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The Official Publication of the Gases and Welding Distributors Association



Q1 Economic Analysis Report First Quarter 2017


Bull or Bear Year? Members Relate MEMBER PROFILE

Mississippi Welders Supply


Boca Raton SMC: The Sneak Peek! CONSULTANTS

DOT Drug/Alcohol Clearinghouse Rule



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First Quarter • Winter 2017 • Volume 16, No. 1


PRESIDENT’S VIEW An Energetic Start to 2017 BY MARK RAIMY


DIRECTOR’S DESK Keep Member Status Active To Ensure Ongoing Benefits BY JOHN OSPINA





Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Final Rule Gets Approval


COVER STORIES: 2017 BUSINESS OUTLOOK A NEW, EXCLUSIVE SERVICE: GAWDA Partners with ITR Economics For Economic Trend Analyses, Forecasts



How to Know and Abide By Current DOT Drug, Alcohol Rules

WHAT’S THE WORD FOR 2017? GROWTH! The GAWDA Industry Analysis Report Provided by ITR Economics™


LOOKIN’ GOOD: ANNUAL BUSINESS OUTLOOK Distributors Optimistic About 2017; Suppliers Ready for a Year of Growth

CGA Resources: They’re Free and Easy to Obtain









MISSISSIPPI WELDERS SUPPLY Growing by Scratch-Starts, IT and Now, Acquisitions BY CHARLES MCCHESNEY




WONDERS OF WELDING Vikings’ U.S. Bank Stadium Throws Open Its Doors


MEET YOUR BOARD Learn About 2016-17’s GAWDA Leadership


HERE’S WHAT’S APP-ENING More Useful Apps For Home, Office


BLOWIN’ IN THE POLITICAL WIND? Experts’ Insights About the New Administration


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First Quarter • Winter 2017 • Volume 16, No. 1











126 128





BEST PRACTICES ‘Gen Next, Part 2’: The Newest Customers



YOUNG PROFESSIONALS The College Degree-Work World Disparity


SALES & MARKETING Questions Make a Sales Strategy



The Family-Business Trust Factor


John Ospina



Bill Brod



Diane Stirling SENIOR EDITOR


Charles McChesney





Tim Hudson




CONTACT BOOTH PROGRAM GETTING A 360° REVIEW Suppliers, Distributors Looking at Enhancements



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 Communications, Inc. 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 • Advertising correspondence and materials should be sent to William Brod, Data Key Communications, Inc., 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 ©2017 Data Key Communications, Inc. • 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 Communications, Inc. 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 2017

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2017: New Look, New Ideas and an Energized Team by mark raimy

T Mark Raimy is GAWDA’s 2016-2017 president and chief executive officer of the family’s third-generation business, Welders Supply Co., Inc. – a Raimy Corporation. The company’s two locations are in Erie Pa., its headquarters site, with a branch in Jamestown, N.Y. He can be reached at and at 814-454-1563.

6 • Winter 2017

he New Year often brings change and for our industry, this year is no exception. As we prepare to absorb the potential transformational changes in store for our industry, we at GAWDA have been working to deliver some exciting changes to enhance the GAWDA experience for our members this year. The entire GAWDA team is energized for 2017.

GAWDA is at its best when we all get together and learn from each other. The first change you already may have noticed is the new look of GAWDA’s magazine, Welding & Gases Today. In fact, you may not even have realized what you were looking at initially until you came to this page and this column. If so, good; that’s one goal accomplished. I believe we are just scratching the surface of what GAWDA can develop together with GAWDA Media to improve this magazine to benefit our members and help us market GAWDA to potential members. The look of the magazine is only part of the story. We also have been working on raising the magazine’s content value to you based on what you have told us in our GAWDA surveys. Industryrelevant business content was tops on the list. We listened to another of your requests, and are happy to announce Alan Beaulieu of ITR Economics is now a GAWDA consultant. As GAWDA’s chief economist, Alan will be available to members, deliver commentary and provide GAWDA-customized content. The core benefit to our members is the quarterly “ITR Economics

for GAWDA” report that now will appear in each issue of Welding & Gases Today. ITR is well known and has a nearly 95 percent accuracy rate in its economic forecasting. GAWDA has actually taken ITR’s capabilities to the next level by developing a report that truly presents a customized view of our industry, spawned in part from the use of some of our members’ data. Here’s how that transpired. • Last summer, we began working with ITR to explore the idea of using the financial data available from GAWDA members that are public companies. • We collected the data going back several years and found that it provided a very accurate forecasting tool for our industry. • With that data set, ITR found the economic indices and indicators that match up as well as possible with our “GAWDA DNA,” so to speak. The result is a highly accurate and customized report that truly reflects our industry and our membership. You may see ITR in other places, but the GAWDA report is different and unique. It’s customized to our industry and our members; and it’s ours.

Look for some really fun and value-added changes to the Contact Booth Program. Make sure you also look at this issue’s article about the Contact Booth Committee. As I indicated at the annual convention in Maui, we started putting this committee together to give our


Lincoln Electric recognizes that the support provided by our distributor partners is critical to our business success. As the world leader in the development of welding and cutting solutions, we’re ready to respond to that support by continuing to provide you with innovative technologies, quality products, training, solution selling and distributor programs designed to help reach your primary goal – growing your business. To realize the full potential of Lincoln Electric selling power, knowledge and expertise; contact your sales representative today.

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8 • Winter 2017

supplier members direct input into enhancing the Contact Booth Program. I have had the pleasure of being on these committee conference calls, and can report back that we have no shortage of experience, energy and ideas from our committee members. So look for some really fun and value-added changes to the Contact Booth Program when we undertake it at the Spring Management Conference. GAWDA is at its best when we all get together and learn from each other. Hopefully, the result will encourage more members to attend and participate to a greater degree. Some of the changes to the Contact Booth Program will use technology to enhance both suppliers’ and distributors’ program value and experience. In addition, look for updates across GAWDA’s technology platform this year as we examine how we do everything. A web site overhaul, a GAWDA app and continued improvements in our meeting registration process are in the works. We look forward to releasing these updates to you as they are developed. So far, we’re off to a good start. As you read this, the 2017 regional meeting schedule has been published and SMC registration is open for Boca Raton, Fla., in May. Please take a look at the meetings and try to attend and send people from your company. The best of GAWDA are at these meetings, both in people and in content. I hope to see you at a meeting this year. Lastly, thank you to the GAWDA team, our board members, committee members and our membership. This is the best industry, and GAWDA represents the best of the best. Thank you for all you do for GAWDA and best regards for the new year.

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Membership Renewal Ensures Continuing GAWDA Benefits by JOHn OsPina

T 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

10 • Winter 2017

he Gases and Welding Distributors Association (GAWDA) is constantly evaluating and improving member services to provide the best and most useful advice, assistance and information available. Members’ valuable input last year has resulted in GAWDA’s expanded range of member benefits. Since membership is the only way to access these, please make sure your company has renewed its membership status for 2017. The current grace period for non-renewed members ends March 1.


GAWDA provides the latest industry news and up-to-date information to members on a regular and ongoing basis through several publications and online content sources. Welding & Gases Today, GAWDA’s official magazine, is published quarterly. It is mailed to member companies and available online at A modernization undertaken in 2016 has been fully implemented now, making the publication easier to read and containing more useful information than ever before. In this issue, the magazine debuts a new, repeating, high-value feature: the ITR Economics quarterly economic analysis and forecast. The ITR Report includes the most up-to-date information on economic indicators and market conditions affecting our industry. ITR Economics has a superior record of accuracy. The report is customized with GAWDA-specific data and industry-pertinent economic indicators. ITR also offers useful advice for practical application of its recommendations. News is also conveyed twice monthly via the GAWDA Connection newsletter. Members also receive regular GAWDA Safety Bulletins via the

members-only portal on the GAWDA web site. That location also contains archived Safety Bulletin copies and catalogs the new ITR Economics’ Monthly Newsletter and ITR data dashboards.


GAWDA’s consultant services are the most widely used of any of our exclusive offerings. Consultants include Mike Dodd (DOT, Security, OSHA and EPA topics); Tom Badstubner (FDA and Medical Gases); Richard L. Schweitzer, Government Affairs and Human Resources); Brian McLaughlin (Group Life Insurance); and now Alan Beaulieu, GAWDA’s chief economist, of ITR Economics.


The application deadline for GAWDA’s Foundation scholarship is February 15. Member companies must have membership paid through 2017 for company-sponsored applicants to be considered for a scholarship.


The Spring Management Conference Contact Booth Program is now open for registration. Members must be paid through 2017 to apply and to prevent delays in securing a booth assignment.


Information for the 2017 Member Directory is being updated and sent to renewing member companies’ key contacts for review. Companies that have not renewed membership will not appear in the 2017 directory. Please get in touch with GAWDA if you have any questions about available benefits or the value of membership. We look forward to serving you.



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Changes in W&GT Boost Appearance and Readability 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.

elcome to the first Welding & Gases Today issue of the year, and to the magazine’s whole new look. In the 15 months since the new GAWDA Media team took the reins, several improvements have been made to the magazine’s appearance and contents. With this issue, a full-scale rebranding of GAWDA’s official publication has been undertaken. First, you’ll notice a bolder and more distinctive cover design. The Welding & Gases Today title now is prominently displayed and no longer obscures the GAWDA logo. The subtitle headlines have been standardized and streamlined. Inside the front cover, the Table of Contents has been opened up and organized for easier reference to page numbers where articles begin. Interior pages have been upgraded to reflect contemporary design standards typical of national business magazines. New page headers are color coded. The stylized and colored headers remain the same issue to issue for various categories of articles. That provides a visual reference point that helps readers more easily find and reference their favorite article sections. New typefaces and more generous use of white space in header areas and throughout article layouts boost readability. The magazine’s advertising platform has

undergone some changes, too. Ad opportunities offer added exposure, continuity and value through bundled packages and repeat insertion schedules, plus opportunities to pair ads in the online news counterpart, the GAWDA Connection newsletter. These changes reflect the types of improvements GAWDA members have been asking for, as well as pertinent quality standards for contemporary magazines. We think they also showcase the current state of the Gases and Welding Distributors Association as a forward-looking organization in an ever-evolving industry. We’re also very pleased that GAWDA Media is now more thoroughly integrated as a support arm for the GAWDA Headquarters staff. Our enhanced alignment is taking many forms to support staff needs and the requests of leadership. You’ll see this hand-in-glove relationship take form in the way news is better covered, information presentations are enhanced and extra staffing is available for association events, media and promotional support and special efforts implementing GAWDA communications and strategic initiatives. As always, we’re interested in your feedback. We hope you’ll reach out anytime you have ideas to share that will help us meet the interests of GAWDA members for news and for their member-to-member communication.

y on Twitter! Follow Welding & Gases Toda

@GAWDAMEDIA @WeldGasToday 12 • Winter 2017




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Introducing ITR Economics – and GAWDA’s Chief Economist GAWDA Adds Eminent Consulting Firm to Provide Forecasts, Analyses, Alerts by diane stirling


isk. It can help or hobble business. Too risk averse? You can lose profitable opportunities. Too prone to gamble? You can be taken for a marketplace roller-coaster ride. Whichever way you lean, better risk assessment – and ultimately, risk reduction – is a prime goal in every business. With President Mark Raimy’s direction and input, GAWDA has taken steps to help member businesses learn more about how to reduce business risks and boost confidence in making decisions. GAWDA has hired noted economic expert Alan Beaulieu and his firm, ITR Economics, as an additional GAWDA consultant. “This concept was one that Mark Raimy had coming into his 2016-2017 presidency, and after the annual convention, he immediately acted to refine details and bring this idea to fruition,” notes John Ospina, GAWDA executive director. ITR’s experts now are providing GAWDA with timely, industry-pertinent economic forecasts and market analysis reports specific to the welding and gases industry and the types of customers GAWDA members serve. Their services include: ■■ Quarterly economic trend analysis reports ■■ Recommendations for business actions based on market conditions and financial trends ■■ Economic forecasts that look ahead six to 12 months ■■Articles focused on specific economic trends, occurrences, insights and topics ■■ Timely notices and details when economic “events” occur ■■ Discounted pricing on popular ITR Economics-hosted webinars. The expansive quarterly reports and shorter articles will appear in the GAWDA magazine, Welding & Gases Today. Announcements about more routine matters will be published in the GAWDA Connection newsletter. Imperative alerts will go out to the membership through GAWDA headquarters e-mail blasts when situations and economic events warrant. 14 • Winter 2017



The addition of Beaulieu as GAWDA’s chief economist and the provision of ongoing economic analyses and special reports is a direct result of members’ requests to be able to access more detailed financial information to use in their businesses, according to Raimy and Ospina. “GAWDA is looking forward to providing the membership with information that can help their business on a daily basis, giving them the ability to look at the industry through a wider focus through the vehicle of GAWDA publications,” says Ospina.


ITR Economics provides reports that are precisely tailored to the interests, needs and market conditions being faced by GAWDA members, according to Raimy. The reports contain all the technical precision of a professional forecasting report, plus practical recommendations businesses can use based on whatever economic trends are unfolding, he says. “What I really like about ITR is they take the analysis and tell you, ‘This is where you need to invest, hire more people, buy ahead because commodity prices are going up … and then they boil it down to actionable items, so it really prepares you. It takes it from one end, with a macro analysis and graphs, but always ends with, ‘This is what you should be doing.’ If you’re making any type of business decision, distributor side or supplier side, where you are in the business cycle is going to dictate what type of move you make. This material will prove so valuable that, if you sit down and read only three things to help with your business decision-making, this should be one of them,” Raimy suggests.


ITR Economics’ excellent reputation for accuracy and its use of precise, industry-reflective economic indicators and information make the analyses and forecasts provided very specific, applicable and unique to GAWDA, according to Raimy. He notes that to formulate GAWDA’s reports, ITR Economics uses indicators that reflect fluctuations in the welding and gases industry, insights from the data of GAWDA members whose filings are public and information from the types of industries that are important customers for GAWDA businesses. The reports provide specific information that isn’t offered through other industry associations and a targeted focus and precision that GAWDA members would not easily find elsewhere, Raimy explains. “The trend reports are crafted 100 percent from what we at GAWDA do. The content is so focused to GAWDA that it’s going to be much more applicable and specific to the member base, therefore really powerful,” he adds.


To develop forecasts that reflect the precise business realities GAWDA members face every day, ITR Economics uses several elements. These include industry-specific leading indicators, data from government sources and private sources, data publicly filed by some welding and gases industry companies and readings of markets that provide important customer bases for GAWDA members, economist Beaulieu says. The firm uses a rate-of-change methodology, leading indicators, internal and external factors and ITR’s business cycle theories (which originally were developed by ITR founder Chapin Hoskins in the 1940s), according to Beaulieu. In combination with ITR Economics’ own proprietary economic indicator, these theories “have resulted in a long-term accuracy rate of 94.7 percent or better rating four quarters into the future, on everything we forecast domestically and internationally for more than 30 years of tracking,” Beaulieu says. “It’s something we’re intensely proud of because it allows business leaders to make decisions with confidence,” he adds. The reports can be helpful to GAWDA members in many ways, says the economist. That’s because ITR Economics “is in the risk-reduction business. If we can replace ‘think’ with ‘know’ in terms of what is coming along in the marketplace, and with a 95-percent confidence rating, that can help members prepare before making decisions, and that can help members enhance profitability,” Beaulieu contends. He suggests thinking of what ITR provides as “like a sailing ship on the ocean. We provide the weather forecasts so the


ITR Economics is the oldest, privately-held, continuously operating economic research and consulting firm in the U.S. Since 1948, the firm has provided business leaders with economic information, insight, analysis and strategy, what it calls, “the best economic intelligence to reduce risk and drive practical and profitable business decisions.” The firm says it has a knowledge base that spans six decades, “an uncommon understanding of longterm economic trends and how to react to critical changes in market conditions,” and a reputation of “excellent, independent and objective analysis.” Principal Alan Beaulieu is the company’s president; his brother and firm principal Brian Beaulieu serves as chief executive officer. The company says its forecast reports can help businesses understand factors that influence how world and U.S. market events impact business, and can help them: ■■ Set budgets ■■ Decide on resource allocation ■■ Determine marketing initiatives ■■Assess if it’s a good time to hire or expand ■■ Do sales forecasting ■■ Create sales goal-setting ■■ Increase internal forecasting accuracy. ITR says it keeps on top of market trends because it: ■■ Constantly evaluates what indicators and statistical inputs are working best ■■ Uses its extensive knowledge of business cycles ■■Approaches every analysis knowing no two business cycles are ever exactly the same ■■ Puts business cycle activity into the larger context of secular trends ■■ Provides greater predictive accuracy because of the way it formulates data ■■ Takes into account how demographics, consumer behavior and global trends comprise an important part of a successful forecasting effort. (from Winter 2017 • 15

ITR FOR GAWDA captain knows if it’s time to put all sheets to the wind, time to batten the hatches or time to set sail. We’re the guys who provide the weather outlook and the guys who look at the charts to tell them where they are.”


Beaulieu says member companies may want to regard the reports as tools for company management meeting conversations, because they can be used to reflect how the reports apply to operations. He says companies can ask, “Does this information fit into our plan, our goals, our strategy for the coming year? Does it jibe with our thinking? Are we too optimistic or not optimistic enough?” Businesses also need to know what parts of the economy are expanding and what parts are contracting, and they will see that in the reports. “If you are selling on value all the time, sometimes the value proposition must change. There are different parts of the business cycle and members must understand their clients’ positions and sell accordingly,” Beaulieu says, “or else they are commodity providers, and who wants to be that?”

16 • Winter 2017

ITR’s forecasts are as pertinent for small companies as they are for large ones, the economist believes. “Small companies can feel every ounce of economic pressure that big companies can,” Beaulieu says, noting, “the only difference is how the companies respond to it.”


A webinar is planned so members can receive instruction on how to read and review the reports. That online instructional forum is planned for Tuesday, February 28, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. (EST). Refer to for more information on how to register and attend. Beaulieu is a keynote speaker for GAWDA’s Spring Management Conference. The first ITR Economics Report appears on the following pages.

iTR inSTRuCTiOnal WebinaR (exclusively for GAWDA Members) Tuesday, February 28 | 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. (EST). For more information, see:

Constant Innovation General Air makes the Right Move at the Right Time. Automation, backed by workmanship and commitment to quality, secures a bright future for Colorado distributor. Technology for Today—and Tomorrow

Approaching its 50th year of operation, independent gas and welding distributor General Air Service is eying a bright future lit by its newly automated cylinder fill operations. With eight retail-store locations throughout Colorado, Commerce City, CO, is where you’ll find the new fully automated General Air fill plant.

Intergrating New with Old

General Air Service is known for providing customers with a wide selection of gas mixtures in a variety of cylinder sizes, including small-quantity fills. And while much of the filling equipment being used had become old and outdated, plenty of its equipment had plenty of remaining life. That’s where the fill-plant upgrade project took an interesting turn: General Air Service sought to work with Weldcoa to reuse much of its existing equipment and integrate it with new automated technology, including modernized state-of-the-art controls.

“As a result of Weldcoa’s automation upgrade, we’ve reduced the manpower required to run the island by about 30 percent. I’d also estimate that our setup times have been reduced by 15 to 20 percent—that’s a huge savings since we’re doing setups several times per day.” Ed Conrad, Fill Plant Manager, General Air Service

The Benefits that Keep on Giving

There’s much more to the new fill island than just the five automated fill heads; side-by-side prep and fill stations for medical cylinders, which replaced the separate stations used before, have eliminated a lot of wasted movement and realized significant time saving at General Air.


“Now, in our medical nitrous and CO2 areas, we can simultaneously process 10 large-size and 10 small-size cylinders. Before, we used to move one cylinder at a time over to our separate medical area for filling.” says Conrad.

Happy Operators, Happy Owners

Finally, Conrad recalls a key component of his justification strategy used to convince company owners that the fillplant upgrade project was the right move at the right time.

“What ultimately stood out when we examined how Weldcoa worked with other distributors, was its commitment to workmanship and quality. I appreciated their diligence and attention to detail, and ultimately so did our owners. We all gained a huge sense of security having Weldcoa as our partners on this project.” Ed Conrad, Fill Plant Manager, General Air Service


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T he Good Word in the Economic Forecast:



f there’s one word that exemplifies the direction of the U.S. economy for next year, and even for the year after that, that word is: growth. For GAWDA members, the upward trend is presented For more information on GAWDA in the first quarter 2017 economic analysis and forecast prepared and by association membership, contact:N.H., presented in for GAWDA ITR Economics, of Manchester, detail onHill, the GAWDA next few pages. The eminent economic forecasting Stephen Membership Services Manager and business risk-reduction now is an official consultant to the 954-367-7728 x 220firm / Gases and Welding Distributors Association.

This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members.

The charts on the next several pages contain the first of many economic forecast reports specifically developed for GAWDA by ITR Economics. This Q1 report, the GAWDA Industry Analysis Report provided by ITR Economics, contains a quarterly snapshot of the overall United States economy as seen through ITR’s principals and staff economists. While that U.S. snapshot is important, even more pertinent is the customized content in this report, which has been developed specifically for the member companies of GAWDA. That customized content has been created by ITR Economics using GAWDA-specific economic 18 • Winter 2017

indicators. These include data extracted from the publicly filed information of GAWDA member companies, together with important economic information that ITR Economics collects and analyzes regarding the types of customers that are important to GAWDA members’ businesses, along with its highly accurate forecasting methods and theories. GAWDA’s goal in contracting with ITR Economics for these quarterly reports, and for other economic insights and information, is to be able to provide members with the information

ITR FOR GAWDA and insights that help them to develop confidence in the business and economic conditions that lie ahead, and with that confidence, help them drive practical and profitable business decisions. Note: This analysis uses terms such as “Rates-of-Change” and “Phases of the Business Cycle.” GAWDA members are encouraged to review the terminology and methodology segment of this report (see page 25), as that will help ensure an understanding of terms and thus the full benefit of the information being provided. Acclimation to the terminology can also help members be prepared for the GAWDA-ITR Economics webinar, scheduled for Tuesday, February 28 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. (EST).


Here’s what 2017 will look like, in more detail, based on conditions leading up to the first quarter. INSIGHTS: ■■ The U.S. economy will grow in 2017. RECOMMENDATIONS: ■■ Plan for a busier 2017 than 2016. ■■ Invest in hiring and retention plans as labor costs are expected to rise over the next year. ■■ Lock in material costs with vendors in the near term, as commodity prices are expected to rise next year.





U.S. industrial production will begin to recover imminently. Ensure quality control keeps pace with increasing volume.





This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members.

U.S. PROCESSED GOODS Prices are recovering. Invest in operational efficiencies to FOR INTERMEDIATE DEMAND keep costs low as demand returns. PRODUCER PRICE INDEX

A For more information on GAWDA -4.4% and U.S. CRUDE Crudeassociation oil futures prices aremembership, rising. Plan for prices to contact: -15.0% A OIL FUTURES PRICES stabilize in the low $50/barrel level. Stephen Hill, GAWDA Membership Services Manager U.S. NONDEFENSE New orders are 3.8 percent below the year-ago level. CAPITAL GOODS NEW 954-367-7728 x 220 / -3.8% A


Make opportunistic capital and business acquisitions.


New orders transitioned to a recovery trend in September 2016. Implement proper inventory management between sales, purchasing, and production to minimize costs.




New orders are accelerating. Look to expand distribution channels as new orders rise.




New orders will rise during the next two years. Look to invest in new machinery while interest rates are low.



This indicator is rising. Ensure that suppliers have capacity to meet rising demand through late 2017 and evaluate workflow to avoid bottlenecks.












Winter 2017 • 19


INDUSTRY OVERVIEW U.S. FABRICATED METALS - NEW ORDERS INSIGHTS ■■ U.S. fabricated metals new orders will rise through 2018 as the U.S. economy expands.

RECOMMENDATIONS ■■ As activity in 2017 increases, ensure quality control keeps pace with increasing volume to maintain customer loyalty. ■■ Plan now for the future. Consider stocking up on raw materials before commodity prices rise further in 2017. Year-over-Year Growth Rate














This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members.

'06 '07 '08 '09 '10 '11 '12 '13 '14 '15 '16 '17 '18 '19



'06 '07 '08 '09 '10 '11 '12 '13 '14 '15 '16 '17 '18

For more information on GAWDA and association membership, contact: U.S. CONSTRUCTION MACHINERY - NEW ORDERS Stephen Hill, GAWDA Membership Services Manager INSIGHTS: RECOMMENDATIONS: 954-367-7728 x 220 / ■■ Weakness

from the mining industry is driving decline in U.S. construction machinery new orders.

12-MONTH MOVING TOTAL 12-Month Moving Total

■■ Know what your customers value – and use this information

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Year-over-Year Growth Rate YEAR-OVER-YEAR GROWTH RATE























20 • Winter 2017
















'07 '08 '09 '10 '11 '12 '13 '14 '15 '16 '17


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U.S. LEADING INDICATORS INSIGHTS: ■■ Longer-Term View: 2017: Accelerating growth 2018: Slowing growth 2019: Decline

RECOMMENDATIONS: ■■ Explore your labor and capital needs. Labor costs are rising, so be prepared to pay a higher rate to both new and current employees. Capital equipment will also become more expensive as interest rates rise in 2017.






The indicator rose for the 10th month, substantiating the imminent low in industrial production and signaling a rise in the U.S. economy into at least the second half of 2017.


HOUSING STARTS (Most recent 12 months compared to same 12 months one year ago)

CONSUMER EXPECTATIONS INDEX (Most recent 12 months compared to same 12 months one year ago)

Mild Rise


Housing Starts ticked up in October but overall deceleration is expected to persist into the first half of 2017. Internal trends suggest upward momentum will take hold imminently. Rise bodes well for retail sales in the second half of 2017.

This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members.


The utilization rate rose for the third consecutive month, which For more Rise information on GAWDA indicates upward movement for the U.S. economy in 2017. (Most recent month compared to same month one year ago) and association membership, contact: U.S. LEADINGStephen INDICATOR Hill, GAWDA Membership Manager Despite a tick down inServices October, the indicator remains above the Mild Rise (Most recent month compared previous low and indicates expansion for the U.S. economy in 2017. to same month one year ago)954-367-7728 x 220 /

PURCHASING MANAGERS INDEX (Most recent month compared to same month one year ago)

S&P 500 STOCK PRICES (Raw data)


General rise in the Index since November 2015 supports the imminent low in industrial production and signals cyclical rise into at least late 2017.


The S&P 500 rose in the month of November. Further upward movement is likely going into at least 2017.

U.S. ECONOMIC OVERVIEW INSIGHTS: ■■ The U.S. economy, as measured by Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is growing. ■■ Consumer spending is outpacing the decline in the energy sector of the economy. ■■ U.S. consumers are benefiting from low inflation, high wage growth, and low interest rates, which are all contributing to GDP growth. ■■ Average U.S. manufacturing production during the 12 months through October 2016 rose 0.3 percent from 22 • Winter 2017

the year-ago level, as the consumer is keeping overall manufacturing out of recession. ■■ Employment is rising, averaging 122.0 million people in the 12 months through November 2016. ■■ Wages are rising (up 3.9 percent). ■■ High consumer confidence, rising savings rates and low interest rates all signal that the pace of retail sales (deflated) will accelerate in 2017.

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INSIGHTS: ■■ The industrial side of the economy is nearing a recovery after low commodity prices and weak demand pushed the mining and utilities components of U.S. industrial production into recession in 2016. ■■ U.S. food production and North American light vehicle production will provide opportunities through at least the For more information on GAWDA end of 2018. (However, some manufacturing segments and association membership, contact: are being adversely affected by low commodity prices.) Stephen Hill ■■ U.S. equipment mining production and U.S. electrical equipment new ordersMembership are in Phase D (recession) GAWDA Servicesand are hindering overall manufacturing. Manager ■■ Overall, the industrial side of the economy is expected 954-367-7728 x 220 to recover imminently. IMPROVING BUSINESS CYCLE CONDITIONS

INSIGHTS: ■■ The list of positive indicators that support ITR Economics’ forecast of improving business cycle conditions in 2017 is growing. ■■ A general rise in commodity prices is also helping the industrial economy build upward momentum. ■■ U.S. nondefense capital goods new orders (without aircraft) is recovering. ■■ Commodity-dependent new orders segments, such as U.S. mining machinery new orders, are showing nascent recovery trends. ■■ Wholesale trade of durable and nondurable goods is benefiting from a general rise in metal prices and oil prices, respectively.

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METAL WORKING NEW ORDERS: UP INSIGHTS: ■■ U.S. metal working machinery new orders in the 12 months through October 2016 totaled $37.5 billion, 15.9 percent above the year-ago level. ■■ New orders are expected to rise through mid-2018. RECOMMENDATIONS: ■■ Rising steel futures prices will likely increase material input costs over the next year. ■■ Look to lock in material costs with vendors before prices rise further over the next year. ■■ Expansion in overall U.S. industrial production will present growth opportunities for GAWDA members through at least 2018.


Moving totals/averages are used to smooth out the volatility inherent to monthly data at the product/company level. Monthly Moving Total (MMT) vs. Monthly Moving Average (MMA): There are times when it is desirable to calculate a monthly moving average instead of a total. Averages are used when the data cannot be compounded such as an index, percent, price level, or interest rates. Totals are used for things where it makes sense to add the data together (for example, units sold or total dollars spent).


A three-month moving total (3MMT) or average (3MMA) is the total (or average) of the monthly data for the most recent three months. Three-month moving totals (3MMT) or averages (3MMA) illustrate the seasonal changes inherent to the data series. 


A 12-month moving total (12MMT) or average (12MMA) is the total (or average) of the monthly data for the past 12 months. The 12MMT(A) removes the seasonal variation in order to derive the underlying cyclical trend. It is also referred to as the annual total or average.


A rate-of-change figure is the ratio comparing a data series during a specified time period to the same period one year ago. Rates-of-change are expressed in terms of the annual percent change in an MMT or MMA. Rates-of-change reveal whether activity levels are getting progressively better or worse compared to last year. Consecutive rate-of-change illustrates and measures cyclical change and trends. ITR Economics’ three commonly used rates-of-change are the 1/12, 3/12, and 12/12, which represent the yearover-year percent change of a single month, 3MMT(A), and 12MMT(A), respectively. A rate-of-change above zero indicates a rise in the data relative to one year prior, while a rate-of-change below zero indicates decline.

This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members.

For more information on GAWDA and association membership, contact: BUSINESS CYCLE POSITIONS: Stephen Hill, GAWDA Membership Services Manager The data trends and rates-of-change identify positions in the business cycle. Those positions are: 954-367-7728 x 220 /









12/12 is rising below zero and the data trend is either heading toward a low or is in the early stages of recovery.

12/12 is rising above zero, data trend is accelerating in its ascent, and growth is occurring above year-ago levels.

12/12 is below zero and the data trend is at levels below the year-earlier level.

This is the first positive phase of the business cycle.

This is the second positive phase of the business cycle.

12/12 is declining but remains above zero, data trend is decelerating in its ascent or has stopped its rise, but it is still above last year.

This is the final phase and second negative phase of the business cycle.

This is the first negative phase of the business cycle.


Winter 2017 • 25


DOT Issues Final Rule on Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse by richard p. schweitzer, pllc

T 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 202223-3040 and

he Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has finally published its long-awaited final rule to establish an online clearinghouse of data for CDL drivers who test positive for drug or alcohol use in violation of DOT requirements or who refuse to submit to a DOT drug or alcohol test. The rule was mandated by Congress in MAP-21, the highway funding legislation enacted in 2015. The final rule has a three-year implementation period that allows the FMCSA to contract with a third-party provider to develop and operate the clearinghouse. GAWDA member companies and their employees will not be required to comply with the clearinghouse rules until January 6, 2020. Under the final rule, employers and medical review officers (MROs), or their designated representatives, will be required to report information to the clearinghouse about positive drug test results, alcohol test results greater than 0.04 blood alcohol content, refusals to test and other non-test violations of the FMCSA’s drug and alcohol regulations. In addition, Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs) are required to report information about drivers undergoing the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process.


Employers will also be required to search the database for information during the pre-employment process for prospective employees, and at least once a year for current employees. This is required to determine whether anyone has incurred a drug or alcohol violation with a different employer that would prohibit him or 26 • Winter 2017

her from performing safety-sensitive functions. But once the new rule is in place, prospective employers will no longer have to request information on the drug and alcohol testing history of driver applicants from former motor carrier employers, except in certain circumstances. That current process has not proven effective in generating useful information about applicants, as prior employers have been reluctant to divulge negative information about former employees due to fear of litigation.


Employers will have to pay a fee to access the records of drivers and driver applicants from the database. The fees will be set as part of the competitive bidding process for a contractor to develop and operate the clearinghouse. Drivers will not have to pay any fee to access their own records in the clearinghouse. The clearinghouse will identify drivers using their CDL number and state of issuance. Drivers’ Social Security numbers will not be used in this program.


Once the clearinghouse is established, a prospective employer will be required to conduct a pre-employment query of the clearinghouse to obtain information about whether a driver applicant: • Has a verified positive, adulterated, or substituted controlled substances test result • Has an alcohol confirmation test with a concentration of 0.04 or higher • Has refused to submit to a DOT drug or alcohol test

GAWDA member companies and their employees will not be required to comply with the clearinghouse rules until January 6, 2020. Or that an employer has reported actual knowledge that the driver used alcohol on duty, before duty, or following an accident in violation of FMCSA rules, or used a controlled substance in violation of FMCSA rules. In addition, an employer will have to conduct a limited query of the clearinghouse at least once per year for information for all employees subject to controlled substance and alcohol testing to determine whether information exists in the clearinghouse about those employees. If that query shows that there is information in the system about the driver, then the employer must conduct a full query to retrieve the information about that particular driver from the database. •


In order to obtain information about a driver or applicant from the clearinghouse, the employer must have the written permission of the driver/applicant before the employer may access the database. However, the employer may legally require the driver to give such permission as a condition of employment or continued employment. The FMCSA rule does not allow a driver to avoid discovery of the drug or alcohol testing history by refusing permission to the employer. Although employers may conduct testing beyond that required by FMCSA and DOT rules, positive results for these non-DOT tests must be kept completely separate from DOT test results and do not constitute violations of FMCSA or DOT rules. Accordingly, the FMCSA did not expand the scope of the clearinghouse to include non-DOT tests. Finally, the FMCSA has concluded that compliance with its rule will not violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). The clearinghouse is not a covered entity under HIPPA, so its releases of drivers’ health information is not regulated. Also, the pre-employment check is an “excluded communication” and is therefore not covered under the FRCA.

For more information on complying with current DOT drug and alcohol regulations, see consultant Mike Dodd’s column on page 30.


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Essential CGA Resources: Free and Easy to Obtain 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

28 • Winter 2017

he Compressed Gas Association (CGA) is an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredited Standards Development Organization. Through a rigorous consensus process, CGA has developed extremely valuable publications for medical and industrial gas firms. CGA and GAWDA have a unique and cooperative relationship that allows GAWDA members access to these valuable (and expensive) publications for free. To get these resources for free, GAWDA members subscribe to the CGA Safety Program. The process is easy and is explained in a webinar you can view on (The web address is: Here are the essential publications every GAWDA member who fills medical gases should download from the Compressed Gas Association’s website, (at: publications.php): • CGA M-2, General Guide for the fill plants, the principles in this publication Manufacture of Medical Gases Classified will be more important in the near future as Drugs – This represents the indusas we implement similar programs for try interpretation of Food and Drug food gases. • CGA M-8, Guideline for the Manufacturer Administration (FDA) Guidance as of 2006. FDA inspectors should be comfortof Calibration Gas Standards Used to able with the principles in this document. Analyze Medical Gases – M-8 gives clear Be sure to also download M-15 and PS-42 guidance about how to make acceptable calfor the latest industry interpretations of FDA ibration gases for medical gas instruments. medical gas regulations. This is being rewritten right now. Be sure to • CGA M-4, Validation of Medical Cylinder download the update when it is published. • Filling Systems – If you intend to conduct CGA M-10.2, Food Safety Management process validation at your facility, be sure Systems and Good Manufacturing Practices to apply the principles in this publication. for Food Gas Manufacturers at Cylinder This defines the FDA’s Hazard Analysis Filling and Small Bulk Locations – This Critical Control Point (HACCP) and Federal represents the only published interpretations Emergency Management Administration of food gas regulations for our industry. This (FEMA) risk analyses for cylinder fill plants. is also being completely revised and renamed • CGA M-6, Guideline for Analytical Method for the new Food Safety Modernization Validation – The FDA has very specific Act. Look for a new CGA F-1 to replace ideas about an analytical method validation this publication. • and this publication helps bridge the gap CGA M-14, Guideline for Bulk Liquid between our industry and FDA guidance. Oxygen and Bulk Liquid Nitrogen Trailer • CGA M-7, Guideline for Qualifying Change of Grade – If you have a bulk medSuppliers Used by Medical Gas ical gas trailer, you need this publication Manufacturers and Distributors – Though to help decide how to change the grade of this is not typically a major issue at cylinder your bulk transport.


CGA M-14.1, Bulk Trailer Change of Grade Validation Protocol – This publication provides the actual protocol used to change a bulk trailer product grade. (Note: GAWDA members participated in development of this publication.) • CGA M-15, Standard for Appropriate and Effective Regulations for Medical Gases within 21 CFR Parts 201, 205, and 210/211 – M-15 is the medical gas industry’s latest interpretation of drug regulations. (It is actually our suggestions for rewriting 21 CFR for appropriate medical gas regulations. For example, issues like expiration dating and theoretical yield are rewritten to be useful.) Keep in mind that the FDA has seen this publication but has not yet endorsed it, despite encouragement from Congress to do so. (See PS-42.) •

CGA M-18, Standard for the Change of Product and Change of Grade for High Pressure and Refrigerated Liquid Containers – This item is nearly ready for publication. Be sure to download it as soon as it becomes available. • CGA PS-42, CGA Position Statement on Appropriate and Effective Regulations for Medical Gases within 21 CFR Parts 201, 205, and 210/211 – This position statement is essential for all medical gas firms. It clearly explains the rationale our industry has for changing 21 CFR to be appropriate for medical gases. If you have an FDA inspection, this publication will help explain our position. If you would like information about getting these publications, please contact FDA and Medical Gases Consultant Tom Badstubner ( •

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How to Know and Abide By DOT Drug and Alcohol Rules Parts 40 and 382, and a Written Program Are Key by michael dodd

U 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@

30 • Winter 2017

.S. Department of Transportation drug and alcohol regulations, and how they apply to our GAWDA members, can be one of the more difficult areas of regulatory issues to understand. There are two main sections in the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations that discuss the drug and alcohol regulations: 49 CFR, Parts 40 and 382. The regulations were written to prevent accidents and injuries resulting from the misuse of controlled substances and alcohol by drivers of commercial vehicles. These rules apply to drivers who are required to have a commercial driver license (CDL). Part 382 says to use the definition for commercial motor vehicle found in Part 383. (Don’t you just love the way they point you from regulation to regulation while you try to understand what they are trying to tell you?) Here are more specific guidelines to help you understand those precise rules. First, from the definition found in 49 CFR Part 383, a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) means a motor vehicle or combination of motor vehicles used in commerce, whether interstate or intrastate, to transport passengers or property, if the motor vehicle: • Has a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more inclusive of a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds; or • Has a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more; or • Is designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver; or • Is of any size and is used in the transportation of materials found to be hazardous

for the purposes of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, and which require the motor vehicle to be placarded under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR Part 172, Subpart F).


Part 40 discusses how to go about the collection and testing of driver samples. It is written in a question-and-answer format. Part 382 discusses how the drug and alcohol program applies to DOTregulated employers and drivers. (Please note: many of the items that formerly were included in Part 382 have been moved to Part 40, so you need to be aware of both parts to fully understand the drug and alcohol regulations.) Key to remember is that you must have a written program with all the elements outlined in 382.601. Everything keys around “safety-sensitive work.” You must define safety-sensitive work in your written program. DOT has defined safety-sensitive work for drivers as: “safety-sensitive function means all time from the time a driver begins to work or is required to be in readiness to work until the time he/she is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work.” Under the regulations, safety-sensitive functions include: • All time at an employer or shipper plant, terminal, facility, or other property, or on any public property, waiting to be dispatched, unless the driver has been relieved from duty by the employer • All time inspecting equipment as required by 392.7 and 392.8 of this subchapter or


otherwise inspecting, servicing, or conditioning any commercial motor vehicle at any time • All time spent at the driving controls of a commercial motor vehicle in operation • All time, other than driving time, in or upon any commercial motor vehicle except time spent resting in a sleeper berth (a berth conforming to the requirements of 393.76 of this subchapter) • All time loading or unloading a vehicle, supervising, or assisting in the loading or unloading, attending a vehicle being loaded or unloaded, remaining in readiness to operate the vehicle, or in giving or receiving receipts for shipments loaded or unloaded; and • All time repairing, obtaining assistance, or remaining in attendance upon a disabled vehicle. The rules also state that employers must give each driver a copy of the company’s written program and that every driver must sign a receipt stating that he/she received a copy of the written program. (I highly suggest using the JJ Keller publication, Alcohol & Drug Testing: What Drivers Need to Know - Driver Handbook, product code 38797).


Employers also must train all persons designated to supervise drivers with at least 60 minutes of training on alcohol misuse. They also must provide at least an additional 60 minutes of training on controlled substances abuse. The training will be used by the supervisors to determine whether reasonable suspicion exists to require a driver to undergo testing under 382.307. The training shall include the physical, behavioral, speech and performance indicators of probable alcohol misuse and use of controlled substances.

In addition: • Post-accident drug and alcohol testing must be done within certain timeframes following certain DOT-specified accidents. The types of accident conditions that require testing be done are: • If any person involved in the accident dies • If the driver receives a citation for a moving traffic violation and any vehicle involved in the accident must be towed from the scene.


Time factors are also defined within the regulations regarding accidents. They require that the driver must be tested for controlled substances within 32 hours of the accident, and must be tested for alcohol within two hours of the accident. If the driver is not tested within these timeframes, the employer must document the reasons why that did not occur. Previous-employer drug-and alcohol-testing results must be obtained for any new drivers who have been in a previous-employer drug- and alcohol-testing program during the previous three years, as well. Additional guidelines: • Employers should receive and review this information before using the driver in any safety-sensitive work. However, employers may use the driver for up to 30 days before obtaining the information. • Employers also must have a documented, good-faith effort to obtain the results before using the driver beyond the 30-day period. • Employers also must be conducting random drug and alcohol testing of CDL drivers at the respective annual rates of 25 percent and 10 percent of their total CDL driver pool. • That testing must be conducted in a way that is evenly spaced across the year, and there must be documentation on file to prove that the testing occurred. (Please note that the random selection must be done by a scientifically valid method — and that drawing names out of a hat is not considered scientifically valid.) The drug and alcohol regulations are some of the most complicated regulations that GAWDA members face. If there are any questions, please feel free to contact me for help.

The rules also state that employers must give each driver a copy of the company written program, and that every driver must sign a receipt stating that he/she received a copy of the written program. Things to note: • Recurrent training for supervisory personnel is not required. • Pre-employment testing for controlled substances is required for all CDL drivers. • You may not use the driver until you have received a negative test result.

Winter 2017 • 31






▶ MEMBER FOCUS A dedicated emphasis to fulfilling member needs. This includes “building up a structural center for operational excellence to ensure positive member experiences, providing value and excellence in everything we do.”

3Rd Generation Family Portrait Credit: Manu Manufacturers Assoc. of NW Pennsylvania Sept 2006







Bruce (l) and Gary Raimy (r), 2nd generation, with Mark

70 Y E A R S

▶ DIGITAL UPGRADES Developing a new GAWDA website, implementing an electronic mobile membership directory and hosting more online webinars for member information.


I N B U S I N E S S 1946-2016

FAMILY Mark and his wife Kathryn have three children: Lauren, Lindsay and Jack.





Congratulating outgoing GAWDA President Visintainer. 32 • Winter 2017

Bringing all that GAWDA has to offer through technology implementations, to reach members wherever they are, “be that on a PC, tablet, mobile phone, at work or at play or somewhere in between.”


Adding an expert in human resources and personnel issues is planned as a way to bring practical help to member businesses, plus strengthen GAWDA’s popular consultant program. GAWDA also has added a new expert, Dr. Alan Beaulieu of ITR Economics, as the organization's chief economist. He is providing regular economic analysis and forecasting services.

▶ CONTACT BOOTH PROGRAM A new committee is looking at ways to enhance the spring and fall convention Contact Booth programs. Supplier members have the majority of committee positions, and they hold short-term, rotating seats on the committee. It is designed to provide a unique vendor perspective to the function.



GAWDA’s Board of Directors is the member-

based leadership team instrumental in setting direction for the organization. Members are welding and gases professionals and owners who typically have long been part of the association and are generally well-known in the community. While we may know them, we may not be aware of their ideas for GAWDA service, their plans for their businesses, or their off-the-clock pursuits. Their answers, on the next few pages, offer a look at the leadership strengths they bring to the 2016-2017 board as well as a little more about each member professionally and personally.

WE ASKED FOUR QUESTIONS TO GAIN BETTER INSIGHT INTO THEIR IDEAS, OBJECTIVES AND PERSONALITIES: 1. What are your goals for GAWDA? 2. What are your business goals for 2017? 3. Are you pursuing a special personal goal? 4. W hat's something others may not know about you?

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Cee Kay Supply, Inc.

Mississippi Welders Supply Co.

Atlas Welding Supply Co., Inc.

GAWDA GOAL — Because of the GAWDA member survey, we now know a lot more about our membership, including that the biggest portion of it consists of companies doing less than $5 million in sales annually. We’re focused on structuring services to best fit that group, while still serving the largest distributors, and on reinforcing the value members receive from this organization.

GAWDA GOAL —We need to continue working to recruit new members. That includes prospects, existing members and new employees of existing members. There is always a churn and we need to be ahead of it.

GAWDA GOAL — I’ll look to new President Raimy and to what members say in the annual survey for where to point my efforts. Last year, we had a goal of obtaining 20 new supplier members and 20 new distributor members. We exceeded the supplier-member goal by the last annual convention. I imagine by January, continued focus will help us exceed 20 new distributors members, too.


BUSINESS GOAL — Cee Kay is taking on

a formal planning process in 2017 with consultants reviewing all operations. We do strategic planning every year to regroup and get a fresh, clean look at things. The key is getting the leadership team pointed in the right direction, then communicating the strategy to all employees. Part of that will be establishing a 10-year vision.

PERSONAL GOAL — I’m heavily involved in efforts to transition to the next generation of leaders. We’ve got to make sure Cee Kay is here 10, 20, 30 years from now, and uphold our responsibility to our 100 employees and their families to have a plan, and to be sure they are confident in it and that they want to be here. WHAT PEOPLE DON’T KNOW — This year, my wife JoAnn and I became “empty nesters” after 32 years of marriage. We’re trying to figure out what to do with all our free time together.

34 • Winter 2017


BUSINESS GOAL — For the business


to continue to grow organically at 10 percent, and if possible, by acquisition. We’ve scratch-started 11 locations. We’ve never acquired another welding supply operation, only two very small beverage CO2 distributors. The time is right for us to bite off another challenge while adding to our geographic reach.

this company in May 2008, we’ve had rapid growth — 400 percent in eight years. Our goal this year is to increase sales by 20 percent.

PERSONAL GOAL — To help my younger

PERSONAL GOAL — I spent 25-30 hours

son finish his senior year in high school and transition into college. With our older son finishing his senior year in college and the younger one headed out, my wife and I will be moving into the empty-nest phase. That leads to a goal of not filling all of our previously occupied time with work.  Also: do more physical stretching. The best goal: buying a boat for our cabin.


beekeeper and a racquetball player. If you ask me about beekeeping, I can go on for quite a while, so be careful when you ask. Racquetball? I’m open for any challenges.  I’m a B player, not quite an A player; let me know if you’re game.

BUSINESS GOAL — Since we purchased

a month on GAWDA issues during my presidency. My challenge now is determining how to use that time, and rather than working in my business, by working on it. I hope to expand our geographic footprint and look at some small acquisitions.


a bit. I like to sing in the car and in the shower. My primary venue is church. Another thing: They filmed a movie here in Tuscaloosa in 1978, “Hooper,” starring Burt Reynolds, Jan Michael Vincent, Sally Fields, Robert Klein and Bill Visintainer. I was in four different scenes. The downside: I skipped a week of school to do that; it didn’t do much for my GPA.







Airweld, Inc.

Oxarc, Inc.

Indiana Oxygen Company

GAWDA GOAL — My goal is to continue

GAWDA GOAL — It’s all about safety for me. My goal is to increase safety awareness among our membership and increase participation in some of the safety programs GAWDA offers. That includes the CGA Subscription Program and the sample safety practices that the Safety Committee puts together, with the goal of reducing injury rates. There are a lot of good resources available to GAWDA members. I want to help get members to utilize them more.

GAWDA GOAL — My goal is to help our organization and its members to form a vision that keeps us relevant across the many industries we serve.

BUSINESS GOAL — This is the same

my goal is to continue to harness the different technologies available to us in order to find gains in efficiency and improve the sales experience for our customers. Adding driven, enthusiastic new hires in 2017 also will be important. In order to do this, we’ll need to continue to create a work environment that will attract talent.

programs established during my presidency, the Women of Gases and Welding and Young Professionals. That was my emphasis, giving those groups the opportunity to talk with the membership and make sure they are recognized as the future of our Association.

BUSINESS GOAL — We are in recon-

struction mode, upgrading our liquified gases manufacturing infrastructure and processes. We’re moving into newer and more efficient operations. We’ve been doing it for two years and easily have two or three years to go. Of five manufacturing locations, two have been updated, so we have three more to work on.

PERSONAL GOAL — I don’t want to retire.

I’m still having too much fun, but I’m looking at starting to scale back. My goal is to slow down a little and smell the roses. I’ve been working 38-39 years here in this business. I want to take time for things I haven’t done in a long time and enjoy: fishing, maintaining my fishing gear, cooking and working with my hands on small maintenance projects.


knows I do a lot of cooking as a hobby. I enjoy playing golf. I’m an avid reader. Favorite authors are Nelson DeMille; John Sandford; Michael Connelly; Erik Larson, Jeff Shaara.

as my goal for GAWDA — reducing the injury rate and the number of accidents occurring in our own organization. Awareness is the big thing. It’s a matter of having the workforce become a culture of safety and having workers become more safety-aware.

PERSONAL GOAL —To undertake more

physical activity, have a healthier lifestyle and lose weight. I had knee surgery last year and now I’m ready to start a walking program, including evening walks with my wife.


different barbecues! I cure and smoke my own bacon and I make and cure my own sausage. While I don’t compete in barbecue, I could, according to everybody who eats at my house. I cook dinner many nights; cooking is my stress relief.


BUSINESS GOAL — Growth goals for

our company are centered around new markets we recently entered. We expect moderate growth in 2017. More importantly, we need to focus on profitable growth.

PERSONAL GOAL —Within our company,


prises here. I’m married and have a 6-year-old daughter, Pierson, and a 3-year-old son, Bowen.

2016-2017 BOARD OF DIRECTORS Winter 2017 • 35








Red Ball Oxygen Co. Inc.

Minneapolis Oxygen Company

Arc3 Gases

GAWDA GOAL — GAWDA is in a healthy

GAWDA GOAL — I’d like for us to continue to find ways to add value to both our supplier and distributor members and to entice prospective members of GAWDA, whether we choose to add other consultants to provide more resources, try new events or schedules for our meetings or do something we haven’t thought of yet.

GAWDA GOAL — I’d like to see GAWDA work to recruit all the independent distributors who are not currently members, doing this through existing members. I’d also like to see a new-member mentoring program, as a buddy system for new members, especially for the small distributors. They’d have a mentoring distributor friend, someone not in the same geographic area or a competitor, to serve as a mentor for the first year or two. We already have this program for young professionals and first-timers and it’s working well for them.

place right now with an opportunity to expand our services, particularly to the smaller distributors who are the backbone of our association. We need to be talking to our membership and identify areas of need. We need to be using technology to improve responsiveness to our members and to extend opportunities for making meaningful connections.

BUSINESS GOAL — Connecting with

customers online, expanding our digital capabilities and offering new ways to quickly and painlessly transact with us. We love our core gas business, and especially our specialty gas business, so we’ll continue to invest there to drive growth. Geographic expansion has always been a core growth play for us, so we will include an acquisition or a scratch start in a new market.

PERSONAL GOAL — I’d like to become

a better mentor. Stephen Covey’s “The 8th Habit” has motivated me to become more intentional and approachable as a mentor. In the past year, I’ve lost two mentors that were instrumental to me. I would like to pay it forward.


play chess. My handle is fleurdelis, if anyone wants to challenge me to a quick game. I’ve got a lowly rating, so don’t worry! 36 • Winter 2017

BUSINESS GOAL — To have a need to add at least one salesperson to our organization. I’d also like to have plans in place for a plant and warehouse expansion in the upcoming year. I think we are on track to get both of those goals accomplished. PERSONAL GOAL — To get my desks

organized (both home and work); read a few more books (both for business and for fun); take more walks with my wife; teach my boys one new life skill; learn to cook a new meal; visit a new place; play more golf; learn something new and find some other GAWDA committee to serve on.

WHAT PEOPLE DON’T KNOW — I build a small hockey rink in our backyard every year and I’m always looking for ways to improve it. Please send me your advice/tips!

BUSINESS GOAL —To assist and lead in the

completion of Arc3’s full integration of the old companies. I also want to enhance our internal and external employee training programs while building our bench of sales and management personnel. I’d also like to enhance our company’s social media efforts and position in the market.

PERSONAL GOAL — Having a better work-personal life balance, allowing more time with my 3-year-old granddaughter and more time at the lake house with my family. WHAT PEOPLE DON’T KNOW — I’m a welder-fabricator by trade, although I’ve been on the sales/management side here for over 30 years. I’m also a water skier. Even at my age, I still water ski every chance I get.

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Hyannis, MA Providence, RI Enfield, CT Berlin, CT Naugatuck, CT

Tech Air of New York:

Stratford, CT Danbury, CT Wappingers Falls, NY White Plains, NY Ravena, NY Long Island City, NY Riverhead, NY

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Butler Gas Products

Norton Abrasives

GAWDA GOAL — Our primary GAWDA growth goal is all about attracting and engaging new distributor members. With the Member Services Committee, we have set the goal of net-plus 5. In a consolidating industry, we also need to make sure we better entrench existing members in the value of the Association, specifically through CGA engagement and event attendance.

GAWDA GOAL — The most important growth goal for GAWDA is to bring in new distributors and suppliers. Our members are the lifeblood of our organization. Each year we lose members to acquisitions and other reasons, so we must have consistent and ongoing programs to recruit new members. Secondly, to work with the Board and volunteers to be sure the Contact Booth session delivers increasing value. I think we can learn from other organizations similar to GAWDA that have made significant improvements to the Contact Booth portion of their conventions.

BUSINESS GOAL — Our strategic goals at

Butler Gas Products are to: (1) mandate 100 percent safe operational excellence; (2) increase sales; (3) nurture a culture of continuous improvement; and (4) execute fast and perfect service.

ü Profitable sales ü Excellent quality and service ü Strong brand preference ü Most complete ü On-time delivery product line

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PERSONAL GOAL — To find the time

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as the steward of the third generation within our business. I am responsible for ensuring that our team is safe, empowered and sustainably profitable so that we can best serve our customers while exceeding their expectations.

ages 8-13, I was in theater school and performed in six musicals. It’s my most impactful life experience and it helped me not to fear public speaking.

Complete line of welding reels

BUSINESS GOAL — We want to grow

our sales in the coming year faster than market growth rates, 2 percent faster or more. Recently, my company made a significant investment in our human capital through a sales management realignment. My goal is to be sure this pays off by bringing Norton Abrasives closer to our customers.

PERSONAL GOAL —My goal is to succeed

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to attend a management-development program sponsored by my company.

WHAT PEOPLE DON’T KNOW — I’m putting a lot of focus into continuing to support and encourage my two adult kids and my two new adult step-kids as we merge our families together. By the way, the “merger” is going well!

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Optimism in the Air for Distributors

Many See Improving Prospects for 2017, Tell What Has Helped Them Grow by CHARLES McCHESNEY and DIANE STIRLING


very year brings unique business challenges, and usually a few opportunities to make good. As GAWDA distributor members set forth on a new year, they discuss what worked well for them over the past 12 months and the conditions

and issues they anticipate 2017 will bring. There’s a lot to learn by asking questions, businesspeople understand. To get at what the year was like for distributors around the country for the benefit of other members, that’s just what we did.


What was the best idea you had in 2016 to save money or make money? How did you improve your operations? What do you think is the biggest challenge for the year ahead?

40 • Winter 2017




Shifting prices for fuels helped drive growth during 2016 for Church Towne Gas and Welding Supply in Cochranton, Pa. The company bought a used propane bobtail truck and began servicing residential customers who have been converting

“They are going to complain and they are going to shop. The challenge is to figure out a way to keep customers from shopping everywhere.” CHARLES MUNDT PRESIDENT

from heating oil in northwestern Pennsylvania. Things are going so well on the propane side of the business that company President Charles Mundt is thinking of adding a new bobtail Winter 2017 • 41

DISTRIBUTORS 2017 BUSINESS FORECAST to the fleet, he says. Looking to 2017, Mundt sees price hikes as a concern. Noting that copper prices rose rapidly in the days after Donald Trump was elected president, he expects prices of other commodities to rise as well. The challenge, he says, will be passing those price increases along to customers. “They are going to complain and they are going to shop. The challenge is to figure out a way to keep customers from shopping everywhere.” Mundt has a strategy: that is to let the majors and largest independents take the lead on hiking prices, so their unhappy customers call him first.


Opportunity presented itself to Cryo Weld Corporation, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 2016 when a major competitor pulled out of the market. The company responded by buying the competitor’s building and picking up more than a few of their customers, says company Vice President Nick Centorani. Cryo Weld moved into the building, increasing its space by 50 percent and greatly increasing its visibility, he says. Looking to the year ahead, Centorani is concerned about other competitors’ efforts to move into the market by undercutting pricing on gases. To deal with that, he is pushing Cryo Weld’s sales staff to meet with customers and keep delivering the kind of service that NICK CENTORANI VICE PRESIDENT keeps customers loyal.


Vice President Jason Castro doesn’t hesitate when asked what idea worked best for All Welding Supplies, in Lynn, Mass., last year. “Putting my father on the road,” he says with a note of pride in his voice. He explains that for the past couple years, company President John Castro has been showing him how to do things “in the shop.” That effort is completed, and John Castro is back out there meeting with old customers and bringing in new customers, Jason says. Success in recent years is creating a challenge for 2017, Jason Castro notes. All Welding has been supplying the contractors who tore down an old coal-fired power plant on Massachusetts’ North Shore, and the contractors building the new natural gas-powered plant on the site. That work should finish in the middle of 2017. Replacing that volume of sales should make the second half of the year busy, Jason Castro adds. 42 • Winter 2017

“I’m seeing more optimism than in the last 9 or 10 years.” HOWARD MACKAY PRESIDENT


Continuing weakness in the coal, oil and gas industries drove West Penn Laco, of Pittsburgh, Pa., to focus on holding down costs in 2016, says President Howard MacKay. That meant reorganizing delivery routes for more efficiency of travel and reducing personnel costs through a plan of not replacing workers when they leave. MacKay sees signs of a better year in 2017. “I’m seeing more optimism than in the last 9 or 10 years,” he says. While he hopes regulations and taxes might be reduced in the new year, he hasn’t made changes in anticipation of better times to come. Should demand rise, “we can ramp up pretty rapidly,” he believes. In fact, West Penn has been at work on a fifth location, in Greensburg, Pa., even during its belt tightening, expanding the company’s footprint some 30 miles east.


Tech Air, of Danbury, Conn., grew into a coast-to-coast gas distributor in 2016. CEO Myles Dempsey notes that the company made six acquisitions during the year, bringing the total number of Tech Air outlets to 38. “Our value proposition is that we are a credible alternative buyer,” Dempsey says, and that positions the company as a viable choice, he believes, “instead of selling your business to a multibillion dollar public company.” In 2016, growth included building new fill plants in Los Angeles and Houston. Dempsey says he continues to work on acquisitions, noting that in the vast majority of cases, letters of intent turn into actual signed deals. The company’s MYLES DEMPSEY record is that most employees stay on, CEO customer retention is high and about half of the previous owners continue to work in the business, he says. Dempsey wants to continue the trends that helped Tech Air become a truly national company: owners sell and then stay on; the new business has greater access to suppliers; and back-office chores such as bill-paying and human resource matters are managed by others in the overarching organization.

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It was a good 2016 for City Welding Sales & Service, Inc. in Skokie, Ill. Sales met the projected goal of increasing about 20 percent, President Shawn Coffey says. He credits that increase to avoiding the piles of paperwork he sees competitors require customers to wade through. “We try to not make it hard for people to spend money,” he says. In addition, Coffey says the company has been tweaking its internet presence. While Coffey is optimistic about 2017 and ready to invest in City Welding, he says he has concerns about Washington, D.C. Those concerns include the national debt, which rose from $10.6 trillion in 2009 to $19.8 trillion now, and the potential for significant added federal regulation in the beverage CO2 business. He sees no need for such regulations. “I’m here 40 years now and we’ve sold CO2 all this time, unregulated and without an incident,” he says.

“We try not to make it hard for people to spend money.” SHAWN COFFEY PRESIDENT


Customers at Badger Welding Supplies, in Madison, Wis., have been making requests for more specialized filler metals, says W. Scott Griskavich, the company’s owner-president. Consequently, Badger workers studied, cross-referenced and developed expertise in the best filler applications customers are facing. That has been a big help and has made Badger the place for harder-to-get and more expensive filler metals, Griskavich notes. In addition, developing that expertise has yielded improvements on margins, especially when customers buy filler costing more than $20 a pound, versus material that costs 90 cents a pound, he says. The economy, particular the health of the manufacturing economy, is Griskavich’s foremost concern for 2017. Tractors, backhoes and other equipment can’t keep running forever, he says. While there was a slight uptick in demand from manufacturing customers, he is hoping for 2017 to bring more customers into his store.

Like many GAWDA distributor members, Bickett Machine & Gas Supply, in Portsmouth, Ohio, does business beyond welding and gases. For 2016, the company’s best idea was adding a powder coating booth, says Eric Lewis, vice president of sales. At 24 feet by 12 feet, the booth is large enough to allow powder-coating everything from fences to 8-foot-tall gates, plus handrails, security doors and other metal pieces that benefit from a baked coating that lasts longer than paint. For 2017, Lewis plans to again spend outside the welding and gases business, adding a lathe. That will allow workers to create and repair drive shafts for vehicles and power equipment – “semis, cars, anything,” he says. Lewis expects to have the nearly $100,000 piece of capital equipment installed and running in the first quarter of the new year.


At Sutton-Garten in Indianapolis, Ind., President W. “Pat” Garten concentrated on a few previously unserved product lines to boost 2016 revenues. Focus was put on dry ice blasting equipment and the blasting and welding rental-equipment market. Dry ice manufacturing “was an important growth area for us, too,” Garten says. Though the welding side of his business was fairly flat across the year, the added lines produced a nice increase overall, he reports.

“I think 2017 will be a better year, particularly on the welding side. Just getting the election over is a big relief for everyone, and we’re looking forward to the next six months. I think it’ll be a good year.” W. “PAT” GARTEN PRESIDENT

The biggest issue of 2017 is one Garten prepared for last year by adapting operations to maintain his CO2 business. Time and resources were spent obtaining information from GAWDA consultants, setting up new systems, adding services, making building modifications, and training staff in new procedures. “The new Food and Drug Administration regulations are very stringent and are forcing us to change our operation quite a bit. We now operate a food plant and come under all the regulations of the FDA. It’s a considerable change in the operation, really, as well as considerable expense,” he says. Winter 2017 • 45

DISTRIBUTORS 2017 BUSINESS FORECAST Yet, 2017 is looking up. “I think 2017 will be a better year, particularly on the welding side. Just getting the election over is a big relief for everyone, and we’re looking forward to the next six months. I think it’ll be a good year.”


Implementing an idea in 2016 that had been in mind for a few years paid dividends for Minneapolis Oxygen Company, says Mark Falconer, president. “For the last several years we were going to attack the non-welding related markets, industrial gas or specialty gas. We upgraded specialty gases substantially, doubling our investment. It’s beginning to pay off a little quicker, and it’s still growing based on some of the work we’re doing in the field,” he says. The company’s strategy was adding cylinders plus some specialty gas equipment, “so we could take our spec filling to another level, to enhance the products we do in-house versus buying on the open market.” The result put Minneapolis Oxygen, “in relatively light growth for 2016, but that probably helped us to attain overall 6-7 percent growth in revenues. As we venture into that and get a little more adept at what we’re doing, it’s just going to enhance our capabilities into the future, and pay off for us,” Falconer believes.

“We upgraded specialty gases substantially, doubling our investment. It’s beginning to pay off a little quicker, and it’s still growing based on some of the work we’re doing in the field.” MARK FALCONER PRESIDENT

A big issue for 2017 is personnel, and the transitions necessary as the baby-boomer group of employees continues to leave the workforce, according to Falconer. Four of his 48 employees retired over the past several months, so the company promoted others from within, added a driver, customer service person, salesperson and sales manager, and promoted one employee to VP of Operations. “We’ve got a lot of things going on people-wise, so there’s a fair amount of training and exercises to go through to get people up to speed,” he adds. 46 • Winter 2017


American Gases Corporation, of Gurnee, Ill., saw sales rise in 2016, says President Scott Bell. He says the force behind that improvement was a long-simmering idea, implemented in 2016, to expand the company’s sales force. He implemented that plan in 2016, and saw sales grow, he reports. Like many in the industry, Bell is concerned about the rising cost of health care. The election may signal changes, but he isn’t sure things will get better. Even though American Gases pays the lion’s share of its employees’ health insurance premiums, Bell says workers still feel the pinch when their SCOTT BELL share goes up. “Even though we pay PRESIDENT two-thirds of it, it’s hurting their pockets.”


Stacey Budae, owner of Flint Welding Supply Co. in Flint, Mich., says her business has big plans in cyberspace for 2017. “We are working on an email database for current commercial customers as well as retail walk-in business. This allows us to broadcast email our customers, supplying them with coupons, sale information and new product information anytime we wish.” She says a large portion of the company’s billing functions already has been moved online, improving efficiency. Flint Welding also has begun construction on a new, more user-friendly website that will include current inventory, delivery information, and affiliate information. “With the combination of an advertising plan targeting certain types of social media, our new website, and an email marketing program, we expect to be able to compete outside of our regional area,” Budae says. 

“With the combination of an advertising plan targeting certain types of social media, our new website, and an email marketing program, we expect to be able to compete outside of our regional area.” STACEY BUDAE OWNER





Slow demand in the refinery and power plant industries weighed on Toll Gas & Welding Supply in 2016, says President James Quicksell. The Plymouth, Minn.-headquartered company did manage to find growth in bulk gases and installations, though. He says customers of all kinds were receptive to switching to bulk gas. That allowed the company to maintain the same total number of transactions as the year prior, even as the size of the average sale slipped. The new year is very promising, Quicksell says. Clients are telling him that 2017 will be “their best year ever.” He hopes that is the case and would like to see the size of the average sale rise. With an eye to Minnesota’s iron-rich Northern Range, Quicksell reports, “we’re positioned pretty well no matter what happens.”

Andy Oxy Company, Inc. in Asheville, N.C., focused its 2016 sales efforts on selling more to current customers, says Britt Lovin, company vice president and general manager. The strategy was to convince customers that Andy Oxy also offers products that they may be sourcing elsewhere. The company reached out to new customers, but salespeople were reminded to stress to current accounts the value of getting additional products from a provider they already relied on for good service. “Instead of issuing three purchase orders, why not issue one to us?” Lovin asks rhetorically. He says Andy Oxy counted on salespeople to deliver that message face to face with the company’s customers, and to make sure to “go back and knock on that door again.” Looking to the new year, Lovin is concerned about recruiting, training and keeping good employees. “The talent pool that’s out there is limited and unemployment is pretty low in our area,” he says. The company provides a generous

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Winter 2017 • 47

DISTRIBUTORS 2017 BUSINESS FORECAST health-insurance program — covering 93 percent of the costs for employees — that workers value. It also offers training and education. The challenge, as Lovin identifies it, is to maintain the discipline to continue that level of spending. “We can’t lose sight of continuing to invest in our folks.” BRITT LOVIN VP AND GENERAL MANAGER


Soft demand in the oil and gas industry has been trying for B&R Industrial Supply, in Laurel, Miss. Faced with a challenging market, company President Nathan Stringer says the business has diversified its offerings in the last year, and now looks to seasonal items to help drive customer traffic to its single Southern Mississippi store. For 25 years, B&R has offered welding hardgoods. In the past year, it began selling coolers and high-tech thermal cups


that work as impulse items, as well as products for hunters, such as pop-up blinds and game cameras. Suppliers have helped B&R by crediting back seasonal items, such as fans and heaters, without requiring him to ship them back, Stringer says. That permits him to return the items to the showroom floor when the season resumes. Despite recent slowness, Stringer is ready to undertake a major expansion in 2017. Early in the decade, he purchased four acres of land adjacent to B&R. Now, he’s planning to double the size of his store and warehouse to 40,000 square feet. “It’s something that needed to be done for years to take us to the next level,” Stringer says.


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Solutions’s best idea of 2016. When attending meetings of the Independent Welding Distributors Cooperative (IWDC), he didn’t like having his Orlando, Fla.-based company land at the bottom of the list for those making use of IWDC purchasing. So, the company reversed course, did more purchasing through IWDC and landed a trophy — for most improved — and a bigger rebate. The trophy is on his desk and the rebate goes to the bottom line. For 2017, Fine is concerned about government overreach in the industry, but is looking forward to continued strength among light manufacturing and at the region’s nearby theme parks. The company has been investing in new trucks and other equipment and it added larger tanks. “We’re prepared for growth,” Fine says.


G.E.T.S. Welding Supplies of Dothan, Ala., took steps to grow in 2016. The company installed an oxygen fill plant with a 3,000-gallon bulk tank. That operation allows the company to fill cylinders for its own customers, as well as for one of the majors that had been trucking oxygen all the way from Tennessee, says G.E.T.S. owner Dewayne Buckelew. The addition hasn’t required adding staff. Buckelew is optimistic for 2017 and thinks changes in Washington could improve economic conditions, including bringing some relief from burdensome regulations. DEWAYNE BUCKELEW OWNER


A new location allowed Discount Welds, of Miami, Fla., to increase its inventory on hand, says CEO Silvio

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DISTRIBUTORS 2017 BUSINESS FORECAST “I’ve got a bigger facility, more room, more of everything.” SILVIO FERNANDEZ CEO

Fernandez. “I’ve got a bigger facility, more room, more of everything,” he says. The increased inventory is allowing the store to carry more of what he has been selling, and also has allowed him to increase the types of equipment he sells. Welder education is Fernandez’s top concern in the new year. “Lots of welders are tradesmen who didn’t go to school,” he says. He believes that leaves some of them unaware of different techniques for joining metal. He is looking to team up with local educational institutions to offer courses he could host to give welders a better understanding of their craft.


Weakness in both the coal and natural gas industries have been challenging for Mabscott Supply, of Beckely, W.Va., says President Michael Massinople. To keep going, Mabscott Supply has concentrated on keeping costs down and looked to other markets, particularly small medical consumers. “We’ve been focused more on what the market gives us, and recalibrating,” he says. For the future, Massinople sees signs of improvement in his core market. The price of coal used in making steel has risen dramatically lately, and customers in that business are starting to invest again, he says. Likewise, Massinople thinks oil and gas will make a comeback, boosting area businesses. “We’re feeling much better about things now,” he says. “We think there is a lot of pent-up demand.”

“We’re feeling much better about things now. We think there is a lot of pent-up demand.” MICHAEL MASSINOPLE PRESIDENT

50 • Winter 2017


Across its nine-store footprint, Jones Welding, of Albany, Ga., worked to uncover opportunities to increase business in 2016 and to pass along price increases. Still, to get price increases to stick required a review of relationships, says COO Brandon Jones. The review didn’t come out of a scientific playbook, but was based more on knowing customers, how long they had been with Jones Welding and what would happen going forward, Jones says. The company also benefited from competitors’ customers calling to complain about the service they were receiving elsewhere. Some of those calls resulted in more business for Jones Welding, he says.

“Business is resilient. People are going to continue to work and make decisions for their business whether there’s a Democrat or Republican in office.” BRANDON JONES COO

For 2017, Jones is wondering what the changes occurring in the nation’s capital will mean for his business. If pro-business policies are implemented, he expects to see things improve. Regardless, he says, “business is resilient. People are going to continue to work and make decisions for their business whether there’s a Democrat or Republican in office.”


Dixie Welding Supply Company in Attala, Ala., benefited from some refreshing around the company’s two stores, says President-Owner Ken Williams Jr. He says painting, signage and entryway improvements have brought more foot traffic, particularly to the Oxford, Ala., branch. He says suppliers helped with the facelift. For 2017, Williams is focused on cash flow and getting customers to pay in a timely manner. “We don’t want to cut anyone off,” he says. However, it doesn’t do any good to get sales and then not get paid. He is reviewing ledgers KEN WILLIAMS JR. every month or so and reaching out PRESIDENT-OWNER with a phone call or visit to customers who are falling behind. “We want to work with them,” he says.


Advanced Welding & Industrial Supply, LLC, in Greenville, Miss., moved in 2016 after purchasing the facility of a former competitor. The new space is larger and the company uses the former facility for storage.


Growth was strong in 2016 for Advanced Welding and Industrial Supply, in Greenville, Miss., says President John Brewer Jr. The company bought the facilities of a former cross-town competitor and moved into the larger space. Growth means the old facility, about 2 miles away, is used for storage. Continuing to grow is the top concern for 2017, says Brewer. The plan is to continue to stay on top of customer needs and thereby anticipate demands. Brewer says that effort is helped by his father, 86-year-old John Brewer Sr. “He generally is the first one here in the morning and last to leave in the afternoon,” the younger Brewer says.



Continued weakness in the oil and gas industry pushed Cross Texas Supply LLC, in San Angelo, Texas, to diversify its offerings in 2016, says Chief Operating Officer Jay Dyches. Safety equipment, gas monitors and more specialty gases have played a bigger role in the company’s sales, albeit with lower

margins, he notes. His tactics: “We are doing anything we can to turn a dollar and keep the cash flow going.” For 2017, Dyches is hoping for an economic turnaround with oil prices recovering somewhat. In the meantime, Cross Texas will pinch penJAY DYCHES CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER nies. “We are still in survival mode, operating as lean as we can,” Dyches adds.


Anticipating some challenges in its market, AWI/Arkansas Welding & Industrial Supply, Inc. in Hot Springs, Ark., spent 2016 reaching out to key customers to solidify business relationships through sales agreements. That was done to ensure AWI and its customers could count on each other going forward, says Carey McMillan, the company’s sales manager. Looking to 2017, McMillan is expecting to leverage AWI’s other offerings in hardgoods. In addition to welding supplies and gases, the company sells fasteners — and “everybody anywhere that makes anything uses nuts and bolts and some kind of fastener,” he says. The company realized that, while it is big into the fastener business, it has not used that leverage to go after welding supply-type business from fastener customers. The new plan is to offer to bundle the products, perhaps with a discount, to existing customers. Winter 2017 • 51


In a region with an energy-based economy and “energy definitely taking a hit” in 2016, Greg Noel, president of Noel’s, Inc., in Farmington, N.M., is hoping 2017 brings an improved business climate as the new presidential administration takes hold. Business was down in 2016 for Noel’s, and the economy in New Mexico “has been at a standstill for quite a while,” Noel says. One of the area’s coal-fired generation units was put in mothballs, creating a slowdown, and a major gas producer there has its infrastructure up for sale, he notes. Still, Noel is looking to 2017 with the hope that “a more business-oriented administration” will bring with it a “business-favored environment.”


A few years back, Tyler Welders Supply, in Tyler, Texas, added an acetylene plant to its site. That has allowed the company to continue to grow and add customers, including fellow independent distributors, says company President Ronald Ruyle.

Price pressure from majors is always an issue, Ruyle says. To stay ahead, Ruyle says the family-owned company stresses repair service and a level of customer service that makes those who travel for sales or service feel they are more than just a number. “When they come up here, we try to make them feel like family,” Ruyle says.


Thompson Brothers Supplies, of Coffeyville, Kan., added a third store in 2016, purchasing a former competitor in Chanute, Kan., in June. The new store is helping to increase sales, reports President Rick Thompson. Looking to 2017, Thompson says he is very optimistic about the prospects for improved business if the new U.S. president follows through on policies discussed during the campaign. Thompson says he believes the areas of DOT regulations, driver regulations, overtime regulations and other related issues present opportunities to free business to grow by reducing regulatory burdens.






52 • Winter 2017




alarms for the high-tech “grows” where marijuana is cultivated. Frydenberg says the success of marijuana cultivation is likely to create a challenge in 2017 since supply may begin to outstrip demand. He says marijuana’s price per pound has dropped 30 percent in the last year. To adjust, the company is doing a bit more due diligence, focusing on the strongest players in that market, particularly those involved in producing marijuana oils. Frydenberg says the company will also look to strengthen its medical and industrial sales.


As a pioneering state in the legalization of recreational marijuana, Colorado has been a hotbed for businesses that are cultivating, processing and extracting medical oil from marijuana. Colorado Compressed Gases/DME Solutions, in Colorado Springs, Colo., has actively served the industry. This year, President and CEO Mark Frydenberg says his company had success by developing equipment and processes to serve the specific needs of the cannabis industry. That included everything from delivery equipment to monitoring devices and



Steven Craig pauses before offering up the best idea his company had in 2016. “Buy low and sell high,” he says, a smile in his voice. For 86 years, the Craig family and Craig Welding Supply Company, of Vernon, Calif., has been serving customers in Southern



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DISTRIBUTORS 2017 BUSINESS FORECAST California. What worked then, works now, says Craig, the company’s president. One practice that’s sure-fire: buying dented and scratched equipment at a discount from other, larger dealers who are glad to be rid of it. Craig says buyers in his community are always looking for used equipment, so a discounted dented or scratched welding machine that still has a warranty is an easy sale. In the year ahead, Craig says he expects to keep looking for purchasing opportunities that will keep his customers coming back.

concern this new year that the company continues to grow at a reasonable, sustainable rate. “We need to make sure we don’t get overemployed. We do not want to get out over our skis,” he says.

“We need to make sure we don’t get overemployed. We do not want to get out over our skis.” BOB LAING PRESIDENT



Hiring was the best move Industrial Source, in Eugene, Ore., made in 2016, says President Bob Laing. “We hired a champion to sell our medical gases and a second salesperson for our electronics business,” he says, adding that both have helped grow the business. Electronics, a stalwart of the Northwest’s economy, is an area with growth potential for the company. While Laing had been thinking for some time about adding a salesperson for medical gases, he’s also making it a top



Erin R. Beckley, CEO of Advanced Gases and Equipment, in West Sacramento, Calif., points to the company’s relocation as the best idea of 2016. Advanced moved into a larger location, with space for a 2,000 square-foot showroom and an outbuilding that can be used as a fill plant, he says, all while staying near the original location. Like many GAWDA members, Beckley is concerned about government regulations and their possible spread into other lines of business, including beverage gases. To keep up, he

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ERIN BECKLEY CEO Advanced Gases and Equipment Inc., in West Sacramento, Calif., moved down the street into a bigger location in 2016. The new facility is larger and includes an outbuilding for a filling plant.

says Advanced Gases attends GAWDA and other trade-group meetings and pays close attention to advice from GAWDA consultants, particularly Tom Badstubner.


Willy Watt, president of Gem State Welders Supply, says things were busy for much of the year. Even so, the Twin

Falls, Idaho, company made time in the fall to remodel its two-building site. The new look features colors of dark blue and gray, set off with new, bright yellow signs to match Gem State’s bright yellow trucks. The remodeling work allowed Gem State to give business to three of its own customers, Watt notes. In the Southern Idaho-Northern Nevada market that Gem State serves, the agriculture sector—particularly

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DISTRIBUTORS 2017 BUSINESS FORECAST dairy and dairy-related businesses—have been strong, Watt says. He believes there likely is more economic growth coming in 2017. While he’s not expecting a surge of new business, he says he is “feeling pretty good,” as he looks to the new year.


Vern Lewis Welding Supply, in Avondale, Ariz., was focused in 2016 on figuring out what was going to set the business apart from competitors, including big box stores and the majors, says CEO Stacy Lewis Hayes. To do that, STACY LEWIS HAYES Vern Lewis Welding reached CEO out to vendors to improve relationships. That brought more employee training, more joint visits to customers and volume discounts. It also gave Hayes insight into which vendors were committed to helping the company succeed. Hayes says hands-on training has proved popular, citing a metal art show that brought people to one of the Vern Lewis Welding branches on a Saturday, as well as sessions for existing customers. “People are starved for hands-on training,” she says, contrasting that with lessons on the internet. More hands-on programs are on tap for 2017 as is a new thrust to reach out to millennials and generation Z through social media and internet

marketing. Hayes says Vern Lewis Welding has hired a marketing communications and events manager to lead the charge.


Marijuana is a rapidly growing industry in the state of Washington and that served OXARC Inc. well in 2016, says  Michael Sutley, executive vice president. “We embraced that industry,” he says, mentioning that OXARC, headquartered in Spokane, Wash., added 11,000-gallon tanks for natural butane and natural propane, both of which are used in processing marijuana for medical, edible and electronic-cigarette uses. With the new tanks, OXARC can supply marijuana processors and repackage the gas to supply other distributors. “We’ve become sort of a leader, if you will, for the Northwest on supplying products for the marijuana processors,” Sutley says. He sees that trend continuing into 2017, but is concerned about the specter of regulations. With facilities in Oregon, Idaho and Washington, Sutley is concerned that state or federal regulators could drive up the cost of doing business, not just for OXARC, but for its customers. To head that off, MICHAEL SUTLEY the company is involved in discussions EXECUTIVE VICE with others in industry as well as those PRESIDENT in government.

Vern Lewis Welding Supply Inc., in Avondale, Ariz., has been reaching out to new and potential customers. A Saturday “Metal Art” exhibit resulted in the creation of a unique flower sculpture and resulted in several new customers. 56 • Winter 2017





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Western Gasco Cylinders, Ltd., of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, made necessary investments in 2016, says President Stu Younger. Changes at suppliers meant the company had to buy new skids, pallets and related equipment. He is hopeful those investments will pay off. Looking to the new year, Younger sees some possible bright spots, particularly if a new pipeline planned for the STU YOUNGER province gets approved. Regardless, he PRESIDENT is looking forward to focusing fewer resources on needs created by suppliers and more on growing Western Gasco’s customer base in the vast interior of British Columbia.

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Suppliers Are Ready for a Year of Growth Many Member Companies Have Invested, Reorganized for 2017 by CHARLES McCHESNEY


rom across the country and around the world, a number of GAWDA supplier members are looking forward to a year when the economy improves and investments made in recent years begin to pay off.

58 • Winter 2017

Many suppliers are optimistic that changes to their operations, facilities, staffing and new products sets them up for a good 2017. Some are hoping that the actions they’ve taken will produce greater efficiencies, faster product turnarounds and improved fiscal health for their operations. With the energy sector still in recession — coal as well as oil and gas remain far below past market highs — many supplier members still have their optimism on a tight leash. Yet, nearly all the suppliers contacted find some promise for a better year and hope for some degree of growth in the year ahead.



Hector Villarreal bit off a lot in terms of the company’s operations in 2016. The president of Weldcoa says the company invested heavily in automation at the Aurora, Ill., company, and reworked the entire workflow, all with an eye toward reducing how long customers have to wait for products. With the reorganizing and automation done, Villarreal

“We are now in complete control of our destiny.” HECTOR VILLARREAL PRESIDENT

says the company has reduced turnaround to 48 hours on its prime products. “That’s from raw material to product,” he stresses. The change means distributors can count on receiving material in days, not weeks, he says. In addition, the company has broadened its product line so that components it once purchased are now built in-house. “We are now in complete control of our destiny,” he says.


Osborn revamped its management structure in 2016, says Spencer Maheu, director of product management and marketing for the Richmond, Ind., company. It also reached out to customers to learn what they wanted and Winter 2017 • 59

SUPPLIERS 2017 BUSINESS FORECAST what they thought of Osborn, he says. That work is going to result in a number of new product rollouts in 2017, a move Osborn calls “an explosion of new-product development.” At the same time, the company is stepping up to better serve customers who have been especially supportive. “It’s a really exciting time,” Maheu says.

“The company is stepping up to better serve customers who have been especially supportive. It’s a really exciting time.” SPENCER MAHEU DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT MANAGEMENT


A new line of industrial welding machines was a big boost to Forney Industries, of Fort Collins, Colo., in 2016, says Steven Anderson, president and CEO. The machines helped the company sell 10 times more welders than it sold the year before, he says. To continue to grow sales on the industrial side, Anderson plans to add more staff and make sure distributors see Forney

representatives on a regular basis, “not just one and done.” Forney is looking to double its number of SKUs and has started repackaging welding accessories for the industrial market using its branding theme, a STEVEN ANDERSON PRESIDENT AND CEO distinctive green color. Anderson is hopeful that the economy will improve and that changes in interest rates can make it possible for price increases to succeed. “We haven’t seen a price change in four years,” he notes.


Focusing on what the company calls its “four pillars of growth” has helped Worthington Industries quadruple revenues in a decade and establish itself in new markets. That’s the assessment of Dusty McClintock, vice president and general manager, industrial products, for the Columbus, Ohio company. The four pillars are acquisitions, vertical integration, adjacent markets and organic growth, he explains. Acquisitions have included Taylor-Wharton assets that have helped Worthington move DUSTY MCCLINTOCK VP AND GENERAL MANAGER, more into cryogenics. INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTS An example of vertical

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SUPPLIERS 2017 BUSINESS FORECAST integration is the hand-held torch market where Worthington already made the small pre-filled cylinders and bought the BernzOmatic brand to expand into the torches. Adjacent markets include the company’s expansion into brazing products for those hand-held torches. McClintock points to Worthington’s investment in its Turkish bulk cryogenic tank manufacturing facility as an example of how it is aggressively pursuing organic growth. McClintock expects the focus on the pillars to continue, pointing to a just-begun expansion into the beverage gas business as a sign of what’s to come in 2017.


Select-Arc Inc., of Fort Loramie, Ohio, will mark its 20th anniversary in 2017, says National Sales Manager Mike Tecklenburg. He notes that makes the company relatively young in the industry. That helped in 2016, as Select Arc grew by reaching out to new markets — including international markets such as Mexico, Latin America and Asia — it had not served previously. As the year was coming to a close, Tecklenburg detected some improvement in demand across markets the company serves. The company has new products in the pipeline for early 2017 and also plans to further expand into the technical center the company built in 2015. With 80,000

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Processes that require much shorter lead times are a competitive advantage for Metal Impact, says Account Manager Tony Robbins. The company, headquartered in Elk Grove Village, Ill., is able to deliver products in days, not weeks, from the time an order is placed he says, crediting that to cylinders being created through what he calls a one-stroke process. Looking to 2017, Metal Impact is hoping to grow its CO2 cylinder and industrial business, and it is reaching out through GAWDA, AIWD and IWDC to get the company better known. “We’re trying to get the Metal Impact name out there,” Robbins says. The company is also expanding its line beyond the currently available 20-pound CO2 tanks. At the same time, Metal Impact is undertaking expansions into Latin America and Europe, Robbins says.


Despite continued strength in the automotive sector, 2016 was a soft year for Reelcraft Industries, of Columbia City, Ind., says Rex Larkin, vice president sales and marketing. However, he sees opportunities in 2017. “I think good things are coming,” Larkin says, pointing to presidential

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SUPPLIERS 2017 BUSINESS FORECAST campaign promises made about increasing infrastructure, the possibility of more spending in the energy sector and a general turning away from a national mood of economic pessimism. “You can only be stagnant for so long,” he says. Among new products, Reelcraft has developed a reel to handle 700amp welding cable, used in railroad applications. Right now there is one model, however Larkin says to look for a couple more lines to come to market in the future.


Weldcote Metals, of Kings Mountain, N.C., closed out 2016 by introducing a new welding helmet with advanced optics. The company says the helmet provides a truer view of work, is adjustable for the task at hand and allows workers to keep their helmets on to check work. William Roland, president and COO, says the new helmets are expected to help sales in 2017 as will an all-new line of product called Cargo Blockers. The new product fits inside pick-up truck bed liners and helps keep cargo in place. Noting that welding distributors often watch customers drive off with products — even cylinders — bouncing around in the back of their trucks, Roland sees this as a good addition to the product line. “It should bring some really nice additional business,” he says.

Nangle points to merchandizing programs that have improved showroom floor displays for distributors and equipment that has allowed distributors to increase their profitability. In addition, Harris has expanded the specialty gas equipment product line. He sees 2017 bringing greater support for distributors, better products, fill rates and market share.



Southern Pines Trucking, of Monaco, Pa., is expanding its fleet of trailers that are optimized for hauling nitrogen, says Tom Kairys, vice president of sales. The expansion comes less than a year after Southern Pines joined GAWDA, hoping to serve the independent distributor market. The company is finding success leasing to the industry TOM KAIRYS VICE PRESIDENT and acting as a third-party hauler, Kairys says. It also OF SALES can provide hauling for equipment that requires special permitting because it exceeds DOT’s 80,000-pound GVW limit.



For the Harris Products Group, of Mason, Ohio, 2016 was a solid year and 2017 should build on that success, says David Nangle, president and CEO. He says that while many companies were forced to cut deeply to survive the downturn, Harris has remained strong and used the opportunity to improve efficiencies to better serve its customers.



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Dennis Richardson, named president of Thermco Instrument Corp. in 2016, says the signal towers introduced by the company less than two years ago have been joined by a new analyzer to help ensure gases are mixed in the proper ratios — and that when they are not, an operator can see and hear an alarm.

“We need to export more and we need to meet the challenge of companies exporting into our country.” DENNIS RICHARDSON PRESIDENT

Richardson sees continuing demand for greater accuracy and customization driving the industry, as well as globalization. While a strong dollar has impacted the company, he says he doesn’t want to see anything slowing international trade. “We need to export more and we need to meet the challenge of companies exporting into our country,” he says.


Otto Arc, of El Dorado Hills, Calif., has new products in the pipeline and its plans for a major move are underway, says Alan Avis, president. The company is preparing to move from its California location to Texas, ALAN AVIS though precisely where has not yet been PRESIDENT decided, he says. The new place will have less space overall, at least at first, but will include significant area for demonstrating Otto Arc’s products, he says. One of the products the company is at work on creating is a laser cutter that Avis expects will be priced and sized to appeal to smaller shops.

64 • Winter 2017


WEH Technologies, of Katy, Texas, introduced a new circular filling rig in 2016 that allows 12 cylinders to be filled at once, says General Manager Andreas Willfort. The rig features WEH’s quick connectors, which can include non-sparking Monel steel connectors for use with oxygen. The company, headquartered in Bavaria, is expanding its service offerings in the United States. Willfort says the goal for the 5,000 square-foot facility is to provide “German quality serviced in Texas.”


As 2016 was coming to an end, Air Products, of Allentown, Pa., was preparing to finalize the $3.8 billion sale of the company’s performance materials division to Germany’s Evonik. In October of 2016, the company completed the spinoff of its electronics division, Versum. Marie Ffolkes, Air Products president, Industrial Gases–Americas, says the proceeds from those transactions will be plowed into improving the company’s now-singular focus: the industrial MARIE FFOLKES gases business. PRESIDENT, Air Products is looking to invest in INDUSTRIAL GASES–AMERICAS safety, both in training and in equipment, Ffolkes says. “We are part of CGA, we are on those committees. We spend a lot of time looking at processes and standards and developing those for the industry,” Ffolkes says. She sees the company achieving growth by working with distributors to reach final customers, and says Air Products views distributors as partners, not competitors.


Jeremy Carter, CEO at Weldas Americas, of Franklin, Tenn., says his company is “expecting volume growth in 2017 due to an expected uptick in the energy sector, as well as manufacturing that supports those industries.” The company became a GAWDA member in 2016 and has brought a new Arc Knight jacket and a premium welding glove to market recently. Carter says the company will push hard in the new year “to spread our mission of the importance of quality products that have been designed and tested to offer protection and comfort to welders. Almost all our products are tested to EN norms (European Community certification) that enables safety professionals to JEREMY CARTER view actual performance results and CEO select appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE).” He says that in the welding PPE world, “we are one of the only companies that do this testing.”


Tim Mast, vice president and owner at CryoWorks, of Jurupa Valley, Calif., says his company is gearing up for the “Race to Mars,” serving customers in the high-tech aerospace industry. CryoWorks is adding engineering talent and last year brought in a chief financial officer. More hiring is on tap at the family-owned company, Mast says. Just 7 years old, the company in California’s Inland Empire has already grown to 30 employees. Mast said new products will be TIM MAST coming out mid-year to join the comVICE PRESIDENT pany’s lineup of cryogenic and piping AND OWNER equipment.


Abicor Binzel has four major product launches planned for 2017. That initiative is designed as part of an aggressive plan for the year that includes a restructured sales force and focus

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SUPPLIERS 2017 BUSINESS FORECAST on key accounts, says John Kaylor, president U.S. and Canada. The Germany-based company with U.S. headquarters in Frederick, Md., rolled out SpinArc, a 400-amp, aircooled machine torch that rotates filler JOHN KAYLOR wire as it welds. It is expanding its lab PRESIDENT, U.S. and repair facility for laser brazing AND CANADA and is planning to add sales staff and technical support. The company managed to grow market share in 2016, despite an overall down market, he says, noting optimism for 2018 and 2019 if the market sees energy and infrastructure spending rise. 


Bill McCloy, managing director, AmWins Program Underwriters, of Charlotte, N.C., says his firm has a new offering for GAWDA members: cyber liability insurance. The insurance would protect companies from losses if they had network security breaches or human error that somehow allowed customers’ private data to be removed or stolen. There BILL MCCLOY MANAGING DIRECTOR is also first-party coverage for

66 • Winter 2017

the expense of such data breaches, he adds. McCloy says the thrust for the year will be for AmWins to help members and their agents understand the value-added services of its carrier, Chubb Insurance.


In its first year of business, Victory Welding Alloys, of Charlotte, N.C., surpassed CEO George Foote’s revenue projections by a long shot. “I am very shocked, honored and feel blessed that literally we doubled what I had projected,” says Foote, a 38-year industry veteran. For 2017, Foote plans to focus on growth — he says he expects sales to double again — and on making sure

“I am very shocked, honored and feel blessed that literally we doubled what I had projected.” GEORGE FOOTE CEO

the company can deliver. He says Victory has a 99 percent order-fulfillment rate and he doesn’t want that to slip, even as the company grows. Looking to the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, Foote says he plans to open a warehouse in the Houston market.

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SUPPLIERS 2017 BUSINESS FORECAST Infra’s U.S. sales are largely confined to states bordering Mexico, he expects that to expand, “step by step,” to the next line of states in 2017. The company also sells into much of Latin America and parts of the Caribbean. Cabrera says Infra is upgrading finishes on its safety products in 2017 and is looking to present itself to GAWDA members as an alternative supplier in the hardgoods market.


Safety improvements earned CTR, Inc., of Rock Hill, S.C., a major award in 2016. The company received the Leonard Parker Pool Safety Award from the Compressed Gas Association in JIM PAYNE conjunction with GAWDA at the orgaPRESIDENT nization’s annual meeting in Maui. Jim Payne, CTR’s president, says the recognition came even as the company was growing its engineering staff and its field service. Now, the company has three field service crews working across the country, he says. For 2017, it also is rolling out new, more advanced automated filling equipment for CO2, as well as a rotating rack system, according to Payne.


Lenox and Irwin Tools, of East Longmeadow, Mass., launched several new products in 2016, and the company thinks they will help bring growth in 2017, says Matt Lacroix, director – brand marketing.

“We are cautiously optimistic the economy is rebounding.” MATT LACROIX DIRECTOR – BRAND MARKETING

He says the company’s recently introduced MetalMax can last 30 times longer than conventional abrasive cut-off wheels, reducing downtime and improving safety. The company’s new Speed Slot hole saws are longer lasting, he says, in part because the tools’ walls have been thickened 10 percent. The company has invested in its plant, including new machinery and solar panels, and Lacroix expects to see those investments yield growth. In addition, Lacroix says he is “cautiously optimistic the economy is rebounding.”


Right now, Infra Group S.A. DE C.V., of Naucalpan De Juarez, Mexico, does about 90 percent of its sales in Mexico, says Jesus Cabrera, commercial vice president. But Cabrera says the amount of business done with distributors in the United States is growing, and making sure that happens is a company goal in the coming year. Sounding like many fellow GAWDA members, Cabrera says service is what is bringing the company growth. While 68 • Winter 2017



Luxfer GTM-Technologies, of San Francisco, Calif., had an unusual chance to show off its abilities in 2016. With the Super Bowl played in the company’s hometown, Luxfer GTM brought its Zero-Set Lite to the Super Bowl Village, displaying the hydrogen-powered light and its lightweight composite storage for hydrogen. For 2017, the company plans to build on that success, says President Michael Koonce. The firm plans to build hydroMICHAEL KOONCE gen-powered generators for other uses, even as it continues to institute sustainPRESIDENT ability policies for its own facilities.


“We see strong momentum going into the new year as we continue to build on our significant 2016 investments,” says Luke Bradshaw, vice president of business development and marketing at Taylor-Wharton. With new ownership and a strong balance sheet, Bradshaw says the company has maintained Taylor-Wharton’s CryoIndustrial and CryoLNG brands, and has established new exclusive distribution partners with GAWDA members

“We see strong momentum going into the new year as we continue to build on our significant 2016 investments.” LUKE BRADSHAW VICE PRESIDENT OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING

SUPPLIERS 2017 BUSINESS FORECAST Eleet Cryogenics and Ratermann Manufacturing Inc. This year, the company plans to expand its factory for ISO container production, add a new distribution location in Texas and bring out several new products. These include bulk hydrogen vessels, micro bulk lines and high-capacity, high-pressure bulk tanks, according to Bradshaw.

exclusive wholesale agreement with Inweld Corp., and opened a branch in Houston, Texas, to provide customer support and service. “For 2017, we would like to find new partners and new brush solutions for applications in the welding market,” says Thomas Deubler, sales manager for North America.



FasTest, Inc., based in Roseville, Minn., released a new Smart Connector in 2016. Matthew Nolting, sales manager, expects the connector, which changes colors to indicate when a connection is properly made, will help grow sales in 2017. There are other new products in the pipeline, too, he says. The company has added two key positions: a vice president for new product development and a new products manager. It also has added engineers, and has been investing in equipment to make prototyping and production faster. Those investments include a 3D printer that Nolting says is paying off. “It works great. We use it constantly in product development.”


Technical-brush maker Lessmann GmbH, of Oettingen, Bavaria, Germany, had a busy 2016. The company signed an THOMAS DEUBLER SALES MANAGER, NORTH AMERICA

Evergreen Midwest, of Mentor, Ohio, made a major move in cyberspace in the fall of 2016, says Tom Cregan, president. The company revamped its website, allowing customers to sign on and order 24/7, he says. By signing on, customers get access to prices that are specific to them and can see what orders they placed in the past. The new web site has helped bring in business and hasn’t brought a single complaint, he says. While each order is checked by an employee, customers are no longer limited to Evergreen’s business TOM CREGAN PRESIDENT hours, Gregan notes.


In 2015 and 2016, Bug-O brought its training program, Bug-O University, on the road, training more than a thousand workers in the use of the company’s products, says Norman Sted, the director of sales for North America and global markets for the Canonsburg, Pa., company.

» Designed for compressed Air and inert gases up to 250psi @70° F » Fewer connections » One continuous length of 328 feet » Can be installed with common tools » No threading machines or torches needed » No oxygen permeation » Very flexible » Wide “O “ ring for a better gas tight seal | 800-628-5044 ,

Winter 2017 • 69

SUPPLIERS 2017 BUSINESS FORECAST Despite a challenging year, Sted says the company managed to sell more special-order products. For 2017, Sted plans to reach out to end users to get a clearer idea of what products they want and need the company to develop. At the same time, Bug-O expects to continue to bring at least three new products to market during the year — adding to the 11 new products the company brought out in the past two years. NORMAN STED DIRECTOR OF SALES NORTH AMERICA AND GLOBAL MARKETS


Ashley Madray, executive vice president of Gas Innovations, says he is most proud of the way his company has helped distributors grow non-traditional business with products such as butane, carbon monoxide and other hydrocarbons. The LaPorte, Texas company is looking to continue that growth in 2017 with a new carbon monoxide plant that is set

to open in the second half of the year. In addition, Gas Innovations plans to add new products, due out in the second quarter. Madray says the company is also preparing to add employees in sales, marketing and operations.



Chart Industries, of Garfield Heights, Ohio, had a good year in 2016, says Bill Haukoos, president of distribution and storage. In the new year, the company expects to keep personnel and facilities at the same level. Haukoos says to look for a number of new products to roll out throughout 2017. The goal is to grow the company, BILL HAUKOOS and those new products — along with PRESIDENT OF DISTRIBUTION possible acquisitions — could be part AND STORAGE of that growth, he says.

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70 • Winter 2017

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Cryogenic Solutions, of Indianapolis, Ind., expanded in 2016 by purchasing the New York-based company Inventory Solutions. The New York operation will be moved to Indianapolis as part of a $1 million investment to double Cryogenic’s hometown space, says company owner Todd Durham. In addition, the company plans to grow its staff. Plans for 2017 include adding equipment technicians, purchasers and sales representatives, Durham says.


Coleman Cable/Southwire, of Waukegan, Ill., worked through a tough 2016 as the weak oil and gases industry put downward pressure on demand, says Vice President of Sales Tom Sperelakis. The company weathered those issues, however, and brought in a new national sales manager. For 2017, the company is looking to maintain market share, Sperelakis says.


Kenneth Tidwell, senior vice president, notes WDPG Insurance/A Horton Group Partner has a big anniversary coming up this year. In February, the Nashville, Tenn., company will mark 30 years of providing insurance to welding and gases distributors. For the new year, Tidwell says new products will be launched in three arenas: cyber liability; actual sustained loss and employment practices liability. In addition, he says WDPG will focus on initiatives to educate clients about safe driving practices, contract issues and what is involved in cyber liability.


CPV Manufacturing, located in Kennett Square, Pa., expanded its workforce about 10 percent in 2016, says Brian Hoffmann, president and CEO. That expansion meant the company was required to find qualified machinists, welders and other skilled workers in a competitive labor market be-

Winter 2017 • 71

SUPPLIERS 2017 BUSINESS FORECAST tween Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del. For 2017, Hoffmann says the company is looking to build on last year’s work and focus on the company’s relationships with manufacturers who use CPV valves in their projects. BRIAN HOFFMANN PRESIDENT AND CEO


Having built the business on repairing and renovating cryogenic tanks, Eleet Cryogenics, of Bolivar, Ohio, shifted gears a bit in 2016. The company added new tanks from TaylorWharton to its product mix, says Garry Sears, president. “It’s increased our offerings,” he says. For 2017, the company is expanding its line again in the first quarter, adding new CO2 tanks that have coldstretched stainless steel inner tanks. Sears says the company will expand its sales force in the first quarter as GARRY SEARS well, to be able to reach out to more PRESIDENT customers. Eleet also is working with a Texas company to set up a satellite depot to deliver to that market.


Ric Boyd, president of Cryovation, says 2016 found the company building major fill plants domestically and overseas. The plants were customized and the work highlighted the company’s abilities, he says. For 2017, Boyd expects the Hainesport, N.J., company will continue to refine its products, aiming to make them, “safer, better, faster.” He explains that the company is always asking how to make fill-plant equipment RIC BOYD PRESIDENT more efficient for the owner.


Joining GAWDA in 2015 helped Exocor to have a good year in 2016, says President and COO Paul Kinsella. “We made some great relationships with independent distributors” through the GAWDA experience, he says. During the year, the company also added some items to its Executive line of filler metals. 72 • Winter 2017

More of the same pattern is on tap for 2017, Kinsella adds, noting, “We’re continuing to fill out our product line so we can be a one-stop source for anyone looking for a complete line of filler metals.” In addition, the company, which is headquartered in St. Catharines, Ontario, and has a facility in nearby Amherst, N.Y., is looking to widen the area it PAUL KINSELLA PRESIDENT AND COO serves in the United States this year.


In 2016, Kaplan Industries expanded into a new 16acre facility in Harrison, Ohio. That allowed the company to improve its turn times and consistency, says Jim Johnston, senior vice president. He says the company’s performance has been helped by the new physical plant and by the 55-person work force the company was able to hire in Ohio. For the year ahead, Kaplan says he expects to increase inventory since the company now has space for it, and continue to focus on keeping turn times reasonable. “When our customers need something, they need it,” he says. He is counting on JIM JOHNSTON more inventory and a broadened supply SENIOR VICE chain to help make that happen. PRESIDENT


A 15,000-square-foot expansion to its main production facility capped off 2016 for Welding Alloys, says President  Jeffery P. Watkins. The Florence, Ky., maker of welding wires and electrodes plans to do some hiring in 2017 to put that space to work. Watkins says the company is also on the lookout for “good technical sales people to help expand our business.”  Though they were occupied withfinishing the expansion, Watkins says the company’s workforce still took JEFFERY P. care of their customers. For one, the WATKINS crew stayed late on the last work day PRESIDENT before Christmas. They needed to complete a rush job for a distributor whose client forgot to order 10,000 pounds of wire. Watkins says that kind of conscientious service has helped the company triple sales in the past five years.





Member Benefit Chart PROFESSIONAL CONSULTANT SUPPORT FDA and Medical Gases (Thomas Badstubner) DOT, Security, OSHA & EPA (Michael Dodd) Government Affairs & Human Resources (Richard P. Schweitzer) Economic Analysis and Forecast (Dr. Alan Beaulieu)

EVENTS AND MEETINGS GAWDA Annual Convention & Spring Management Conference (AC/SMC) Contact Booths at AC/SMC Hospitality Opportunities at AC/SMC GAWDA Regionals Sponsorship Opportunities at AC/SMC/Regionals Education Offerings

RESOURCES Copy of Buyers Guide Listing in Buyers Guide Copy of Member Directory SOP, Safety & Reference Materials Online Career Center CGA Safety Documents GAWDA Scholarships Discount Business Services

KNOWLEDGEABLE COMMUNICATIONS Quarterly Welding & Gases Today Subscription



Twice-Monthly GAWDA Connection Monthly Safety Bulletin Advertising in GAWDA Publications * (one copy)

To learn more about other benefits of joining the Gases and Welding Distributors Association call Membership Services Manager Stephen Hill at 954-367-7728 x220.

Photo Credit: Michael Davis/All Times Publishing


Which Ways Are the Shifting Political Winds Blowing? Washington Watchers Offer Insights and Predictions for the New Administration BY DIANE STIRLING


ow will the actions and decisions of a Donald Trump administration affect the welding and gases distribution industry? What initiatives will the new president launch that could change the business climate for GAWDA distributors and suppliers? What’s in store for trade policies, regulatory issues, health care insurance and other workplace issues? During conversations for GAWDA’s annual Forecast Report, many distributor and supplier members expressed renewed optimism and their hopes that changes in Washington will provide momentum and positive news for their businesses. So we asked some folks who study and track politics, elections and government for their thoughts on the 2016 election, the outcomes of a perhaps-unexpected Trump victory and how the new president’s leadership style might impact this industry. Here are their insights.

Presidential Announcements: ‘So Far, So Good, But We’ll See’

From the perspective of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, new plans and policies announced by President Trump thus far are likely to have positive impacts for businesses, according to Rick Blasgen, the Council’s executive director. “If you eliminate all the rhetoric,” he says, Trump’s announcements “appear to be so far, so good. We’ll see.” Six areas where Trump’s plans can be positive for manufacturing businesses, Blasgen says, are corporate tax reform, “which would make it easier for companies to make products here,” and reducing business regulations, “which could facilitate hiring more workers and creating the environment where they’d be more productive.” Repealing and replacing the Obama health care system, “since it is a real strain on small and large businesses,” would also be good news, he adds. Changes in trade policies are likely to improve conditions for U.S. businesses, and Blasgen believes, “if we have better trade relations with other countries, then the United States has the opportunity to be that much more of a powerhouse in technology and manufacturing.” Investments in modernizing infrastructure, especially at U.S. ports, plus leading discussions with labor about realistic staffing requirements, could result in higher product volumes for manufacturers, he adds. Finally, easing regulations on banks would help alleviate tight money, promoting corporate growth, Blasgen says. “From a pure business standpoint, everything that’s being said seems pretty positive and will have a positive result for manufacturers all the way along the supply chain,” he concludes.

RICK BLASGEN Executive Director Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals 74 • Winter 2017

BUSINESS TRENDS Public Attitudes:


Uncertainty the Byword in a Year of Unchartered Waters

“Everything that used to be predictable is unpredictable this time,” observes Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, political science assistant professor and principal in the Marist-McClatchy Poll. For the periods before and after election, “nothing has played true to any political consultant’s handbook in how campaigns are waged. Now, the transitions are occurring with great uncertainty,” he says. There remains a great divide of opinion across America, he says, citing the McClatchy-Marist Poll’s year-end survey showing 49 percent approve, but 42 percent disapprove, of Trump’s handling of his presidential transition. According to Miringoff, that’s another offbeat situation. “The problem is, presidents at this point typically enjoy a honeymoon, and this isn’t happening.” The entire year ahead appears to present, “a whole lot of uncertainly in a variety of policy areas,” he says, noting that the directions of health care, foreign policy, domestic issues and economic initiatives are “all up for grabs right now.” Having control of all three branches of government in Republican hands means “the responsibility for making Washington work again” is squarely theirs, as well. “Sometimes when you lose the object of your scorn [Obama], you’re left with having to defend what you do. It’s the ‘Pottery Barn’ example – if you break it, you own it,” he contends. “I think uncertainty is the word that captures what the next period is going to look like. And clearly, the polarization that exists is not going away any time soon,” Miringoff concludes. (See more about The Marist Poll here: politics-section/national/)

LEE MIRINGOFF Director, The Marist Institute for Public Opinion Assistant Professor of Political Science Marist College

The Pew Research Center’s December survey of 1,502 American adults regarding their views of Trump and the ways the country may be heading found: • • • • • • •

35 percent of Americans think Trump will be a good or great president 18 percent say Trump will be average 38 percent say he will be poor or terrible 60 percent say they are very or somewhat confident that Trump will work effectively with Congress 52 percent say they are confident he will manage the executive branch effectively 45 percent have confidence in his handling of an international crisis 44 percent are confident he will use military force wisely.

Pew’s survey shows a post-election spike in economic optimism among Republicans (as of December): •

75 percent of Republicans expect the economy to improve over the next year (up from just 29 percent who said that in June 2016.) The share of Democrats who expect the economy to get better over the coming year has fallen from 35 percent to 15 percent.

Trump’s personal favorability is viewed as far lower than that of other recent past president-elects: • • •

79 percent for Obama; 60 percent George W. Bush; 66 percent Bill Clinton. Among Republicans, 78 percent hold a favorable view of Trump. 87 percent of Democrats view Trump unfavorably.

Views on Trump’s traits and characteristics: 60 percent of those surveyed call him patriotic • 68 percent say he is hard to like • 65 percent call him reckless; 62 percent say he has poor judgment • 52 percent call Trump a strong leader • 41 percent describe Trump as honest; 41 percent as inspiring • 37 percent say he’s well-qualified; 31 percent say he’s moral • 26 percent say he is a good role model. For more information, go to: •

Winter 2017 • 75

Photo Credit: Michael Davis/All Times Publishing


Trump is a Change-Driven but Unpredictable Personality

President Trump may have been sending clear messages about his positions, but he’s still an enigma as a person and personality, says pollster and political commentator John Zogby, founder of The Zogby Poll. “Broadly speaking, we really don’t know for sure what we’re in for,” Zogby says. As a change-driven person, Trump “is giving the appearance of thinking or talking centrist, but acting rightist. He’s unpredictable, but we know he’s serious about winning on deals,” Zogby says. He believes Trump “is a guy who understands investment tax credits and who’s going to back a very large stimulus program, so there is some reason at least for this industry to be optimistic. He clearly opposes regulation; he wants to simplify the tax code; he’s friendly to offshore drilling, to the pipeline, to natural gas and hydrofracking. And he has a majority in both Houses,” Zogby adds. “Trump is a very unpredictable personality, and one that is very unpredictable ideologically,” Zogby continues. “Who is Donald Trump, politically? We’re getting a clear message on who he’s appointing, but this is also a guy who enhanced his career with, ‘You’re fired!’ So what the good Donald can give us the good Donald can take away, too,” says the pollster.

The Economy’s in a Good Place, Regardless of Who’s in the White House

In the near term, a Trump presidency won’t have a huge impact on the U.S. economy, because “that is like the world’s largest aircraft carrier, you can’t turn it quickly, no matter what you do,” says Alan Beaulieu, principal and president at ITR Economics. Time is a factor, as well, because “whatever Mr. Trump decides to do, and assuming he gets congressional approval to do it, implementation is tough. There are no quick resolutions.” Regardless, GAWDA’s chief economist believes the U.S. economy is fundamentally “in a good place. It’s expanding, people are getting jobs, earning more money, and those are the fundamentals that matter. Who’s occupying the White House is secondary to that.” Beaulieu says his analysis and related statistics “demonstrate very clearly that the economy does what the economy is going to do, no matter what party controls the White House. While it becomes so important to us in our presidential election, I’ve run the numbers, and the Gross Domestic Product of the United States doesn’t have a statistically better growth rate as to one party or the other in the White House. It doesn’t favor one party or the other in the stock market; the stock market is completely agnostic.” While he believes politics “is an interesting theater,” he contends that at the pace Washington works, “nothing is going to get done in 2017 to help you or hurt you.”



Founder, The Zogby Poll Senior Partner John Zogby Strategies

Principal and President ITR Economics GAWDA Chief Economist

76 • Winter 2017

BUSINESS TRENDS It’s To Be Proven If Running a Business and a Nation Can Be Parallel

The election of businessman Donald Trump as the next United States president and his selection of a majority of business leaders in his proposed cabinet is a non-traditional twist in government, says Otha Burton Jr., Ph.D., of the Institute of Government at Jackson State University. “Those business leaders may know how to successfully manage in an entrepreneurial environment that coexists in America’s republic and democratic foundation. Generally proven, that’s good for the economy. Still, it has to be proven that running a nation as you run a business can be parallel. In government, your customer doesn’t have a particular profile or prototype. You are dealing with a very broad spectrum of people and needs and have to be good at listening, and providing policy and outcomes that sometime have to be redistributive to assist those most in need,” he suggests.

In addition, Burton says, Americans must now gauge what happens with how the administration meets their expectations. “On the right is a huge tent incorporating the Republican Party, the business community, the extreme alt-right and their divisive and perceived exclusionist views, and all those who had different expectations for a leader of “change.” On the left, it will be challenging how those who lost power can still appreciate the value of America enough to make things under a Trump administration work both legislatively and through advocacy in the American way of discord to achieve progress for the greater good.”

OTHA BURTON JR., PH.D Associate Professor and Executive Director The Institute of Government Jackson State University

Change, Return to Thoughtful Legislation Is a Breath of Fresh Air

“The Supply Chain industry has reason to be excited about the impending impact of the new Trump administration,” says Kevin F. Smith, immediate past chair of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. “The first 100 days should be an eye-opening experience, but the excitement of change based on pro-business ideas and a return to thoughtful legislation will be a breath of fresh air after holding our collective breath for eight years,” he says. Smith believes Trump’s administration will mean “a return to a more business-friendly environment that allows for discourse and thoughtful legislation [as] a welcome change from the perceived threat of dogmatic and arbitrary decisions.” In addition, the supply chain industry has opportunity to take Trump’s proposed policy statements seriously, rather than literally, he says. “Will we really build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, or will we find a way to balance domestic manufacturing with assembly and sub-assembly that is better suited to the combined workforce in both countries?” he asks. “Likewise for manufacturing and assembly operations in Asia. With escalating labor costs in China, and a more business-friendly environment in the U.S., it is conceivable that companies will look for ways to bring manufacturing and supply chain operations back to North America and be closer to the consumers that they serve.”

KEVIN F. SMITH President & CEO Sustainable Supply Chain Consulting Immediate Past Chair Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals Winter 2017 • 77


Mississippi Welders Supply Growth By Scratch-Starts, IT Ingenuity and Now, Acquisitions by charles mcchesney, senior editor


t’s more than a thousand miles to either ocean from Winona, Minn., but for Brad Peterson, lessons learned in the Navy work well on dry land. In 1991, after an 8-year career as an active-duty officer, he made the choice to come home and apply what he learned at sea about authority and responsibility to a new career at Mississippi Welders Supply Company, Inc., where he joined his father, Donald Peterson, in the business. There were 22 people in four stores working for the company at that time, and all of them reported to his father. Don was a Navy reservist and a county commissioner, and was serving on state boards at the time, all while running the stores. Consequently, Don was quick to give son Brad new responsibility at Mississippi Welders.

“Every time I look up and say, ‘I’m not getting done what I need to get done,’ it’s time to put somebody in place who can do these things and I can go on to bigger, more strategic things.” — Brad Peterson “I had 22 people asking me questions,” Brad says of his days moving up the ladder at the business. He quickly delegated authority to others. It worked and the company grew. Still, Brad acknowledges, “as we kept growing, I’d look around and see 15 people at a meeting.” His experience told him he needed to delegate more authority to cut down the number of direct reports. “That’s been the pattern for 25 years,” he says. Every time I look up and say, ‘I’m not getting done what I need to get done,’ it’s time to put somebody in place who can do these things and I can go on to bigger, more strategic things.” Across 25 years, that delegating has paid off as Mississippi Welders has 78 • Winter 2017

grown to 11 stores with 160 employees and annual revenues of $50 million.


The expansion — seven branches in 25 years — was steady, concentrated and involved no acquisitions, the younger Peterson explains. The company grew with scratch starts in 1996 in Decorah, Iowa; in 2000 in Hudson, Wis.; in 2004 in Marshfield, Wis.; in 2006 in Altoona, Wis.; in 2008 in Rothschild, Wis., in 2011 in Mankato, Minn. and in 2014 by adding an operation in Madison, Wis. Every store is within a day’s roundtrip of the Winona fill plant, where Mississippi Welders fills everything from welding gases to medical gases to specialized gases for use in high-tech manufacturing. The idea is to be able to load up a truck, make deliveries and have the driver back home within the DOT-hour limit, Brad explains. “About four-hours distance from the fill plant is doable,” he says.


Now, Brad is looking at setting a new course for Mississippi Welders. After decades of building from scratch, he is looking to acquire other distributors. “We’ve done so many scratch starts it’s time to do something different,” he adds. That focus is why in 2014, he delegated the position of president to long-time employee Scott Myran and revised his role to chairman and chief acquisition officer. He says he thought long and hard, and even considered going outside the company, before deciding Myran, a 28-year-year veteran with the company who started as a route driver and moved up, was the right person. “I felt he had the leadership and management skills necessary to move the company forward and free my time for larger and more strategic issues.” Brad has nothing but praise for Myran, whom he calls, “very organized, very good at what he does.” Even as difficulty in the oil and gas industry has negatively affected sales, Myran

Above: Part of the Mississippi Welders Supply Company fleet at the Winona store, where a centralized fill plant, warehouse, purchasing department, e-commerce department and office operation are housed, along with a 2,000-square-foot retail facility.

has led the company to better efficiencies and higher gross margins. “That tells me we’re making progress,” Brad says.


In his Navy days, Brad worked on destroyers and aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was trained on nuclear reactors, rising to be the start-up officer for nuclear plants — technical work that requires training and adherence to approved procedures. The experience gave him a clear concept of good management, he believes. “You want to encourage initiative; you want to provide general

Above: Brad Peterson, left, chairman and chief acquisition officer of Mississippi Welders Supply, with Scott Myran, president.

guidance and you want to very rarely and sparingly give a micro-managed rudder order. You don’t want to be the admiral in the Pentagon telling the submarine, ‘right 20-degrees rudder, ahead two-thirds,’” he says. “You need to provide your intent, your guidelines, your objective, your goal and let people at it,” he adds. “Because that’s where the ingenuity, the ideas, the initiatives comes from: the deck plates. That’s what we used to say in the Navy, it comes up from the deck plates.”


Ingenuity and initiative has helped Mississippi Welders grow and has driven its technical abilities, according to Chairman Peterson. About 15 years ago, the company developed its own laptop application for route salespeople, something Brad calls the most advanced application of its type at the time. A second in-house IT project allows quick visual checks on bulk tank levels for tanks in the field. Another project developed internally started as an in-and-out board that let everyone see, by computer, who was in the office. That has evolved into a program that allows workers to punch in, to schedule vacations and to see not just who’s in, but where they can be found. Executing the projects in-house allowed Mississippi Welders to achieve precisely what it wanted with the programs, according to Brad. As he has focused on his chief acquisition officer duties, Brad Peterson has sought advice and ideas from fellow GAWDA members and others. He found encouragement and one consistent message: “You have to work at it. You have to water Winter 2017 • 79

Above: Mississippi’s fill plant services all 11 locations.

the garden, tend the garden and hope someday to harvest the crop,” he says. “I had to devote myself to this.”


So far, Mississippi Welders has made two acquisitions, both one-person operations providing CO2 to restaurants and bars. There is no timeline and certainly no deadline for making the next acquisition, according to Brad. While looking to add businesses that are contiguous to Mississippi Welders’ current footprint, the company also is looking a little farther afield. However, Mississippi Welders isn’t depending on acquisitions alone to drive growth, according to Brad. The company is looking to expand its gas business from the current 30 percent of total sales. There have been some strategic hires in pursuit of that goal, and gas sales are a management focus, he says. The company has also added skilled personnel to its cryogenic gases operations.

Large as it has grown, Mississippi Welders remains a family business. Brad’s brother, Jeff, worked in the company for a time while also serving in the Navy Reserve. For the past six years, though, Jeff has been away on active duty in the Navy. Their sister Jane, an IT professional who had a career as a consultant, came to work for the company in 2015. And their father, Don, 82, is plenty active (“He still changes his own oil,” says Brad) and remains very interested in the business. Don serves as Mississippi Welders’ secretary and chairman emeritus. Like his father before him, Brad Peterson has other interests to pursue. After his Navy active duty ended, he spent another 22 years in the Navy Reserve. He is a board member for the Independent Welding Distributors Cooperative and, at the 2016 Annual Convention, was elected first vice president of the Gases and Welding Distributor’s Association, a step that lines him up to become GAWDA’s 2018-2019 president. Brad Peterson is optimistic about the gases and welding field. “I think the industry will enjoy continued growth as new and different applications for gases are found,” he conveys. While technology presents certain challenges and new opportunities to distributors, Peterson still believes the business at its core is all based on “the basic idea is putting gas in a cylinder. At the end of the day, you’ve still got to deliver gases to people.” Left: Winona Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors join Mississippi Welders Supply warehouse employees and cut the ribbon on the company’s 2014 warehouse expansion.

80 • Winter 2017

Over 20 Years in the Making...

S ee w w deta w.o ils o rca f yo nex ur tge nex n . c t Or om ca ™


Orca.™ The New 2017 Design is Here.


SMC PREVIEW Held at the

Boca Raton Resort And Club A Waldorf Astoria Resort

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS curt steinhorst

| The Center for Generational Kinetics

christopher mapes alan beaulieu kelly latimer

|C  hairman, CEO and President The Lincoln Electric Company

| President and Principal, ITR Economics

| P ilot, Virgin Galactic and Virgin Galactic Space Tourism project team member



oin us in Boca Raton! Discover the knowledge, understanding and insights national leaders in intergenerational communications, economics and the gases and welding industry can impart to improve your day-to-day operations and long-term business planning.


2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Committee Meetings

There’s a great lineup of exciting speakers, and Boca Raton can’t be beat! The Boca Raton Resort And Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, offers luxurious spas, expansive golf courses, a beautiful coast and a wealth of nearby attractions.

2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Exhibitor Set-Up for Contact Booth Program

The Spring 2017 SMC is one not to miss!

82 • Winter 2017

8:00 am - 6:00 pm

Conference Registration

8:00 am - 9:00 am

Executive Committee Meeting

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

5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

First-Timers’ Reception Attire: resort casual – shorts and flip-flops encouraged

6:00 pm - 10:00 pm President’s Welcome This year there is a new format – reception followed by a poolside dinner party with band. Attire: resort casual – shorts and flip-flops encouraged


Boca Raton Resort And Club 501 East Camino Real Boca Raton, Fla., 33432


book online


call for reservations

| 561-447-3000


6:00 am - 5:00 pm

Conference Registration

6:00 am - 1:00 pm

Exhibitor Set-up

7:00 am - 8:00 am

Networking Breakfast

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

7:00 am - 5:00 pm

Conference Registration

7:00 am - 8:00 am

Networking Breakfast

8:00 am - 11:30 am General Business Session

Panel Discussion: “Generation Next, Part Two”

Keynotes: Christopher Mapes Chairman, CEO and President The Lincoln Electric Company

Speaker: Curt Steinhorst Center for Generational Kinetics 12:00 pm- 1:00 pm

Group Lunch

12:00 pm- 1:00 pm

Women of Gases and Welding Luncheon Guest speaker: U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Kelly Latimer, Ret., pilot for Virgin Galactic

1:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Contact Booth Program

4:30 pm -

Industry Hospitalities

Alan Beaulieu, President and Principal, ITR Economics 12:00 pm- 5:00 pm

Optional Golf Play your own ball! GAWDA has negotiated a group rate for attendees to play on their own. Afternoon tee times can be reserved through the pro shop at 561-447-3419.

Winter 2017 • 83

SMC SPEAKERS alan beaulieu

christopher mapes

Recognized as one of the country’s most-informed economists, Dr. Alan Beaulieu is president and a principal of ITR Economics of Manchester, N.H., and also now serves as the chief economist of the Gases and Welding Distributors Association. Since 1990, he has consulted with companies throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia on how to forecast, plan, and increase profits based on business-cycle trend analysis. Dr. Beaulieu also is the senior economic advisor to National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, contributing editor for Industry Week; the chief economist for the Heating, Air-conditioning, Refrigeration Distributors International organization; and someone who is highly familiar with the welding and gases industry. He makes up to 150 appearances each year and his keynotes and seminars have helped thousands of business owners and executives capitalize on emerging trends. With business partner Brian Beaulieu, he has authored Make Your Move, Prosperity in the Age of Decline, and But I Want It.

As chairman, president and chief executive officer of Lincoln Electric Holdings, Inc., Christopher “Chris” Mapes oversees a company recognized as a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of arc welding products, robotic arc-welding systems and plasma and oxyfuel cutting equipment. Lincoln has 43 manufacturing locations and a worldwide network of distributors and sales offices covering more than 160 countries. The firm is based in Cleveland, Ohio. Mapes has been Lincoln’s chairman since December 2013. He previously was its president and chief executive officer and chief operating officer. Before joining Lincoln, he served from 2004 to 2011 as executive vice president of A.O. Smith Corporation, where he led the expansion and execution of a global strategy for electrical products. Mapes holds a bachelor of science degree from Ball State University, a law degree from the University of Toledo and an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

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Supplier member George Ratermann leads a follow-up discussion on the topic he first introduced at the 2016 Spring Management Conference that focused on the interests, needs and styles of “Generation Next.” During that panel, he presented information about generational differences and coaxed four GenNexter employees to be candid about their workstyles. The enlightening discussion illustrated and affirmed the differences in work-life perspectives and habits of millennial and GenNext employees. This spring, Ratermann will continue that conversation about generational differences in the workplace. This time, though, he’s exploring business transactions from the other side of the counter – looking at millennial and GenNext customers. He’ll again present information about how differences in work styles, use of technologies, and communication preferences impact business dealings. The panel will feature GenNexters who are actual industry customers. Through discussion and question-answer, they will illustrate what goes into their decisions about buying. What factors influence the companies they want to work in? How do they decide who to buy from? What are the cultural orientations and mission-vision values that create a sense of alignment with varied businesses? Panelists will present and explore those differentiators. Hearing these perspectives will help GAWDA members develop more awareness about how the upcoming generation of customers thinks and acts. These insights will help members understand – and plan – for how they may have to change in order to best serve, maintain supplier-of-choice stature, and keep these newest types of customers coming back.

curt steinhorst

A communications expert, entrepreneur, columnist, and a certified keynote speaker for the Center for Generational Kinetics, Curt Steinhorst is a millennial with a reputation as a leader among millennials. At age 20, he was elected president of his 10,000-member class at Texas A&M University. Since graduating magna cum laude, he has helped clients around the world make the most of generational differences in the workplace. Curt speaks from his experiences leading millennials about how employees and customers can bridge generations. He’ll discuss how technology in the Digital Age has led many to suffer from ADD – “Always Distracted Disorder” – an issue he says has become a leading cause of underperformance in the workplace. Curt’s understanding of how the brain is wired plus his high-energy style helps audiences learn to turn distraction into functional action. kelly latimer WGW LUNCHEON SPEAKER

Kelly Latimer, test pilot for Virgin Galactic, the privately-funded space company, is this year’s speaker for the Women of Gases and Welding annual SMC Luncheon. Latimer served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force as a T-38 instructor pilot and flew worldwide military transport and combat missions as an aircraft commander in C-141 and C-17 aircraft, including deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. After her Air Force service, Latimer flew as an experimental test pilot for NASA and as chief test pilot for the Boeing Company’s C-17. She now works as a lead test pilot for the Virgin Galactic LauncherOne Program, which is designed to put small satellites in space. During her career, she has flown more than 30 different aircraft and has logged more than 6,500 flight hours.

remember: add a qr reader to your phone With a QR code reader app installed in your phone, you’ll be able to scan the information from the new CVENT registration system badges being used at this year’s SMC. A QR reader app will let you scan the badges of other attendees with your phone. That scan will download all the information contained in an attendee’s badge. It works like a digital “Rolodex” data file.

Here are a few reader apps you may want to check out: For Android: Scan Me; ScanLife; QR Droid Code Scanner. For iPhone: QR Reader for iPhone (TapMedia Ltd); NeoReader; Optiscan QR Code Reader; ScanLife Winter 2017 • 85



AWDA and participating exhibitors will host the Contact Booth Program, a three-and-a-half hour event designed to stimulate interaction between supplier members and distributor members during the Spring Management Convention. The event again features a great prize program, so come and get ‘em! exhibitors:

To participate in the booth program and prize program, contact GAWDA’s Membership Services Manager Stephen Hill at shill@gawda. org. (Note: The deadline for exhibitors to supply information and have a booth prize listed on the GAWDA SMC promotional brochure is April 1.) IMPORTANT RULES REGARDING THE AWARDING AND DISTRIBUTION OF PRIZES •E  ach exhibitor is solely responsible for the awarding and distribution of its prize. • GAWDA is responsible only for posting winning names at a central prize booth and announcing the winner via the event Twitter feed. • Winners must be present to claim prizes. Any unclaimed prizes will remain the property of the participating vendor.

distributor attendees:

Visit as many vendor booths as you can to interact with and get to know the dozens of great GAWDA supplier members who are exhibiting and who are here to meet you! Many great prizes, generously contributed by vendors and GAWDA, will be awarded at the end of the Contact Booth event. Stopping by the booths increases the chance of winning a prize. Booth vendors will scan badges of distributor members who visit their exhibits during show hours. Between 4:00 and 4:30 p.m., exhibitors will conduct drawings. Prize winners’ names will be posted at a central prize booth and announced via the Convention Twitter feed. Prize winners should immediately go to the participating booth to claim prizes. You must be present to win. post-event promotion of winners

Exhibitors are asked to submit a picture and the name of prize winners to GAWDA Media following the contact booth program. Pictures will be posted on GAWDA’s Twitter feed when announced, on GAWDA’s social media sites, and in GAWDA publications and the web site.

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SMC INFO attire: resort casual

(shorts and flip-flops are encouraged!) Some activities will be conducted poolside.

GETTING TO BOCA RATON The Boca Raton Resort And Club is 27 miles from both the Ft. Lauderdale International (FLL) Airport and the Palm Beach International (PBI) Airport. Shuttles and rental car service can be scheduled through hotel guest services at: 561-447-3000. The resort’s concierge desk can help plan your visit and make advance reservations for resort activities. Contact the Boca Resort Concierge Desk at: 561-447-3000. Reservations for GAWDA’s reserved block of rooms can be made by contacting the Resort at: 561-447-3000


dependability • versatility • recyclability 88 • Winter 2017

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Our dependable cylinders and valves are manufactured using high grade alloys and components ensuring greater gas stability over the life of the mix. Two versatile cylinders available that cover all current sizes from 34 liter through 116 liter. We also offer several valve options depending on the gas standard required. 100% recyclable and refillable with no deposits or daily rental fees, these cylinders are returnable or can be recycled locally. To find out more about our new Select Series cylinders, contact Norlab customer service at 800-657-6672 or send us an email us at Visit us at to find a Norlab distributor in your area.

Boca Raton Resort and Club offers a spectacular range of services and amenities. The award-winning Waldorf Astoria Spa is highlighted by grand arches and elaborate mosaics. It was built to resemble the Alhambra Palace in Spain. It’s where the owners of the National Football League meet yearly. GAWDA members can take advantage of special hotel offers while they’re in sunny Florida on the beach with special rates and discounts for those who extend their stays through the Mother’s Day weekend. There is a $100 credit, 10 percent off services, spa discounts and complimentary flower and champagne for all mothers. Activities include the renowned tennis academy, championship golf courses at the resort, and availability of jet-skiing, parasailing, snorkeling, boating, fishing, scuba diving, an Intracoastal Waterway cruise and catamaran ocean sailing. A short shuttle boat ride transports guests to the partner Boca Beach Club and half a mile of golden private beach. Twelve varied venues include some of the area’s most exclusive dining.

WEATHER The average temperature in Boca Raton is 73-88 degrees Fahrenheit at this time of year.

Photos of the resort are courtesy of the Boca Raton Resort And Club.

golf Boca Raton Resort and Club is home to two renowned golf courses in South Florida. The Resort Course was built in 1926, with water features designed by Hugh Hughes. It enjoys acknowledgement as one of Florida’s Golden Age courses. A short shuttle ride away, the Country Club Course is a visually stunning course with an 18th-hole island green. It offers an exclusive golf experience and opportunity for professional instruction at the Dave Pelz Scoring Game School. For a tee time, call 561-447-3419.

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Photo Credit: The Minnesota Vikings

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U.S. BANK STADIUM: Five Huge Pivoting Doors Seal Vikings’ New Home by charles mcchesney, senior editor


.S. Bank Stadium, the new home of the Minnesota Vikings, boasts a number of new features – luxury boxes at field level, locally-sourced food, a roof that is mostly clear plastic, and a modern interpretation of a Viking ship in the plaza in front of the 66,655-seat stadium.

But the most eye-catching feature of U.S. Bank Stadium may be its doors. They’re big. According to Viking officials, they are bigger than any doors you have ever seen swing open. Other places have huge doors — Marlin Park, the home of the Florida Marlins; AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys; Kennedy Space Center and many Air Force bases — but those doors slide or roll to the side to open. The doors at U.S. Bank Stadium swing open, like a door at your house or business. What makes these unique is that each of the five doors on the west face of U.S. Bank Stadium is as big as the side of a building.Creating such big doors was a big project, says David Doss, operations manager and chief engineer at Industrial Door Contractors in Columbia, Tenn. It was a design challenge, and not one his company initially was eager to undertake, he says. The 60-employee company, which has been in business since 1983, specializes in hangar doors and bunker doors. Stadium doors didn’t land in the company’s portfolio until the Miami Marlins chose to build giant doors into their new Winter 2017 • 91

WONDERS OF WELDING stadium in 2012. Doss remembers talking with the construction manager then about the project, and having to explain why he referred to what they wanted as “hangar doors.” To them it was an “operable wall,” he says. “It looks like a hangar door to me,” he told them, “it just sits 40 feet up in the air.” M.A. Mortenson was a contractor Industrial Door had worked with on past projects. When Mortenson was named contractor on the U.S. Bank Stadium project, the company turned again to Industrial Door. Doss says his company hadn’t built anything like the pivoting doors being called for — nobody had.


What designers and architects came up with were doors built of grade 50 structural steel, MIG welded and built to a tighter tolerance standard than the building itself. The doors have a core truss at the pivot point and cantilevered wings that span out to the tips of the doors. The structure was required to carry its own cantilevered weight plus the significant weight of the aluminum and glass curtain wall system. It also was required to resist the design wind loading. Hollow structural steel tubes were chosen as the primary framing material to provide the necessary strength, and because they would make an aesthetically pleasing structure. Welded construction was specified to make the connections blend into the structure. Compensation for the weight of that glass was integrated into the erection of the doors, Doss says. Sixteen-inch square steel-plate weights were used to simulate the weight of the glazing and frames.

The photos on this page, provided by Industrial Door Contractors, show the contruction and scale of the doors. 92 • Winter 2017

WONDERS OF WELDING Photo Credit: The Minnesota Vikings

Photo Credit: Industrial Door Contractors

Photo Credit: The Minnesota Vikings



Each pivoting door measures 55 feet wide. The smallest is as tall as a seven-story building. The largest stands 95 feet tall, just shy of a 10-story building. The doors are so big that, along the bottom of each is a bank of five regular-sized double doors that are used when the weather or other reasons dictate that the big doors be closed. Just opening the doors takes seven or eight minutes, says Lester Bagley, the Vikings’ executive vice president for public affairs and stadium development.

To facilitate assembly on site, the main truss tubes were fitted with tapered alignment guides that also served as backing bars for the full penetration welds which joined the sections. Locating plates were provided on the main truss chords to ensure proper location of the wing members during on-site assembly. Each door structure was assembled into two smaller sections on the ground. The lower section was then lifted into position and secured before the upper section was positioned atop it and the sections welded together. At the top of the doors, engineers had to compensate for different building tolerances. “The general AISC (American Institute of Steel Construction) erection tolerances for the building columns (about which the doors pivot) allowed for the columns to be out of position by almost 2 inches at the top of the doors and still be considered totally acceptable,” Doss says. “Since it was not economically feasible to have the building erected to the tighter tolerances, the pivot door top-bearing journals were designed to be adjustable, to permit it to be centered with the door base bearing.” The original specifications only required that the giant doors open one at a time. But Doss said he knew someone would want to see the five doors swing open at

once. Before work was done, a Vikings official asked if it would be possible to do a choregraphed opening of the five doors. It was. “I felt vindicated,” Doss remarks. (You can see a quick video of the doors opening on Instagram: @usbankstadium).


Construction of U.S. Bank Stadium provided a lot of jobs in the building trades, according to GAWDA Member Kevin Falconer, vice president and general manager at Minneapolis Oxygen Company. Falconer says his business supplied about a half-dozen contractors who were involved in the project. It didn’t hurt that Minneapolis Oxygen has a storefront less than 5 miles from the stadium. “Any general contractor that was in need of something for welding or gases could come to us,” Falconer says. Winter 2017 • 93


Generation Next Revisited: The Up-and-Coming Customers by george ratermann

G George Ratermann is president of Ratermann Manufacturing, Inc. of Livermore, California. He’s worked in the gases and welding industry since 1977. He can be reached at 800-264-7793 and at

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AWDA members certainly discovered truth in the saying, “there are two sides to every story” during the Spring Management Conference panel I hosted last year, “Generation Next: The Most Disruptive Generation Ever.” That discussion illustrated differing perspectives among the generations comprising the oldest and youngest segments of today’s workforce. In the use of technology, communication styles, work habits and career fulfillment, the panel’s four participants, all “Generation Next” industry employees, illustrated how today’s workplace is experiencing inter-generational shifts. At the 2017 SMC, I’ll moderate a “Part 2” panel. It will focus on an aspect of the generational gap that’s just as crucial to our companies’ ongoing success — the newest generation of employees is not only disrupting our operations, they’re also our future customers. Differences in their thinking, behavior, habits and preferences about what, where and why they buy is likely to make us change how we do things. GAWDA members will hear from several current end-user customers who buy from gas and welding distributors. They’ll help us understand what attracts them to certain businesses, services and products, and other components of their buying decisions. We’ll ask: • Are our businesses ready to serve a different kind of customer? • Do we understand their interests and motivations? • Will our technology serve them well? • How should we adjust to remain attractive to this new generation of buyer?

Will we be in tune with how they want to interact with us, or will the way we function be a turnoff? The world is changing around us, populations shifts show. Differing perspectives of the expanding generational segments are going to transform how our society thinks and acts. The Pew Research Center, using U.S. Census Bureau data, shows how: • In 2016, millennials (those aged 18-34 as of 2015) surpassed baby boomers (51 to 69 as of 2015) as the nation’s largest living generation (per April 2016 U.S. Census Bureau statistics). • Millennials now number 75.4 million, compared to today’s 74.9 million baby boomers. • In 2015, millennials surpassed Generation X (those aged 35-50 as of 2015) to become the largest share of the American workforce. • Before long, the Gen X population will outpace the number of baby boomers, too. That is projected to occur in 2028, when there will be 64.6 million Gen Xers and 63.7 million boomers. Before long, buying decisions will be in the hands of people who today may hold entry-level jobs, as these folks are likely to rise to management roles. The person who is a shop welder today may be a welding supervisor or the shop foreman, in charge of buying decisions, in three to five years.  Disruption doesn’t have to be negative; it can mean a surge of new opportunity. With that perspective, we’ll use this panel to share thoughts, look at the unique characteristics of our up-andcoming customers, and consider the changes to come. •

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Customers Trust Family Businesses More by jeremy miller

I Jeremy Miller is a brand strategist, keynote speaker and the bestselling author of Sticky Branding. He helps companies develop strategies to market their businesses and grow their brands. As a keynote speaker, his blend of humor, stories, and actionable ideas will inspire you to innovate and grow a Sticky Brand. For more information visit www.

f you have an opportunity to call your company a family business, do it. Customers trust family businesses more. Being a family business may not be the reason why your customer buys your products and services, but that kind of labeling can enhance the brand loyalty and affinity your company experiences. According to the Institute for Family Business, a family-business brand enhances perceptions of trustworthiness, social responsibility, quality orientation and customer orientation. As markets become more competitive and commoditize, customers are looking for ways to differentiate one option from the next. Sharing your family story and ownership provides an opportunity for you to rise above the competition and form stronger relationships with your customers, employees and partners. This humanizes your brand and makes your company more likeable.


Recent research reports validate one of my long-held beliefs that being a family business is a competitive advantage. The belief was first seeded while working in my family’s business. When I joined the company, my parents had taken deliberate steps to disguise that we were a family business. My mom, for example, used her maiden name at work. The fear was that “family business” might not signal the same level of professionalism. I disagreed with my parent’s approach. I saw the family business story as a source of competitive advantage. My parents had created a successful company; we had a great working relationship; and we were building a business that was a great 96 • Winter 2017

source of pride. These were ingredients that not only benefited us, they benefited our customers and employees. I reversed my parents’ approach to marketing. I made it obvious in our web site, public relations efforts and communications that we were a family business. It was a source of pride, and I thought it helped to differentiate us from the giants of our sector. At the time, I couldn’t validate the benefits of marketing our brand as a family business, but I saw the benefits anecdotally. It was a conversation starter, and it led customers to be inquisitive about our heritage. It also signaled trust, because people knew who they were dealing with; literally, “the buck stopped with the Millers.” My belief that a family business brand was a competitive advantage was reinforced further as I worked with other family businesses. Again and again, I came across families that were building remarkable brands that were highly recognizable and transitioning through the generations. In fact, 50 percent of the companies featured in my book, Sticky Branding, are family businesses.


The data backs up my anecdotal experiences. A 2016 report by Ernst & Young and Kennesaw State University’s Cox Family Enterprise Center studied 2,400 of the world’s largest family businesses. The report highlights a few key insights: • 76 percent of the companies studied refer to their enterprise as a “family business” in corporate communications. • 64 percent of the respondents said that being a family business helps to differentiate them from competitors.

BEST PRACTICES 64 percent said being a family business improved the reputation of the company with customers. The researchers also discovered that the business was a source of pride for the family; 68 percent of respondents said the family strongly identifies with the company, essentially being “part of who we are.” Being a family business is a point of pride, and it can be a source of meaning for your family, your employees and even your customers. •


Promoting your business as a family business is a sound marketing strategy. The family business brand humanizes your business and helps customers, employees and partners form a personal relationship with it. The family business brand adds credibility and enhances your operations in three key areas: • Heritage: Your company has roots. You can share the history of your business and family and your family’s legacy in the community. • Innovation: In a world of rapid change, only the innovators grow through the generations. You can demonstrate your spirit of change and innovation, and share how your company and family has evolved and grown through the years. • Values: Compared to faceless-multinational companies, a family business is perceived as more socially responsible. Your family’s beliefs provide a personal connection with customers, employees and the community at large. These three elements all point towards longevity. Family businesses are in it for the long haul, and that creates a

legacy of trust. Publicly-owned companies, on the other hand, are under ever-increasing public scrutiny for these reasons: • Excessive executive compensation and bonuses. • Revelations that corporations are paying low to no taxes. • Short-term thinking and quarter-to-quarter decision-making. Big corporations are losing trust, while family businesses are gaining it. The family’s legacy elevates the brand and signals that your business is more committed to its customers, employees and the community.


Use every advantage at your disposal. The family business brand is a mark of trust. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Public companies are often called “faceless” and “soulless.” This isn’t exactly fair, but it highlights how the family story can enhance your brand. It creates a point of distinction that makes your business more likeable. As competition increases, human connections are so valuable. When the buying options all look very similar, customers will default to one of two positions: • They’ll go with what they know, or • They’ll go with what’s cheapest. Selling on price is no way to grow a brand. As a family business, lean on the first option. Build strong bonds between your customers, employees and partners. Form a relationship with them so they know you, like you and trust you. As so many of you in the gases and welding distribution industry know, the family business brand may not be the reason a customer buys, but the relationships you form can be the reason your customers come back again and again.

Know Someone Who Ought To Join GAWDA? Membership application forms are available online for completion here: Anyone interested in additional information about membership may get in touch with GAWDA’s membership services manager Stephen Hill. Phone: 954-367-7728 ext. 220 Toll free: 844-251-3219 Email:

Join Us! Winter 2017 • 97


The College DegreeWork World Disparity How GAWDA Members Can Help by allie earlbeck

A Allison Earlbeck is the third generation at Earlbeck Gases & Technologies, a knowledge-based distributorship in Baltimore, Md. Despite her protest, she learned to weld at age 16 but quickly developed an appreciation for the craft. She is now an AWS Certified Welding Inspector and her current role at Earlbeck is marketing and business development. She spends her free time volunteering for a dog rescue and tending to her collection of 150 cacti. She can be reached at: and at 443-579-1127.

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s a young adult in the gases and welding industry, I’m always curious to hear how others found their path here. To be quite honest, most teenagers don’t start out with big dreams of entering into the world of industrial distribution. I made my way here through family roots, and by way of a half-baked fine arts degree. After high school, I went to college to pursue an interest of mine, photography. A couple years into school, I started to look at my peers and to question what would happen next. Were there enough vacancies in that industry to support the number of undergraduates taking on student debt pursuing fine arts degrees? As it turned out, the answer was no. There was a trend of students leaving college only to land in jobs that were commensurate to those that were available after receiving a high school diploma.



For the last 20 years, college education has been encouraged for all high school graduates at the expense of skilled trades. According to the American Welding Society, we will face a shortage of about 400,000 welders by 2024. How did this happen, when, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report for October 2016, the unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds is 10.4 percent? Parents and teachers directed students away from blue-collar jobs and into higher education because conventional wisdom would suggest that a degree guarantees a higher salary. However, half of university graduates are now under-employed in what are called gray-collar jobs because the market is saturated with these candidates. (Reference: Industry Workforce Needs Council and Other Ways to Win: Creating Alternatives

Once I realized that photography did not have a gainful long-term career path for me, I took a leave of absence from school while I filled out applications to pursue an MBA. In the meantime, my dad, a second-generation owner of a gas and welding distributorship, asked if I’d like to spend some time working with him to get a crash-course in business. At this point, you can probably guess how things progressed. It seems that when most people, myself included, make their way into this industry, they end up here for a lifetime. My only regret is that I wish someone had told me sooner what an inviting, impactful and rewarding industry this is to work in. (Well, I’m sure my dad did, but I wish I hadn’t ignored him.)

If you have young adults in your family, or you are one yourself, you’ve probably heard stories similar to mine about the current state of higher education. There is a mismatch between the number of people pursuing college educations and the jobs that actually require those degrees. And unfortunately, it’s an issue that has washed up at our front doorstep in the gases and welding industry.

There is a mismatch between the number of people pursuing college educations and the jobs that actually require those degrees.


According to the American Welding Society, we will face a shortage of about 400,000 welders by 2024. How did this happen, when, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report for October 2016, the unemployment rate for 16 to 24-year-olds is 10.4 percent? for High School Graduates by authors Gray and Herr.) In addition, says The College Board, 60 percent of the population now pursues some form of higher education. Conversely, the true ratio of jobs in our economy is 1:2:7 (Reference: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2012-13). This means that for every one job that requires a master’s degree or higher, there are two jobs that require

a university degree and seven jobs that require a two-year degree or skilled training. There is a disparity here. Students are piling up debt to pursue a degree that probably won’t help them pay back their loans.


To reverse this trend, more needs to be done to attract the younger demographic to skilled trades and realign education with careers in mind. Nationally, we’ve started to have a conversation about the student debt crisis and more people are aware of the issue at hand. The time is ripe to present an alternative to the next generation. I believe there are a number of steps GAWDA members can individually take to help address these situations in their own communities. They include: donate to welding scholarships; invite Boy Scouts to earn their welding badges; visit local middle and high schools for recruitment. There is an opportunity here to positively impact the next generation entering into the job market by showing them that welding can be a lucrative career choice for their future.


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Asking Questions: A Strategy to Tune Up Teams, Profits by jon denney

T Jon Denney heads the Professional Business Coaches Alliance, North America’s premier business-coaches organization. He also operates an executive coaching consultancy, offering individual coaching for business owners plus strategic planning, group coaching, and leadership development services. In the past 10 years, Jon started and grew four different, profitable, multi-million dollar ventures. He’s at: Jon Denney Executive Coaching, LLC, Syracuse, NY; at: jon@jdenney. com; 315-952-9704.

he start of a new year presents business owners and executives with good timing to implement fresh starts. One of the techniques I recommend to help businesses and teams freshen their perspectives and turn the focus to activity for the year ahead is an exercise in asking questions — lots of them. The process helps teams and leaders think in detail about their operations. Questions help ferret out what is liked about company practices and what’s not; and what’s working and what’s not. Especially when the intent is generating greater profits, questions clarify situations and help people get where they want to be in the months ahead. What I call my long list of “powerful questions” considers the most basic and significant business profit-drivers. It’s not comprehensive, but it helps illuminate issues and assists in solution-making. It also helps us remember that many times, making better profits doesn’t necessarily mean working harder; sometimes it just means working smarter.



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they clearly articulating the value of your product/service and earning business through increased quality and/or increased service — rather than commoditizing your product/ service? • As your own costs of doing business have risen, what have you done to be able to maintain your margin (or improve it)? • Is it time to consider raising some or all of your pricing? Now, it’s on to taking a look at how the sales team is functioning.

When is the last time you made increases in your pricing? The last time you increased pricing, how did it affect your business? Did you lose any customers because of it? What is your company’s net profit margin? If you increased your pricing slightly (by 2 to 5 percent), what would happen to your net profit margin? Are you doing a lot of discounting? If you are discounting, do you think it’s helping your bottom line by increasing sales? Or, is there a chance you’re just giving money away? Do your salespeople sell on price? Are

• •

Are your salespeople earning new business? Or, have they settled into just being “order-takers?” Do you have an effective selling system, or “sales model?” Or, are your salespeople flying by the seat of their pants? Are you actively courting a list of “Top-10” prospective customers? Or, are you ignoring the larger prospective accounts that could make a big difference in your sales revenue? Do you have systems in place to follow up with lost customers to earn back their business? Are your salespeople digging deep to determine what other products/services you could offer to your existing customers? Are you earning a favorable return-on-investment from your marketing efforts? Is your marketing message fresh and relevant? Or, are you just using the same text you’ve always used to deliver the (same old) sales pitch? Is organic sales growth your best strategy

SALES & MARKETING moving ahead? Or, is it time to consider the pros and cons of buying a competitor to gain market-share?


• •

Are you fielding a team of superstars? Or, do you have some people on your team who are probably not a great fit? Are you currently overstaffed? Are you currently employing extra people to make up for the weaknesses of people on your team? This question is pertinent because companies sometimes have staff members who can’t fulfill their entire job duties, so the company hires additional people to shore up those weaknesses. That can result in a bloated payroll. What would happen to your profitability if you invited a poor-performing employee to find another line of work elsewhere (where he/she may be more successful)? Are you competitively bidding the products/services that you purchase on a regular basis? Or, are you being blindly loyal to vendors you’ve used for years? (Personal Note: I found myself paying premium prices from vendor “friends” to whom I was loyal. I’m not saying don’t be loyal to great vendors; I’m suggesting you can avoid the chance of being taken advantage of by shopping around.) What is the least profitable product or service your company offers? Is there anything you can do about that? Conversely, What is the most profitable product or service your company offers? Is there any way you can sell more of it?

What are the profit-killers in your business that you know you should fix, but haven’t had the time to address? • •

• • •

Where do you have expensive waste? What systems can you put in place to greatly reduce or eliminate that waste? Ask, “How can we reduce expenses?” (A good time to do that is after looking at every expense line on your income statement.) Do you have any unprofitable customers? What should you do about that? What services are you currently outsourcing a lot of that may make sense to bring in-house? What services are you currently doing in-house that may make sense to outsource instead?

How is your employee retention? How much is employee turnover costing you? (You may find that you can implement better interviewing systems including reference checks; better training programs and mentoring for new-hires; providing cross-training opportunities; offering opportunities for professional advancement; and so on.) • Is there a less-expensive way for you to finance your debt? • Are there any legal strategies you can put in place to reduce your tax liabilities? (Personal Note: You may want to have an accountant who is not your primary accountant take a look at what you’ve been doing. A second set of eyes may pick up on something your primary accountant has overlooked.) •


As you already know, finding efficiencies can be as crucial to the bottom line as savings costs. However, sometimes it’s hard to see them without taking a closer look. These queries may help. • Are there recurring errors in your business? If so, how can you improve your training or your systems to make sure those costly mistakes get eliminated? • Could technology updates (or new technology) help increase efficiencies? • How could you streamline your company operations (in every department) to reduce wasted time? • How could you improve your business planning in order to maximize efficiencies? • How can you eliminate mistakes? • How can you improve communication within your company? • Would improved communication between departments help make sure everyone is working together better to reduce wasted time? Would updated systems also help to do that? • Does your company have formal training programs for new hires and continuing learning opportunities and cross-training for existing team members?


What are the profit-killers in your business that you know you should fix, but haven’t had the time to address? • What are you going to do about that now? You’re sure to think of your own set of questions that are worthwhile and need asking. Hopefully, this composite has sparked ideas you can use to make 2017 one of your company’s most profitable years yet. •

Winter 2017 • 101


Here’s What’s


This issue, the spotlight is on three applications that are great tools for both personal and professional use. They include productivity-booster and time-saver applications that help you track your to-do’s and speed your communication, plus an app that simplifies photo storage and management. Check them out!



Do you live by your list? Then you might like Todoist. The tool offers a “beautifully simple to-do list and task manager built for the pace of modern life,” and it’s been called a life-changing app by many major media outlets. Todoist lets you manage tasks from anywhere, even offline. You can add, complete and re-schedule tasks from your phone, tablet, desktop, browser, email, smartwatch and offline, with 24/7 synching across all your devices. You can track tasks, deadlines, start/end dates and recurring events. The app lets you share projects, assign tasks, and add comments, plus receive instant notifications whenever collaborators make changes.



Want free cloud storage for your photos? Automatic backup? Ever (Everalbum, Inc.) frees camera space so you don’t have to delete old pictures in order to make room for new ones you want to take.

The app offers unlimited storage in high resolution; lets you back up from anywhere you store photos; and makes it easy for you to print your pictures and turn them into bound photobooks. Wired magazine called the app “a challenge to Google and Dropbox for storing photos online."



HipChat is a group and private chat that’s a fast and easy way to send and receive messages among individuals, teams, offices and departments. You can install it from the browser on all your machines and devices (Mac, Windows, Linux, iPhone/iPad, Android) and download an accompanying app for smartphones. HipChat messaging means you can save time and “stop losing momentum with reply-to-all wars and buried email messages, while cutting to the chase with @mentions and get the answer you need.” It also lets you conduct one-to-one or group video chats and share your screens with others and with groups. All the apps mentioned are available on the App Store and/or Google Play. 102 • Winter 2017


For the fifth consecutive year, the GAWDA Foundation is continuing its scholarship program, an initiative that awards tuition assistance funds to students who are following educational paths that can lead them to careers in the welding and gases distribution industry. T h e G AW D A F o u n d a t i o n Scholarship was created in 2011 to provide support to recipients during their formal education. The scholarships are open to employees and immediate family members of current GAWDA member companies. The deadline for applications is February 15. For this year, 12 scholarships of $2,000 each are available.

The program is funded through GAWDA member contributions, and 2017’s member support initiative has begun, according to President Mark Raimy. GAWDA matches all member contributions up to a total not to exceed $25,000, doubling the value of member contributions.

$94,000 TO DATE

Since 2013, the GAWDA Foundation has awarded a total of 47 scholarships, providing $94,000 in tuition assistance to those recipients. In 2013, 11 scholarships were awarded; in 2014, 15 were authorized and 14 were awarded; and in 2015, 15 were authorized and 12 were awarded. Last year, GAWDA awarded 10 scholarships. Students who have received a schol-

arship in the past are eligible to reapply for this year’s awards, notes John Ospina, GAWDA executive director. Applications and detailed information can be found at: scholarship/ or by contacting GAWDA Accounting Associate Bruce Ellenbogen at 954-367-7728 or Applicants are asked to submit the following information. Forms can be found on GAWDA’s website.


A letter of reference from the GAWDA member company documenting employment experience and/or relationship to GAWDA member company of the applicant. A personal statement (300-500 Winter 2017 • 103


words in length, typewritten and double-spaced) documenting the applicant’s ambitions, goals, leadership activities and any other factors to assist the committee in judging eligibility. Applicants are also welcome to highlight their demonstrated timeliness and completion of assignments; creativity in solving problems; demonstrated responsibility on an initiative of their own; the ability to work well with others; organizational skills, such as multi-tasking and time management; participation in class, campus and outside organizations; general background information; and career objectives. Applicants also need to submit

an official transcript, sent directly from the college or university they attend. For high school students entering their first year of college, an original official high school transcript must be provided. To address consideration of financial need, students are asked to complete the form’s Statement of Unmet Financial Need, as completed by an accredited academic institution, even if no FAFSA was filed. They also must submit verification of enrollment (also completed by the college or university). Award recipients also will be asked to submit a 5-by-7 headand-shoulders color photograph for publicity purposes.

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104 • Winter 2017


GAWDA’s Women of Gases & Welding Committee (WGW) also has news of the availability of a special new scholarship designed to promote the education of women in the gases and welding distribution field.

The WGW Committee plans to award a $1,000 annual scholarship this year to a female student who is pursuing a certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s degree in welding or a related discipline. WGW Committee Member Judy Miller, of WESCO Gas & Welding Supply, Inc., Prichard, Ala., said the group has established the program with a $20,000 endowment. The program’s initiation in 2016 is the culmination of three years of fund-raising events by the WGW Committee and made possible by the generous contributions of GAWDA member businesses, she reports.

▶Working With AWS

Working along with the American Welding Society (AWS) Foundation, the WGW Committee plans to award a $1,000 annual scholarship this year to a female student who is pursuing a certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s degree in welding or a related discipline, and who is eager to begin her career in the gases and welding distribu-

HQ & PROGRAM NEWS tion industry, according to Miller. This year, applications are being accepted until March 1. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and have at least a high school diploma and a 2.8 overall grade point average. They do not need to be members of the American Welding Society. Applicants also must provide the following information and have the noted statuses: • A letter stating how they will use their welding education • Be enrolled as either a full- or part-time student • Be a citizen of the U.S. • Reside within AWS District 20 boundaries Additional information can be found at:

Air Products was inspired to develop the program by the GAWDA’s Women of Gases & Welding Committee efforts, according to the company. The program is aimed at helping women develop the skills required to pursue technical careers, and is viewed by Air Products as “a

continuing effort to ensure America has the highly skilled workforce needed to compete in today’s global economy,” as well as to assist its own personnel recruiting efforts, the company says. More information is available at:

▶American Welding Society Has Scholarships, Too

In addition, applications are now being accepted for The American Welding Society’s AWS Foundation scholarships.

The AWS Foundation has helped students from around the world realize dreams of an education and career in the welding industry since its beginnings in 1991, AWS reports. The scholarships cover school expenses such as tuition and fees, books and related supplies. Recipients can be attending vocational schools, community colleges and four-year universities. Six levels of scholarships are awarded: Welder Training Scholarship; District Scholarships; District-Named and Section-Named Scholarships; National Scholarships, International Scholarships; and Educator Scholarships. More information about them is available on the AWS web site at: foundation/page/scholarships.

▶ Air Products-AWS Scholarship Offered

There’s more good news for women students who are interested in getting tuition assistance for their technical-career educations. In 2012, GAWDA Member company Air Products dedicated a sum of $50,000 to establish the Air Products Women of Gases & Welding Scholarship, an initiative that is managed by the American Welding Society Foundation. A $2,500 scholarship is awarded each year to a young woman who is pursuing higher education in a welding or engineering discipline. Winter 2017 • 105


Contact Booth Committee Looking at Enhancements Benefits for Both Distributors and Suppliers are Being Explored


AWDA’s Contact Booth Program is getting a 360-degree review of sorts, with the goal of ensuring that the product and service showcase event held at the spring and fall conventions best meets the needs and expectations of GAWDA supplier and distributor members. A new Contact Booth Program Committee was established in the fall as one of 2016-2017 GAWDA President Mark Raimy’s earliest and most important initiatives, notes John Ospina, GAWDA’s executive director. He says that members of the Committee have been meeting by conference call ever since, soliciting ideas, gaining input, assessing how various aspects of the showcase can be enhanced and determining how attendance can be boosted. Committee members’ efforts have included addressing concerns and interests that distributors and suppliers have expressed about the program, according to Raimy, of distributor member Welders Supply Company, and Melissa Perkins, the committee chair, of supplier member Electronic Fluorocarbons. The committee is developing tweaks to the already-successful program in order to create the best possible business outcome for both the suppliers who financially support the event and the distributors who spend hours attending it, according to Ospina. That includes looking at how to streamline registration, provide more before-show communication about reservation deadlines and space availability and increase the ease of on-site logistics and boost communication during the show. One area of focus is how GAWDA’s new app can be used to draw more distributors to supplier booths, Ospina says. Another is looking at how to make GAWDA’s booth a hub of activities, such as the place to meet GAWDA consultants, to obtain information and to learn about show prizes and prize program winners, he adds. The committee also is exploring how using technology can improve the event communication and create greater participation value. It also plans to do a survey of GAWDA distributor members to get their assessment about the kinds of value they’d like to receive from attending the program, adds Ospina. 106 • Winter 2017


Formed as an additional response to supplier feedback about the program, the first committee was organized by Raimy, who selected the committee chair and some of the current committee members, and then opened seats up to other suppliers, Ospina notes.

“For a supplier, a well-attended contact booth program creates the possibility of making more contacts in a three-hour period than you might otherwise make during the entire trip.” — Melissa Perkins, Committee Chair Raimy says structuring supplier input through a formal GAWDA committee “is a message to both sides of the membership that we’re listening to feedback from suppliers and distributors and taking it seriously.” He explains that the committee’s composition allows suppliers to have more direct involvement in formulating a show that directly affects them, while taking advantage of the knowledge they have from attending similar shows. “Suppliers feel they want to support GAWDA and support the program, but there was also the feeling that they don’t get the best return on experience as compared to the other shows they go to,” he says. “Our goal is to reverse that opinion and make our show the best one our supplier members go to all year.” Melissa Perkins, committee chair, says she understands the investment suppliers make and the importance of boosting satisfaction with the experience. “For a supplier, a well-attended contact booth program creates the possibility of making more contacts in a three-hour period than you might otherwise make during the entire trip. If a distributor stops by and gets involved,

HQ & PROGRAM NEWS that new interest could create the revenue to cover the cost to send everyone from the company to the GAWDA event.”


Committee members George Ratermann, president of Ratermann Manufacturing Inc.; Jim Horvath, vice president, distributor relations for ESAB Welding and Cutting; and Robert “Bob” Ranc, director of sales at Weldcoa, echo the program’s significance and value. Ranc says he appreciates the opportunity GAWDA has created for vendors to have a bigger voice in the program. “In over 25 years of my involvement, we’ve never had that committee. Giving vendors an opportunity to voice some thoughts and ideas will be good for GAWDA as a whole,” he believes. For Weldcoa, the show provides the opportunity to present the company’s story and get together with a distributor’s key executives, Ranc adds. From Horvath’s point of view, the event is an important part of a supplier’s outreach and sales strategy, since a supplier’s senior management team usually staffs the booth, permitting direct dialog between supplier and distributor decision-makers, he says. Ratermann agrees that the function presents the opportunity to personally thank the distributor owners and management for their business. Ratermann says he believes the committee presents a unique chance to ask: ‘What’s really the goal of the Contact Booth Program today?’ and ‘What things can vendors do to bring value and attract distributors during the contact booth program?’ He is interested in seeing exhibitors bring value to distributors by what they offer in their booths and the information they convey, he says. He also thinks the event can be structured “in a way that makes the experience fun and educational, presents opportunities to meet and have discussions you wouldn’t normally have, and offers the ability to expand our relationships and product knowledge.”

Program’s Face-to-Face Opportunity = High Value

What’s nice is it puts the majority of the distributors in one place at one time, versus the time and money that would need to be spent going to visit all of them. We find it very valuable. It’s a means of thanking the customers we already have, and having the opportunity to talk with potential customers we haven’t done business with yet.

BOB RANC Director of Sales Weldcoa

The program affords the opportunity to renew existing relationships and create new ones. There is no better way of communicating than face-to-face. This is a great venue for distributor-supplier problem resolution.

JIM HORVATH VP, Distributor Relations ESAB Welding and Cutting


The committee seats are designed to rotate out every six months or so, allowing more suppliers to get involved without an extended waiting period, according to Melissa Perkins. She notes that meetings are held at least monthly by conference call. The first committee rotation includes members Abydee Butler Moore, of Butler Gas; Tom Chromy, CHART; Jim Lisiecki of Linde; Jim O’Connor of Norton Abrasives/ Saint-Gobain; Adam Strouse, Flame Technologies; Eric DeBaker, Metal Man Work Gear; and Tim Hudson of GAWDA Media; and Ratermann, Ranc and Horvath.

We appreciate the effort customers make to visit us at our booth and see the newest things we’re offering. Especially important to us is the feedback we get from our customers on the service we’re giving, as well as hearing about their product needs.

GEORGE RATERMANN President Ratermann Manufacturing Inc. Winter 2017 • 107







190 Distributor Members 280 Supplier Members 360 Family Members/Guests

830 TOTAL PARTICIPANTS RECOGNITIONS FOR VOLUNTEERS GAWDA applauded those members who have served the association and who this year completed their terms on its Board of Directors, presenting honoring plaques “in grateful appreciation for outstanding and valued service” to: • Robert Anders, Holston Gases Inc. • Gary Halter, Indiana Oxygen

Company • Ned Pontious, Norco - also

recognized for service to the Executive Committee. • Past President Bill Visintainer,

Atlas Welding Supply Co., who remains on the Board for another two years. GAWDA also recognized three volunteers who provided their time and valuable efforts in the past year, presenting them with recognition plaques: • Kevin Falconer, Mineapolis

Oxygen, Insurance Trustees Committee • Ned Lane, Cee Kay Supply,

Government Affairs Committee • Abydee Butler Moore, Butler

Gas Products, Member Services Committee 108 • Winter 2017

WEMCO EXCELLENCE AWARD The WEMCO Award was presented for “Esteemed Excellence in Welding” to GAWDA Member company Norco. Accepting the award on stage (pictured above) were: James Kissler, CEO; Ned Pontious, President; Robert Gerry, Executive Vice President-Industrial; and Nicole Kissler. Presenting from WEMCO’s Executive Committee were Jeffrey Deckrow and Dave Sullivan. Sullivan recognized the Norco company’s extensive commitment to the welding and gases industry through its educational support of the Norco School of Welding and the Norco Fab Lab; as well as a high school program that introduces young people to the industry, for Norco’s partnerships with local welding institutions, for involvement with the USA Welding competition, and for support of groups such as Future Farmers of America and vocational-technical schools and community agencies throughout the company’s service areas. The good works of Norco’s Kissler Family Foundation also were cited.

CGA AWARD Compressed Gas Association President Mike Tiller announced two GAWDA members as winners of the distributor safety awards for 2016. CTR, of Rock Hill, S.C., with owner Jeff Winegar and president Jim Payne, as winner in the over-100,000 employeeexposure hours category. Spectrum Gas Products Inc., of Anaheim, Cal., with Darren Bradley as president, won in the under-100,000 employeeexposure hours category.

MAUI WELCOME Dancers provided a traditional welcome to start the Annual Convention.



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The peaceful waves and swaying palms of a Maui shoreline made a scenic backdrop for the AC welcome reception. Winter 2017 • 109

HQ & PROGRAM NEWS PASSING THE GAVEL The transition of 2015-16 president Bill Visintainer, right, to Mark Raimy included humor and farewell gifts.

A FAMILY AFFAIR Echoing GAWDA’s family atmosphere, incoming President Mark Raimy, center, brought his family onstage to accept the new role. From left are Raimy’s wife Kathryn, son Jack, daughters Lindsay and Lauren, and his father, Bruce.

HAWAII VIEW American Welding & Gas Inc.’s Paul Scott and Lisa Scott enjoy the balcony view above the Grand Wailea reflecting pool during a hospitality reception.

FIRST TIMERS WELCOMED New supplier member attendees Donna and Timothy Mast, of CryoWorks, Inc., met and mingled at events and by hosting a Contact Booth program show booth.

PIANO MAN Outgoing President Bill Visintainer added to the farewell reception’s excitement when he took to the piano to pound out some favorite rock n’ roll tunes.

110 • Winter 2017

EIGHT PRESIDENTS The Maui AC drew eight former Association presidents. From left are: Jack Butler, Jack Dammann; Craig Wood; Gary Stoneback; Tom Biedermann; Britt Lovin; Jim Kissler; Ned Pontious.


WELCOMED Twenty-six members attended the 2016 Annual Convention as first-timers. They were either introduced to the organization in Maui, or were attending their first GAWDA Annual Convention. They included: • David Fritz, Acme Cryogenics

Carbo White Flap Discs • Grind and finish at the same time with one flap disc • Good cut rate and life on a variety of materials provided by strong, quality zirconia alumina abrasive • Great initial price point, stock offering – perfect for jobs where performance is not measurable

• Brian Hamilton, Advanced Specialty Gases • Marie Ffolkes, Air Products • Luis Rico, AOC Mexico • Rommel Oates, Aquahydrex • Ray Rosel, Artotic • Summer Sun, Artotic • Bill Cleveland, ASM/American Standard Manufacturing • David Barr, CIMC Enri • Amy Brueks, City Carbonic • Timothy Mast, Cryoworks • Donna Mast, Cryoworks • Andrea Striegel, Dataweld • Anthony Avila, ESAB • Andy Phillips, HIAB USA • Tim Cachia, Inweld • Devon Goodman, Kaplan Industries • Ric Phillips, ORS NASCO • Alan Avis, Otto Arc Systems • Brian Buckley, R & M Welding Products • Marzena Muskan, T.W. Smith • Stephen Lichtenheld, Terrace Supply • Vince Wiley, Tyrolit Industrial Abrasives • Fausto Muniz Querido, WEH Technologies • Scott Greisen, Weldship • Yinqui Xu, Wref’s Welding

© Saint-Gobain June 2016. Winter 2017 • 111



David Nelsen

What should you do if someone on social media knocks your company for all the world to see? David Nelsen, who addressed the annual convention, has a counterintuitive recommendation: “If someone does criticize you, say thank you. They’ve given you a great gift. You have a chance to turn a critic into a fan,” he advises. Nelsen, of Dialog Consulting Group, says social media platforms, where employees review their employers (or, often, ex-employers), Twitter and Google reviews, as well as YouTube and LinkedIn, all offer opportunities to build your company’s reputation. He points out that today, social media is more trusted than advertising, and it also is sought out. Nine out of 10 internet users visited a social media site every month last year, he says. LinkedIn, Nelsen says, has features to help business people find the right contact, even if they don’t know anyone at the target company. LinkedIn also offers groups that can uncover people and facts about other businesses, he says. Nelsen lays down three questions to ask when asked to “link” to someone on LinkedIn: Do I know them professionally? Do I respect them professionally? Would I be delighted to help them? If the answer to all three questions is yes, accept the link. If not, don’t. Regarding YouTube, it is surpassed only by Google as a search site, Nelsen says. “So if you’re not putting video content on YouTube, you’re missing out on the world’s second largest search engine.”



Rick Wilson

112 • Winter 2017

Market forces are driving some distributors and suppliers to cut back on what they do for customers, but instead they should work together to better serve customers or else both may face a “cycle of doom.” That’s the advice consultant Rick Wilson shared with GAWDA members at a workshop during the Annual Convention. “Long-term winners elevate the market, not race to the bottom,” says Wilson, of Chicago Strategy Associates. He minimized the threat of online competition, noting that only 8 percent of retail sales take place over the internet. He shared a video depicting how office furniture maker Herman Miller sets up offices more quickly and with less disruption than its competitors can. That competitive edge saves buyers time and other expenses, reducing pricing pressure on Herman Miller, Wilson adds. Success depends on continuing to offer customers what they cannot get from anyone else, he says. Suppliers and distributors can work together to give customers an irreplaceable experience. Wilson’s advice: “Start with the customer journey and walk back.” That means resisting the urge to cut back on adding value in order to save costs. Cutting back, Wilson warns, invites a cycle of doom, in which suppliers and distributors do less and less for their customers until, in time, customers don’t need them at all. Wilson illustrated that reality with a chart, complete with skull and crossbones.


Seifi Ghasemi, at left, with Marie Ffolkes, an Air Products Division President, offered an AC keynote.


GHASEMI: COMMITTED EMPLOYEES, GREAT SERVICE ARE THE DIFFERENTIATORS THAT CREATE SUCCESS Motivated, committed employees are the true differential in any company’s long-term success, and the degree of motivation and commitment employees feel toward their employer is directly related to the kind of company culture that its leaders have created. That observation was offered by Seifi Ghasemi, chief executive officer, president and chairman of Air Products, of Allentown, Pa., in speaking to GAWDA members and guests attending the 2016 annual convention. The company (NYSE:APD) has 19,000 employees in 50 countries, 2015 fiscal sales of $9.9 billion and a current market capitalization of $30 billion. As one of the conference’s keynote speakers, Ghasemi told how he’s often asked by business leaders about the key to his company’s success. When he says it’s the commitment of employees, “a lot of times they laugh at me; that’s fine. I tell them the real challenge in any company is to fundamentally win the hearts and minds of the people. I don’t mean that people love management, [but] having the culture that they believe, on their own, that the success of the enterprise is good for them and their families.” Having employees who give 100 percent happens when management recognizes and shows that the work and contributions of every single person matters, he says. “Who has a more important job at Air Products?” he asks. “Me, or the driver in the truck who, in the middle of the night at 20-below zero, delivers product to our customers?” Many times, in larger companies, “people forget who is actually paying their salary. People think I’m paying their salary, but that’s not the case. The company only exists if you have customers. Customers pay the salary of everybody, and that is why it’s essential that everybody spends their time taking care of the

customers and their needs.” Saying he has admired the attributes of independent distributors through 37 years in the industry — “for their entrepreneurial spirit, the vision to drive your business forward, and to start from nothing and build new businesses” — Ghasemi outlined characteristics he works to model: • Customer service as everyone’s Job No. 1 • A total commitment to safety as fundamental • Excellent customer service and safe operations resulting from people with the right attitude • Simplified and focused business processes • An entrepreneurial spirit and empowered employees • Rewarding performers and creating differentiation when employees do well • Direct, open and honest communication. Ghasemi notes how forecasts of the demise of independent distributors made 20 to 30 years ago have proven wrong. “You are a vital part of our industry, a major part of our industry,” he says. “I really admire you for that. You are still a major force in this industry, and I think you will be for many, many years to come. I think it is just about impossible for majors to serve the needs of the customer and deliver with the efficiency that you can do.” Ghasemi says that efficiency and other attributes drive the company’s stand toward independents. “I believe very strongly independent distributors will survive, and I think you will beat the majors. And that is why at Air Products, we absolutely have no intention of competing with you in the business you have. Because I know if we do that we will lose them [customers]. So what we want to do is be your partners, not your competitors.” Winter 2017 • 113



WITH HUMOR AND CANDOR, HUCKABEE REFLECTS ON AMERICAN JOBS, TAXES AND POLITICS Two-time presidential candidate, former governor, media personality and best-selling author Mike Huckabee presented his views on taxes, jobs and the erosion of the American political system to a full audience of GAWDA members who seemed, as evidenced by the standing ovation they gave him, to relate. Tales about his GOP nominations and how he’s been mistaken for past Republican presidential nominees Mitt Romney and Bob Dole had the audience chuckling. On a serious note, he described the “seething rage” of 2016 voters, citing a system he says is corrupted “by three magic words, ‘follow the money.’” Politics is not for the faint of heart, he relates, likening it to “sticking your face in the blades of a fast-moving fan.” More so, running for office in America today “has become nothing less than savagery, and sadly it’s manipulated so much by the media,” he observes. “The reason I think America is so frustrated with the political system is that we sometimes feel that nobody is doing anything to make America better, they are just doing things to make things better for themselves.” He suggests term limits for federal legislators, and for judicial seat-holders, too, which would prevent the ability “to transform this country by legislating from the bench.” Huckabee also advocates converting to a consumption-based, rather than income-based, tax code, saying the latter is “a tax on productivity.” It creates a situation where, “everyone is running from the tax code,” thus causing an exodus of American jobs overseas, he contends. Regardless, America’s small businesses are “the backbone, the bloodline of America,” he contends. Its leaders also are 114 • Winter 2017

the people who understand how the economy actually works, he says. “You and I know government doesn’t make jobs,” he relates. “All it can do is get the heck out of the way so the private sector can make jobs.” Even as the first male in his family “to graduate from high school, much less college,” Huckabee says college isn’t for everyone and thinks many young Americans should instead learn a trade. “You can’t outsource the trades, and that’s the one thing that has a solid future in this country,” he believes. Humorously recounting his modest upbringing, Huckabee notes how his first exposure to the gases and welding industry was the car repair shop his firefighter father ran as a sideline. Because Huckabee lacked manual dexterity, his family decided his future lay elsewhere. And since Lava was the only soap stocked in his household, “I was in college before I found out it isn’t supposed to hurt when you take a shower. Some of you here at this resort will have an exfoliation while you’re here. Ladies, I’ll give you a hint: a bar of Lava will do the same dang thing.” That background is why Huckabee understands that distributors and other leaders in the $7 billion welding and gases industry “put food on the table for thousands of families, give them good jobs, decent wages, respectful benefits. You are America.” It’s also why he believes there are, “too few Americans who sign the front of the paycheck as well as the back of one.” Knowing how business owners sometimes must take funds from their personal accounts to keep their businesses going, “makes you appreciate so very much of what it takes to get a business up and going,” he says.

HQ & PROGRAM NEWS ENJOYING THE AC GETAWAY Andy, Janet and Courtney Castiglione, of WestAir Gases & Equipment Inc., with the latest family addition, Saylor.

IN FROM TEXAS This Conroe Welding Supply Co., Inc. team came to Maui from Conroe, Texas: Roy Morton, Ruby Morton, Chelly Mercer and Bryan Mercer.

NETWORK TIME Outdoor breakfasts were popular times to network while enjoying the scenery.

Winter 2017 • 115

INDUSTRY NEWS Continental Carbonic and Pennsylvania Grain Processing Reach CO2 Agreement

Continental Carbonic Products, Inc. (CCPI), of Decatur, Ill., a subsidiary of Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc., has entered into an agreement with Pennsylvania Grain Processing, LLC (PGP) for the supply of carbon dioxide from PGP’s Clearfield, Pa., grain processing plant. CCPI will be building a high-capacity liquid CO2 and dry ice manufacturing facility adjacent to the PGP plant in Clearfield. Continental Carbonic says it has had significant growth in its core business of producing and delivering dry ice and liquid carbon dioxide to its customers. CCPI’s Clearfield facility will allow for continued growth and employ more than 60 full-time workers when running at full production. “Continental Carbonic Products is a significant force in the U.S. dry ice market,” says Eric Meeuwsen, general manager of PGP. “We are pleased to have them join us at our Clearfield grain processing plant, and look forward to advancing our common business interests, as well as contributing to the growth and prosperity of the Clearfield area, Meeuwsen says. “Pennsylvania Grain Processing is exactly the type of high-quality, high-integrity strategic partner we look for when we expand our business,” says John Funk, president of Continental Carbonic.

General Distributing Receives Award General Distributing Company, of Great Falls, Mont., received a 2016 Family Business award from Montana State University’s Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship State Farm Insurance Family Business Day in Bozeman, Mont. General Distributing won the award in the large business category, which includes businesses with more than 50 employees.

From left, Ed Gunter, Brian Bliss, Glenn W. Bliss and Monte Ruud with the Montana State University Family Business Award. 116 • Winter 2017

WestAir Adds Two California Locations

WestAir Gases & Equipment, Inc. has opened two new locations in Fontana and Long Beach, Calif. “These locations will provide accessibility for our expanding customer base and allow us to continue our commitment to exceptional customer service in those areas,” says President & COO Steve Byers. Headquartered in San Diego, Calif., WestAir is the largest independent distributor of gases and equipment in the Southwest with locations in California, Arizona and Texas.

WestAir’s new Fontana location

Griffin Named General Manager at Rotarex North America Robert “Rob” Griffin has been named general manager of Rotarex North America. Griffin succeeds Isabelle Schmitz, who will focus on her responsibilities as president of the newly-created Rotarex Solutions Division, as well as for the corporate board of directors. Griffin joins Rotarex from Isolatek International, a leader in fireproof insulation, where he was the director of operations. Prior to joining Isolatek, Griffin spent 13 years with Linde in roles of increasing responsibility in plant management, sales engineering, and product management. “Rob brings strong strategic and operational experience in the gas sector, which will be important to lead expansion of our business in North America and Mexico,” says Philippe Schmitz, deputy CEO for Rotarex Group. Griffin is a 1996 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and served six years in the U.S. Army as a field artillery officer. He holds a BS in Systems Engineering from the Academy, as well as an MBA and MS in Finance from Indiana University.


Cavagna Group Expanding ERP System to Include Cavagna North America

Cavagna Group, of Brescia, Italy, will expand its new ERP system to include its subsidiary, Cavagna North America. Cavagna Group is working with SAP. “The implementation of SAP represents the company’s single largest technology infrastructure investment in our 70-year history,” said Ezio Cavagna, group president. “As we launch SAP here in North America, we recognize that it will optimize our information exchange globally. The resultant efficiency will allow us to continue to provide our customers with the highest quality LPG and compressed gas products in the world,” said Richard Darché, president, North America.

Mathey Dearman Donates to Scholarship Mathey Dearman, of Tulsa, Okla., has made a $1,500 contribution to the Pipeliners Local Union 798 Scholarship Fund. The Pipeliners Voluntary Fund Scholarship Program was

developed in 1969 in recognition that the continued progress of organized labor depends on educating youth so they may promote unionism in their professions. “Mathey recognizes the importance of supporting the educational aspirations of today’s students and is pleased to contribute to UA Local 798’s Scholarship Fund,” says Brandon Boyd, global sales manager.

Dippolito Retires from Carbide Industries Carbide Industries LLC has announced that Richard Dippolito retired January 1 after 36 years of continuous service in the calcium carbide and associated products business. Dippolito served as a sales repreRichard Dippolito sentative and later as sales manager, having started in the business with Airco Carbide (BOC) in 1980. His service continued through various



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Winter 2017 • 117

INDUSTRY NEWS company acquisitions. During his 36 years, his career included responsibilities in the industrial gas, primary iron and steel, primary aluminum, alloy, and chemical industries.

Saumier Named SUMIG USA Business Development Director SUMIG USA has appointed Steve Saumier director of business development. He will be responsible for developing new business opportunities in North America. Saumier has more than 30 years Steve Saumier of experience in various management positions. SUMIG manufactures in Brazil and distributes welding solutions worldwide. SUMIG’s USA corporate office is in Florida. The company says its “vision is to attain growth through key partnerships and leveraging our unique welding products and solutions.”

Lessmann Announces Distribution Agreement with Inweld Lessmann, the German maker of brushes based in Oettingen, Bavaria, has announced a distribution agreement with Inweld Corporation of Coplay, Pa. Lessmann is a family-owned business with more than 200 employees. For almost 70 years, Lessmann has been producing brushes exclusively in Germany. Lessmann brushes are used in the pipeline and welding industry. Inweld Corporation is a North American-based worldwide supplier to welding and industrial distributors since 1970. Inweld has an extensive inventory of welding supplies handled at employee-run distribution facilities in Coplay, Pa., Gastonia, N.C., Houston, Texas, and Oakland, Calif.

Western Enterprises Promotes Semelsberger

Kenny Semelsberger 118 • Winter 2017

Western Enterprises has promoted Kenny Semelsberger to product manager. Semelsberger will be responsible for market research and new product development, with a particular focus on products in Western’s gas regulation technology portfolio of regulators, manifolds, and pigtails.

Semelsberger holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Denison University and has been with Western Enterprises since 2014. Prior to that, he spent two years as a financial analyst.

Matheson to Build ASU to Supply Lotte Chemical in Louisiana Matheson, of Basking Ridge, N.J., has entered into an agreement with Lotte Chemical’s subsidiary, Lotte Chemical Louisiana LLC, to supply tonnage oxygen and nitrogen to their world-scale monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant, which is part of Lotte Chemicals’ $3 billion investment in Lake Charles, La. “The installations will be Matheson’s third and fourth new large-scale air separation units (ASUs) constructed in the Lake Charles area in the span of four years and reinforces Lake Charles as the anchor of our southern U.S. coast-to-coast atmospheric gas network,” said Scott Kallman, president and CEO of Matheson. “This investment not only significantly enhances the reliability of supply for our Lake Charles pipeline complex customers, but also further expands our argon capacity to support sales to our direct customers and independent distributors.”

Welding Materials Sales Adds Lombardo and New Warehouse John Lombardo has joined Welding Material Sales, of Geneva, Ill., as a relationship manager. He is responsible for distributor accounts in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California. He is a certified welder in MIG, TIG and stick processes and lives in Southern California. Welding Material Sales has also opened a new warehouse in Whittier, Calif., to service existing and new accounts on the West Coast, the company announced. Welding Material Sales says it will distribute its house brand, Blue Demon Welding Products, from this location.

Butler Gas Named a Best Place to Work Butler Gas Products was recognized by the Pittsburgh Business Times, for the second consecutive year, as a winner in the 2016 Best Places to Work. Based on employee engagement surveys, this program measures a wide range of workplace factors that impact employee satisfaction. The Best Places to Work competition recognizes workplaces where employees willingly go above and beyond in their work, advocate for the organization, and intend to stay in the future.

INDUSTRY NEWS “We would like to thank our associates for voting Butler Gas Products a 2016 winner of the Pittsburgh Business Times Best Places to Work,” the company shared in their recent e-newsletter. “Our only sustainable element of long-term competitive advantage is the degree of engagement and enthusiasm of the people who serve our customers.”

Rosenthal Joins GAWDA Member Services Committee Stephen Rosenthal of Economy Welding has joined GAWDA’s Member Services Committee. Rosenthal is vice president at the Sewickley, Pa., distributorship. The Member Services Committee’s purpose is to “focus on 1) communicating and educating both current and prospective members on the programs and benefits that GAWDA has to offer; 2) enhancing current offerings; 3) creating new programs that are in line with the needs of members; 4) recruiting new members and 5) retaining existing members.”

Rotarex Moves to New Jersey Rotarex has moved the company’s North American Headquarters from Mount Pleasant, Pa., to Hackettstown, N.J. The company says the move is part of a plan to improve customer service and efficiency by moving closer to its core customer base and into newer, more efficient production and warehousing facilities. Rotarex plans to run both facilities simultaneously for a short period of time to ensure the move does not impact customer deliveries. A small sales/customer-service contingent will remain in the Mount Pleasant area, while the move will add approximately 20 jobs to the Hackettstown area, Rotarex says. “This relocation is part of a move to improve our North American service levels by being closer to several of our key partners and the major distribution hubs. The address changes – but the great service only gets better,” says Robert Griffin, the newly-appointed Rotarex North America general manager.

ABICOR Binzel Named Seller for SpinArc ABICOR Binzel announced it has partnered with Weld Revolution LLC to be a national seller of their SpinArc torch, a 400-amp, air-cooled machine torch with a rotating welding wire. The partnership gives Binzel rights to market, sell and provide technical support for the SpinArc torch in tandem with Weld Revolution.

In Memoriam BILL KUBLER W.S. “Bill” Kubler, who retired in November 2015 after 47 years of continuous service to AWISCO NY Corp., passed away in late August after a valiant bout with cancer. Kubler served in many capacities over his long career at AWISCO, including general manager, vice president of sales and special accounts manager. “Bill started with my Dad, Bernie, in 1968 and was a fundamental part of the organization that grew to be the AWISCO of today,” says AWISCO President and former GAWDA President Lloyd Robinson. “My father and I are deeply saddened by his passing and express deepest sympathy to his family, friends and long-time colleagues.”

CATHY BENNETT Catherine Marie Bennett, 47, of North Aurora, Ill., passed away Nov. 25. The wife of John Bennett, executive vice president of Cyl-Tec, Inc., she was a regular attendee at GAWDA events. The two were wed in 1994 and had two children together, Jacqueline and Chase. Her obituary reported, “Cathy dedicated her life to raising her children and being an amazing mother and wife. She always believed God had a plan for her. She devoted herself to helping at-risk children through the Kids Hope USA organization even in her sickest times. She never complained about being in pain and was always very gracious of everyone who helped her. Everyone who met her loved her and she will be dearly missed.” Winter 2017 • 119

INDUSTRY NEWS Minneapolis Oxygen Announces Retirement; New Appointments

Minneapolis Oxygen Company, of Minneapolis, Minn., announces several personnel changes. James “Jim” Warrick, vice president of sales, retired at the end of 2016 after 42 years in the industry. He spent 37 years there as store manager, customer service and sales representative, and for the last 28 years, VP of sales. He also held positions with HR Toll, Nasco and Welders Supply/Dallas. Company President Mark Falconer cited Warrick’s service on Hypertherm’s advisory council, ESAB’S advisory board, AWS’s Executive Committee, tech school and technical college boards, and as an active GAWDA participant. “Jim’s background, knowledge and enthusiasm will be missed, but we wish him and his wife, Laura, the very best in retirement,” Falconer says. Dana Sorensen has become sales and marketing manager for Minneapolis Oxygen, according to Falconer. Sorensen started with the company in 2004 in customer service and also worked as a store manager and sales account representative.

He leads the Twin Cities-based sales team and organization-wide marketing efforts. Sorensen has been chairman of the local AWS section and has a business degree. Mike Horvat is now regional sales manager in the Duluth and Arrowhead regions. Horvat joined Minneapolis Oxygen in 2009 after 16 years in the industry, 12 of them in outside sales. Horvat will continue as the outside representative in the Twin Ports area and will work to grow and manage sales and sales teams in that region, Falconer adds. Brian Henrickson has been named vice president of operations. He joined Minneapolis Oxygen in 2011, coming from American Welding and Gas. He grew up in the industry in a family-owned business, where he held every position from filler to president. His duties include overseeing plant and store operations and trucking for company locations, Falconer says. Henrickson is assisted by Bruce Heveron, plant manager, who will monitor plant operations, plant employees and drivers.




GAWDA Regional Meeting ▶ Houston, Texas


CGA Annual Meeting ▶ Coral Gables, Fla. (Biltmore Hotel)


AIWD Annual Convention ▶ Reno, Nev.




GAWDA Spring Management Conference ▶ Boca Raton, Fla.


IWDC Sales & Purchasing Convention ▶ Las Vegas, Nev.


OCTOBER NOVEMBER 120 • Winter 2017

GAWDA Regional Meeting ▶ Atlantic City, N.J. LDA Annual Membership Meeting ▶ Nashville, Tenn.


GAWDA Regional Meeting ▶ Seven Springs, Pa.


GAWDA Regional Meeting ▶ Lansing, Mich.


GAWDA Regional Meeting ▶ Sunriver, Ore.


GAWDA Regional Meeting ▶ North Stonington, Conn.



GAWDA Regional Meeting ▶ Tampa Bay, Fla.


31- June 1


GAWDA Regional Meeting ▶ Birmingham, Ala.

GAWDA Regional Meeting ▶ Gettysburg, Pa.


GAWDA Regional Meeting ▶ Tulsa, Okla.


Essen World Trade Fair for Welding ▶ Essen Germany

1-4 31- Nov. 3 6-9

GAWDA Annual Convention ▶ New York, N.Y. IWDC Owners Meeting ▶ Amelia Island, Fla. FABTECH ▶ Chicago, Ill.


M&A SCORECARD Linde and Praxair Announce Merger Plans

As this issue went to press, GAWDA members Linde LLC and Praxair, Inc. announced plans to merge under the Linde name. That move would make the combined company the largest in the industry, topping even Air Liquide, which became the world’s largest gas supplier after the French company bought U.S.based Airgas, Inc. in May, 2016. Praxair and Linde have market values of more than $65 billion and combined annual sales of around $30 billion. The companies say the move is expected to create about $1 billion in annual synergies. In a Dec. 20, 2016 statement, the companies report that plans call for the combined entity to be governed by a single board of directors with equal representation. They say Linde’s Supervisory Board Chairman, Wolfgang Reitzle, will be chairman of the new company’s board and Praxair’s chairman and CEO, Steve Angel, will be CEO of the new firm and also a member of the board of directors. The new company would be formed and domiciled in a neutral member state of the European Economic Area, with the CEO based in Danbury, Conn., per the statement. The companies report that the transaction is to consist of all stock, with Linde shareholders receiving 1.54 shares of the new company for each Linde share held. Praxair shareholders are receiving one share of the new company for each Praxair share held. The announcement came three months after previous talks between the companies broke down. The merger yet requires shareholder and regulatory approval.

Acme Cryogenics Acquires Northeast Services Inc.

Acme Cryogenics of Allentown, Pa., has announced its acquisition of Northeast Services Inc. (NES). NES, with locations in New Jersey and Florida, specializes in providing cryogenic and industrial gas field services to industrial gas companies and end users including many of Acme’s existing customers. “Northeast Services has a solid reputation for performance and customer service in the industrial gas community. We are pleased to have them on our team and we look forward to expanding our combined capabilities,” says David Fritz, president and CEO of Acme.

Auguste Cryogenics Buys Taylor-Wharton’s Facility Auguste Cryogenics SK LLC has acquired Taylor-Wharton International’s European Operations, including a cryogenic pressure vessel manufacturing facility, Taylor-Wharton Slovakia, and the related warehouse/office complex of Taylor-Wharton Germany GmbH. The company says all employees have been retained and the facilities will operate under the Taylor-Wharton brand while undergoing a name change to Auguste Cryogenics. The newly restructured management team will be led by President Bobby Cushman, an industry veteran who has been working with the company since 2012, and General Manager Alex Soltis, who has been a leader in the company’s operation for more than 15 years. Taylor-Wharton originally opened its European operations in 1965. “Taylor-Wharton’s global identity had been deeply rooted in the strength of

the European manufacturing team,” Cushman says. “While we intend to transition the name to Auguste Cryogenics, we are not going to rewrite the history of this great company.” The company will continue to produce bulk and microbulk cryogenic storage vessels and modular piping skids serving the industrial gas and energy markets.

Central Welding Expands into Oregon Central Welding Supply, of Marysville, Wash., has acquired United Welding Supply Inc., of Portland, Ore. The business will become Central Welding Supply’s 21st retail outlet and its first location in Oregon. “We’re excited to extend our service-area footprint to include the complete Portland/Vancouver metropolitan market, and extending north through Western Washington to the Canadian border – the I-5 Corridor from Portland to Canada,” says Central Welding Supply CEO Dale Wilton. He says that market is a great fit for the products and services offered by Central Welding Supply, including industry-leading welding technology, in-house equipment repairs, rental welding gear, bulk and micro-bulk gas systems, safety supplies and medical, specialty and beverage gases. Wilton adds: “We also want to thank United founder Bruce Thompson and the Thompson family for choosing to entrust their company, staff and customers to the team at Central Welding Supply. The cultures and philosophies of both companies, as well as their dedication to responsive customer service, makes this a great fit for both organizations.” Winter 2017 • 121



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, membership services manager, or visit www.



Founded in 1985, R&M Welding Products, Inc. offers welding supplies and repair services as well as safety inspections, training and ISO certifications. The business has a second location in Dayton, Ohio.

Summit Aire, LLC, is an independent packager and distributor of medical and industrial gases, serving the Front Range and Western Slope of Colorado from facilities in Denver and Grand Junction.

105 Williams Way Wilder, Ky. 41076 859-572-7474 Brian Buckley, vice president

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505 51st Ave. Meridian, Miss. 39307 601-483-9331 Rusty Warden, vice president

Established in 1975, Mid-South Welding Supply supplies hardgoods as well as medical and industrial gases from its location in Meridian, Miss.

395 Frankcom St. Ajax, Ontario L1S1R4 Canada 905-683-3262 Ben Ciceri, CEO Bob Reader, president

Core Industrial Gases is a start-up distributor of CO2, argon, nitrogen and oxygen, as well as welding supplies in the greater-Toronto market.

The Executive brand of Filler Metals Stainless Steel - Carbon Steel Nickel Alloys - Aluminum

Doing the common uncommonly well Providing high quality filler metals in North America since 1997.




Winter 2017 • 123



7937 Wadsworth Road Guilford Township Ohio 44256-9759 330-321-2768 Michelle Cloonan, president, CEO

IMC Marks provides marking products for industrial, manufacturing, construction, instrumentation and specialized uses. Products are specifically formulated and produced from the paints, pigments and materials for bright, clear marks.


Shinn Fu Company of America, Inc. 10939 N. Pomona Ave. Kansas City, Mo. 64153 888-332-6419 Ron Weldon senior project manager

Shinn Fu Company of America, Inc. (SFA) handles marketing, sales, service and distributing products throughout North, Central and South America. In the past 40 years, SFA has become the leading distributor of hydraulic lift equipment in the United States and Canada.

4725 Piedmont Row Dr. Suite 600 Charlotte, NC 28210


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Bill McCloy 704.749.2730 Ashley Morrow 704.749.2721


12233 Williams Road Perrysburgh, Ohio 43551 419-482-6000 Andy Phillips applications manager

Hiab is a leading provider of on-road load-handling equipment and services. The company offers products, services and spare parts that are used in on-road transport and delivery. Products include Hiab loader cranes, Jonsered forestry and recycling cranes, Loglift forestry cranes, Moffett truck-mounted forklifts, Multilift demountables, as well as Del, Waltco and Zepro tail lifts.





128 Seaboard Lane Franklin, Tenn. 37067 615-377-4722 Jeremy Carter, CEO

Number One Cable Place North Chicago, Ill. 60064 847-688-1100 Jason Manaster, president

In 1983, founder Yat M. Chan acted on his dream to develop a company to service the welding industry with a line of welding gear, including gloves, flame-retardant clothing and shop protection. Weldas holds several U.S. patents, 13 brands and trademarks, three distribution centers worldwide and its own manufacturing facility that is ISO 9001 certified.

Kingwire has been a leader in the wire and cable manufacturing and distribution business for more than five decades. The Coleman family, which founded Coleman Cable more than 70 years ago, bought Kingwire in 1995. They have grown the business into one of the premier wire and cable companies in the United States.

G AW D A’s “ M e m b e r - G e t - A -

Member”initiative remains underway. All

current members are asked to nominate and recruit new distributor and supplier firms

with the idea that the best person to explain the advantages of Association membership

are those who regularly experience GAWDA benefits and values.

The initiative’s goal is to grow and

diversify the distributor and supplier organization, says John Ospina, executive

director. There are recognitions and prizes for members who recruit new members during the period between Annual Conventions.

For details, contact Membership Services Manager Stephen Hill (

and 954-367-7728, ext. 220), or visit: www.


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Winter 2017 • 125





1. Black Stallion’s New Finger and Hand Protection

4. Hobart Institute Updates Welding Curriculum

Black Stallion, of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., has introduced FlakFinger, an adjustable fiberglass sleeve that includes a finger pocket and a leather reinforced “tail.” Designed to be slid over a TIG glove and secured with a leather strap, Black Stallion says the device will keep fingers and the side of the hand protected during long welding runs. It can be worn for single-finger or two-finger protection. It can be used on the trigger hand or rod hand (or both). The tail can be positioned over the back of the hand to provide the heat-shielding protection of a back pad. While designed for TIG welding, Black Stallion says the device also fits most MIG and stick gloves for propping, sliding and shielding.

Hobart Institute of Welding Technology, of Troy, Ohio, has released the enhanced Gas Metal Arc Welding Basic (GMAWB) curriculum in full 1080 high definition. Video for the entire curriculum has been re-shot, Hobart says, “and shows incredible detail of the welding arc.” The DVD Program incorporates a 24-module GMAWB curriculum based on National Welding Codes and entry-level welding requirements as specified in QC10 and EG2.0, Hobart says. The complete curriculum includes three DVDs, one instructor guide and two written tests.

2. Cavagna Group Introduces New Cleanroom

The Cavagna Group’s Medical and Specialty Gases Devices Division, located in Ponte San Marco, Italy, has invested in a new cleanroom to support development of its range of products for medical and industrial gases. The company says the investment has strengthened its role as a strategic partner of the main global suppliers of medical equipment.

3. ArcOne Offers New Grinding Visor

A new grinding visor has been unveiled by ArcOne, of Taunton, Mass. The AirShield can be used with the company’s Vision and Carrera welding helmets, with optional adapters, ArcOne says. 126 • Winter 2017

5. Linde Gases Introduces Process Management Solution

A new process management solution for welding, AVANTO, has been introduced by Linde Gases, of Murray Hill, N.J. Incorporating an integrated software system, AVANTO manages the entire welding workflow, Linde says. It says the solution takes the workflow from job and welding procedure creation and management of welder qualifications to the allocation of resources required to complete a weld (such as; consumables, shielding gas, welding equipment and welder). Linde says AVANTO leverages cloud-based technology to capture, monitor and analyze the data that is required to manage a modern welding operation. Stored in a single, centralized repository, the data can be retrieved via PC or mobile devices, extending access and analysis of information beyond the office to the shop floor and remotely to any location.


10 9

6. Weiler Expands Bonded Abrasives Offering

Cresco, Pa.-based Weiler Abrasives Group, a maker of abrasives, brushes and maintenance products for surface conditioning, has expanded its Tiger bonded abrasives line and introduced new grinding wheels. Among the products being upgraded, according to the company, are Roughneck combo wheels. The new Type 28 grinding wheels are designed to switch between cutting and grinding pipeline applications and are for hard-to-reach areas, such as corners and fillets. The company says it has re-engineered its Roughneck and Wolverine 4-inch Stringer Bead wheels to deliver maximum cleaning efficiency and longer life. In addition, the Wolverine line of stringer bead wheels has been re-engineered. Previously known as Vortec Pro, these wheels now have 32 knots. Weiler has added a new flap disc to its Tiger coated abrasives lineup.

7. 3M Introduces Safety Blog, Equipment, Tape

The 3M Personal Safety Division has launched Safety Now & Next, a new blog that the company says can serve as a go-to resource for worker health and safety news, tips and questions. The Maplewood, Minn., company also introduced several new products, including a hard hat, headsets and no-residue packing tape. They include: the Elevated Temperature Hard Hat H-700T Series, PELTOR WS ProTac XP communication headsets, PELTOR ProTac III headsets and PELTOR WorkTunes Pro AM/FM radio headsets. In addition, the company has introduced Scotch Clean Removal Strapping Tape 8899HP. 3M says the tape can be removed without leaving a sticky residue or stain.

8. ESAB Launches Products at SEMA and FABTECH

ESAB Welding and Cutting Products, of Florence, S.C., launched products at the SEMA 2016 and FABTECH 2016 tradeshows, both held at the Las Vegas Convention Center in November. The products included the Rebel EMP 235ic (multiprocess) and Rebel EM 235ic (MIG-only) welding systems. The company also introduced the next generation of products in four categories: Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster manual plasma systems, Victor gas regulation, ESAB auto-darkening helmets and ESAB industrial Stick/TIG inverters.

9. Cyl-Tec Introduces High-Performance Bulk CO2 Stations

A new high-performance line of Titan bulk CO2 stations has been introduced by Cyl-Tec, Inc., the company announced. The new stations are available in 10-ton, 14-ton, 30-ton and 50-ton models and as horizontals and vertical models. “Titan is the most efficient way to store and dispense bulk CO2,” the Aurora, Ill., company says in a release.The stations are vacuum jacketed and provide the lowest overall cost of ownership, CylTec says. The stations are available for sale or lease.

10. FIBA Manufactures Largest Hydrogen Trailer Yet

FIBA Technologies introduced a 42-foot-long trailer for transporting hydrogen. The trailer has an 80,000-pound gross vehicle weight to match the DOT limit for the United States. Littleton, Mass.-based FIBA says the trailer can transport as much as 150,000 standard cubic feet (scf) of hydrogen, some 15,000 scf to 25,000 scf more than conventional trailers. That increase, as much as 20 percent, is significant to the market, FIBA says in a release. Winter 2017 • 127

ADVERTISERS INDEX ABICOR Binzel USA................................................125


Acme Cryogenics.................................................. 105

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

ALM Positioner........................................................84


AmWINS Program Underwriters...............................124

Norton Abrasives......................................................27

Anthony Welded Products...................................24, 52

ORS Nasco..............................................................63

Arcos Industries......................................................IBC


ASM- American Standard Manufacturing...................29


Bug-O Systems........................................................62

Ray Murray Inc.........................................................69

California Cylinder....................................................54

Reelcraft Industries..................................................39

Carborundum Abrasives.........................................111

RegO Cryo-Flow Products.........................................11

Catalina Cylinders....................................................47

Rotarex North America............................................117

Cavagna North America............................................70


CGW- Camel Grinding Wheels...................................23

Select-Arc, Inc........................................................ BC

Chart Industries.......................................................81

Sherwood Valve.......................................................95

CPV Manufacturing..................................................55

Sumig USA Corporation............................................71


Superior Products..................................................109


Taylor Wharton Cryogenics....................................9, 67

CTR....................................................................3, 44

Tech Air...................................................................38



ELCo Enterprises....................................................115

Thermco Instrument Corp.........................................16

Eleet Cryogenics........................................................9

Uniweld Products...................................................115


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

FIBA Technologies....................................................53

voestalpine Böhler Welding.......................................61

Gas Innovations/WWS..............................................54

Watson Coatings, Inc................................................89

Generant Company................................................123

WEH Technologies....................................................33

Genstar Technologies Company (GENTEC)..................87

Weiler Corporation……................................ ………8

Gullco International..................................................66


H & H Sales Company............................................125

Weldcote Metals......................................................99

The Harris Products Group .....................................IFC

Welding Alloys.......................................................104

Hobart Institute of Welding Technology.....................122

Weldship Corporation...............................................49

Kaplan Industries.....................................................21

Winton Products Co……………….…………….124

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

Worthington Industries……………....... ………….37

128 • Winter 2017

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Welding & Gases Today Q1 2017  

The first quarter 2017 issue of Welding & Gases Today. The official publication fo the Gases and Welding Distributors Association (GAWDA).