one-click shopping. So, our industry will have to figure out ways to be faster, better, smarter, even though you still have to put a cylinder on a truck and take it there. The industry is also watching the shakeout from the Airgas-Air Liquide merger and the Praxair-Linde deal. As those companies sort it out, work through their systems and figure out who’s going to be in charge of what, that diffused focus means opportunity for other companies. Everyone in this industry recognizes that when the big guys combine and merge, there will be some fallout, and that will be to the benefit of others.

THE COMPANY:   We’re a propane/

THE INDUSTRY: In this industry, we’re going to have to continue

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closer contact with distributors and better communications with our customers as much as possible. We’re also part of the New York City metro construction boom, and between that and the cold temperature, it’s a nice combination of business for us. We like the cold, absolutely! What’s different for 2018 is that we’ve really pushed hard in the past year on safety and compliance. We want our workforce safe, so we have hired a compliance and safety officer full time who handles all the regulatory concerns, including new CO2 regulations as far as batches and recalls. We are audited by Homeland Security at some of our pumping facilities, so compliance has become a very fundamental aspect of what we do.

We are audited by Homeland Security at some of our pumping facilities, so compliance has become a very fundamental aspect of what we do. KEITH RAMSDELL, PRESIDENT AMERICAN COMPRESSED GASES

Right now oil prices are a hot topic. The seasonal business and temporary heating is something we’ve always focused on. There are a lot of good opportunities there. When the temperature changes, the higher demand affects prices. We almost consider propane as a commodity because the pricing is so volatile. We do everything we can to keep prices down for our customers. Sometimes, the market is so volatile, we feel like we’re in the risk management business. Severe winter weather tends to effect pricing and supply. We are currently experiencing propane allocations and increased pricing.



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Even distributors with just one, two or a few shops seem to be finding new ways to progress, nice niche opportunities and other reasons for optimism.

THE COMPANY: For us, 2018 is going to be a continuation



of some new niche businesses we became involved in over the last couple years. We plan on expanding and continuing to grow sales of dry ice and CO2 for breweries and event centers.  Last year, we expanded our offering in the specialty hydrocarbon business to include onsite filling capabilities for instrument grade butane, iso-butane and propane. Furthermore, we have expanded our bulk transport fleet to include multiple new tankers and tube trailers to meet the growing needs of our customers. These new sectors have worked out well and have exceeded our one-year expectations. We’re expanding products as well as territory because some of the products we’re sell-

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really positive year. The economy here has been strong and we foresee it being strong for 2018. As a family-owned independent distributor and because of the service level we can provide, we see more and more opportunities coming our way given the multiple mergers and acquisitions at the national level. We hope to be in a position to take advantage of that. It’s been tough to hire good people in all facets of operations. We have a referral campaign, so we end up having multiple family members come to work for us, and that’s helped us maintain a really good workforce. We’re constantly


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ing now have almost deDETROIT AND manded that YPSILANTI, MICH. we expand our footprint. The good part is, as our footprint grows, we can sell all our other wares. These new niche businesses have increased our geography and it has worked out well for all our businesses as a whole. Acquisitions by national companies in our area this past year have left a lot of customers wanting really good service. We experienced enough requests for service that we decided we needed to do something when we saw a good opportunity.


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FORECAST ISSUE WHAT’S HOT IN 2018 hiring — even if we don’t have a position per se — because historically, we’ve always been growing. If we come across the right person, we’ll find a home for them. We are probably looking to add anywhere between five and 10 employees in the next 18 months.



Our company is in the heart MCKINNEY of New York WELDING City, and here in SUPPLY the Big Apple, CO., INC. things are go3 LOCATIONS ing very well. The economy IN THE NYC is doing very METRO AREA well and there is a lot of activity and new construction, therefore, we are busy. Our client base is very diversified, but when construction is booming, that’s when we’re booming. We foresee that situation for all of 2018. We have already made a few capital purchases and are planning additional ones in the upcoming months. We have our niche in the marketplace here, and we can handle business with the three locations we have. We’re just trying to maintain what we have, and as the economy grows, we hope to get stronger within our current boundaries.

on our customers — delivery rates, reorder rates — to do forecasting. We have the technology available in-house to do that, but we haven’t taken advantage of it yet. We’re sitting on so much data, and we’re trying to use it to make us more efficient and serve our customers better. The challenge now is determining whether there is manpower on staff to do this, if we need to bring in a specialist to teach our staff how to do it, or whether we need to hire someone from the outside to manage the data. We’re leaning toward redeploying someone on staff then bringing in extra help for sales support.

THE INDUSTRY: Like most everyone else in our industry,

we are waiting to see how things shake out regarding the Linde-Praxair merger. We don’t let it shape our day-to-day business, but it’s definitely something we keep up on. I think there are a lot of opportunities out there for a small business like ours to continue to grow and prosper within this industry, and there are certainly opportunities for us to expand into different markets as well. I’m looking forward to seeing what becomes of 2018.





Nationwide in this industry, I know that some parts of country haven’t rebounded as well as others. I think overall, at least in this region of the country, the general feeling is very positive, and we foresee economic growth continuing in the coming year.


THE COMPANY: In 2018 we’re putting our

efforts toward the small bulk market. We will be working to use the data we have Winter 2018 • 47

FORECAST ISSUE WHAT’S HOT IN 2018 THE COMPANY: We’ve started off 2018 with strategic in-





vestments in people and facilities to set the stage for added and continuing growth. We’re looking to grow deeper into existing key industry segments while investing in new distribution equipment to help greater utilize our existing infrastructure. A comprehensive overhaul of the fill plant also is planned soon. We’re also examining the plant’s physical and operational status to gain efficiencies, manage costs, continue to be competitive and handle current incoming growth as well as anticipated future growth. Our company is actively recruiting for corporate leadership and operational and sales positions, too, and we plan to make multiple new hires this year. Some of these initiatives are projects that needed to be done regardless of timing to keep our company competitive, relevant and healthy. For our strategic plans, we also need to be able to have the team, infrastructure and capabilities in place to handle growth without putting too much stress on the organization.

Our company is actively recruiting for corporate leadership and operational and sales positions, and we plan to make multiple new hires this year. EVAN BENNEAR, SALES MANAGER DALE OXYGEN, INC.

THE INDUSTRY: 2018 should be a year

of continued growth and investment. The economy’s trend continues to be more active, and our industry is seeing direct and positive returns. As always, it will be vital for companies in our industry of all sizes to remain efficient and focused on customer service to remain competitive and capable of handling new growth.


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Business has been reasonably strong, nothing record-setting, but it is staying GARY LEFELD strong. We’re PRESIDENT planning for and trying to LEFELD INDUSTRIAL get more man& WELDING power; that is SUPPLIES, INC. our biggest hurdle now, as it has 2 LOCATIONS IN been the last few COLDWATER years. We have a AND GREENVILLE couple openings now and more on the horizon as we expand. We need welders and fabricators for our fabrication division and we’re also looking for sales, marketing and service people, considering an expansion into web sales and

FORECAST ISSUE WHAT’S HOT IN 2018 web marketing. We’re concentrating on keeping the customers we have satisfied and interested in our two stores.

THE INDUSTRY: We think the industry

looks generally positive. The change in Washington certainly has made some changes in small-business outlooks. There’s a lot to be seen as to what will happen in the future — the health care system and company expenses for that being a big item for sure. We’re also taking a serious look at the effect that the web has on the supply side, especially as younger buyers become more of the future of our business. One of our biggest challenges is transferring product and process knowledge from older experienced personnel to younger folks and keeping younger  generations of customers interested in learning the trades and hands-on work experiences.

demands in our marketplace. The simple days of customers calling in to place orders are being replaced by a multitude of punch-out catalogs, purchasing consortiums and Internet sales. Both our Specialty and Industrial divisions are forecasting strong growth for 2018.


With the anticipated merger of Praxair and Linde, I believe everyone will MIDDLESEX GASES & be looking at how this will impact the industry TECHNOLOGIES, INC. EVERETT, MASS. and whether it will spin off another player in the market. Mergers and acquisitions always take 5 LOCATIONS IN center stage, hopefully Middlesex sees the benefit of some of the moves that are currently taking place in the Industry and is able to take advantage. All indicators are forecasting solid growth for our market, which may lead to challenges with supply and demand on specific gases as we move ahead in 2018. As an independent distributor, you always want to keep abreast of the market conditions and face any challenges that may arise.


After finishing 2017, Middlesex had its strongest sales in


The simple days of customers calling in to place orders are being replaced by a multitude of punch-out catalogs, purchasing consortiums and Internet sales. RON PERRY, SALES MANAGER DALE OXYGEN, INC.

the history of the company. For the upcoming year we have several projects focusing on the infrastructure within our fill plants. In the second quarter of 2018 we will be launching our new specialty gas lab with state-of-the-art fill capabilities. This will have a huge impact on our Life Science companies, which continue to surge. We are also committed to investing in new technologies to support customer Winter 2018 • 49


SUPPLIERS FOR ‘THE MAJORS,’ SCOPE AND SCALE ARE AT PLAY WHEN FACING COMMON INDUSTRY CHALLENGES It’s not unusual that welding and gases distribution industry companies, regardless of size, face many of the same issues. However, for “the majors,” including those having global operations, the magnitude of the way those issues are addressed and solved obviously is greatly multiplied, and solutions must be large in scope and scale, too. Some of GAWDA’s largest members convey here how they are managing issues common to the industry. Just like many small, mid- and large-sized companies, they have plans to retain talent, boost employee skills, bridge knowledge transfer; make acquisitions; manage business integration; add automation; bootstrap better IT; and focus strategies, operations and a competitive edge through intensified customer servicing.


THE COMPANY: Our number one priority in 2018 is the opening

of our Welding Technology Center at our Euclid campus. It is the new home of our welding school that has operated for 100 years. While we will continue to teach people how to weld, its core mission is professional development of welding educators, customers and our distributor partners. Our other primary focus is integrating the former Air Liquide Welding business into our company. This acquisition is the largest that Lincoln has ever made and doubles our footprint in the European market. We are excited about some of the products and technologies this acquisition allows us to introduce into the North American market in 2018. We’ve also made a number of strategic acquisitions the last three to five years to really enhance our capabilities in the automation space. Each acquired company has brought a new dimension to our capabilities and those investments will continue to drive our automation strategy.

THE INDUSTRY: With tax reform settled, U.S. corporations are

going to feel more confident about making business invest-

50 • Winter 2018

ments with known lower tax rates and other provisions that make capital investments appealing for things like robots and welding machines. Two key macroeconomic trends will impact our business. One is the shortage of skilled laborers and welders. With expanding demand levels and low unemployment, businesses will be challenged to find new ways to help them meet the increased demand from customers, forcing them to think differently about how they approach this issue. We think customers will look towards automating processes, such as welding. We also believe that as customers continue to improve their products (for example, making them lighter in weight or more corrosion resistant), they will be forced to make them out of higher performing materials. That will continue a migration from mild steel to more high-performance materials: aluminum, stainless and nickel alloys and composites. These materials tend to create more welding challenges versus mild steel. Over the past several years, Lincoln has been building out its alloy portfolio and expertise to meet these demands from our customers. We’re optimistic about 2018. After several challenging years for the manufacturing community, we saw improved business each quarter of 2017, supported by improving fundamentals in our key segments such as heavy fab, pipeline and general industries. Combine that with growing business confidence and a defined tax policy, we are optimistic about this year.


“We see the economic opportunity in 2018 as wind at our back.” -DAVID NANGLE, THE HARRIS GROUP THE HARRIS PRODUCTS GROUP



We’ve made capital investments in our Ohio and Georgia manufacturing facilities and are focusing on automation IT and infrastructure improvements to better serve customers. We have consolidated all products into one distribution center and have improved inventory programs for top customers targeting a 48-hour shipment of our best-selling products. Automation and technology investments are allowing us to have better throughput on shipments and help with replenishment to make sure there are no stock-outs. We’ve expanded our specialty gas line and all products are manufactured in our Gainesville, Ga., facility. New software speeds the product configuration, quotation and availability process. Delivery is exceptional, and that helps distributors gain a competitive edge. As a result of our acquisition of Air Liquide Welding, we have added some new products. One area is a portfolio of integrated cylinder valves, which is very common in Europe. These products are now available from Harris to our U.S. distributors. We’ve expanded our sales force including a larger inside sales and customer fulfillment group. In 2017, we aligned our outside sales people to important customers throughout the U.S. Now, one salesperson has responsibility for all distributor store locations, versus covering a geographic territory. In this new program, sales have expanded substantially for both Harris Products Group and the distributor.


We have been continuing to invest in our U.S. business, and the new federal tax plan actually complements our strategy very nicely. Being close to the customer has been our strategy for quite some time, and we’ve seen steady growth over the past several years. We had a very good year in 2017 and we’re very optimistic that will continue in 2018. We see the economic opportunity in 2018 as wind at our back; we’ve been waiting for that for some time.



THE COMPANY: In the Americas, Air Products plans to con-

tinue to pursue top line growth opportunities in the form of capacity in onsite and liquid investments, asset buy-backs, and other existing, complementary businesses as they may become available. We will also continue to invest in modernization of our fleet of plants and distribution equipment, which creates opportunity for low-cost incremental capacity, efficiency improvements and safer and more reliable operations that benefit our employees and customers. 2018 should see expansion in domestic manufacturing, which would benefit the industry in terms of loading existing assets and new investment opportunities. We see this particularly in the steel, energy/transportation and chemical sectors, but other segments, such as food, medical, electronics, metal fabrication and glass, are also expected to show growth over the next several years. From an Air Products perspective, we continue to be optimistic about our future performance and the opportunities we see in front of us. Our safety performance remains strong, and we will continue to focus on productivity in 2018 and beyond. Air Products also has the strongest balance sheet in the industry, and we remain confident in our ability to create shareholder value by deploying this capital through acquisitions, asset buy-backs and very large industrial gas projects around the world.



THE COMPANY: We’re celebrating our 50th anniversary this year.

We’ll be doing a lot of regional celebrations and micro events plus celebrating at GAWDA’s SMC and Annual meetings. These celebrations will focus on our clients — on them, not on us. It’s Winter 2018 • 51

FORECAST ISSUE WHAT’S HOT IN 2018 about them and what have we done for them over those years. In the last quarter of 2017 we saw a surge of new business on our project side — fill plants, labs, automation. It was very concentrated and it really surprised us. It seemed a lot of people that had projects on hold took them off hold, so the first half of this year is going to be tremendous. We’re adding automation this year and just brought in our fourth robot — it’s massive. It’s going to change how we manufacture a big part of our product line and we’re really psyched about that. We’re automating office processes with new software to offer more timely response to client needs, also collecting data so we can predict needs. If we can understand what issues our customers currently face, rather than the issues they faced a year ago, everything shifts. Vendors typically don’t have a client’s pulse that actively. We’re trying to do that so we can get in front of clients’ issues before they become major issues.

THE INDUSTRY: There was no arguing with the buzz we felt in

New York at the GAWDA Annual; that has only continued to

grow in talks with customers. I’ve never seen the stock market more untethered to the realities of the street. Confidence is very high, interest rates are really low and people are working. Even in Illinois, we have pretty much full employment now. I think the industry saw what occurred with Airgas and Air Liquide and events that followed that merger were good for some independents and not so good for others. When Praxair and Linde announced what they wanted to do, I think a lot of independents got in gear for that; some were waiting for some kind of selloff. Word is that Linde is in talks with one foreign, large independent to buy all the selloff they have to do. I think what we’re starting to see now is that [independents] are gearing for war, trying to ramp up their capabilities in case they have a new foreign distributor in the marketplace. That looks pretty possible. Everyone is talking about Messer (MG Welding Products). Messer runs a good ship in markets where they exist. They’re a top-dog company and if they come in, they’ll come in geared up; they’ll come in aggressive. So, I don’t blame the independents’ mindset to gear up and get ready.



Unlike some competitor’s designs, residual pressure valves, Rotarex RPV Cylinder Valves for Food-grade CO2 have an integrated backflow prevention device – in addition to an integrated residual pressure device. This second protection level helps better prevent accidental forced contamination – like syrup backflow – in addition to passive atmospheric backflow, should the valve be left in open positon. Improves the health and safety of beverage carbonation. ★ HEALTHIER:Reduces the risk of CO2 contamination that can taint beverages. Helps maintain CO2 purity by preventing backflow into the cylinder. ★ SAFER: Reduces the risk of corrosion damage in steel cylinders by protecting against atmospheric contamination NORTH AMERICA Tel.: +1 724-696-4340  E-mail:  221 Westec Drive  Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania 15666 USA WORLD HEADQUARTERS Tel.: +352 32 78 32 - 1  E-mail:  24, rue de Diekirch  B.P.19, L-7505 Lintgen - Luxembourg

52 • Winter 2018

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WITH A FRESH, NEW (YEAR) START, SUPPLIERS ARE SAYING, ‘BULLY FOR 2018’ Fresh off the annual convention – with its “Bullish on GAWDA” theme and its New York City financial capital/Wall Street setting – the industry marketplace is playing a mirroring tune. That’s something that’s sounding like wonderful music to GAWDA members’ ears. Here, over the next few pages, supplier and manufacturer members of GAWDA tell what they have on their business agendas for 2018 – be it new products, new services, expansions or other initiatives. They also report how they feel their counterpart distributor members can find value – and the chance to grab new business-building opportunities – in what they have to offer this year.


2018 FOCUS: Wireless Attachment for X-Series Earmuffs. VALUE: The earmuffs are perfect for staying connected while

being exposed to loud outside noises up to 95 decibels of sound. Do you have customers that need to communicate while in loud industrial environments? This accessory simply connects to Bluetooth with noise-canceling features to be able to take calls in any environment. This unique product technology offering comes with an attractive price point as a perfect add-on opportunity for all your industrial clients.


2018 FOCUS: Automobile coverage. VALUE: In 2018, we are offering a complete suite of en-

hanced new features for auto insurance coverages, such as airbag coverage, automatic inclusion of lease gap and other enhancements to existing coverages. The stability of com54 • Winter 2018

mercial automobile coverages continues to be a vital part of protecting a distributor’s business, particularly as they grow their fleets. AmWins will continue to be an advocate for distributors, knowing that automotive exposure of the fleet is one of their biggest business challenges.


2018 FOCUS: Prepaid freight on orders on $1,000 or more. Celebrating our 60 th Anniversary (with four generations strong) of servicing the industry with our uniquely designed patented products. Anthony delivers an innovative product line to offer your customers solutions for safer cylinder handling and storage. Our patented Load-N-Roll series carts offer unmatched mobility with two heavy-duty lockable casters to easily move cylinders in any direction.



2018 FOCUS: All cylinders – high pressure, steel, cryogenic, acetylene, composite, bulk tanks, firefighting cylinders.


It’s beginning to look a lot like a very bullish year. BTIC America Corporation has over 23 years of industry experience selling all types of cylinders and is a onestop-shop for all cylinder needs. Known for top-of-the- line quality, pricing is very competitive. With a warehouse here in the U.S., delivery turnaround is very fast. All cylinders are customizable, including neck rings, painting, valving and stamping.




DOT-3AA Specification cylinders – “STEEL” high-pressure cylinders.

2018 FOCUS:

VALUE: With our extensive inventory and supply of high pres-

sure cylinders, both steel and aluminum, California Cylinder is able to provide immediate delivery to distributor partners across the country, in most cases. This allows our distributor partners the ability to respond quickly and efficiently to supply their customer’s requirements.


2018 FOCUS: A new line of smartphone

mobile apps (assistant, delivery, warehouse) designed to boost productivity across the entire organization for the sales team, front counter customer service reps, drivers and fill plant operators. The world has gone mobile and so has TIMS. Today, people need access to information and business process wherever they go using a smartphone or tablet. The new line of TIMS mobile apps delivers on that notion. TIMS Assistant is the perfect digital assistant for sales people to quickly access customer information, check price and availability and place orders. TIMS Delivery utilizes connected smartphones to streamline the entire delivery process and process mobile payments. TIMS Warehouse provides a connected experience for everyday fill plant activities. Go mobile, be mobile, with TIMS!




2018 FOCUS: Our cylinder-filling plant


2018 FOCUS: High-pressure, compos-

ite-wrapped industrial gas cylinders.

Catalina now has the capability to produce Type 2 and Type 3 composite-wrapped cylinders up to 6,000 psi service pressure. This increase in service pressure enables distributors to transport and store more gas in each cylinder. Our high-pressure composite cylinders will help gas distributors boost profits in 2018 by lowering their logistics costs and reducing the frequency of their refills.


equipment and cryogenic pump-protection control panels.

We supply a variety of fill plant equipment to lessen cylinder handling to reduce labor costs and save on employee costs overall. Our sentinel pump-protection control panels provide the best protection in the industry for your pumps while still achieving optimum operating times. With a standard maintenance program, your pump repair costs will be at a minimum each year. All of us here at CTR strive to help your profits grow through our substantial investment each year in new product development, engineering and listening to our customers’ needs.


Winter 2018 • 55





More complete line of cryogenic bulk tanks up to 50 tons on the bulk CO2 and up to 6,000 gallons on the oxygen-nitrogen-argon, both of which are vacuum jacketed.  Expanded lines of Cyl-Connect’s remote monitoring products. Popular cylinders and bulk tanks on hand, ready to ship.

2018 FOCUS:

VALUE: Our line gives distributors another high-quality,

best-value choice for large bulk tanks. Cyl-Tec’s Cyl Connect offers distributors the opportunity to reduce their distribution costs. Cyl-Tec maintains inventory on all popular cylinders and bulk tanks to offer fast turnaround time to more quickly satisfy customers’ requirements.

2018 FOCUS: Off The Grid-O.T.G.– abrasive products for cordless power tools.

With cordless power tools becoming so prevalent in our industry, accessories that extend battery life are important for welders, contractors and do-it-yourselfers. Downtime in changing batteries wastes time, costs money and slows production. Flexovit’s new line of Off The Grid — O.T.G — depressed center grinding wheels, thin-angle grinder cut-off wheels and flap discs are produced with patent-protected technology. They offer an average of 50 percent increase in battery life and keep the production lines moving without costly stoppages.



2018 FOCUS: cro-bulk units.

Taylor-Wharton mi-

Eleet Cryogenics offer Taylor Wharton micro-bulk units that continue to evolve over time to satisfy the needs of customers. The tanks’ unique features include a 3x higher flow rate than historic models for the most demanding applications, a heavy-duty stand for the dual fill adapter to protect the piping, backpressure economizer on the vent line to relieve pressure as needed and a high-quality stainless steel skid that is durable and rust free for years of reliable service. Immediate shipment is available with a 5-year vacuum warranty.



Helping distributors find high-margin ethane customers through emerging markets.

2018 FOCUS:

VALUE: Gas Innovations wants to help distributors identify

ethane customers by leveraging our expertise of where to find them. Once we find them, we stay buckled to distributors to help service and grow these customers and will not attempt to take on any large accounts directly. Ethane comes in all sizes of packaging, from the small 5-pound low pressure cylinder up to a bulk trailer of 11,000 gallons, allowing you to start a customer small to gain trust and then grow them to a large bulk account. Gas Innovations is a great partner to grow your ethane business because we provide the institutional knowledge, proper equipment and employee training.




2018 FOCUS: plays.

Flange Wizard store dis-

VALUE: Move Flange Wizard’s products out the door with their

multifunctional displays, increasing sales through hands-on product introduction. Displays are made out of old oxygen or gas bottles and include holders for Flange Wizard catalogs, a shelf for pipe wraps and a sign with a built-in monitor showing instructional videos. Check the store display on our website for pictures and ordering information. 56 • Winter 2018



New KAT 300 series welding and cutting automation carriage.

2018 FOCUS:

The Gullco 300 Series KAT is the next model in the long history of Gullco welding automation carriages. The KAT has been used throughout the world and the 300 series has been engineered to improve upon this already-popular design. The KAT is small and light and built for fast toolless setup, adjustment and operation.



2018 FOCUS: mixes).

Hydrocarbons (butane

VALUE: The movement within the nation to legalize cannabis

thus far has affected 38 states and counting. Each state has some level of legality for medical and/or recreational use. Kaplan Industries is looking to capitalize on this opportunity by partnering with independent distributors to be the facilitators to the end users of butane. Butane is one of the most efficient ways to extract the cannabis oil from a marijuana plant. This opportunity is growing quickly due to medical benefits reportedly affiliated with this surging market. Call us to find out the next step.



Industrial Pro continues to demonstrate to independent welding distributors that it is a real alternative source

2018 FOCUS:


for margin producing, industrial-grade welding machines, plus everyday wholesale supplies which have proven to be on par with national brand competitors.

VALUE: Our Forney green welding machine offering is designed

to meet our welding engineering specifications for value and performance in an industrial-grade product. Our commitment to independent distributors is to provide a profitable product that is a true alternative to the big brands with solid margins built in to every sale.


2018 FOCUS: Z Speed .045 cut-off and grinding wheels.

Winter 2018 • 57

FORECAST ISSUE WHAT’S HOT IN 2018 Mercer has had substantial growth in the welding industry over the last few years, due in large part to the shared corporate culture between Mercer and independent welding distributors. Family owned and operated for more than 50 years, Mercer’s philosophy remains the same: personal service and quality products when you need them. This year, Mercer has added its next generation Zirconia: Z Speed .045 cut-off and grinding wheels, providing an extremely high performing wheel with self-sharpening zirconia grain at a very competitive price, adding to the bottom line.




2018 FOCUS:

New displays.


Software that extends beyond the office and is integrated with the back office.

2018 FOCUS:

VALUE: Software that is customer focused to support self-ser-

vice on the web will continue to grow. Web systems integrated with map systems and back office will support customer specific pricing, scheduling when a distributor services that area, tracking delivery trucks and more. Customers want to buy, pay and get help electronically, and that will drive up a distributor’s bottom line. Customers are doing this in their personal lives and want technology integrated in their business livelihood, too.

VALUE: Attractive, simplified merchandising displays are easy-

to-order and will stay looking nice. They are made with durable, all-metal construction that will stay looking fresh. Three different versions are available that are flexible to meet any distributor’s showroom needs. The displays are available in both Norton and Carborundum branding. They include: a standard wall unit which would replace the traditional gondola; a free-standing, three-sided display that is great for end caps or open floor plans; a small portable rack that can be positioned anywhere and that is great for impulse buy positioning or anywhere with additional space.


2018 FOCUS: Gas blending technology

to enhance offerings to both beverage gas and industrial gas customers.

VALUE: As we monitor the beverage gas market, we are anticipating

more regulatory oversight on beverage gas installations. We are




It incorporates a unique flow selector design that helps users set the exact flow quickly and easily. The ACCU-TROL regulator will help simplify the MIG/TIG welding process for users of all experience levels.

FEATURES/BENEFITS • Easy-to-use hand tight connection – No wrench required • Easy to Operate – Click-style selector for just the right flow, replaces the need for flowmeter or flowgauge • Durable and easy-to-read contents gauge • Compact and light weight

58 • Winter 2018

enhancing our offerings to stay ahead of the curve and will include plug-and-play features to allow the end user to optimize their gas usage by minimizing waste due to leaks. The new beverage gas offering will be on display at the SMC this year. For industrial gas, consider giving your customer the option to blend process gases on-site. This will allow you to stay competitive, especially if premixed cylinder gas pricing puts business with a customer in jeopardy due to the customer’s volume. Giving the option to mix process/shielding gases on-site can also allow manpower at the fill plant to focus on other important activities. In addition, McDantim gas blenders can be offered as part of an overall bulk gas supply package that includes leasing the blender to end users. The lease package produces a monthly residual revenue stream. That benefits the distributor and customer by creating the flexibility to upgrade system capacity as customer needs grow without increasing manufacturing and handling costs of premix cylinder bulk packages. We see opportunities for distributing members to increase bulk CO2 sales in 2018 as both breweries and medical marijuana facilities gain popularity.


2018 FOCUS:

Hardfacing wires and electrodes.

VALUE: When the current hardfacing solution is not living up

to your customers’ expectations or when there are constant supply issues, Postle can help restore the confidence your customers place in you. Postle will educate distributors on the benefits of hardfacing so they will be able to help solve customers’ problems. In an effort to secure new business, we will participate in joint calls with distributors to provide technical assistance in determining the proper product for the customer and make sure the product is being applied correctly.


2018 FOCUS: Reelcraft’s interactive catalog and quick-ship program improves cash flow through exceptional searchability and availability. The new service includes easy product selection, quick and easy access to information and competitive fast processing and shipping. VALUE: The internet is forcing manufacturers and distributors Winter 2018 • 59

FORECAST ISSUE WHAT’S HOT IN 2018 to continue to raise the bar and keep up with technological trends. A strong web presence with quick access to consumers’ needs is crucial. Reelcraft has over 190 top-selling models in stock ready to ship. Models listed with an icon can ship same or next day upon request when the order is received by 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time for quantities of 10 or fewer. Reelcraft’s goal is to be among the easiest companies to do business with.


No matter what challenges your customer is facing, we have the right cored wires, now united under one name: Diamondspark. Experience excellent weld quality and next-level productivity with a virtual absence of splatter and optimal protection against moisture. It is a savings you can pass on to your customers. The product also is well suited for CTOD applications in offshore. We are also proud to share news of our expanding sales force providing better service and support to our distribution partners from coast to coast.






2018 FOCUS: Carolina Piping acquisition. VALUE: Acquiring Carolina Piping complements our business

model by vertical integration. This adds to our current product line of microbulk plumbing, medical gas final line assemblies, CPS high pressure manifolds, certified oxygen cleaning station, stainless steel passivation and steel bead blast/pickle and oil. Saf-T-Cart is one single source for highly specialized manifolded items — from fabrication of the structure to the complete piping of the finished product.


Our quick connectors will help a distributor’s fill plant operation to be faster, safer and more reliable. The main opportunity for cost savings is the preventative cost of health care to injured employees who might develop conditions such as carpel tunnel and other injuries caused by the manual labor of connecting and disconnecting cylinder connectors all day long. These are dangerous hidden costs that can be prevented.



2018 FOCUS: Next generation stainless.


VALUE: Select-Arc’s next generation of SelectAlloy flux-cored

stainless products give distributors an easy way to increase profits and satisfy customers with a product that is proudly made in America. These new products match and surpass the performance that offshore stainless products distributors may currently be offering — all at a competitive price. Customers will experience enhanced welder appeal, better bead geometry, improved bead appearance and cosmetics, as well as ease of operation in both the all-position and flat/horizontal products.


Diamondspark, the ultimate range of seamless cored wires, from our seamless tubular to the brand-new laser sealed cored wires. 60 • Winter 2018

Quick connector.



2018 FOCUS:

2018 FOCUS:

2018 FOCUS: Right-size your equipment. VALUE: Whether you need trailers to haul the maximum prod-

uct allowable under U.S.-DOT weight regulations, or require ASME ground storage equipment to fit tight spaces without paying premium prices, Weldship Corporation has engineered the products to meet your needs. We offer both short-term and long-term lease options that best fit the needs of every customer.


2018 FOCUS: KwikLok Quick Connects. VALUE: Western’s KwikLok Quick Connects offer a twist-lock-

ing feature that makes them OSHA compliant by preventing accidental disconnects. This is a huge feature for our customers, as the KwikLoks enable system flexibility without sacrificing

FORECAST ISSUE WHAT’S HOT IN 2018 safety or quality. This product can integrate seamlessly into customers’ current setups, allowing them to be compliant without overhauling their systems.


VALUE: With increasing regulations to fume and particulate exposure, fume guns

reduce weld fume and particulates. This helps with welder retention because it makes for a healthier, cleaner working environment. Abicor Binzel strives to improve the health and safety of welders, which in turn can drive opportunities for distributors to keep the welding workforce intact for a stronger industry as a whole. We are expanding our sales force for better service and support to our distribution partners. The Abirob drastically eliminates the torch cable portion for improved durability and potential reduced robot cycle time.



2018 FOCUS: Our retest business is

projected to grow by 30-35 percent due to the July 2007 DOT requirement that tube trailers get re-tested and certified every 10 years. Our shop disassembles and repairs tube trailers and chassis to likenew condition. Our primary business goal for 2018 is to reduce our lead time to repair a trailer from 60 days to 45 days. Because of the need to take trailers out of service for re-test and certification, our lease business is projected to grow by 15 percent to help alleviate the shortage of inventory. Trailer owners would be wise to schedule shop time for these mandatory recertifications early in the year to ensure availability of their trailers and to comply with this requirement.



2018 FOCUS: A manual welding unit,

a new fume extraction torch combined with a portable extraction and continued expansion of regional sales and key account managers. In addition: robotics and automation; Abirob cyclone torch with endless rotation, available to order.

2018 FOCUS: Maximizing Gas Equipment Company’s customer satisfaction through technology.

VALUE: We plan to maximize the skills and affinity for connectivity of our new

account managers, Cody Patrick and Cole Bishop, both based out of our Dallas location, to increase our customer satisfaction. The millennial generation’s strong desire for connectivity can greatly benefit the overall customer experience. Equipping

Want a better hardfacing supplier?

Is your current hardfacing support non-existent? Postle specializes only in hardfacing alloys and superior support.

Cleveland, Ohio USA

Call Mike Korba at Postle Hardface Technologies: (216) 265-9000 or

Winter 2018 • 61 Welding and Gases Today/ 1st Quarter


young professionals with smart devices allows them to manage customer inquiries, such as customer specific pricing and inventory levels, anywhere, at any time.


2018 FOCUS: A new microbulk scheduler in addition to new low-cost unit originally designed for beverage carb industry.


2018 FOCUS: Free pump training class-

es at all four of our U.S.-based service centers. Our spring and fall sessions are held in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Houston and Southern California.

VALUE: The classes teach maintenance techniques to improve

efficiencies, preventative maintenance and repair strategies for cryogenic pumps, as well as full-system and cryogenic-liquid theory to ensure your pumping systems are operating in the most effective manner possible. Those who take the classes learn to identify problems based on operating systems. The trouble-shooting methods that we teach can save you money on service calls, repair bills and most importantly, plant down time.

This new microbulk scheduler is the newest application for DOLV3 users. Pulling data from the powerful DOLV3 platform, it is capable of route optimization using Google Maps. Planners can see the status of assets at a glance to plan routes for trucks and drivers. Drivers have access to a mobile app to see delivery routes at a glance for the next three days, and real-time updates allow for unplanned deliveries, while changes can be made on-the-fly. Data is shown in real time as soon as the driver updates the delivery on the app, so the status of an asset is known to the planner immediately. The system performs end-of-day reporting for billing and reporting analytics, so planners can service customers more effectively.




FIBA Technologies, Inc., a family owned business, has provided the finest quality gas containment equipment and services to our global customers for three generations. That’s because we have an established set of credentials and capabilities that make us uniquely qualified.

Our Quality is Recognized Worldwide!

FIBA Technologies, Inc. | 53 Ayer Road, Littleton, MA 01460 Phone: 508.887.7100 | Fax: 978.742.4908 | FIBA = SAFETY, QUALITY & INTEGRITY 62 • Winter 2018


VALUE: Sumner’s internal fit-up clamp alignment tool can be used


New Taylor-Wharton MicroBulk Design.

2018 FOCUS:

Taylor-Wharton’s new MicroBulk design delivers an immediate cost savings to gas distributors by providing an expanded offering of standard features while also reducing costs. These standard features now include stainless steel pallets, isolation and extended stem cryogenic valves, faster fill times and 3.5 times higher flow rates. Through their U.S. distribution partnership with Eleet Cryogenics, TW minimizes lead times for distributors with expanded stock inventory of all standard models (1000 - 5000LT).

on all standard weld neck flanges and works great with slip-on flanges. With one-piece construction, there is no fear of losing loose pieces. The internal fit-up clamp alignment tool offers a quick operation to get the job done quickly and accurately.




2018 FOCUS:


Internal fit-up clamp alignment tool.


2018 FOCUS: Stainless steel weld cleaning and passivating machines.

Here is the opportunity to offer healthier options for your customers rather than using dust-producing abrasives or toxic chemicals to remove weld burns in the post-weld stage. Distributors can avoid stocking toxic chemicals in their shops, and that helps avoid storage regulations affiliated with harmful chemicals. This is an opportunity to educate customers about an innovative, more efficient and healthier solution — adding value by showing consideration for their health.


Gas Flow And Control Solutions For Cryogenic And Industrial Gas...

Diverters HP Master Valves Globe Valves


Gate Valves

Relief Valves

Liquid Cylinder Valves


Winter 2018 • 63

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The Women of Gases and Welding Committee and guests gathered in front of the hotel on their way to see a Broadway musical.


It was October 2017. It was GAWDA’s Annual Convention. It was held in New York City, the “Big Apple.” It was BIG .

Second Past President Bill Visintainer, left, and Executive Director John Ospina, right, present 2016-2017 President Mark Raimy with a plaque of appreciation for his service.


In fact, it was recording-setting. The 926 members and their guests attending comprised an all-new, alltime GAWDA record.

Headstrong Project’s leader accepts the GAWDA contribution check from Kathryn Raimy, wife of now First Past President Mark Raimy.


Young professionals enjoyed a NYC cross-town scavenger hunt and bonding and networking activities.


A beaming 2017-2018 President Ned Lane, third from left, poses with his wife and his children and their partners after his installation as GAWDA leader.


Alan Beaulieu, GAWDA chief economist and 9) Lou Holtz, former NFL Hall of Famer, football commentator and noted coach, both entertained and informed the audience with keynote addresses.

And it was wonderful, all will certainly agree. If you weren’t able to be there, the photo collages on the next several pages will give you a sense of how big and how good the 2017 Annual Conference truly was. If you didn’t get to go, the “good time had by all” that these pictures convey may motivate you to make plans now to attend the next Association annual event. (It’s scheduled for September 2018 in Seattle.) Here’s what went on: 1.

A Rockettes-type ensemble, with more than enough energy for everyone in the room, generated an enthusiastic AC welcome.


Mark Raimy, 2016-2017 president, made the announcement of GAWDA Gives Back contributions for the year of $171,180 collected. That resulted in presentations of $85,590 each to two New York City non-profits, Headstrong Project and Candlelighters NYC, whose representatives joined him on stage.

66 • Winter 2018

10. Presidents Raimy (l) and Lane (r) greeted Praxair, Inc., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Angel. Angel presented a comprehensive look at the company’s structure, business model, strategic planning initiatives and 2018 operating goals. 11. Cornell University Family Business Center director Daniel VanDerVliet, (l), conducted a discussion of common issues faced by family businesses. Panelists were GAWDA company leaders, from left: Britt Lovin, Abydee Butler Moore and Jenny McCall.

2017 Annual Convention Recap



7 5





11 Winter 2018 • 67

Contact Booth Program The highly successful 2017 Fall Contact Booth program was a bundle of business and also a bundle of fun, with a robust prize program and a business buzz that was noticeably BIG! Top: Equigas’ Rafael Arvelo poses for a booth-based souvenir photo taken by Pavel Perlov of Electronic Fluorocarbons. Bottom row, l-r: teams and representatives from Direct Wire, AWISCO, Flame Tech and Sherwood Valve (Mike Devitt) show their stuff.


a wall street affair

68 • Winter 2018

It was Wall Street, it was iconic New York, and with an over-the-top kind of setting plus a gregarious, high-struttin’ rock’n’roll band, the GAWDA Gala was a ton of fun. Photos show the glamorous setting of the Cipriani location and the rockin’ crowd enjoying the capstone event of the 2017 Annual.

2017 Annual Convention Recap

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1305 Eden Evans Center Rd Angola, NY 14006 Winter 2018 • 69

GATEWAY TO PROGRESS: PEOPLE, PROCESS, PLAN Spring Management Conference | May 6–8, 2018


he 2018 GAWDA Spring Management Conference moves to the Midwest this year, where GAWDA members will meet in Missouri for three days of down-to-earth, nittygritty business information, education and networking opportunities.

The mission of the SMC is to bring GAWDA members a conference designed to target the needs of management and operations decision-makers, and to serve as an idea platform for tactical networking, process-oriented business education and actionable, take-home solutions. Speakers have been chosen to address the realities member businesses deal with every day: achieving operating excellence, maximizing retail space, quarterly planning and hiring and retaining an excellent workforce. Check out this schedule to see who will be speaking, what topics they’ll address and what kinds of afterhours functions and events are taking place.


Cardinals vs. Cubs baseball game Gateway Arch — go to the top! Local breweries and the Budweiser plant tour Visiting the St. Louis Zoo The Missouri History Museum Enjoy several premier art museums

70 • Winter 2018

Saturday, May 5 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Early Badge Pickup

LOCATION St. Louis Union Station Hotel

Sunday, May 6 7:00 am - 6:00 pm


St. Louis Union Station Hotel

8:00 am - 9:00 am

Executive Committee Meeting

St. Louis Union Station Hotel

Board of 9:00 am - 12:00 pm Directors Meeting

St. Louis Union Station Hotel

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Regional St. Louis Union Chairs Meeting Station Hotel

2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Committee Meetings

St. Louis Union Station Hotel

5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

First-Timers’ Reception

Offsite – Ballpark Village

6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

President’s Welcome Reception

Offsite – Ballpark Village

9:00 pm

Industry Hospitalities

Invitation Only

St. Louis Union Station Hotel Photo: Tom Paule Photography

MONDAY SPEAKERS PROCESS TOPICS Mitch Milstein, Ph.D. University of Missouri – St. Louis


7:00 am - 5:00 pm


St. Louis Union Station Hotel

7:00 am - 8:00 am

Networking Breakfast

St. Louis Union Station Hotel

General Business 8:00 am - 12:00 pm Session and Speakers

St. Louis Union Station Hotel

Group Lunch

St. Louis Union Station Hotel

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Women of Gases & Welding Event

St. Louis Union Station Hotel

1:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Contact St. Louis Union Booth Program Station Hotel

4:30 pm

Industry Hospitalities

Invitation Only

Tuesday, May 8


7:00 am - 12:00 pm Registration

St. Louis Union Station Hotel

Networking Breakfast

General Business 8:00 am - 11:30 am Session and Speakers 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Tour of Cee Kay Supply (optional)

for Business and Industrial Studies President, Supply Velocity Inc. “If You Can Measure It, You Can Improve It.” Andy Stawski | Commercial Market Manager, Miller ITW “Maximizing Your Retail Space”


12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

7:00 am - 8:00 am

Associate Director, College of Business Center

PEOPLE & PLANNING TOPICS Jeanet Wade | Certified EOS Implementer “Getting a Grip on Your Business; Gaining Traction” Jim DelCarmen | Partner, Collaborative Strategies, Inc. “Hiring and Retaining Great People” Panel Discussion: Distributors and Suppliers Discuss Best Practices

Photo: Ballpark Village

Monday, May 7

St. Louis Union Station Hotel St. Louis Union Station Hotel

Ballpark Village Offsite – Cee Kay Supply

Wear your favorite team jersey and come join us for great food, drinks and a great view of Busch stadium!

Winter 2018 • 71


Nine Regional Meetings Planned for 2018 Get Yourself – and Your Associates and Employees – To These Great Events!


ave you ever attended a GAWDA Regional Meeting? They’re like mini versions of GAWDA’s national conferences. They’re packed with the same kind of great information. They’re attended by GAWDA consultants, association leaders and a great assortment of suppliers and distributors. They’re the chance to meet others from different regions and network with people in the industry who can give you new ideas or help you boost your business. Regionals are also a great way to introduce prospective members to the association

and all it has to offer in the way of tangible benefits — as well as those more of a fellowship and professional networking nature. Nine regional meetings are in store for 2018 — so pick one, two or more to attend! Watch for more details in this publication and in the GAWDA Connection e-newsletter about the speakers, business content and recreational activities that are scheduled. More information is available on the GAWDA website,

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Michael Trueba;


Destin, Fla.

Judy Miller;

APRIL 16–17

Houston, Texas

Ashley Madray; Gary Degenhardt;

JUNE 18–20

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Abydee Butler Moore;

JULY 11–12

Maumee Bay, Ohio

Bob Ranc; Eric Wood;

JULY 18–20

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Jim Wright;


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David Hanchette;

AUGUST 13–14

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Jay Kapur;


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Bryan Keen;

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Winter 2018 • 73


Why Employees are Distracted – And How Leaders Can React by curt steinhorst

M Curt Steinhorst, founder of Focuswise, has worked with many top performers, executives, TV personalities, sports stars and TED Talk presenters. His speeches on the topics of generations and millennials are on behalf of the Center for Generational Kinetics. Steinhorst released his first book in the fall, Can I Have Your Attention? Inspiring Better Work Habits, Focusing Your Team, and Getting Stuff Done in the Constantly Connected Workplace. He is at 214-810-2276 and

74 • Winter 2018

any business leaders talk about the difficulties of improving the productivity of workers in today’s “distracted” workplace. They cite how a constant online and technology connectivity for most workers intrudes on their ability to complete tasks and finish projects. That’s an issue I fully understand from two distinct angles: the viewpoint of someone who has been greatly affected by my own tendency to get distracted, and as well as that of a business leader who has worked hard to overcome it. My initial “focus” on distraction started as an entirely personal battle. While I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) as a child, I never experienced serious consequences from it until I started my first business. I was doing what I loved most in the world: helping people discover, craft and share their messages — but I was also floundering. At the end of a work day, I’d realize that I had begun 16 emails and four projects, and spent hours replying to personal messages on Google chat and text — but hadn’t finished the tasks that would actually create a successful business. For someone whose entire life’s work, academic study and passion were all centering on communication, I was being derailed because of… communication. I knew I had to get a grip on things. So I dove head first into the research on attention and distraction. A decade and thousands of hours of research later, I’m now heading up a flourishing business by speaking to others about dealing with the issues of attention and distraction in the workplace. It’s clear that today’s business leaders are overwhelmed by and ill-equipped to deal with the

consequences of a workplace with few barriers to an endless influx of information and communication. That condition impacts employees and managers alike with email glut, an inability to prioritize, an increase in conflict, constant feelings of being overwhelmed and the “never fully off, never fully on” approach to work. In reality, the principles and strategies most leaders use today simply don’t account for the kinds of world-altering shifts that have resulted from society’s now-constantly-connected workplaces. For instance, were you aware of the following statistics? • The busiest hours for Facebook are 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., during the working day. • 60 percent of purchases online are made during work hours. • 87 percent of people admit to reading and being involved in political discussions on a weekly basis during work. • Workers lose anywhere from one to three hours on average every day due to personal distractions. (In some industries, the loss is as much as six hours a day.) The effects of distraction are carried home and within our bodies, other research shows. • We spend 60 percent more time connected to digital media than we do in conversation with our significant others. • A study on workplace stresses found that the more pressure we feel to be available, the more likely we are to take sick days. Over the past 10 years, I’ve experimented constantly with new approaches to managing and focusing my own attention and thousands of hours researching and interviewing CEOs, managers and employees about the issue. I recruited a team of

experts to work with me, and together we discovered a simple but profound truth: We have lost the ability to control where we place our attention.


We simply don’t have a lot of direct control over what we pay attention to at any moment these days. It’s not something that we can efficiently or easily control throughout the day. But what we can do is manage the factors that influence our focus, setting up our day and the way that we wish to work. These are the four “focus factors” we can address: • Energy. Rather than structure your day by what feels most urgent all the time, set up your day to work on the hardest things first, then go to easier tasks later. Organize your to-do list by priority and spend the earliest part of the day on the hardest and most imperative tasks. • Environment. The open office is wonderful for social work, but it’s really hard for actual focus. Set up physical barriers — or virtual office ones — so nonessential activities don’t grab your attention. • Emotions. Be aware of the role emotions play in what we pay attention to. For leaders, if you want to extend your people’s focus and productivity, you must frequently fi nd creative ways to remind them why and how their work makes an impact. The days of “a paycheck is all the motivation they should need” have long since passed. Help them connect their mundane tasks to meaningful outcomes. • Experiences and habits. Examine whether your workspace is set up for working or if there are built-in distractions that exist there. Set up intentional spaces dedicated uniquely to work. This will help you — and your employees — be better able to genuinely focus. As a business leader, what is required of you has changed. One major aspect of that is that the most valuable resource that you have personally and your team’s most valuable resource is attention. How you manage your employees — as well as your own work — ultimately will dictate whether you’re being focused and intentional with your attention resources — or whether you’re using them in a way that is wasteful and inefficient. The challenge for us all is to become wise in the way we allocate our focus, placing the right amount of attention at the right moment and in the right context. The good news is that everyone can learn to harness their own attention, improve their organization’s productivity, and for those in business, rise above the noise of today’s constantly connected world to recapture distracted customers, too.

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21st-Century Planning Strategies for Family Businesses A Fair, Principled, Mutually Beneficial Employment Plan is Valuable to Individuals and the Organization by scott friedman and mary owen


ime after time, our company finds itself engaged by new clients looking for our help to resolve family conflict. Many times, that includes conflict that, left unreconciled for too long, may have erupted into litigation. While the nature of every disagreement is different, we have found that one of the most interesting — and paradoxical — similarities is that they all have longstanding relationships with professional advisors whose traditional focus is on money — and the details about how to grow it, how to minimize taxes and who will receive it through estate planning. This attention to “financial planning” — without comparable attention to “people planning” — can come at a great cost to family businesses. This factor also helps explain the many challenges families have when working together. We have found that integrating traditional planning around money, along with new strategies designed to help people collaborate, offers great promise to families — and to any business — that are looking to improve their “bottom line” and organizational culture. In addition, families in business together can benefit by developing an employment plan that will be well received by employees and stakeholders because it is fair, principled and designed to benefit both individuals and the organization.


Employment planning offers a perfect example of how “traditional strategies” can effectively meld with “21st-century strategies.” Families too often fail to appreciate how their businesses would benefit an organizational environment where people work together to advance a shared mission — and are empowered and capable to do the jobs they choose, as well as those they are being tasked to accomplish. This is the most effective approach to developing a succession plan that will help ensure that a business flourishes over the generations. At Next Gen Advisors LLC, our planning approach is designed to thoughtfully integrate six key traditional success factors and six key contemporary success factors. 76 • Winter 2018


Here are the six factors considered among those traditionally applied to family business advising: 1. E  mployment Qualifications. Family business owners can help their companies by creating a formal policy that provides transparent criteria for family member employment eligibility. Most effective policies establish (i) minimum levels of education and work experience outside the family business, (ii) entry level positions based on an individual’s education and experience, (iii) continuing training over time, and (iv) a structured approach to assessing and reviewing performance over time. 2. Personality Profiles. There are a number of well-recognized personality and leadership assessments that can be helpful in enhancing self-awareness and, through that, identifying positions that allow family members to leverage their strengths. This is a process that energizes individuals and better positions them to contribute to the company’s success. 3. Employment agreements. Family businesses benefit from the thoughtful use of employment agreements and policies that provide clarity as to roles and responsibilities associated with various jobs. 4. A Rational Compensation Methodology. Developing a rational approach to fairly compensating employees, particularly family members working in a business, helps to both incentivize hard work and provide stakeholders a sense of confidence that resources are being fairly allocated. 5. Non-Financial Rewards. Small rewards can increase employee satisfaction and productivity. Effective rewards can be as simple as providing free snacks or scheduling “dress down” days. 6. Performance Feedback. Compensation should be aligned with performance. Ongoing and structured feedback is invaluable to helping employees mature and improve.



While traditional planning strategies are designed to bring the right people into a family business, organizations without a plan to develop and nurture teamwork are likely to find their efforts insufficient. Their bottom lines may suffer. A lack of teamwork can easily slide into dysfunction. Some “21st-century” strategies that we have found helpful to build collaboration with the family business organization are as follows: 1. Foster Positive Working Relationships. Science shows us the greatest way to influence our happiness is to invest in our relationships. When employees are in “good moods,” they help create organizational energy. But if employees are in “bad moods,” they can zap it. Promoting a collegial culture can be as easy as organizing shared meals, group outings and after-hours social events. 2. Eradicate Incivility. Research has shown how workplace incivility exacts many costs, including loss of focus due to stress, time spent worrying and reduced interest in collaborating with colleagues. A Code of Conduct can be helpful in reducing — and addressing — incivility. 3. Mind Your Positivity Ratio. Barbara Frederickson, a professor at the University of North Carolina and a bestselling author, has extensively researched positive versus negative emotions. Family businesses can benefit by creating more “positive” conversations than “negative” ones in order to foster organizational energy that, in turn, can be used to accomplish goals and objectives. 4. Foster Appreciative Communications. Science is also informing how people and organizations can improve the quality of their lives by spending more time “pursuing possibilities” and less time “problem solving.” Families in business can benefit from scheduling regular, face-toface meetings, with an agreed-upon meeting agenda that considers opportunities and possibilities. 5. Promote Growth Opportunities. Employees want to be offered opportunities for growth. Family businesses can create an environment that supports this in coordination with their performance feedback plan. 6. Promote Humility. No one enjoys arrogance. Research confirms that practicing humility in the workplace not only nurtures workplace culture but is an effective com-

pany growth strategy as well. Family leaders can model humility; their example can help create a stronger and more collegial culture. In conclusion, families in business together can benefit by developing an employment plan that will be well received by employees and stakeholders because it is fair, principled and designed to benefit both individuals and the organization. Great employment strategies, resulting from coaching talented employees over a number of years, also enhances the likelihood that a family’s succession planning will work. In our consulting and advising experience, these strategies can help position any business for long-term success. We encourage all family businesses to seriously consider these recommendations as a route to more effective family business operations.

Scott E. Friedman is the founder/senior advisor of Next Gen Advisors, LLC, a family business consulting firm that is helping to pioneer new strategies for family owned and closely held businesses. Friedman, a nationally recognized authority on family business, is the author of five books and numerous articles on the subject and is an executive in residence at the University at Buffalo. He can be reached at sfriedman@ or 716-218-7566.

Mary Owen is a principal and senior advisor for Next Gen Advisors, LLC and a Pro Dynametrics Programs certified professional. She is a life trustee with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. foundation and has held leadership roles with the National Football League and the Buffalo Bills. She serves in board capacities for the University of Virginia’s Jefferson Trust and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A graduate of the University of Virginia, she also holds an MBA from Walsh College.

Winter 2018 • 77


FOR 2018, SIGNS POINT TO CONTINUING ECONOMIC EXPANSION Leading Indicators Suggest Accelerating Growth into Mid-2018


AWDA asked ITR Economics to provide a much-expanded report in 2018 for the added benefit of association members. That’s why there’s so much more data and so much more detail about each of the segments analyzed and shared in this report.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The year 2017 is going in the history books as a good year for most economies and, therefore, most businesses. The outlook for 2018 is unchanged, and we expect more economic expansion in 2018. If you’ve positively correlated your business to the macroeconomy, plan to be busier in 2018. ■■ The world’s four largest economies are growing (looking at Industrial Production on an annual average basis): U.S. (+1.3%), China (+6.6%), Japan (+4.6%) and Germany (+1.7%).

This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members.

Read on in this first of 2018’s quarterly ■■ The rate of growth is less than stellar for the U.S., but the reports to find out more about what you can acceleration attributable to the upside of the business cycle is For more information on GAWDA still ramping up. expect in the coming months and how your and association membership, contact: ■■ China’s growth rate is relatively slow for China, but sustainable business can respond to take best advantage for now. Stephen Hill, GAWDA Membership Services Manager of the economic conditions. ■■ Japan is expanding at a fast clip, but there are early signs of a 954-367-7728 x 220 /

slowing rate of growth in the future.

S&P 500 Stock Prices Index

S&P Prices 3000 2800

S&P Prices 3000 2800















1400 S&P 500 Raw Data

1200 1000


78 • Winter 2018








1200 1000

ITR FOR GAWDA ■■ Germany

is growing in spurts, but at about the average rate of growth for the last 20 years.

■■ World

Industrial Production was up 3.3 percent and is still accelerating in its ascent.

The chart below left shows that a solid rising trend turned even more aggressive over the last two months. The market is up 12 of the last 13 months. That is an impressive stretch. By itself, that stretch does not mean that more rise is probable or not. Perhaps we will be gifted with more ascent. Ultimately, it is comforting to see profits rising to support ongoing rise in the S&P 500. The chart below presents overall Corporate Profits in the U.S. (in nominal dollars), U.S. Corporate Profits are rising. However,

three aspects of the trend concern us in relation to the S&P 500:

1. The level of profitability was 0.8 percent below the 2014 record high, while the stock market was up 29 percent over that same period. 2. The rate-of-change for profits is not in a well-defined rising trend, which suggests there is not much momentum behind the trend. 3. The outlook for profitability when wages are rising and the tight labor market that is not likely to dissipate are suggestive of minimal gains.

U.S. Corporate Profits

Profits 2500

Profits 2500 $2,215.00






This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members.





For more information on GAWDA and association membership, contact: Profits - 3MMA Stephen Hill, GAWDA Membership Services Manager '96 '98 '00 '02 '04 '06 '08 '10 '12 '14 '16 '18 '20 954-367-7728 x 220 / U.S. Crude Oil Futures Prices










80 54.48

60 40 20

60 40

Prices - 3MMA Prices - 3 MMA Forecast










Winter 2018 • 79


■■ Production

was up 7.4 percent in the third quarter, and a Phase B trend is in place.


Futures (WTI) closed November at $57.40 a barrel.

■■ This

was up 16.1 percent from one year ago (the S&P 500 was

■■ World

Oil Production was up 1.3 percent over the most recent three months from one year ago.

up 20.4 percent year over year). ■■ Oil was slightly more than $10 a barrel higher than it was in August. ■■ The

price is currently above our forecast range.

■■ The

issue for us was whether these elevated prices are likely

to hold (and we, therefore, raise our forecast) or whether prices will recede (and we leave the outlook unchanged). We opted

■■ It

is U.S. production that matters most for domestic pricing.

■■ U.S. Oil Production from fracking was up 15.2 percent from one

year ago for the three months ending in November. This will likely drive the members of OPEC a little crazy, especially since Saudi Arabia needs higher-priced oil right now. ■■ Production

in the U.S. is up, and so are inventories as measured by the average weekly numbers in Cushing, Okla. The inventory level in Cushing by the end of November was up 3.7 percent from the year before. Rising inventories and rising production suggest that the current pricing for WTI is speculative rather than fundamentally correct.

to leave our forecast of prices running in the low $50s in place because it looks like production is ramping up, and that will moderate these prices if/when political tensions subside. ■■ U.S. Crude Oil Production is on the up side of the business cycle.

■■ Employment


will transition to an accelerating growth trend by

early 2018.

Core Economy At a Glance ■■ The core economy is expanding.

■■ Retail

sales will grow at an accelerating pace into the middle of 2018.

This content is exclusiveBusiness-to-business to GAWDA Members. activity is also increasing.

■■ Accelerating growth in the manufacturing and mining segments


is supporting the rising trend in total industrial production.

■■ Accelerating growth in nondefense capital goods new orders For more information on GAWDA will persist into the first half of 2018. ■■ The rate of growth for total industrial production will peak in and association membership, contact: ■■ Wholesale trade of durable and nondurable goods will also rise the first half of 2018. at an accelerating pace into early 2018. Stephen GAWDA Membership Services Manager ■■ Growing employment is driving upHill, wages and increasing con■■ growth will occur at a slowing rate through the sumer strength. 954-367-7728 x 220 Macroeconomic / second half of 2018, but we are expecting expansion. Implement ■■ The

utilities production component will expand in 2018.

Note: Forecast color represents what phase the market will be in at the end of the year.


quality control measures to handle increasing activity.

12MMT/A CURRENT 2017 2018 2019







Production will grow at an accelerating pace into early 2018, supported by increasing demand for retail goods.






Business-to-business activity will rise at an accelerating pace into the first half of 2018.






The Total Number of New Help Wanted Online Ads signals that Employment will enter an accelerating trend by early 2018.






Accelerating growth will persist through the first half of 2018.






The Wholesale Inventory-Sales Ratio suggests the 12/12 will decline following an early-2018 peak.






Wholesale Trade will grow at an accelerating pace into early 2018.

80 • Winter 2018

ITR FOR GAWDA LEADING INDICATORS ITR Consumer Activity Leading Indicator™ Indicator Suggests Accelerating Rise for the U.S. Consumer Sector Into 2018 ■■ The ITR Consumer Activity Leading Indicator™ declined in November. in the Indicator through mid-2017 signals rise in consumer activity into early 2018.



Leading Indicator




10 5

4.0 1.3

■■ Rise

■■ Plan

for slowing growth to take hold in the consumer sector by the second half of 2018. ITR Consumer Activity Leading Indicator™ leads the U.S. Industrial Production 12/12 by six to 16 months (majority range).

5 0



-5 US Industrial Production - 12/12



Leading Indicator - Monthly

■■ The















This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members.

Accelerating rise in the U.S. economy could extend into the second quarter of 2018. ■■ The U.S. Total Industry Capacity Utilization Rate 1/12 ticked up in October.




For more15information on GAWDA and association membership, contact: 10 Stephen Hill, GAWDA Membership Services Manager ■■ The October 1/12 value has surpassed 5 954-367-7728 x 220 / the previous tentative May peak. ■■ We will continue to monitor this indicator.

However, barring any significant data revision in the following months, the Utilization Rate 1/12 suggests accelerating rise in the U.S. economy into the second quarter of 2018. ■■ The

U.S. Total Industr y Capacity Utilization Rate leads the U.S. Industrial Production 12/12 by three to eight months (majority range).

21 14 7

4.7 1.3




-7 US Industrial Production - 12/12

-10 -15

US Total Capacity Utilization Rate - 1/12












-14 -21

ADVICE FROM ALAN BEAULIEU* “If you’re concerned if it matters who controls the White House, I want to disabuse you of that notion. The economy picked up speed before the election. The economy was doing better. The reality is that the party that presides over the most recessions is the Republicans.” *COMMENTS FROM HIS KEYNOTE AT THE GAWDA ANNUAL CONFERENCE, NEW YORK CITY, OCTOBER 2017

Winter 2018 • 81


U.S. CONFERENCE BOARD LEADING INDICATOR Indicator Signals Accelerating Rise for the Industrial Economy into Mid-2018 ■■ The U.S. Conference Board Leading Indicator 1/12 is in an accelerating growth trend. ■■ The

Indicator surpassed the previous August 1/12 peak.

■■ The

current rising trend suggests the U.S. industrial economy will accelerate into at least mid-2018, on a median lead time of seven months.

■■ On

a shorter timing, this indicator suggests a U.S. Industrial Production peak during the first quarter of next year.

■■ The Conference Board Leading Indicator

TITLE Rates-of-Change


Leading Indicator




10 5


5.2 1.3


0 -10

-5 US Industrial Production - 12/12

-10 -15

leads the U.S. Industrial Production 12/12 by five to eight months (majority range).


US Leading Indicator - 1/12













This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members.


TITLE Rates-of-Change

For more information on GAWDA 15 U.S. Industrial Production Could and association membership, contact: Accelerate Into Mid-2018 10 ■■ The U.S. PurchasingStephen Managers Index Hill, (PMI) GAWDA Membership Services Manager 1/12 declined in November, marking the 5 954-367-7728 x 220 / third consecutive month of 1/12 decline 8.8 and suggesting a transition to business cycle decline. The rising trend in the PMI 1/12 through August 2017 suggests that U.S. Industrial Production may reach a 12/12 peak in mid-2018. ■■ The

Purchasing Managers Index leads the U.S. Industrial Production 12/12 by nine to 15 months (majority range).





75 50 25 0


-5 US Industrial Production - 12/12

-10 -15

US Purchasing Managers Index - 1/12












-50 -75

ADVICE FROM ALAN BEAULIEU* “As leaders, you have to have some answers. You have to be able to see what’s going on, because the rest of us are willing to fill in the blank with the worst possible scenario.” *COMMENTS FROM HIS KEYNOTE AT THE GAWDA ANNUAL CONFERENCE, NEW YORK CITY, OCTOBER 2017

82 • Winter 2018

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GAWDA EXECUTIVE SUMMARY/DASHBOARD The majority of GAWDA indicators are in Phase B, Accelerating Growth. Crack open the business section of a newspaper and you will see numerous upbeat headlines highlighting new stock market highs, low unemployment and high business confidence. This is all great news for GAWDA members in the near term, and you need to be prepared for the U.S. economy to accelerate into early 2018. However, here at ITR Economics, our job is to remind you that the economy ebbs and flows and to suggest that you plan one business cycle ahead.

Our recommendations: ■■ Over the next nine to 12 months, develop lower-cost products that will be popular in a slowing growth and mild recessionary environment. ■■ Avoid

over-expanding at the top of the business cycle so that you can remain profitable as U.S. Industrial Production growth slows in the second half of 2018 and declines mildly during 2019.





Accelerating growth trends in manufacturing and mining are driving Industrial Production growth. Ensure you have sufficient capital and labor to meet demand.




The Price Index is rising at the fastest rate (12/12) in over five years. Ensure your training programs are top-notch to increase efficiency and combat margin squeeze.



19.1% For more information on GAWDA and association membership, contact: Rising New Orders reflect increasing utilization rates and corporate U.S. NONDEFENSE CAPITAL GOODS profits. Develop low-cost products in anticipation of slowing growth in 3.6% Stephen NEW ORDERS WITHOUT AIRCRAFT Hill, GAWDA Membership Services Manager the second half of 2018. 954-367-7728 x 220 / New Orders are at the lowest level (12MMT) in over seven years.


This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members.



Month-end prices averaged $54.48 per barrel during the three months through November. Plan for prices to dip as rising U.S. crude oil production moderates prices.

Implement further cost-cutting measures if you sell exclusively into this market.





New Orders are up 9.1% year over year, lifted by growth in end-markets and higher Steel Prices in 2017 than 2016. Avoid straight-line budgeting, as growth will slow in 2018.




New Orders are growing at the fastest pace (12/12) in nearly three years. Sharpen your competitive advantage to maintain brand loyalty as New Orders growth slows in 2018.




The Indicator is rising. This bodes well for U.S. Industrial Production into at least mid-2018. Conduct a stress test to ensure you can meet demand without sacrificing quality.

2.3 (Monthly)




84 • Winter 2018







ITR FOR GAWDA U.S. INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION U.S. Industrial Production during the 12 months through October was 1.3 percent above the year-ago level. Production will grow at an accelerating pace into early 2018. Activity will expand through the remainder of 2018 but at a decelerating pace. Plan for mild 12MMA contraction to characterize 2019. ■■ Increasing demand for retail goods is supporting growth in the industrial sector. ■■ Rising

employment and growing wages are resulting in stronger consumers. U.S. personal savings as a percentage of disposable income, which typically leads production by about two years, is declining from a late-2015 peak. This indicator signals that waning savings may weaken consumers and mitigate the rise in industrial activity next year.











Index based to 2012 = 100

U.S. Industrial Production Index Data Trend

Index 120

Index 120

12MMA Forecast 12MMA 3MMA

■■ However,


110 104.4



This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members. percent


■■ U.S. Industrial Production was 1.3

For more information on GAWDA 90 ■■ Production will grow at an accelerating '12 membership, '13 '14 '15 contact: '16 '17 '18 '19 and association pace into early next year. Stephen GAWDA Membership Services Manager ■■ Declining personal savings mayHill, slow the Industrial Production Index rise in industrial activity. 954-367-7728 x 220 /U.S. Rate-of-Change above the year-ago level.

Management Note: Consider what’s next for your business. New products can help your firm buck the business cycle trend when activity slows in 2019.

ADVICE FROM ALAN BEAULIEU* “When you look at the rates of change you can see around the corner. The rates of change are signaling that the U.S. economy will reach a cyclical peak by mid-2018 and that growth will slow in the second half of this year.”













-5 12/12 Forecast Range -10 -15


12/12 3/12 '12











Winter 2018 • 85


U.S. NONDEFENSE CAPITAL GOODS NEW ORDERS (EXCLUDING AIRCRAFT) Capital Goods New Orders (excluding aircraft) in the 12 months through October were up 3.6 percent from one year ago.


■■ Nondefense

■■ New Orders will grow at an accelerating


$772.0 BILLION



$782.0 BILLION



$777.4 BILLION

U.S. Nondefense Capital Goods New Orders (excluding aircraft) Data Trend

Bils of $


pace into the first half of 2018. will then persist into early 2019 but at a slowing pace.


Bils of $


12MMT Forecast 12MMT 3MMT

■■ Expansion



■■ New

Orders will subsequently contract through the remainder of that year.

■■ The Small Business Capital Expenditure

Plans Index is rising, signaling that firms intend to increase investments in capital. However, the 12/12 rate-of-change flattened in recent months, and our analysis indicates that 12/12 decline will take hold by the start of 2018. ■■






'12 '13 '14 '15 '16 '17 '18 '19 '20 This content The Capital Expenditure Plans 12/12 is exclusive to GAWDA Members. 100

typically leads New Orders by about one quarter, consistent with our expectation of a cyclical peak in business-to-business activity in the first half of 2018.

HIGHLIGHTS: ■■ Nondefense

U.S. Nondefense Capital Goods For more information on GAWDA New Orders (excluding aircraft) Rate-of-Change 20 and association membership, contact: Stephen Hill, GAWDA Membership Services Manager 10 3.6 954-367-7728 x 220 /

Capital Goods New Orders were up 3.6 percent from one year ago.






■■ New Orders will grow at an accelerating

pace into early 2018.



■■ Small Business Capital Expenditure Plans

12/12 Forecast Range

indicate that capital investments are rising.


Management Note: Avoid straight-line budgeting, as the rate of growth will slow next year.



12/12 3/12 '12









ADVICE FROM ALAN BEAULIEU* “Look at these rates of change and internalize them. They are telling you something. There’s no point of view here, they are just numbers. If you look and see what these numbers are telling you, pretend there is no emotional content.” *COMMENTS FROM HIS KEYNOTE AT THE GAWDA ANNUAL CONFERENCE, NEW YORK CITY, OCTOBER 2017

86 • Winter 2018




■■ U.S. Crude oil futures prices are tracking

toward the upper range of our forecast following a strong November. ■■ Oil

prices in the three months ending in November averaged $54.48, up 13.1 percent from the same three months last year.

■■ We

expect the prices 3MMA to level off in December and decline through at least late 2018.

■■ U.S.

crude oil production and oil inventories are on the rise. This evidence suggests that there is plenty of supply available to meet the demand of the growing U.S. economy through 2018 and the current oil price is tied more to speculation than supply and demand fundamentals.

■■ Plan



MARCH 2018


JUNE 2018




U.S. Oil Futures Commodity Prices Data Trend

$/bbl. 120

$/bbl. 120

3MMA Forecast 3MMA Actual



80 54.48



40 This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members.


for prices to hover around the low $50 per barrel range through at least late 2018.

For more information on GAWDA 20 '13 '14 contact: '15 '16 '17 and association'12membership, HIGHLIGHTS: ■■ The Prices 3MMA Stephen Hill, GAWDA Membership Services Manager was up 13.1percent from one year ago. 954-367-7728 x 220 / ■■ Increasing U.S. crude oil production will

will decline to the low $50 per barrel range next year.

Management Note: Check your break-even points and ensure you are marketing your products for sale into the oil industry accordingly.


U.S. Oil Futures Commodity Prices Rate-of-Change

subdue further price rise. ■■ Prices





12/12 Forecast Range 12/12


















Winter 2018 • 87






■■ U.S.

MARCH 2018


JUNE 2018




Steel Futures Commodity Prices in the three months ending in November averaged $283.33 per gross ton.

■■ The

Prices 3MMA declined over the last two months; however, a rally was expected in December’s monthly average. Also expected is that the trend will be positive through early 2018. Prices will decline mildly by the middle of 2018.

■■ There are a few reasons we are expecting

an above-average price gain into early 2018: – China environmental regulations have forced production cuts, but there has been no change in domestic or global demand. – U.S. production activity is increasing, and both coking coal prices and activity are rising. – E ven with U.S. activity increasing, material costs are rising and could result in a strong steel price response.

U.S. Steel Scrap Futures Commodity Prices Data Trend 3MMA Forecast 3MMA Actual

$/GT 500

$/GT 500


400 283.3



This content is200exclusive to GAWDA Members.

For more information on GAWDA 100 '12 membership, '13 '14 '15 '16 '17 '18 and association contact: Stephen Hill, GAWDA Membership Services Manager HIGHLIGHTS: 954-367-7728 x 220 / ■■ Steel prices averaged $283.33 in the U.S. Oil Futures Commodity Prices Rate-of-Change

three months through November. ■■ Supply-side

issues in China and rising material costs suggest the prices 3MMA will rise into early 2018.

■■ Prices

will decline mildly during the second half of next year.

Management Note: Mild decline in prices during the second half of 2018 will bring the 3MMA close to today’s level. Use the downward momentum to your benefit, but do not be looking for savings from today’s level.




12/12 Forecast Range 12/12










88 • Winter 2018













Orders were up 9.1 percent year over year in October, the fastest pace of growth in over five years.



$389.0 BILLION



$405.4 BILLION



$405.4 BILLION

■■ We revised the forecast upward to reflect

new, higher expectations for U.S. Steel Futures prices since the last GAWDA report and extended the expected New Orders 12/12 rise by one quarter.


12MMT Forecast 12MMT 3MMT

■■ Plan for New Orders to rise into late 2018

before plateauing in 2019. rise in New Orders reflects rising economic conditions in a variety of end-markets that utilize fabricated metals products, such as the machinery sector (U.S. Wholesale Trade of Machinery, Equipment, and Supplies up 5.8 percent year over year). However, nascent rate-of-change decline in commodity price indicators, including steel and oil, corroborates our outlook that slowing growth will generally characterize New Orders during 2018.

U.S. Fabricated Metal Products New Orders Data Trend

Bils of $


Bils of $ 600 480


■■ The





30 This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members.

For more 0information on GAWDA '13 '14 '15contact: '16 '17 '18 '19 and association'12membership, Stephen Hill, GAWDA Membership Services Manager HIGHLIGHTS: 954-367-7728 x 220 / ■■ New Orders are growing at the fastest U.S. Fabricated Metal Products pace (12/12) in over five years. ■■ Forecast revised upward to reflect higher

expectations for steel prices. ■■ Nascent

decline in commodity prices rates-of-change signals slowing growth ahead.

Management Note: Ensure quality keeps pace with rising demand.



New Orders Rate-of-Change












12/12 Forecast Range

-10 -15


12/12 3/12












Winter 2018 • 89




■■ U.S. Construction Machinery New Orders

during the 12 months through October totaled $25.6 billion, 14.5 percent above the year-ago level. ■■ New

Orders will accelerate into early next year.

U.S. Construction Machinery New Orders Data Trend

Bils of $ 15

Bils of $ 60


■■ Expansion will persist into late that year

but at a slowing pace. Activity will then contract in 2019.


40 25.6

■■ The Single-Unit Housing market is an area

of opportunity for firms in the Construction Machinery industry as millennials who postponed home purchases following the Great Recession enter the single-family market. Starts are up 8.1 percent from one year ago and are accelerating. ■■ Meanwhile, Multi-Unit Housing Starts and












This content is exclusive toU.S.GAWDA Members. Construction Machinery

parts of Nonresidential Construction are contracting. These markets are unlikely to present significant growth opportunities to manufacturing firms in the near term.

New Orders Rate-of-Change For more 75 information on GAWDA 12/12 and association membership, contact: HIGHLIGHTS: 50 3/12 ■■ New Orders were Stephen Hill, GAWDA Membership Services Manager 14.5 percent above the year-ago level. 25 14.5 954-367-7728 x 220 /

growth will persist into early next year.

75 50 25

■■ Accelerating

Single-Unit Housing market will provide opportunities for firms in the Construction Machinery industry.



■■ The

Management Note: Focus your sales efforts on single-family housing and warehouse construction, while avoiding multi-family housing.












ADVICE FROM ALAN BEAULIEU* “The tentative peak in the New Orders quarterly rate-of-change trend suggests that the rising trend in the annual rate-of-change is nearing a top. We expect New Orders to grow at a slower pace in 2018 than they did in 2017.” *JANUARY 2018

90 • Winter 2018




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he following businesses recently joined the Gases and Welding Distributors Association. For more information about the benefits and services available to members, please contact the Association at 844-251-3219 and Stephen Hill, member services manager, or visit www.

DISTRIBUTOR MEMBERS MAVERICK OXYGEN SUPPLY 2510 Allen Lane La Grange, Ky. 40031 502-225-4772 Ben Kittleson, president

The company is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business founded in 2002 and certified by the U.S. government, manufacturing compressed oxygen gases and delivering compressed and liquefied oxygen.


205 Commerce St. Missoula, Mont. 59808 406-549-2003 Jack Schwenk, president

Tri-Arc is a supplier of welding, industrial and safety supplies; beverage gas and systems; and welding, industrial and spec gas.


2208 Hubbard Road Youngstown, Ohio 44505 330-744-0271 Andrew Neiheisel, vice president

Youngstown Oxygen & Welding Supply is a distributor of compressed gases and welding supplies, as well as specialty gases, welding equipment and consumables and technical support.

92 • Winter 2018


5043 Farlin Ave. St. Louis, Mo. 63115 314-679-2540     FAX 314-385-3252 Tim Cronin, national sales manager

Ace Industrial Products provides principal products sold through welding supply distributors and is a manufacturer of welding fume extractors, including portable, mobile and stationary models. AIP is an Associated Equipment brand.


( Association of Independent Welding Distributors) 409 Latimer St. Woodstock, Ga. 30188 Peter Ullman, executive director Steve Rosenthal, president Michael Krupnicki, treasurer

The AIWD is an independent buying group whose focus is to deliver maximum value to members by leveraging the combined purchasing power of core products and assets, and then being


712 Henderson Blvd. Folcroft, Pa. 19032 404-591-8920 Harry Edwards, CEO

Cougartron is an innovator and manufacturer of world-class stainless steel surface treatment and passivation solutions.


2 rue Louis Blériot Argancy Z.I. des Jonquières - BP7 - 57365 Ennery FRANCE +33 3 87 70 85 50

Cryolor designs and manufactures cryogenic equipment for the transport and storage of liquefied gases, including nitrogen, argon, oxygen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, helium and natural gas.


6228 Road 95 Huntsville, Ohio 43324 937-686-2000    FAX 937-686-6425 Shawn Spath, vice president

loyal to a select group of vendors

Fire Safety Services, Inc., performs

that offer favorable pricing, term

hydrostatic and ultrasonic requalification

and patronage rebates. AIWD now

of DOT, TC and UN bottles.

consists of 139 members operating in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada.


220 N. 48th Ave. Suite 3 Phoenix, Ariz. 85043 602-278-8404 Scott Silva, sales manager

HOBART INSTITUTE OF WELDING TECHNOLOGY 400 Trade Square E Troy, Ohio 45373-2463 1-800-332-9448 Chip Prinz, director of corporate services

Contrivance is a compressed gas

Hobart Institute of Welding Technology

equipment manufacturer servicing

is dedicated to welding training and

various industries, from the end user

education excellence. It is a 501

to major air separation plants.

(c) 3 nonprofit educational facility.



Lone Star specializes in being a one-stop shop industrial for CNC plasma cutting tables, CNC router tables, CNC pipe rotaries and CNC water jet cutters.

Solution Source is driven to make their clients’ businesses and lives better by empowering them with software solutions.

140 County Road 2840 Mineola, Texas 75773 903-569-3190 Daniel Berry and John Johnson, co-founders

RESPONSIVE RESPIRATORY, INC. 261 Wolfner Drive St. Louis, Mo. 63026 866-333-4030 Tom Bannon, president

Responsive Respiratory provides high-quality respiratory products, customer service and prompt delivery to customers in the home health care, medical, EMS and industrial markets.

1769 Stafford Ct. Goshen, Ind. 46526 574-533-2659 William (Bill) Trail, director of business development

TEKNO VALVES NORTH AMERICA 8480 Athens Ave. Baton Rouge, La. 70815 225-330-6590 Greg Leumas, president


1050 Penner Crest Houston, Texas 77055 713-869-6000; toll free 1-800-364-6900 Larry Robinson, president Ron Weldon, national sales manager

Provides filler metal solutions: Unibraze, Techniwear, Smoothror, Stellite, Special Metals, Haynes, Ampco, Stood, Tech-Rod.

Tekno Valves North America., Inc., is a supplier of compressed gas and liquefied gas cylinder valves to the industrial, medical and specialty gas markets throughout the world.

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INDUSTRY NEWS Chart Makes Changes in Sales and Management

Chart Industries, Inc., of Ball Ground, Ga., has announced changes in its sales team and also filled a management position in its distribution and storage business segment. Tom Chromy, current Northeast sales manager for independent distributors, is now national sales manager for Bulk CO 2 applications. Chromy has been with Chart for more than 35 years. The company says Chromy’s focus will help promote Chart’s equipment in applications across the U.S. Chromy’successor as Northeast sales manager, David Vaughan, recently supported vacuum insulated pipe sales for Chart. He has experience in vacuum insulated pipe applications and the engineered tank systems market, where he was an early sales representative. Chris Schmoeckel has been promoted to president of distribution and storage, Americas. Schmoeckel has been with Chart since 2001. He recently was vice president of packaged gases, Americas, where he managed the production of the Ball Ground packaged gases manufacturing site. He continues managing the Ball Ground site and adds management of the New Prague, Minn., location, where mobiles and bulk storage equipment are produced.

Vandergriff Joins Eleet as Director of Sales – Southeast Michael Vandergriff has joined Eleet Cryogenics, Inc., as director of sales– Southeast region. Vandergriff is a 30-year industry veteran who has held senior roles in sales, distribution and field service. He most recently worked for Air Liquide leading the divested business required from the Airgas/Air Liquide merger. 94 • Winter 2018

Eleet says its significant growth makes the Southeast a great area to expand, and notes that Vandergriff has managed in Michael Vandergriff the Southeast for more than 20 years in commercial and customer service roles.

Brown Joins CTR’s Engineering Department Barry Brown has joined CTR Inc. in the engineering department. He has worked in the cryogenic industry since 1988, Barry Brown beginning as a robotics engineer and holding the positions of vice president of operations and senior director of bulk systems and assets. “We are very excited to have Barry join the CTR team,” says Jim Payne, president of CTR. “Barry’s experience as a CTR customer and extensive experience in the industry will be a great asset to CTR and our partners.”

Evatt New in Linde West Region Role

Philip Evatt

Philip Evatt recently started working for Linde (Gases) LLC as key customer manager for distributors and helium for the West region.

The announcement was made by Robert Van Kirk, head of distributors, U.S. PGP & Caribbean. He says that Evatt’s chemical engineering degree from Drexel University and more than 20 years of proven sales and engineering experience “will support important distributor and helium customer relationships.”

Borne Becomes SUMIG USA Regional Sales Manager Stephen Borne has joined Sumig USA as the company’s new regional sales manager for the Midwest region. Borne supports distribution network partners to help them grow sales and works with key manufacturing clients offering its complete package of welding and cutting automation solutions, the company says. He has more than 22 years of manufacturing and welding industry experience and has held sales, technical support and project management roles in addition to his extensive welding education and applications background.

Bishop New Accounts Manager at GEC Gas Equipment Company, Inc. (GEC) has added Cole Bishop to its cryogenic/industrial team as an accounts manager. Jim Cheaney, director of industrial sales and marketing, says Bishop “brings enthusiasm and fresh ideas to our sales team.” Bishop recentCole Bishop ly graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in industrial distribution.

Victory Welding Adds Steele as CFO, Owner

The American Welding Society’s Board of Directors has named Matt Miller to succeed Ray Shook as execu-

Victory Welding Alloys, Inc., of Charlotte, N.C., has added Lt. Col. Brian P. Steele, U.S. Army (Ret.), as

ArcOne Adds Sales Manager

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AWS Names Miller as New CEO

Acme Cryogenics has added Frank Perry to the company’s staff in the role of West region sales manager. Based in Los Angeles, Perry manages the company’s vacuum-jacketed pipe business in the United States, reporting to Tom Thiele, national Frank Perry sales manager for VJ pipe. Perry brings more than 20 years of diverse industrial sales experience to Acme, with a strong emphasis on technical solution-based selling, the company adds.

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Dave Wedge has been named to the ArcOne team as inside sales and marketing manager, in charge of inside sales, customer service, account maintenance and marketing. He joins ArcOne, based in Taunton, Mass., from a background of sales Dave Wedge and design for personal protection equipment and textiles. He graduated college with bachelors and master of science degrees.

tive director and chief executive officer. Miller, who was the AWS chief operating officer, began the new role January 2018. Shook, who retired at the end of 2017, now transitions to the role of executive director emeritus, AWS reports. Miller previously served as chief operating officer at National Association of Corrosion Matt Miller Engineers (NACE) International in Houston. There, he led new programs and global initiatives and grew revenues through partnerships, training, membership activities, technical conferences and student competitions. Before that, Miller served as director for the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Foundation, where he led the strategic direction for SAE’s Pre-Professional Education Programs. A decorated veteran who served in the U.S. Army Infantry during Operation Desert Storm, Miller has master’s degrees in nonprofit management and instructional technology and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Retiring CEO Shook comments, “Matt Miller’s deep expertise in both non-profit and education makes him uniquely well-suited to lead AWS. I’ve witnessed Matt’s incredible efforts to quickly get up to speed on the welding and cutting industry and I have complete confidence in his leadership and am committed to supporting Matt in his new role.”

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800-444-3134 Winter 2018 • 95

INDUSTRY NEWS co-founder, chief financial officer and as an owner of the company. George J. Foote, CEO and founder of Victory, says that Brian Steele Steele “brings a wealth of knowledge, including organizational skills, operational and financial expertise and, of course, leadership,” to the company’s operations. “Brian will ensure that Victory Welding Alloys will be held to the highest standard of honesty, transparency and integrity for many years to follow,” Foote adds. Steele is a 1997 U.S. Military Academy (West Point) graduate and holds a master’s degree in management from Syracuse University. He also has 20 years of military experience, including three years spent serving as the defense resource manager for Joint Staff J8 at the Pentagon.

AWG Adds Two New VPs Two new vice presidents have been added to the AWG team to strengthen the company’s brand and build new partnerships. Mike Maxey, a 23-year veteran of the industry, is now vice president of sales. His focus is building the company brand and developing new Chicago-area partnerships. Stuart Williams, an expert on inventory distribution, is the company’s new vice president of supply chain management. He leads development of customer-focused approaches for AWG procurement receiving, inventory and distribution of hardgoods, says Regan McGee, AWG director of marketing. One of the largest independent gas and welding supplies distributors in the 96 • Winter 2018

U.S., AWG has operating facilities in 17 states. The company, led by President and CEO George Golliday, distributes products to customers in more than 30 states and Canada.

founded as United States Welding Works. Rocky Mountain Air Solutions has 17 locations in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nebraska. The company sells gases and hardgoods.

Gas Innovations to Produce Electronic Grades of Hydrogen Chloride

Petersons Honored by Minnesota State College Southeast

Houston-based Gas Innovations has formed eHCl Innovations., Inc., to produce electronic grades of hydrogen chloride for the global marketplace. Hydrogen chloride is a critical component in applications that can benefit from a known “fingerprint” and consistency of supply, the company says. Gas Innovations says it has developed proprietary purification technology that takes anhydrous grade hydrogen chloride and purifies it to the highest purity available in any industry. Purification will occur at the company’s recently expanded facility in La Porte, Texas. The company says it expects high-volume manufacturing with the new technology to begin during the first quarter of 2018 with a capacity of more than 1,300 metric tons per year. Gas Innovations says it will have the ability to fill all sizes of containers.

Rocky Mountain Air Solutions Is Firm’s New Name United States Welding, Inc., has changed its name to Rocky Mountain Air Solutions. The 93-year-old distributor, headquartered in Denver, was

Minnesota State College Southeast honored Winona, Minn., residents Don and Donna Peterson with the dedication of a special plaque in the college’s Winona campus welding lab. The presentation recognized Don Peterson’s generosity to the college, countless hours of service to MSC Southeast Foundation, funding of student scholarships and donating equipment and supplies from the Peterson family business, Mississippi Welders

Donna and Don Peterson of Mississippi Welders Supply

Supply. Don’s wife, Donna Peterson, was also cited for her lifelong support of education, teaching home economics for many years, substitute teaching and volunteering in the community. College and welding program leaders unveiled a plaque for a group that included numerous friends, family, college supporters, instructors, students, staff members and welding industry professionals.

INDUSTRY NEWS Cryostar Adds Distribution Network Capacity

Cryostar has refined its distribution business unit in North America by establishing partner firm Cryostar DNA (Cryostar Distribution North America). The firm’s mission is to enhance customer service, sales and repairs of cryogenic distribution pumps to the industrial gas and enhanced oil recovery markets, Cryostar announced. Cryostar DNA will assume all sales and customer service activities. Operated by new partner Richard Young, the firm will utilize the four existing Cryostar service locations in the United States to provide new equipment, spare parts and regional service. Young is based in Henderson, Nev. Samuel Zouaghi, president of Cryostar SAS, says, “The refinement of our distribution business unit in North America and the creation of Cryostar DNA puts focus where it needs to be. We’re pleased to partner with Mr. Young and utilize his experience in the industry and focus on customer service and sales.”

Lincoln Launches New Education Website, Course Planner

Lincoln Electric has consolidated its education products, services and resources into a single website that provides students, educators, corporate trainers and design engineers with a common interface and access to leading welding education information and products. Jason Scales, Lincoln Electric’s business manager of education, says the new site lets users more easily locate educational assets, browse products designed specifically for welding education and serve as a registration portal for Lincoln Electric customers, authorized distributors and service facility training and motorsports and other specialized weld training.

Lincoln also has introduced “Course Builder,” a time-saving, curriculum planning tool for welding educators. The program guides instructors to create a curriculum calendar to organize instructional time, select specific and appropriate Lincoln Electric U/LINC content and ease curriculum planning, while tracking lesson plan compliance with state standards and requirements, the company says.

nexAir Changes Mailing Address nexAir has changed its corporate address, although phone numbers and email addresses remain the same. The company says it has changed its official address to 1350 Concourse Ave., Suite 103, Memphis, Tenn., 38104. nexAir moved its headquarters to a redeveloped site of the former Sears, Roebuck & Company Crosstown catalog order plant and retail store in Memphis. Vacant for more than 20 years, the building was transformed into one of the largest historic adaptive reuse projects in Tennessee history.

Airgas Recognized for Superior Performance Airgas, an Air Liquide company and a leading U.S. supplier of industrial gases, welding technologies and safety products, received the 2017 Indirect

Supplier of the Year award from Spirit AeroSystems for superior performance. The award recognizes suppliers for superior performance, with nominations typically reflecting outstanding support, expediting deliveries or providing weekend assistance, the company says.

Encore Welding Opens New Facility Encore Welding and Industrial Supply opened a new specialty and industrial gas facility in Signal Hill, Calif., a short distance from its corporate headquarters and main location. Company President Ben Anderson said the newly built facility features state-of-the-art equipment that represents a significant expansion of service for the company. It increases the capacity and immediate availability of argon and argon mixes, oxygen, nitrogen, helium, propane, Chemtane fuel gas, special blends and more, plus has specialized equipment and certified personnel on hand to formulate gases on-site in its specialty gas lab. The lab is equipped to produce and certify ultra-high purity gases and calibration gases, Airgas notes. Local officials joined Encore leadership Shelley Mann (senior operations manager); James Young (distribution manager); Paul Anderson (vice president and general manager); Ben Anderson, (president); and A. C. Goins, (gas facility manager), for the ribbon-cutting.

Winter 2018 • 97

INDUSTRY NEWS Airgas Earns Boeing Gold Award

Airgas, an Air Liquide company and a leading U.S. supplier of industrial gases, welding technologies and safety products, has been recognized by the Boeing Company with a 2016 Gold Performance Excellence Award. Boeing recognized 480 suppliers who achieved either a gold or silver level Boeing Performance Excellence Award at that time and Airgas was one of only 78 suppliers to receive the Gold level of recognition, Airgas officials report. Airgas was cited for maintaining a gold composite performance rating for each month of the 12-month performance period from October 2015 to September 2016. Airgas CEO Pascal Vinet commented: “Airgas is honored to accept this award from Boeing, a long-standing and valued customer and advocate of Airgas. Our more than 18,000 associates dedicate themselves to helping our customers achieve excellence by providing industry-leading products, service, and expertise. It is very satisfying to be recognized for our efforts. We look forward to continuing a successful relationship with Boeing in the future.” Airgas has been a supplier to Boeing for more than 25 years and provides industrial gases, welding hardgoods, safety products and dry ice to support key projects across the full enterprise.

Prism Software Moves to Larger Offices Prism Visual Software has a new address. The firm has moved to a new location, doubling its space to accommodate the company’s expansion, says Andrew Kuneth, vice president of sales. The company is now located at 55 Bryant Ave., Rosyln, N.Y. 11576. Contact phone and email remain the same: office: 516-944-5920; fax: 516-628-6016; cell: 98 • Winter 2018

516-633-8792. Kuneth is at andrewk@

IACX Moves to a New Address A recent move has resulted in a new address for IACX. Brian Witt, vice president, midstream and marketing, says the company is now located at: IACX Energy LLC, Heritage Square II, 5001 LBJ Freeway, Suite 300, Dallas, Texas 75244. The direct number is 972-960-3218; mobile is 214-718-1058. Witt can be reached at:

Central Welding New CleanSpace Distributor Central Welding Supply has become a distributor for CleanSpace Technology, a global manufacturer of powered air purifying respiratory protection, both companies announce. According to Central Welding’s Vice President Mike Buell, “For decades, Central Welding Supply has provided welders with safety and productivity tools that are essential to their livelihood. The CleanSpace2 masks have become one of our fastest selling products due to their ergonomic design to fit comfortably under welding helmets while providing superior powered air respiratory protection.” Alex Birrell, CleanSpace Technology CEO, adds that since the company entered the North American market earlier this year, “we are extremely pleased with the

rate our distribution network continues to grow with regional distributors such as Central Welding Supply.”

Encore Welding Expands Delivery Fleet Encore Welding Supply is expanding its ability to meet growing demand for its products and services with the addition of a new 37-foot Peterbilt tractor-trailer to the company’s fleet of delivery vehicles. Distribution Manager James Young says the new 10-wheeler is able to deliver up to 200 specialty and/or industrial compressed gas cylinders and cryogenic liquid dewars to customers throughout Southern California. He says the addition provides greater flexibility in the dispatch of delivery vehicles, faster service for existing customers and more efficiency for the company’s growing base of gas customers.

Lincoln’s Tech and Training Center Opening in January Commemorating the 100th anniversary of its legacy welding school, Lincoln Electric opened its new Welding Technology & Training Center on its Euclid, Ohio campus in January. T h e t w o - s t o r y, m o r e t h a n 100,000-square-foot facility doubles Lincoln’s welding education capacity. The building features a virtual reality training lab with 10 VRTEX Virtual

Newly completed — Lincoln’s Welding Technology and Training Center.

INDUSTRY NEWS Executive Officer Steve Angel notes, “We are pleased to open a world-class coatings facility in Ellisville that will house the next generation Stations at the Lincoln Welding Technology & Training Center of coating technologies and applicaReality Web Simulation Trainers, 166 tions for the aviation industry.” welding and cutting booths, six seminar “We are excited to enter this next rooms, 13 welding school classrooms, phase of our strategic plan,” says a 100-seat auditorium, an atrium and a Derek Hileman, managing director, reception area. PG Technologies. “Our new facility in Ellisville will provide exceptional The center’s opening maintains the products, technology and service to GE company’s role of running the oldest Aviation with PG Technologies’ advanced continually operating welding school in coating capabilities.” the world, and reflects Lincoln Electric’s PG Technologies is a joint venture be100-year commitment to leading welding tween Praxair Surface Technologies, Inc., education and innovation in an era of a wholly owned subsidiary of Praxair, strong demand for skilled trades, the Inc., and GE Aviation. company says. “This new Welding Technology & Training Center reinforces Lincoln Direct Wire and Cable Electric’s dedication to education and the Expanding Two Facilities future of welding,” says Jason Scales, manager of education solutions. “We Direct Wire and Cable, Inc., is design our welding curriculum and proenlarging its footprint in wire and cagrams to meet the needs of students and ble manufacturing through two facility educators at every level.” expansions. The company is building a 10,000-square-foot addition to its existing manufacturing facility in Denver, Pa., Praxair and GE Open New PG and is adding a new location there as a

Tech Facility

Praxair, Inc., and GE Aviation have opened a new facility for their PG Technologies business that produces advanced coatings enabling jet engines to withstand higher temperatures and stresses. The 300,000 square-foot facility is expected to employ at least 250 people to meet demand for the latest generation of jet engines, including the GE9X and the CFM* LEAP, officials report. Praxair Chairman and Chief

Direct Wire and Cable officials “dig in” for expansions

product and marketing center. New equipment is being added to the existing facility to boost manufacturing and assembly operations in order to deliver faster turnaround and increase DWC’s capacity and production output, the company says. The product and marketing center will allow for enhanced strategic direction into new markets. Both expansions will allow for greater product offerings and enhanced serviceability to customers in the industrial, power and welding markets, the company adds. Several new positions are being created in operations, technical/lab, sales, assembly and shipping operations due to the growth. “We are very excited for this expansion as we have identified new opportunities, and this is just one more step to reaching our goals of servicing, and expanding on, our customer base,” says Direct Wire President Eric Laubach. “With an even stronger American-made product offering, we are reaching new markets and growing our technological capabilities.”

Lincoln Electric Celebrates Ohio Site Expansion Lincoln Electric has opened an expanded facility at the Wayne Trail site it acquired in 2012, adding 50 new advanced manufacturing jobs in the process. The long-established automation integrator, located in Fort Loramie, Ohio, has opened its newly expanded manufacturing plant, which now reaches 95,000 square feet, consolidating operations in one location. The move adds 50 jobs to the company’s 170 exWinter 2018 • 99

INDUSTRY NEWS isting positions and permits Wayne Trail to continue growing its engineering and manufacturing capabilities, Lincoln officials add. Wayne Trail provides innovative, customized and affordable metal forming, metal joining, fabrication and material handling solutions for companies in the aerospace, automotive, appliance and energy industries.

O.E. Meyer Co. Opens Eighth Location The O.E. Meyer Co. has opened an eighth industrial store, a 12,560 squarefoot location in Columbus, Ohio. The large retail floor space allows customers a greater variety of industrial products from premier manufacturers,

plus repair services for all types of electric arc equipment, plasma cutting/ welding equipment, wire feeders, manual and robotic MIG guns and many welder generators. Innovative robotic, hard tool, and CNC cutting automation solutions are also available, along with bulk and cylinder compressed gases. The opening meets increasing needs in the region for a supplier of industrial gases, welding and cutting supplies for a wide range of industrial manufactures, according to Eric Wood, vice president/ sales, industrial division. Established in 1918 in Sandusky Ohio, O.E. Meyer Co. is an employee-owned business that is a recognized local leader in compressed gases, welding and cutting equipment, automation and service.

voelstalpine Böhler Initiates Golden Solvator Awards

The first-ever Solvator Awards have been presented by voestalpine Böhler for innovation in welding solutions. Nine awards were given in four different categories: best technical solution (to the French military shipyard Naval Group); most efficient solution (to Felguera Calderia Pesadain Spain); most environmentally friendly solution (to Moroccan constructor PROMINOX); and best value package (to General Electric India). voestalpine Böhler Welding CEO Günter Neureiter presided over the awards program, noting, “Working together with customers to help them get the best out of our products in terms of welding solutions is in the very DNA of our company. It differentiates us from our competition, and therefore we have decided to showcase the most appealing results of our cooperation with fabricators by means of the Solvator Awards.”

Jones Joins Equigas, Inc. Bill Jones, an industry professional with more than 30 years of experience in sales, marketing and operations in the cryogenic equipBill Jones ment industry, has joined Equigas, Inc., as director of sales. Rafael Arvelo, Equigas general manager, says Jones will report to him and will be responsible for establishing and leading national sales and marketing strategies for the company. Jones has extensive expertise and client service experience in the major industrial gas producers and the LNG marketplace, and most recently worked 100 • Winter 2018

INDUSTRY NEWS for Applied Cryogenic Technologies, Inc., as director of business development for Cryogenic/LNG trailers. Before that, he was vice president of sales and marketing for CTR, Inc. Jones holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Indiana University, Bloomington, and is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

Dawes Company Wows at Holiday Parade The James C. Dawes company branch in Cadiz, Ohio, got closer to their customers and took a “Best Vehicle Category” prize in the community’s annual Christmas parade by creating a float that used its nitrogen vaporizer as a “snow-making” display. Brian Dawes, president, and his brother, David Dawes, vice president, put the float together at the urging of Brian’s daughter, Rebecca Kinsey. She thought it was a good way to show community pride plus become better known for what the company offers. The whole location staff got into the act, and was pleased with observers’ reactions to seeing the nitrogen vaporizer (which the firm rents to local gas and oil companies to clear and dry their pipelines) create snow “puffs,” according to Kinsey. “It was great for visibility, it was a lot of fun, and it’s something people will remember.” This was the first time the Dawes company entered the competition, and given the positive feedback, the company plans to participate in many more future community parades, Kinsey says.

Mitchell Becomes Regional Sales Manager for IWDC Barry Mitchell has joined the Independent Welding Distributors Cooperative (IWDC) as regional sales manager. Reporting to Keith Werkley, Mitchell is

responsible for promoting IWDC’s value proposition to the membership as well as helping drive profitable growth for vendor partner brands and the Weldmark brand. Mitchell’s career began in Ireland as general manager of his family’s industrial supply business. When his family sold the business, he continued on to an affiliate of OKI Bering in Warrington, England, then transferred to OKI Bering’s headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. He served there for the next 15 years as district sales manager for Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and Southeast Indiana; and as supply chain project manager; director, product management; and vice president, product management. In 2011, he became vice president, national accounts, a position he held until OKI Bering was sold in 2012. He then formed his own consulting

company until joining IWDC in 2016. Mitchell lives with his wife, Linda, and two sons, Patrick and Liam, in Lawrenceburg, Ind.

Butler Gas Promotes Two on Executive Team Butler Gas Products, of Pittsburgh, announces the promotion of two members of the company’s executive team. The company has promoted Abydee Butler Moore to the position of chief operating officer and Jesse Pitell to the position of vice president of finance. In her role as executive vice president and chief operating officer, Butler Moore oversees the company’s strategic plan, internal and external marketing efforts and sales, customer

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INDUSTRY NEWS service and business operations. She functions as the integrator in the compaAbydee Butler Moore ny’s operating system, leading vice presidents Sandy Gobrish, Heather Ferrand and Bob Urie. Butler Moore acquired 20 percent of Butler Gas Jesse Pitell Products in 2015. Pitell, in his promotion to vice president of finance, is responsible for upgrading financial capabilities and performance throughout the company. He leads the management-by-fact process as he collects and models data for sustainable continuous improvement in all business units throughout the company. The business is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, and 2018 marks the company’s succession through three generations of family ownership.

102 • Winter 2018

In Memoriam

BARNEY BURKS, JR. Funeral services for Barney Burks, Jr., 57, who passed away Dec. 31, 2017, were held recently in Shreveport, La. Mr. Burks was born March 26, 1960 in Shreveport. He was awarded a scholarship from Red Ball Oxygen and attended LeTourneau University, where he graduated in 1982. Starting in 1982, he worked in district sales for Oerlikon and in 1987, became a sales manager with Hobart Brothers. He later worked at Red Ball Oxygen in 1989. He had been employed with SOWESCO in

Houston since 2004. Mr. Burks joined the American Welding Society in 1982 and became a life member after 35 years of service. During that time, he served many positions in the AWS Houston Section, including chairman, vice chairman, board of directors, treasurer, secretary, and education and scholarship committees. A member of St. Joseph Catholic Church, his love for his ACTS brothers and sisters and his church were close to his heart. He was an avid duck and turkey hunter and thoroughly enjoyed hunting and spending time with his friends. Mr. Burks was preceded in death by his parents, Barney Burks, Sr. and Dorothy Burks; and sister, Deborah Burks. He leaves his wife, Renella Abshire Burks; daughter, Alexandra Cora-Marie Deal; sister, Claire Leeftink; and nephews, David and Gerrit Leeftink, as survivors.

INDUSTRY NEWS Serving as pallbearers were Alex Kennedy, Jeff Jeter, Robert Jeter, Alan Jeter, Bill Borders and Russell Stevens. Serving as honorary pallbearers were Gil Hartzo, Joe Rosalee, Raymond Liles and Robert Shepherd.

WILLIAM H. HOBART Former chairman and CEO of the Hobart Brothers Company, William Harrison Hobart died peacefully at age 93 in Troy, Ohio. William was born to Rachel and William Hobart, Sr., on July 5, 1924, in Troy, enjoying childhood with his friends and siblings, Marcia, Lucia and Peter. He attended school in Troy and graduated

from The Hotchkiss School. After serving in the Army Medical Corps during the Second World War, he attended Yale University and The Wharton School of Business. He returned to Troy to live a life committed to his family, Hobart Brothers Company and the surrounding community. Hobart worked at the family welding business for more than 60 years, and under his guidance, it grew tenfold. He also dedicated many years of leadership to community organizations. He is remembered as a man who was always honorable and fair, a person of remarkable grace and consistent kindness, someone who lived by the Golden Rule and who treated everyone with respect. He loved and was loved by the people around him. Married to his wife, Julia, for nearly 63 years, the couple raised six children: Lydia, Rachel, Helen, Katharine, Harrison and Surrie. They also have 14 grandchildren: Will, Sam, Henry, Maggie, Walker, Emma, Frances, Max, Elsie, Harry, Peter, Charlie, Julia and Edward.

JAMES CHARLES (JIM) BROWN, JR. The founder and owner of U.S. Tank & Cryogenic Equipment, James Charles (“Jim”) Brown, Jr., passed away in November of 2017 after a courageous battle with brain cancer, the company reports. He was born Nov. 16, 1948 in Maury County, Tenn. In addition to leading his company, Brown was a retired master chief in the U.S. Navy, in which he served for 23 years. The company is based in Lewisburg, Tenn. Jonathan Brown, James’ son, remains as company president.

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In Memoriam

THOMAS MASON Airgas co-founder Thomas Mason, of Malvern, Pa., passed away on Nov. 26, 2017, at the age of 84. He was born in Somerville, N.J. and graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a degree in industrial engineering. While at RPI he was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, Navy ROTC and he played football. He married Peggy Joy Montaque, his high school sweetheart, in June 1955. After college, Mason earned his Navy Wings of Gold after primary training in Pensacola, Fla., and advanced to Kansas, California and Hawaii. He flew the Navy’s Lockheed EC-121 early warning aircraft. He later joined a reserve squadron and returned to Somerville, where he began his career in the industrial gas industry at Air Reduction Incorporated. He was recalled to active duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis, flying the Grumman S2F Tracker patrolling the eastern seaboard for Russian submarines. He continued as a reservist for 20 years and retired from the Navy as a lieutenant commander. Mason resumed his industrial gas career as vice president of Burdett Oxygen Co. Then in 1982, he co-founded Airgas, Inc., with business partner Peter McCausland. They bought Connecticut 104 • Winter 2018

Oxygen, the first of several hundred U.S. gas and welding distributors. He was instrumental in developing Airgas into a very successful, many faceted, multi-billion-dollar company, becoming the largest gas and welding supplier in the U.S. and being listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1986. He retired from Airgas in 1997. Mason also served in many industry associations, including the International Oxygen Manufacturers Association as its president. Mason’s passions included golfing, skiing and private aviation. He loved to play the guitar with his grandchildren and to sing, especially at the Aronimink County Club piano bar, with old friends. He traveled the world with his wife at his side, from Botswana to Greece to China. He served on the board at Radnor Hunt. He was happiest when surrounded by his family, and he will be remembered for his wit, generosity, devotedness and the way his presence would light up a room. Mason is survived by his wife of 62 years, Peggy, and their three children, Terry Sommese Corbett (Don), Tom Mason (Amanda) and Cindy Buchanan (Richard) and 10 grandchildren, Kathryn, Christopher, Alex and Victoria Sommese, Julia, Jake, Kyle and Sarah Mason, and Audrey and Maggie Buchanan. A memorial service is planned for spring 2018. In recognition of his military service, Mason is being buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Donations are being accepted in Mason’s name to Paoli Memorial Hospital at Online condolences can be offered at:

ROBERT G. JAITE JR. Robert G. Jaite, Jr., age 77, of Brecksville, Ohio, passed away Dec. 14, 2017. Jaite was the beloved husband of the late Nancy; father of Bob and Kevin; grandfather of Elizabeth, Jonathan, Evan and Abigail; and son of the late Robert and Doris Jaite. A U.S. Navy veteran, he served as a City of Brecksville councilman for six years and was on the city’s civil service commission for 18 years. Jaite was involved in the welding industry since 1957 and was a consultant to the industry at the time of his passing. Memorial contributions are being directed to the St. Vincent Charity Development Foundation, 2351 East 22nd St., Cleveland, Ohio, 44115. To submit In Memoriam remembrances or other industry news, contact: or call 315-445-2347.


M&A SCORECARD Norco Acquires Freedom Medical Supply

Norco, the nation’s largest privately owned welding, safety, medical and gas supplier, has acquired Freedom Medical Supply of Yakima, Wash., as an addition to its medical homecare business in central Washington. Norco assumed ownership in October 2017. Freedom Medical Supply is a family-owned business that has operated in the Yakima Valley for five years. They currently serve customers with CPAP, respiratory, home medical and oxygen services, equipment and supplies. According to Ned Pontious, Norco president, “We are very excited to be a part of the vibrant and growing Yakima Valley community. We look forward to the opportunity to live out our mission of ‘Serving You Better’ in Yakima!” “We are excited to have Norco in place locally to provide a wider range of products, services and experience to our valued customers, many of whom have become like family to us,” says Mitch Rose, Freedom Medical’s managing owner. Norco operates more than 70 branches in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.

Cristiano Welding Supply, a family business, was established in 1983 by Anthony Cristiano. The Cristiano company will continue operations under its existing name and from its current location, and all four of its staff members are being retained, Earlbeck says. “Both companies were built on shared values of knowledge-based, solutions-oriented selling. This partnership will allow Cristiano Welding Supply to provide a wider array of services and products to their customers as well as make operational improvements,” she adds.

Paraco Acquires Long Island’s Bay Gas Company Paraco, of Rye Brook, N.Y., has acquired Bay Gas, a family-owned propane company based in Shirley, N.Y. This is the second business acquisition for Paraco in 2017 and its 47th overall. Paraco has been servicing Long Island since 1985. The acquisition adds 22,000 customers and 12 million gallons of propane and boosts the Long Island customer base to 65,000. “The acquisition offers a unique opportunity to acquire a company

Earlbeck Acquires Welding Company Earlbeck Gases & Technologies, of Baltimore, Md., has acquired Cristiano Welding Supply of Scranton, Pa. Corporate development officer Allison Earlbeck says the acquisition will help the company continue its growth in the mid-Atlantic region.

Joe Armentano, CEO of Paraco, with Christina Armentano, Paraco VP/business development, center, surrounded by Bay Gas field employees.

known for its first-class service, quality of employees and strong customer presence, especially in Suffolk County and on the east end of Long Island,” says Christina Armentano, Paraco’s vice president of business development. Bay Gas was founded by Jack O’Loughlin in 1968 and most recently operated by his son, John O’Loughlin. The move combines two strong family brands on Long Island that have been committed to growth, service and community, and demonstrates Paraco’s commitment to further expanding its footprint in the Northeast, Armentano adds. Paraco is retaining all 31 Bay Gas employees. Armentano says Paraco is the largest privately held, family owned and operated propane company in the Northeast. It was founded in 1968 by Pat Armentano and now services more than 108,000 residential and commercial customers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont from 24 distribution locations.

Techniweld Acquires American Filler Techniweld USA, of Atlanta, has acquired Houston-based American Filler Metals, according to Hunter Johnson, Techniweld’s executive vice president. Techniweld planned to move its existing Houston facility into American Filler Metal’s Houston location at 6015 Murphy St., South East Houston, allowing the company to quadruple its level of stocked inventory there. That action will lead to “extremely high Winter 2018 • 105


M&A SCORECARD fill rates to improve overall customer experience,” says Johnson. American Filler Metals is a specialty alloy manufacturer and wholesaler of bronze, nickel, stainless, chrome-moly, aluminum, mild steel and many more alloys. “The combination of each organization’s strengths and resources means that Techniweld USA can offer our customers solutions for all their alloy and welding needs,” Johnson adds. What began as an opportunity to collaborate “rapidly evolved into what Techniweld USA and our new affiliates saw as another way to deliver an industry game changer,” according to Johnson. He says the acquisition “will create opportunities for Techniweld’s sales team to compete with a new line of specialty alloys and expose American Filler Metal’s previous customer base to Techniweld’s vast product lines.”

Tech Air Partners with Alliance Welding Supplies, Inc. Tech Air, a Connecticut-based distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gases and related equipment and supplies, reached a definitive agreement to acquire Alliance Welding Supplies, Inc., a distributor of industrial gases and welding supplies located in San Jose, Calif. The move establishes Tech Air’s presence in Northern California and Alliance will be operated as a new subsidiary of Tech Air of California, announced Myles Dempsey, Tech Air CEO. Tech Air is owned by CI Capital Partners and Tech Air management and this acquisition is Tech 106 • Winter 2018

(CONTINUED) Air’s 23rd add-on acquisition under CI Capital’s ownership. Alliance was founded in 2002 by Marvin Rodgers III in San Jose, a short distance from his father’s business, Alliance Gas Products, and his mother’s business, Mavry Welding Supply, in Oakland. In 2011, the Rodgers family merged their businesses to create the largest independent distributor of industrial, specialty, bulk and cryogenic gases, welding supplies and safety equipment in the San Francisco Bay area and the largest independent gas distributor in Northern California. Marvin Rodgers III will continue to serve as president of Alliance and will retain a significant investment. Dempsey says, “The partnership with Alliance will establish a significant presence for Tech Air in the Bay Area, a region in which we have long sought entry.  We look forward to joining forces with the Alliance team and to supporting their continued success.” Joost Thesseling, managing director at CI Capital, says, “Through 23 add-on acquisitions, Tech Air has established a significant presence in multiple regions across the United States, creating a company with operations coast-to-coast. We remain committed to supporting the company and its acquisition strategy.”

Chart Acquires Skaff Cr yogenics Chart Industries, Inc., has acquired Skaff Cryogenics & CryoLease, LLC (together “Skaff”). Founded in 1979, Skaff provides

quality repair service and remanufacturing of cryogenic and liquefied natural gas storage tanks and trailers. Headquarterd in Brentwood, N.H., Skaff provides services and equipment to customers in North America and maintains a portfolio of cryogenic storage equipment that is leased to customers for temporary and permanent needs. Its customers include major gas suppliers, a variety of smaller distributors and end users.  “The acquisition of Skaff expands Chart’s direct regional presence for service and aftermarket support in the Northeast United States,” says Bill Johnson, Chart’s president and CEO. “This is a very strategic expansion for us as we drive to bring more value to our customers. The former owners, Bob Prefontaine and Steve Prefontaine, have built a business focused on the customer, quality and commitment.” Bob and Steve Prefontaine remain with Chart, with Bob Prefontaine remaining in his current capacity and Steve Prefontaine operating the business as general manager, the company states. Skaff reports through Chart’s Distribution and Storage segment. “I am very excited about the opportunities ahead,” comments Steve Prefontaine. “Chart’s philosophies, customer commitment and attention to quality makes this a great fit. We are very proud of the growth we’ve achieved over the years and are ready to take Skaff to the next level as part of Chart.” Chart is a leading independent global manufacturer of highly engineered equipment for the industrial gas, energy and biomedical indus-

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M&A SCORECARD tries. The majority of Chart’s products are used throughout the liquid gas supply chain for purification, liquefaction, distribution, storage and end-use applications, a large portion of which are energy-related. Chart has domestic operations located across the United States and an international presence in Asia, Australia, Europe and South America. 

Control Devices, LLC Acquires Harrison Valve Harrison Valve, a GAWDA supplier located in Santa Ana, Calif., has been acquired by Control Devices,

(CONTINUED) LLC, the company announced. Control Devices, of Fenton, Mo., is a leading designer and manufacturer of engineered flow control solutions. It offers customized and standard valves, nozzles, condensate traps, refrigerant distributors and other products that serve as critical components in end-product applications. These include air compressors, fire suppression systems, special gas systems, HVACR, pressure washers and heavy truck braking systems Harrison Valve is a global supplier of precision valve products serving a broad range of applications, industries

and markets, engineering products to provide innovative solutions to today’s compressed gas applications. Control Devices Chief Executive Officer Jamie Reuter notes, “The combined capabilities of Control Devices and Harrison Valve significantly improve our ability to serve customers in the compressed gas markets. The acquisition gives us complementary products that will be immediately available to existing customers, and the enhanced engineering and manufacturing capabilities will help us accelerate development and bring new products to market faster.”

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1. Superior Products Offers Professional Propane Torch

Superior Products, a RegO company, is offering a professional propane torch with a 500,000 BTU torch and a 36-inchlong handle for a more accurate aim and better ergonomics. Along with the included 10-foot hose and flint striker, this heavy-duty propane torch comes packaged in a retail box with full-color graphics. The company states the torch has a multitude of uses, including weed control without chemicals and melting snow and ice.

2. March Debut for New Flux Core Welding Wire

A new flux core welding wire will be available in March from Blue Demon (Welding Material Sales). According to Brian DePaul, the Blue Demon APEX flux core welding wire, AWS E71T-9C/9M product soon will be available in .035” (.9mm), .045” (1.14mm), and 1/16” (1.6mm) diameters on 33lb (15kg) spools. DePaul says the wire is a superior quality, low-cost alternative flux core welding wire that meets the “9C/9M” Charpy impact requirements at -20°F. The new addition to the line will help customers compete against major brands by bringing larger profits and savings, plus it offers low spatter, great arc stability, easy slag removal and is “awesome in the vertical up position,” De Paul adds.

3. voestalpine Böhler Welding Exhibits ‘Diamondspark’

The forum at SchweiBen & Schneiden provided voestalpine Böhler a unique platform for display of the company’s Diamondspark

L-line (laser-sealed) precision tool for automatic welding. The company states, “The Diamondspark L-line is today’s best available choice to optimize robotic or mechanized serial fabrication of high integrity components in demanding industries. With diffusible hydrogen at the level of solid wires, the Diamondspark L-line of products offers the perfect seamless cored wires for high and ultra-high strength steel welding and other extremely hydrogen-critical applications.”

4. Lincoln Introducing New Helmet, Battery Pack

Lincoln Electric is introducing an updated helmet, now with 4C lens technology and an optional extended battery pack. Called the Viking Papr 3350 Welding Helmet, its 4C lens technology upgrade improves the optics and reduces eye strain by minimizing the lime-green coloring in the liquid crystal display (LCD) in both active and inactive states, Lincoln states. The technology provides operators the ability to see a clear and undistorted view of the welding arc and puddle to maximize control and minimize defects. As such, it is ideal for a range of industries that use multiple welding processes, such as stick, MIG and TIG, including general fabrication, power generation, shipbuilding, structural, offshore and pipeline, the company adds. In addition to the updated lens technology, Lincoln Electric now offers an extended battery pack for the system, a rechargeable lithium ion battery providing up to 16 hours of battery life at the low air flow setting, rated for 500+ charges. The extended battery pack is National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-approved and weighs just 1 pound. Winter 2018 • 109



5. Responsive Respiratory Expands Cylinder Stand Offering

Responsive Respiratory (RRI), of St. Louis, Mo., has expanded its range of cylinder stands with the offering of an upgraded dual-use MM/M60 stand. The upgraded stand features a set of extended-length thumbscrews to secure either of two cylinder sizes. The dual-use design helps reduce inventory for providers and is ideal for placement of back-up cylinders in oxygen patients’ homes, according to RRI. The new stand features a durable powder coat paint finish and complements the company’s full line of oxygen delivery, storage and transport solutions. “The upgraded stand is designed specifically to hold either cylinder size and to employ a small footprint in the patient home,” notes Tom Bannon, RRI president. “Patients appreciate the sleek, low-profile design and providers benefit from an inventory management standpoint; only one SKU is required for multiple cylinder size storage.”

6. Lincoln Debuts Laser Systems

Lincoln Electric presented its latest laser cutting and processing system for automotive, appliance and other applications at FabTech. They included the PythonX robotic plasma cutting systems for the structural industry; Vernon Tool pipe profiling systems; and Torchmate CNC plasma cutting tables and cutting power sources for plate steel-cutting applications. 110 • Winter 2018

7. voestalpine Böhler Showcases 3D Printing

voestalpine Böhler illustrated its range of premium quality products for wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) at Schweißen & Schneiden. The Böhler Welding 3D print range consists of the highest quality solid and cored wires with excellent surface finishing and the welding characteristics required for a stable 3D printing process, according to the company. The available chemical compositions cover low-and medium-alloyed steel and various types of stainless steel, including duplex grades, nickel-base alloys, titanium and aluminum.

8. Chart Introduces New Storage Systems

Chart introduces a new line of MicroBulk CO2 storage with its Perma-Max Storage Systems, a series designed with fast fill plumbing and turnkey-ready for any CO2 application, according to Bob Knight, Chart’s product manager/micro bulk and high-pressure systems. Other new design features include all stainless-steel ball valves, larger internal pressure builder and vaporizer coils for faster pressure recovery and increased gas flow rates. It offers a higher capacity of 12,000 pounds gross storage (12,000 VHP model) and the unique design of the 1400 XHP mode l allows for the delivery of high pressure liquid CO2 at pressures up to 800 psig MAWP, Chart notes. Model sizes are also available in 2200 HP, 3300 HP, 4400 HP and 6000 HP.


9. Weiler Aluminum Solutions Guide Offers Products and Techniques

Weiler Abrasives Group, a leading provider of abrasives, power brushes and maintenance products for surface conditioning, has a new Aluminum Solutions Guide available. The company’s 12-page color guide features Weiler’s comprehensive line of contaminant-free abrasives for cutting, grinding and finishing aluminum. It also includes a helpful overview of the common challenges of working with aluminum, along with suggested techniques for overcoming these issues.

10. Teaching Aid Toolbox Available from Lincoln

A new “curriculum in a cabinet” is being offered by Lincoln Electric as a ready-made instructional resource containing a comprehensive array of welding tools and accessories. The cabinet offers visual aids for use in the classroom and is fully stocked with tools from various welding and cutting processes. It helps bring curriculum more typically associated with the shop instruction setting straight into the classroom, according to Lincoln. The Teaching Aid Toolbox is fully supported with Lincoln Electric U/LINC curriculum and includes the Cutaway Harris gas regulator and oxyfuel torch to allow students to familiarize

themselves with the tools’ structure, operation and application. “We know that teaching is about connecting with your students,” says Jason Scales, business manager for education.

11. Prism Visual Adds New Web Software

Prism Visual Software has launched a new web software suite, Prism WebStore and WebBillPay, to provide distribution and field service companies with web tools to offer their customers. WebStore and WebBillPay allow businesses of all sizes to meet customers’ interests in both shopping and managing their accounts on their own time schedule, on a 24/7 basis, the company says. Prism’s WebStore suggests delivery days based on route, customer specific pricing and authorized item lists, features that an average B2C web store cannot provide, according to the company. The software allows customers to sign in and place product orders, pay bills and submit service requests. It enhances user-experience with item images and search options to explore items by category, keyword, previous orders, promotional item and new items, among many options and features. For more information, visit

Winter 2018 • 111

ADVERTISERS INDEX 3M Company...........................................................25


Acme Cryogenics.....................................................47

Mercer Abrasives.......................................................5

AmWINS Program Underwriters.................................73


Anthony Welded Products.........................................39 Arcos Industries......................................................IBC ASM- American Standard Manufacturing...................44 ASTARAS...................................................................9 Black Stallion – Revco Industries...............................59

Norton Abrasives......................................................33 ORS Nasco..............................................................49 Phoenix International..............................................100 Postle Industries, Inc................................................61

Bug-O Systems........................................................48

Ratermann Manufacturing..................................64, 65

California Cylinder....................................................43

Reelcraft Industries..................................................95

Carborundum Abrasives...........................................75

RegO Cryo-Flow Products.........................................63

Catalina Cylinders....................................................19

Rotarex North America..............................................52

Cavagna North America............................................15


CGW – Camel Grinding Wheels.................................35 Chart Industries.......................................................91 Cryoworks.............................................................108 CTR Inc.....................................................................3 Cyl-Tec....................................................................11

Select-Arc, Inc........................................................ BC Sherwood Valve.......................................................83 Superior Products....................................................17 Taylor Wharton...................................................64, 65


Tech Air.................................................................107

FIBA Technologies....................................................62


Flexovit Abrasives.....................................................69

Thermco Instrument Corp.........................................57

Industrial Pro, Division of Forney Industries................26

Veite Cryogenic Equipment & Service Corp..................1

Gas Innovations/WWS..............................................72

Watson Coatings, Inc..............................................101

Generant Company................................................111 Genstar Technologies Company (GENTEC)..................53 Gullco International................................................102 H & H Sales Company..............................................43 The Harris Products Group ......................................IFC

WEH Technologies....................................................93 Weiler Corporation...................................................13 Weldcoa..................................................................31 Weldship Corporation...............................................40

Hobart Institute of Welding Technology.......................73

Western Enterprises.................................................58

Kaplan Industries.....................................................41

Winton Products Co...............................................111

The Lincoln Electric Company.....................................7

Worthington Industries............................................. 27

112 • Winter 2018

Supplying the World with Stainless for over 90 Years…

Arcos Stainless Steel Electrodes

Arcos produces a comprehensive line of premium bare wire, covered and tubular stainless steel alloy welding electrodes. Whatever your demanding application – from nuclear or military construction to power generation or petrochemical plants, pipelines to car exhaust systems, shipbuilding to paper production, and so many others – Arcos has the right stainless steel electrode to meet your exacting requirements. These outstanding, made-in-America Arcos electrodes are available in a broad range of compositions consisting of austenitic, duplex and superduplex, martensitic and ferritic grades and are manufactured to your specific needs. They include: • •

Covered electrodes in -15, -16 and -17 coating options. Solid wires for use in GTAW, GMAW and submerged arc processes.

Flux cored wires for flat and horizontal or out-of-position work, with or without shielding gas. • Metal cored wires for use in GTAW, GMAW and submerged arc processes. And, of course, all Arcos electrodes are backed by our experienced team of technical specialists and customer service professionals. For more information on the entire spectrum of Arcos stainless steel electrode products, contact us at 1-800-233-8460 or visit our website at


The Next Generation of SelectAlloy After two years in development, Select-Arc’s next generation of SelectAlloy flux cored stainless electrodes is now avalible – setting a new standard for weldability and bead appearance in the global marketplace. The next generation of SelectAlloy Stainless Series is proudly made in America at Select-Arc’s state-of-the-art, climate controlled, stainless facility in Troy, OH.

Welding & Gases Today - Q1 2018  

2018 Business Forecast

Welding & Gases Today - Q1 2018  

2018 Business Forecast