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The Official Publication of the Gases and Welding Distributors Association

The Business Forecast C E L E B R AT I N G



Meet the 2020 Board of Directors

First Quarter 2020


Charter GAWDA Member Purity Cylinder Gases


ITR Economics Interview


4 Steps to a Solid Digital Marketing Plan





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contents First Quarter • Winter 2020 • Volume 19, No. 1




PRESIDENT’S VIEW 20 Favorite Lessons Learned for 2020 BY ABYDEE BUTLER MOORE


DIRECTOR’S DESK GAWDA Brings on a New Safety Consultant BY JOHN OSPINA


EDITOR’S NOTE It’s Going to be a Great Year BY STEVE GUGLIELMO



What Annual Compliance Measures Should Members Take at the Beginning of the Year BY THOMAS L. BADSTUBNER, MICHAEL DODD & STEVE GUGLIELMO


Medical, Food/ Beverage and Specialty Gases Bulletin BY THOMAS L. BADSTUBNER


Drivers and Employers Should be Wary of CBD Products BY RICHARD P. SCHWEITZER, ESQ.


GA Provides Rich & Growing Set of Resources for Participating GAWDA Members BY RICHARD GOTTWALD




The Business Forecast

52 60 68 84







PURITY CYLINDER GASES A Strong Culture Propels Purity Cylinder Gases to More than 80 Years of Success BY STEVE GUGLIELMO

2 • Winter 2020

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contents First Quarter • Winter 2020 • Volume 19, No. 1


96 101



103 107 107










John Ospina jospina@gawda.org



Bill Brod billb@gawdamedia.com EDITOR IN CHIEF

Steve Guglielmo steveg@gawdamedia.com CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

Natasha Alexis nalexis@gawda.org CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Robin Barnes robinb@gawdamedia.com VICE PRESIDENT, SALES

Tim Hudson timh@gawdamedia.com RELATIONSHIP MANAGER

Hannah Gray hannahg@gawdamedia.com COVER DESIGN

Robin Barnes




46 48 50






4 Steps to a Solid Digital Marketing Plan


Search Engine Trends for the Gases & Welding Industry


Effective Leadership






Welding & Gases Today (USPS 22-975) is published quarterly: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, with additional publications in Spring and Summer. • Non-member subscription rate is $195 per year. • GAWDA members (key contacts and branch locations) receive the magazine as part of their dues. • GAWDA members can order additional yearly subscriptions (4 issues) for $40. • Welding & Gases Today is published by Data Key Holdings, LLC. on behalf of the Gases and Welding Distributors Association. • Periodicals postage paid at Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and at additional mailing offices (ISSN 1558-5344). • Editorial correspondence should be sent to Editors c/o editorial@gawdamedia.com • Advertising correspondence and materials should be sent to William Brod, Data Key Holdings, LLC., 1415 W. Genesee St., Syracuse, NY 13204; telephone (315) 445-2347, fax (315) 422-1721. • Postmaster: Send address changes to Welding & Gases Today, Gases and Welding Distributors Association, One Oakwood Blvd, Suite 195, Hollywood, FL 33020 • Welding & Gases Today is the official journal of the Gases and Welding Distributors Association (GAWDA) and carries news and announcements concerning GAWDA. • It is not responsible for contents or opinions other than association activities. • Contents are copyright ©2020 Data Key Holdings, LLC. • All rights reserved. • Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher. • Questions and comments can be sent via e-mail to Editors, c/o editorial@gawdamedia.com. • Data Key Holdings, LLC. reserves the right to print portions of all or any correspondence mailed to the editors without liability on its part and no such correspondence will be returned. • Visit Welding & Gases Today Online at www.gawdamedia.com.

4 • Winter 2020

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20 Favorite Lessons Learned for 2020 BY ABYDEE BUTLER MOORE

A Abydee Butler Moore is GAWDA’s 2019-2020 president, as well as President and COO of Butler Gas Products Company. She can be reached at 412771-7660 ext. 316 or abutlermoore@ butlergas.com

nd just like that, we are as far away from 1990 as we are from 2050. If you are like me, the 1990’s feel recent. A song came on today that I have not heard in a while, and I recited every lyric, smiling at the memories it brought back and laughing to myself how I ever managed to remember all the verses. I glanced at the screen in my car to see 1998 as the year the song came out. Wow, I thought, 12 years ago… wait, 22 years ago! This was more than a mental mathematical slip. Things from the past seem so recent when the exact same number of years into the future seems so far away. Perhaps it is the uncharted waters of what is yet to come that makes the future seem distant, whereas the past is known so we hold it close and sure. As I begin my year as GAWDA President, gaining traction on our 2020 Vision, I recall my past lessons that I hold close – my favorite, most helpful things that others have taught me – hopefully paying it forward to navigate the uncharted tomorrows of the New Year.

1. SEVEN TIMES EQUALS ONCE. Humans need to hear a new concept seven times before we truly absorb it. The seventh time we hear is like the real first. Our EOS implementer shared this nugget with us, and it has stuck with me ever since. (I guess he must have mentioned it seven times.) Repetition rules when building a culture; be a broken record with your team.

2. AN ORGANIZATION SERVES ITS PEOPLE AND ITS PEOPLE SERVE ITS CUSTOMERS. No matter your industry, we are all in the people business. People are our most important 6 • Winter 2020

asset, and if you want to outsmart the competition, you have to out-people the competition. When all else fails, invest in the best team players you can find, train them, empower them and turn them loose.

3. EVERY ACTION HAS A REACTION. When debating and evaluating various proposed solutions to an issue, play each one out. If this, then that. Identify the backlash, as it too may need its own solution. We always have a choice and there will always be some reaction, equal and opposite, to that decision. Thank you, Sir Isaac Newton.

4. IF OUR ORGANIZATION DID NOT EXIST, WHAT HOLE WOULD WE LEAVE IN THE WORLD? A vision-building seminar I attended encouraged this brainstorming discussion among our company’s executive team. Each person independently jots down his/her answer and then each person shares what he/she wrote. When you roll this into articulating a clear vision statement, this exercise keeps you focused on the why versus the what and how.

5. IF YOU DO NOT LIKE THE ANSWER, ASK A DIFFERENT QUESTION. Albert Einstein is credited with the theory that states if you have one hour to solve the world’s biggest problem, spend 55 minutes defining it and 5 minutes solving it. Questions are more powerful than answers. Invest your time and energy accordingly. Be the person who asks great questions, not the one who knows all the answers. Seek to understand before being understood.


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PRESIDENT’S VIEW 6. IF YOU WANT TO AFFECT BEHAVIORS, YOU HAVE TO AFFECT THINKING. I am a big Simon Sinek fan. Leaders cannot evoke sustainable change by dictating the whats and hows. We have to tap into the whys. The old adage rings true: teach your people to fish, don’t serve them meals.

7. IT IS NOT WHAT YOU KNOW, IT IS WHAT YOU DO. This is one of my favorites because it comes from my dad. He is one of the most action-oriented people I know. We are brainwashed into believing knowledge is power, but it is useless if you take no action with it.

8. MANAGE BY FACTS. Oh, how a data-free discussion lingers. The easiest way to improve an area of our business is to just start measuring it. Best yet is to quantify what ‘good’ in that particular area looks like, keep score on it daily, and publish the results weekly, benchmarking against the goal.

9. NOT HAVE THE GREAT IDEAS BUT CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT FOR GREAT IDEAS TO FLOURISH. This is the role of the leader. I dig Patrick Lencioni and I am thrilled he has agreed to be our keynote speaker at the GAWDA Spring Management Conference in Austin April 5th7th. He teaches that the single greatest advantage a company can achieve is organizational health.

tion. Being the source of the information does not ensure its existence – it will be there no matter what. It ensures its accuracy and perspective.

12. SMILE. You can never be wrong just doing the right thing. Be kind and approachable.

13. STYLE DEPENDS ON STAGE. I find it is important to be socially flexible. Chameleons get a bad rap (and rightfully so, if misinterpreted to mean drastic changes and loss of self), but an open approach with high tolerance thresholds strengthens networking. Never feel like you do not fit in somewhere you want to be; this is a self-inflicted limitation. Assimilate.

14. THIS TOO SHALL PASS. This lesson is most personal to me and it comes from my mom. She is the strongest, most diligent person I know. When life’s rainy days just will not let up, she reminds me that this too shall pass. Just as the good times end, they faithfully will begin again.

15. TREAT OTHER PEOPLE THE WAY THEY WANT TO BE TREATED. My nana would tell us this growing up, contrary to the belief that we should treat others the way we want to be treated. It is not about you and what you want, she would tell us, it is about the other person.

10. RPRS.


Right people, right seats. Gino Wickman and EOS teach that there are only four types of people-problems in organizations: right-person-wrong-seat, wrong-person-right-seat, wrong-person-wrong-seat, and even right-person-right-seat issues of being underappreciated or underutilized. Right/wrong people means their exhibition of your company’s core values and right/wrong seat reflects their ability to get, want or have capacity for the role.

Stephen Covey tells us to begin with the end in mind. This helps my brain immensely. If a situation is starting to circle and lose traction, especially in a meeting, I find it helpful to call a pause and pose to the group, for clarity, what objective are we trying to achieve? Everyone will have a noisy difference of opinion on which way to go unless the final destination is shared by all.

11. SHARE INFORMATION. This is another favorite lesson from my dad, who is endearingly and skillfully transparent with information. While this does not always make him the best recipient of a secret, it surely makes him a fantastic business leader. We expect our team to make good decisions, so they must have all the data in their arsenals to do that. Furthermore, in the absence of good information, people insert bad informa8 • Winter 2020


This is a lesson from Gary Keller’s The One Thing with inspiration from Greg McKeown’s Essentialism. As a new mom, a working business owner, and a volunteer, I sometimes field the question how do you balance it all? Candidly, I don’t. Or if you think I do, I fake it well. Balance is a false utopia and a farce that even if achieved in the moment, leads to lukewarm one-foot in/one-foot out distraction-laden vanilla. Instead, I find it more effective to limit my involvement to

PRESIDENT’S VIEW the things I love and engage in each one’s moments fully. I fail at everything when I try to do it all. Choose your spots, and be all-in.

18. YOU CANNOT BE MISQUOTED FOR SOMETHING YOU DO NOT SAY. Like all good lessons, this is one I forget until it bites me again. Toward the beginning of my career, I arrogantly stuck my nose in a decision that I should not have and created a rift between my dad and someone who was, at that time, a trusted advisor. I remember it like it was yesterday. My whiny “But Dad, I didn’t say that…” was quickly (and justifiably) shutdown with, “Abydee, you cannot be misquoted for something you do not say.”

as blatantly supporting that issue. Every time I walk past a piece of litter in our parking lot, for example, and do not stop to pick it up, I send the same message as if I was the one throwing it down.

20. YOU MISS 100% OF THE SHOTS YOU DO NOT TAKE. Whether we are talking sales or sports, Wayne Gretzky has it right on this one. Business is a game of probability, and effort and attitude will take you there. Aim high! (For my husband’s fellow hockey players and fans, he corrects that actually Wayne Gretzky would say Shoot low! as 71% of hockey goals are scored below the knees.) Happy 2020, GAWDA! I am honored and delighted to serve the industry as your GAWDA President.

19. YOU ENDORSE WHAT YOU TOLERATE. In a family business, and I imagine in any leadership position, you are under a magnifying glass. To overtly support or reject something sends a message, but the silent killer is that a lack of action around an issue is just the same


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Winter 2020 • 9


GAWDA Brings on a New Safety Consultant BY JOHN OSPINA


John Ospina is GAWDA’s executive director. He can be reached at GAWDA Headquarters in Hollywood, FL, via telephone at 844-2513219 or via email at jospina@gawda.org.

10 • Winter 2020

AWDA is pleased to announce the addition of Marilyn R. Dempsey, DBA Safety Dragons Workplace, LLC, to our list of GAWDA Safety Consultants. Many of you in the industry might already be familiar with Marilyn, as she is wellknown in our industry! This is very exciting news that we’re thrilled to announce in the first quarter issue of our 75th Anniversary Celebration! Marilyn brings a wealth of knowledge and an intimate background in safety and compliance to her new role as Consultant. She will work hand-in-hand with our existing Consultant team, joining Michael Dodd, Tom Badstubner, Richard P. Schweitzer, Brian McLaughlin and Alan Beaulieu as Consultants, each striving toward GAWDA’s mission to promote the safe operation and economic vitality of distributors of industrial gases and related welding equipment and supplies. Our Consultants act as the first line of defense to help members navigate through day-to-day questions and issues. Marilyn will be working closely with the other Consultants, specializing in OSHA, EPA, DHS and Plant Operations Safety. Marilyn has spent the last 30 years at Tech Air working in a variety of safety and quality-related roles, including the last seven years as Safety & Compliance Director. Her wide-ranging expertise involves governmental compliance, including registrations, audits, reporting to DOT, FDA, OSHA, DHS as well as state and local governmental agencies including Fire Departments, State Boards of Pharmacies and State Boards of Weights and Measures agencies. Her collaboration with operations and HR departments created an environment that

increased safety awareness. Monthly reporting to the C-suite and regional management created an atmosphere of accountability and competition between locations to have the Marilyn R. Dempsey safest, best-trained team within Tech Air. As Safety and Compliance Officer and later Safety and Compliance Director, Marilyn was responsible for the safety and compliance of all facilities. She tracked safety metrics, audit facilities and registration compliance. She also developed Tech Air University, a repository for training programs, and instituted continuous improvement training programs. GAWDA members may be familiar with her work on the GAWDA Safety Committee and the Government Affairs Committee. She will be one of 12 educational presenters at this year’s Spring Management Conference, presenting on the topic of “The True Cost of an Accident.” Beyond her affiliations with GAWDA and our committees, Marilyn also services on the Safety, Medical Gas and Food Gas committees of CGA, and is affiliated with the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). She holds a professional Certification in ASSP Safety Management. Please join us in welcoming Marilyn to the GAWDA Consultant team. For more information about her services and contact information, please go to www.gawda.org/join-us/consultants/. As always, thank you for your continued membership in GAWDA.

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It’s Going to be a Great Year BY STEVE GUGLIELMO

H Steve Guglielmo is GAWDA Media’s Editor-in-Chief. He has more than a decade of experience working with industrial associations. He can be reached at steveg@gawdamedia.com.

appy New Year! 2020 is going to be a momentous year for GAWDA, as we celebrate our 75th Anniversary this year. The association has come such a long way from its first meeting at the Hotel Van Cleve on November 13, 1945. Today, GAWDA is an independent organization and continues to be the authority in the gases and welding industry. But the association is not sitting on its laurels. It continues to work hard every single day to ensure that the next 75 years are as productive as the first 75. And a major reason for the association’s continued success is the devotion of its amazing members. I’m so excited for this issue of the magazine. The 1st quarter issue is always the Forecast Issue and both GAWDA distributor and supplier members continue to maintain record sales numbers. While there was some concern that 2020 would be level with 2019, it’s important to remember that, in many cases, 2019 was a record year. This issue, we also focused heavily on GAWDA’s Chief Economists from ITR Economics. In addition to the quarterly forecast that appears in each issue of the magazine (page 72), this issue also features a Q and A with ITR CEO Brian Beaulieu. We also spoke with five GAWDA members who are using that quarterly ITR Report in the strategic planning of their own companies. See how these members are extrapolating that dense economic data and applying it to their own sales metrics and market.

One of the most interesting things that came out of my interview with Brian is that all of the focus on the upcoming elections and the day-to-day drama unfolding on Capitol Hill is essentially white noise that can be tuned out. “Since 1976, when a Republican is in the Oval Office, the economy grows at an average rate of 2.81%. When there is a Democrat, it’s 2.85%,” Beaulieu told me. “It’s the Pareto Principle. People are so caught up in the 80% of stuff that doesn’t matter. In my life, I try to just look at the 20% of stuff that does matter. And it makes life a lot better.” This issue also features a member profile on Purity Cylinder Gases. Purity was a charter member of GAWDA and was instrumental in helping GAWDA grow into what it has become today. As we celebrate the last 75 years of progress, we continue our growth unabated. One of the largest changes this year is the format of the Spring Management Conference. New GAWDA President Abydee Butler Moore addressed some of the Frequently Asked Questions about the SMC’s new format on page 46. As GAWDA continues to grow and evolve, Welding & Gases Today does as well. If you have any story ideas or areas where you feel the magazine can be improved, please don’t hesitate to email me directly at steveg@gawdamedia.com. I would love to hear your ideas.

Let’s get


12 • Winter 2020


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What Annual Compliance Measures Should Members Take at the Beginning of the Year? A moderated discussion between Tom Badstubner and Michael Dodd BY TOM BADSTUBNER, MICHAEL DODD AND STEVE GUGLIELMO


s members close the book on 2019 and look forward to continued success in 2020, GAWDA Consultants Tom Badstubner and Michael Dodd have some advice on annual compliance measures that should be taken during the strategic planning process. GAWDA membership includes access to these consultants at no additional expense. Members should make sure that they’re taking full advantage of that! These consultants are ready and willing to help members be proactive in ensuring they are in compliance so that when federal auditors come around, GAWDA members are in the best position to ensure they leave happy. Tom Badstubner, GAWDA’s FDA and Medical Gases Consultant, and president of AsteRisk, LLC, and Michael Dodd, GAWDA’s DOT, Security and EPA Consultant, and president of MLD Safety Associates, LLC, spoke with Welding & Gases Today about how members can stay up-to-date on annual or multi-annual compliance measures. The following is a transcript of that conversation. WELDING & GASES TODAY: Because this is the 1Q issue of the magazine, what would you say are some annual compliance actions members should consider taking during their strategic planning process? TOM BADSTUBNER: There are a few things that make sense to do on an annual schedule. One thing, from an FDA perspective, is called the Annual Records Review. It basically 14 • Winter 2020

is a review of your records to see if you need to make any changes to your program. For example, you look at some, not all, production and testing records. You look at your complaint records, any recalls, any nonconformances. And then you ask yourself, “Do I need to make any changes in my program for a more reliable program?” This documented review is required by the FDA and it typically takes just a few minutes to complete. We have a sample form that is available upon request. Members can email me (tom@asteriskllc.com) for the sample form and procedure. WGT: Mike, how about from a DOT perspective? As members are doing their strategic planning, are there annual compliance actions that they should be considering taking during that process? MIKE DODD: A lot of the DOT stuff has time records, but they are spread through the year based on when the last time the member did it. So, let’s talk about some things that are coming up due and then we can talk about the ongoing items that members need to be looking at during the year. Any of our members who are doing interstate commerce, crossing state lines in business, must do what’s known as a unified carrier registration. That’s where they will go online to the website that has that and then fill out the form. The key there is that they only have to pay for the commercial motor vehicles that cross state lines, not for every vehicle that they have in their


company. That’s quite a cost savings. That runs from January to December every year. The next thing that they need to do is look at their accident register and set up a new one for the upcoming year. And then remind themselves that they only need to keep three years, plus the one they’re currently working on. So, they can throw out the one that now becomes four years old. They might want to look and check a couple of forms. It’s a good time to check. Although I highly recommend that these things that are annualized or every two or three years, that the member puts those dates into some sort of a calendar program like Outlook to remind them. It’s difficult to remember something a year from now. Some of these things are two or three years from now. So, if people make it a point to use an Outlook program, they will get reminded in a timely fashion. I’ve got a whole list of things that they can put into an Outlook calendar. WGT: I assume there’s a difference between things you want to do once per year at the end of the year, versus things that might be annualized but is a continuing process throughout the year. The calendar is a great tool for that, but how can members keep track of those things that have to be done once per year versus those rolling dates? TB: There is another FDA requirement that has to happen twice per year. It’s called the Review of the Drug Listings. This review is required by 21 CFR part 207. The regulation requires you to look at your FDA drug listing submission and assure that it is still accurate (the right size cylinders, filling locations, label, etc.). This review is required in June and December of each year. Like Mike said, just put the Drug Listing Review on your calendar (December and June each year). I have a link that people can use in order to do their own review. It’s also a good time for people to review their registrations and ensure that the right address is still listed on the FDA’s website. MD: Honestly, I don’t have a distinction between annualized tasks and rolling tasks. But, other than the Unified Carrier Registration, which happens at the end of December because you have to register for the upcoming year, the other one that happens on an annualized basis is what’s known as the Hazardous Materials Registration. That runs from July 1 through June 30 each year. So, it would be a good idea if the member would take a look at their HazMat registration, their existing form, and see what the expiration date is because you can buy 1, 2 or 3 years worth. And that way, they can just take a quick peek at it and see what the date is and know if anything needs to be done with it now. That’s a great one to look at.

Another thing that would be a good thing to look at, and on an annual basis is fine, though most people put this on their calendar a few months before it becomes due but it never hurts to look more than once, but some people have requalification identification numbers. We call them RIN numbers. That enables them to requalify certain types of cylinders. Those are typically issued for five years at a time. But, because they are five years at a time, it’s easy to lose track of them. I think that the first part of the year would be a great time to go back and look at any existing RIN numbers. Take a look at that and see when the due date is. Why that is so important is because if they’re requalifying high pressure cylinders or acetylene cylinders, they have to get a third party outside agency to come in and they need to schedule that about six months in advance. WGT: Does there have to be some sort of triggering event to have a regulatory agency show up or do they come by periodically to ensure that you’re actually keeping up with these annualized registrations? Or is it more that when they do show up, if you don’t have it, then you’re in trouble? Do they do any preemptive checkup visits? MD: From a DOT standpoint, an onsite visit or audit can be triggered by several things. A fatality, a multiple injury accident, or if they don’t keep their roadside inspection scores in a good favor at the DOT, that could also visit a trigger. And then the other one that is in there is that they do put all of the names into a random program that randomly selects a certain percentage of people to look at without a qualifying event. So, bad accidents and keeping your roadside selections can do it, but sometimes you just get picked by random chance. TB: There are probably three triggers for an FDA investigation. The FDA’s rules say that they need to inspect every drug manufacturer every two years. However, they don’t inspect gas manufacturers every two years because, historically, we are lower risks than traditional pharma. The FDA uses a risk assessment to schedule inspections based on the type of business you operate (ASU, cylinder filling, homecare, etc.). Another inspection trigger would be if there has been a major compliance or public health issue in your company. This is very rare. And then the third inspection trigger is if you add a significant operation to your business. Let’s say you begin to make helium medical grade. That new activity could trigger an audit by the FDA. The state agencies often need to do an inspection before they’re allowed to issue a license. So just the fact of submitting a license application can trigger a state inspection. Winter 2020 • 15


Where people tend to get caught is with the brand-new employees. It’s difficult to get a new person caught up with the training in that first few months. WGT: What is the severity of the penalty if the DOT shows up because you’ve had a fatality and oh, by the way, you don’t have your Hazardous Materials Registration up to date? Or the FDA shows up and you haven’t renewed the registration you’re supposed to have. What happens then? TB: The FDA does not have the same type of authority to levy fines as the DOT. But the FDA does have a few levels of “compliance actions” they can take. The first is called a FDA Form 482, “Notice of Inspection.” If all you receive is a FDA Form 482, it simply means that they visited and found no problems. The next level of compliance action is called a FDA Form 483, “Inspectional Observations.” Receiving FDA Form 483 means that, in the opinion of the inspector, there are some compliance problems. That’s really not terrible news, but the issues should be promptly addressed. There are typically no fines associated with receiving a FDA Form 483. You should respond within 15 working days in order to get off the FDA’s radar. Your response may explain how conditions have improved or it could explain why no action is needed. The next level of compliance actions, which is very serious, is called a Warning Letter. The FDA publishes Warning Letters on the Internet each week. The Warning Letter notifies you, and everyone else, that the FDA considers you to be out of compliance. You must respond to Warning Letters within 15 working days. There are other, very severe, compliance actions which are available to the FDA if they consider conditions to be dangerous or a public health risk exists. These actions (seizure, 16 • Winter 2020

debarment, prosecution) are very rare… especially in the medical gas industry. In the gas industry, the last seizure that I’m aware of happened in 2000. That year, a company in New York had their assets seized. The FDA stated, “Despite repeated written notices from FDA, the firm continued to disregard CGMP requirements for the transfilling of medical oxygen. Continuing deficiencies included the following: failure to perform identity-testing; failure to perform adequate prefill operations; and failure to establish and follow adequate written procedures.” These would have been easy compliance problems to correct, if timely and effective actions been taken. Eventually the FDA seized the bulk tank, cylinders and medical gas equipment. This is an extreme action by the FDA, but it will not happen if a company is reasonably diligent about compliance. MD: There is a whole list of items that they’re supposed to have kept in an ongoing fashion and in a proper order. We’ve just scratched the surface here, there is a whole list of things that they need to keep in order and up to date. Typically, when the DOT comes in for an audit, they’ll go through things. I can give you a range of the penalties, but I can’t predict what will happen, because these inspectors have quite a bit of latitude and discretion on what the penalty will be. I have seen a few hundred dollars for an infraction up to $10,000 for the same infraction. There is a published schedule that will list what the maximum penalties are for certain infractions. It goes on for pages talking about each individual item that they can write up and what that could potentially cost. Thankfully, very few times do we see the maximum ever applied. The typical penalty will be from a few hundred to a few thousand. And even the few thousand is not all that often. It’s like Tom was saying, while they are there, if you correct the issue while they are there, that goes a long way toward helping you. When they send you back that letter of things that they feel are out of compliance, we tend to immediately tackle that with an action plan. Rectify it, get things fixed and then send them back an action plan. We try to do that as quickly as possible, definitely within 30 days. What that does is it shows a real willingness to cooperate. The unfortunate thing is that I do get calls from people who have had visits that have not called me to tell me they have had the visit, and then they don’t do anything about it and then they get their penalty letter in the mail and THEN they call me. Unfortunately, after they get the penalty letter, from a DOT standpoint they were there, they told them what to fix, they’ve heard nothing back and now it’s time to issue the letter, so the only way to get your attention is to issue a



penalty. Now, all of a sudden, they’ve got the person’s attention. Unfortunately for us, we still have to go fix everything and now we typically can’t get the penalty reduced. Because the time to have gotten that reduced was to show the cooperation and willingness up front. If you wait until you’ve received a penalty letter, well now you’re just cooperating because you got the letter and there’s no good will there. WGT: Any advice or suggestions you have for members ahead of these typical annual compliance periods? Any best practices or things you’ve noticed can sometimes get overlooked? Any common missteps? MD: I’ve given you a couple of items to do on an annual basis. I’ve given a couple of things to think about. You think about those RINs. You need to look to see if you’re a party to any special permits. And being a party to a permit, those are issued either two years or four years and when you go to renew those, you must renew more than 60 days in advance of expiration. We definitely do not want to go past the expi-

ration date on those because they can get you for continued use after expiration. That’s one. The other thing we need to think about is that I’ve got a list of all of the records in my DOT filing system. Things that need to be kept and I’ve also got a driver qualification audit checklist. So on the files that they’ve got, it doesn’t take but a few minutes to just run through the files and make sure that everything is still current and on the driver qualification checklist. It basically lets them audit each individual driver file to see if anything is missing because there are several things in there that expire over time. There are medical cards, driver licenses, annual driver reviews, and now there’s a new thing coming on where they will have to go look at the DOT drug and alcohol clearinghouse, so they’ll have to look at that on an annual basis. When I’m there visiting people, I tell them that there is a very easy way to do this that can keep them out of most of the trouble. If they would just set up a monthly reminder to look at the driver list and look at the vehicle list. And that lets them see those expirations. Because on the drivers list, I have them list what it is that’s going to expire and

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when. And then they need to make sure that they have their vehicles with what’s known as the annual DOT inspection. If they look those two lists, it tells them what is coming up in the next month or so. That goes a long way toward staying in compliance. TB: There are a couple of things I recommend that companies double check on an annual basis even though it’s not required. It’s just good practice. Use that same calendar system that Mike recommended. Look at all of your calibrations of your gauges, thermometers and scales. Make sure they’re all up to date. Review the training records of your employees, particularly the Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) training. CGMP Training is required annually, so make sure that your employees have been trained within the last year. Verify that these simple periodic compliance items are still current and in control. MD: I want to tack onto Tom’s thoughts there. He mentions training records, that’s an easy one to skip. On the DOT side, we have what’s known as function specific training and we have HazMat training. The HazMat is general awareness,

safety and security awareness, and that’s due every three years. If they are required to have a written security plan, they have to do what’s known as in-depth security training, that’s every three years. They have to review that written plan on an annual basis. And if they’re filling cylinders or requalifying cylinders, those employees have to be trained and tested on their job duties every three years. So, training records, that’s a very important thing. Where people tend to get caught is with the brand-new employees. It’s difficult to get a new person caught up with the training in that first few months. I know DOT is really good about that when they come in, they want to look at that employee list and they look at that hire date and they kind of know to zero in on the newbies. GAWDA’s Specialty, Food & Medical Gases Consultant Thomas L. Badstubner is president of AsteRisk LLC in Flower Mound, Texas. Members can reach him at 508-883-0927 and tom@asteriskllc.com. GAWDA DOT, Security, OSHA & EPA Consultant Michael Dodd is president of MLD Safety Associates in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. Members can reach him at 573-718-2887 and at MLDSafety@hotmail.com.

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Medical, Food/Beverage and Specialty Gases Bulletin BY THOMAS L. BADSTUBNER

The following is from the GAWDA December 2019 Monthly Safety Organizer.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – ELECTRONIC TRACKING OF LOT NUMBERS GAWDA’s FDA and Medical Gases Consultant Thomas L. Badstubner is president of AsteRisk, LLC in Lewisville, TX. Members can reach him at 508-883-0927 and tom@asteriskllc.com.

Q – I input the medical and food gas lot numbers into my accounting software. Do I also need to have a paper record of the lot number distribution? A – Not necessarily. If you intend to use your accounting/cylinder tracking software to manage your medical/food gas lot number distribution, you need to validate that software. If your software vendor does not have a validation package, contact tom@asteriskllc.com. We have sample procedures that may be able to help.


Q – Is CGA SB-26, Cylinder Connections on Portable Liquid Cryogenic Cylinders, still in effect since the FDA adopted the new container and closure rules? A – Yes. The relevant portion of the new FDA regulations specify: Portable cryogenic medical gas containers that are not manufactured with permanent gas use outlet connections (e.g., those that have been silver- brazed) must have gas-specific use outlet connections that are attached to the valve body so that they cannot be readily removed or replaced (without making the valve inoperable and preventing the containers’ use) except by the manufacturer. CGA SB-26 was developed in 2000 following several tragic incidents where cryogenic container 20 • Winter 2020

outlet connections had been switched to connect the wrong gas to a customer’s distribution system. Using different words, the FDA has adopted the principles behind CGA SB-26. We strongly encourage you to get your own copy of CGA SB-26 and follow its guidance. This publication is available for free to GAWDA members who participate in the CGA Safety Program (www.cganet.com). If you are not a part of the CGA Safety Program, this would be a good time to join. Otherwise, the publication’s cost is only $5.00.

COMPLIANCE TO DO LIST – REVIEW YOUR DRUG LISTINGS The FDA drug registration and listing regulations (21 CFR 207) require drug manufacturers to review their online drug labels in June and December each year. Look for obsolete labels, “unapproved medical gas” statements, or errors in the submission. To verify your Drug Listing log on to: http:// dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/search.cfm. Enter your NDC Code (Labeler Code). Let jodie@ asteriskllc.com know if you would like to know your labeler code.

DECEMBER MEDICAL GAS ROUNDTABLE (12/20/2019) – SUBPARTS J & K – RECORDS AND REPORTS/ RETURNED AND SALVAGED DRUG PRODUCTS These GAWDA Medical Gas roundtables are excellent sources of CGMP training and the latest industry compliance news. In December, we discussed the various records required by the FDA. In addition, we have an easy to use handout about how to document your Annual Records Review.


FDA & MEDICAL GASES We also conducted the following webinars in December: • Specialty Gas - Gas Chromatography Fundamentals • Food Gas Roundtable – 21 CFR Part 117 - Subpart G Supply-Chain Program These and other webinars are available as a streaming recording at a time convenient to you. If you are unable to view the webinar live, just let us know and we will send you the link to the recording. If you would like to receive invitations to the training webinars, just send an email to jodie@ asteriskllc.com.

2. Quality Control Unit (QCU) Review – Verify that your QCU reviews all complaints. 3. Other Lots? – Be sure your complaint investigations consider whether any other cylinders from the same or different lots should be investigated. Document your decision to not investigate other cylinders/batches on the complaint record.


MICRO-AUDIT This section of the Medical Gas Bulletin lists small steps you can take each month to improve your medical gas management system. These steps are not designed to be a full audit, but rather small steps to sample your compliance. For this month, simply do these items: 1. Complaints – Verify that your complaint file has any instances of customers asking for credit because they thought the cylinder was not full. (Even if the complaint was found to be without merit).

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Drivers and Employers Should be Wary of CBD Products BY RICHARD P. SCHWEITZER, ESQ.

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

22 • Winter 2020

ongress, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have all been active in considering the regulation of products containing cannabidiol (CBD). Drivers of commercial motor vehicles, and their employers, should not assume that these products are legal, safe or harmless, however. In the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress removed hemp (defined as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC) from the list of Schedule I controlled substances and made it an ordinary agricultural commodity. The recently passed 2020 Agriculture Appropriations Bill gave the FDA $2 million for research, policy evaluation, market surveillance and issuance of an enforcement discretion policy relating to products containing CBD. But the FDA has not yet established any regulations for the safe use of products containing CBD. The FDA has a listing of resources on its website, fda.gov, regarding the use and regulation of CBD. But even though possession and use of CBD oil is legal under the laws of almost every state, and is used by many persons to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, nausea, pain, sleep disorders and even acne, to date, the FDA has approved only one CBD product, a prescription drug product to treat two rare, severe forms of epilepsy. It is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement. The FDA has also released a great deal of consumer information on its website on the effects of and concerns relating to use of products containing CBD.

In November 2019, the FDA issued warning letters to 15 companies for illegally selling products containing cannabidiol (CBD) in ways that violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The agency also published a revised Consumer Update detailing safety concerns about CBD products more broadly. Based on the lack of scientific information supporting the safety of CBD in food, the FDA has asserted that it cannot conclude that CBD is generally recognized as safe among qualified experts for its use in human or animal food. The FDA website states: “The revised Consumer Update outlines specific safety concerns related to CBD products, including potential liver injury, interactions with other drugs, drowsiness, diarrhea, and changes in mood. In addition, studies in animals have shown that CBD can interfere with the development and function of testes and sperm, decrease testosterone levels and impair sexual behavior in males. Questions also remain about cumulative use of CBD and about CBD’s impacts on vulnerable populations, such as children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.” Additionally, the FMCSA still requires drug testing of commercial motor vehicle drivers for marijuana and its main hallucinogenic component, THC. A driver who has used a product containing CBD runs the risk of a positive test for marijuana; because of lack of quality control in production, a person using products containing CBD cannot be certain of the concentration of THC in the product. Thus, one truck driver recently filed a class action lawsuit in federal court in Illinois against a manufacturer of CBD oil, claiming that the



A driver who has used a product containing CBD runs the risk of a positive test for marijuana. product caused the driver to fail a DOT drug test. The complaint alleges that the defendant advertised its products as containing no THC, the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana. The plaintiff ate some “Just CBD” watermelon gummy rings, and later tested positive on a DOT drug test and was terminated. He filed suit under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Trade Practices Act on behalf of himself and all other persons similarly situated. In addition, the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles recently placed a driver out of service for 24 hours because he had a bottle of CBD oil in his vehicle. Your company drivers may face similar risks if they use these products. The FMCSA has said that it will be issuing guidance to motor carriers and drivers on the legal implications of using products containing CBD, but that document is still in the works.


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CGA Provides Rich & Growing Set of Resources for Participating GAWDA Members BY RICH GOTTWALD, CGA PRESIDENT & CEO


Richard Gottwald is President and CEO of the Compressed Gas Association (CGA). He can be reached at 703-7882748 or rgottwald@ cganet.com.

24 • Winter 2020

For the first 100 years of the Compressed Gas Association’s history, our members’ products were used almost exclusively in heavy industry – steelmaking, chemical production, food freezing – as well as in medical gas applications. But, in recent years, we have seen a growing number of these products used in applications that are either very close to, or at the consumer level: from retail shops selling liquid nitrogen ice cream, to marijuana processing for CBD oil extraction, to patients’ in-home use of medical oxygen. While we can’t tell individuals how to use our products for specific applications at the consumer level, we are ramping up efforts to more widely communicate the safety considerations and risks involved in using our products. We are also communicating strategies to mitigate those risks, so that users at all levels of experience and expertise can protect themselves, their customers and their communities. The goal with all CGA’s end user safety communications will be to communicate basic safety and hazard information using clear language and compelling visuals, which can be easily understood by an end user with no technical knowledge about our industry’s products. At the same time, this safety information will be based on, and directly linked to, positions in CGA’s extensive library of safety publications. We are launching this communications initiative with a line of end user safety posters, to be developed over the course of the next year. Topics under consideration include the safe use of liquid nitrogen, home oxygen use safety, and nitrous oxide abuse and misuse. We plan to use a multi-faceted approach to

distribution, including publishing product-specific webpages, with additional information and resources for each poster in the line. Posters will be available in hard copy and as electronic downloads, which will be fully scalable, allowing users to print in multiple sizes, and to add branding, as needed. The posters will include a QR code, enabling readers to quickly access supplementary information on-demand. The first posters are expected to be released in the first quarter of 2020. Electronic downloads of the posters will be free.

WE’RE RE-IMAGINING CGA’S HANDBOOK OF COMPRESSED GASES CGA also recently embarked on a major re-design and re-imagining of our Handbook of Compressed Gases, which for decades has been widely recognized as a comprehensive resource of information on industrial, food, and medical gases, containers and equipment, industry processes, and more. The Handbook is intended to serve the needs of a broad audience, including workers, supervisors, managers, students, teachers, engineers, and scientists. The diversity of people who need to familiarize themselves with the subject of compressed gases, cryogenic liquids, and related equipment reflects the pervasive role these materials play throughout our society. The time has now come to convert the Handbook to an interactive, digital format, in order to better serve the needs of this diverse audience. As a part of this initiative, we plan to: • Facilitate access across a variety of devices, including mobile


Create a new digital resource that provides essential information about our industry’s products and operations • Evaluate content against audience needs and adjust accordingly • Update content to reflect current requirements, practices, and new technology • Link to other CGA publications and resources, enhancing readers’ learning opportunities • Provide essential safety information to the public free of charge This modernization effort is expected to take several years, with gas monographs becoming available in late 2021 and additional content converting to the new format by late 2023. •

OUR ELEARNING LIBRARY CONTINUES TO GROW We recognize that some of our safety standards, which have been developed by world-class experts, can be technically dense, even intimidating, to those who are new to the subject matter. That’s why we created our growing library of eLearning modules. These innovative training resources are designed to provide a helpful roadmap for employees who may need more extensive coaching in how to safely handle and work with compressed gases. They explore simple concepts presented in a concise, easy-to-follow format, and include video demonstrations and quizzes to ensure the viewer is absorbing the content. These eLearning modules have become the latest benefit added to the CGA-GAWDA partnership. Participating GAWDA members now have free access to CGA’s eLearning modules for their employees. There are currently a total of six training modules in CGA’s eLearning library: • TM-1, eLearning: Safe Handling and Storage of Compressed Gases • TM-2, eLearning: Safe Handling of Acetylene Cylinders • TM-3, eLearning: Safe Handling of Cryogenic Liquids in Portable Containers • TM-4, eLearning: Filling of Uninsulated Carbon Dioxide Cylinders • TM-5, eLearning: Filling of High-Pressure Medical Oxygen Cylinders • TM-6, eLearning: Filling of High-Pressure Industrial Gas Cylinders In the coming months, we’ll continue adding more titles.

CGA-GAWDA PARTNERSHIP: CONGRATULATIONS TO 2019 SAFETY AWARD WINNERS! The CGA and GAWDA Distributor Safety Award honoring the participating GAWDA distributor member companies that have shown the greatest improvement in safety performance, was presented at the 2019 GAWDA Annual Conference. S.J. Smith Co., Inc., of Davenport, Iowa, won the award for the category of more than 100,000 Employee Exposure Hours. Willard C. Starcher, Inc., of Spencer, West Virginia, won the award for the category of 100,000 or Fewer Employee Exposure Hours. This award recognizes these companies’ safety improvement during the 2018 calendar year. Of special note: Willard C. Starcher, Inc. received the same award for the category of 100,000 or Fewer Employee Exposure Hours during the award’s inaugural year. Congratulations to S.J. Smith Co., Inc. and Willard C. Starcher, Inc. for winning this prestigious award! First launched in 2011, the partnership between GAWDA and the Compressed Gas Association provides participating GAWDA distributor members with complimentary access to CGA’s electronic safety publication library (enabling one employee per company location to gain free access to CGA’s library of over 330 electronic publications for a total value of more than $19,000 per user). To be eligible for this unique member benefit, your company: • Must be a GAWDA distributor member in good standing, and • Must participate in the CGA & GAWDA Distributor Reporting and Safety Awards Program (requires annual submission of OSHA 300A safety data to CGA – for all companies with 11 or more employees)

HOW TO GET ACCESS TO CGA’S RESOURCES FOR YOUR TEAM Want to give your employees access to these invaluable resources at no charge? Sign up to participate in the cooperative program between GAWDA and CGA. If you work for a GAWDA distributor member and would like to learn more about applying to have your company participate in this valuable program, check out these links: CGA Website: https://portal.cganet.com/GAWDA.aspx GAWDA Website: https://www.gawda.org/resources/ cga-subscription-program/ We welcome your participation in this invaluable program, which continues to grow and flourish. Winter 2020 • 25


Abydee Butler Moore EDUCATION Where did you go to school? Clemson University College of Business What did you study? Marketing


CAREER What Other Family Members work at Butler Gas? Jack (father, CEO) and Elissa (mother, Treasurer) What was the biggest lesson your father taught you that you apply to your business? Two things: (1) that we are in the people business. People are our most important asset; invest accordingly in training, growth, compensation, and EQ. And (2) action is key. It’s not what you know; it’s what you do. That you will apply to your position as GAWDA President? We do business in an honorable, fun industry! He taught me to get involved. Give our members actionable take-home content that will pay for their trip.

Ryan (husband) and Ivy (daughter)… and Izzy (dog)

HOBBIES • Traveling • Lake life • Reading business books • Live music • Trying new restaurants


How did you work your way up through the company? • Child Laborer and Dinner Table Consultant (Mar 1998 – Jun 2001) • Summer Worker / Intern (Jun 2001 – May 2009) • Marketing Director (May 2009 – Sep 2011) • Vice President (Sep 2011 – Jun 2016) • Owner (Oct 2015 – Present) • Executive Vice President (Jun 2016 – Dec 2017) • Chief Operating Officer (Dec 2017 – Present) • President (Jan 2019 – Present)

What job do you feel best prepared you for leadership? Outside of Butler Gas, the experience that best prepared me for leadership was coaching youth basketball. A company is one big sports team playing the game of business. Another noteworthy experience that really helped me with public speaking was acting school as a child. Speaking on stage is nothing compared to singing and dancing in cheesy musicals.

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020 is a milestone year for GAWDA. It is the year we celebrate our 75th Anniversary. The association has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 1945. And while we celebrate our storied history, GAWDA continues to look forward to ensure that the next 75 years are as successful and prosperous as the first. Much of that success begins with the GAWDA Board of Directors. These association leaders are on the front lines of the industry and are able to take the issues facing our industry and help to craft an effective strategy for the association. Members of the Board of Directors are here to serve the membership. The next few pages provide an opportunity for members to get to know the member-based leadership team. We thank the 2020-2021 GAWDA Board for their help in putting this together and for their service on the Board.

THE QUESTIONS 1. What was your inspiration to serve on the GAWDA Board of Directors? Is there a previous board member who has acted as a mentor for you? 2. What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received? 3. Can you give an example of a business relationship that you have formed that originated at a GAWDA event?




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1. INSPIRATION Giving back and volunteering your time is part of being involved in any not-for-profit organization. Butler Gas has been a member of GAWDA since 1960, and I was raised to appreciate this Association that has given so much to our family, business, and colleagues. Serving on the Board of Directors was a natural progression from serving on the Committees, and it has been an honor to get involved.

2. ADVICE Our company’s core values were instilled in me by my parents, Jack and Elissa Butler, and in them by our founders, my grandparents Jack and Millie Butler: that safety is always first. Then the company takes care of its people, then its people take care of its customers, and that’s the only way to make money. This hierarchy, in that particular order – safety, people, customers, profit – is the best business practice I have ever been taught.

3. RELATIONSHIP Melissa Perkins is one of my best friends in the industry and she and I met at GAWDA in New York, her first meeting! For our company, nearly every intra-industry supplier we have, we know from GAWDA.

1. INSPIRATION This is a fantastic industry, but we are much stronger working together. There are issues that impact us all that we can only address effectively as an industry. Going it alone is possible I suppose, but very, very risky. There are a ton of GAWDA mentors that hammered that message home to me over the years. I’m thinking of Wally Brandt and Jack Butler in particular, but, really, there are too many to name that have set a great example in this regard. We are blessed with many servant leaders who want to give back to the industry that has given them so much, and their example definitely inspires me to get more involved. The biggest perk of working on the board is watching and learning and interacting with all the great business people that are also serving. They’ve made our business and me a lot better.

2. ADVICE The man who recruited me into this industry, and led me and mentored me for 20 years, was Gary Kennedy. I could fill a book with the nuggets of blunt advice he gave me, which we call “Garyisms” at Red Ball. I’ll offer this, because it’s a great way to think about the relationships we form at GAWDA: “You can’t make a bad deal with good people.”

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HQ & PROGRAM NEWS 3. RELATIONSHIP Too many to count! The opportunity to meet with the principal decision makers at all of our key suppliers is just priceless, and those relationships are not just meaningful professionally – they can become very personal. Maybe the most gratifying experiences are when someone is just breaking into the industry with a new product or service, and we get to come alongside them and support them. We’ve had a few of those, and believe me, that’s a two-way street because they’ve contributed more to our business than I could ever hope.



Indiana Oxygen Company

1. INSPIRATION I have been active in GAWDA on and off since 2004. It is a wonderful organization that has been very good to me and to our company, Indiana Oxygen. It is time to give back when and where I can. I have had many great mentors and people who have influenced me within the GAWDA Organization: Ned Pontius, Mark Raimy, Ned Lane, Craig Wood, Wally Brant and Brad Peterson, just to name a few.

the most genuinely good men and women you could ever meet. This is my chance to “give back” to an organization that has given so much to all of us. Bill Higley and Terry Hall took me under their wings early in my career and emphasized to me the importance of building and nurturing the relationships you make through GAWDA

2. ADVICE When I came to work at Holston Gases, our owner, Bill Baxter, gave me a copy of Napoleon Hill’s, Think and Grow Rich. The principles stressed in that book were very impactful and provided me with a set of tools to focus my energies towards my personal set of goals and objectives.

3. RELATIONSHIP Most of my vendor relationships didn’t originate at a GAWDA event but they definitely have been strengthened through the contact booth program and the opportunity to have casual conversations getting to know them on a personal basis.


BRAD PETERSON Mississippi Welders Supply Company, Inc.

2. ADVICE • • •

Clients do not come first, employees come first. If you take care of the employees, they will take care of the clients.” The customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.

3. RELATIONSHIP There have been a couple of supplier relationships that were formed, but more than anything our relationships with our supply partners are significantly strengthened through the GAWDA events.


ROBERT ANDERS Holston Gases, Inc.

1. INSPIRATION This industry has been a blessing for my family and me. It’s not a glamorous business, but it is comprised of some of 30 • Winter 2020

1. INSPIRATION My inspirations have been my upbringing and my experience. I was raised to give back. And my experience with GAWDA over 28 years of membership showed me how much the organization does for my business. Those two dynamics led to my stepping forward, and I want to remind our members that we should each give back to all the organizations and communities that we’re a part of and benefit from. Many previous Board members have been inspirational to me, as they are a great constellation of industry leadership. In particular, the most recent presidents were very helpful in showing me the ropes…Bill Visintainer, Mark Raimy and Ned Lane.

2. ADVICE A great piece from my father: he who owns the gold makes the rules. Or, put another way, “Whoever owns more than 50% of the business is driving the bus.” This applies to our own businesses as well as to those of our customers. If you want to know what’s going on with a customer, talk to the person with his/her hands on the wheel.

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There are so many it’s hard to pick, but I’ll give one example. This particular individual took me to dinner at the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago after an SMC. We talked about our backgrounds in the industry over a cheap cheeseburger and fries and formed a lasting connection. Those opportunities are a very important part of the social fabric of the organization and can only happen when we meet in person.

Reach out to other GAWDA members. There are very few issues or challenges that you have that another member has not experienced. In return, be willing to share your experiences with other members when they seek advice.



3. RELATIONSHIP The relationship that we had with Tom Chromy and Chart Industries was prosperous for both companies. It grew over the years through GAWDA dinners, meetings and events. Many times, a brainstorming discussion resulted in solutions and new product ideas.

Cee Kay Supply, Inc.

1. INSPIRATION I have been in the industry since 1984. I had seen many people give back their time for the better good of the industry. I felt it was time for me to give back to an industry that had been so good to Cee Kay and my family.

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General Air Service & Supply Co.

1. INSPIRATION This past year, Abydee Butler Moore asked me to serve on the planning committee for the 2020 SMC. After our plan-

HQ & PROGRAM NEWS ning meeting in May, I became more interested in understanding the inner workings of this great organization with the hope that I could add value to both the organization and my business. Without question, my greatest mentor has been and continues to be my father. My dad, Gary Armstrong, served on the Board for NWSA and was a western zone VP in 2003. In addition, Jack Butler, Wally Brant and Ned Lane have demonstrated industry best practices to successfully run a gas and welding supply business for multiple decades.

2. ADVICE A satisfied customer will tell three of their friends about their experience, while a dissatisfied customer will tell 15 – 20 in person and literally hundreds with the advent of online reviews. With this in mind, do whatever it takes to make sure your customers leave feeling heard, valued and well served.

3. RELATIONSHIP We first met AGP at a GAWDA event a couple years ago.



1. INSPIRATION GAWDA has been extremely beneficial to my career over the past several years. The Regionals, Annual, and SMC events have provided invaluable opportunities to network with industry peers which has helped my company run a stronger business. I feel it is important to give back to GAWDA to help ensure its longevity and the value it brings to the industry. Serving on the GAWDA Board has been a great experience.

2. ADVICE To truly understand and support the people who make your business successful. I consider Dale Oxygen’s employees, customers, and suppliers all to be invested partners in the success of our organization. With the right people, tools, and technology in place, you have a far greater probability of success.

3. RELATIONSHIP All GAWDA events are beneficial to strengthen and maintain existing supplier relationships, but I have also been fortunate to establish new key vendor partners for Dale Oxygen. One example is the growth of our company’s bulk business. There are a number of GAWDA suppliers (both old and new) that really have helped our team grow.



Haun Welding Supply, Inc.

1. INSPIRATION I have been involved with GAWDA ever since I got back into the industry, about 10 years ago. First with the Young Professionals committee, which I eventually co-chaired with Eric Laubach, and now with the Safety Committee. I do see it as an opportunity to give back, but it is a great way to learn the industry and strengthen industry relationships. Volunteering with GAWDA has helped me grow professionally and personally, along with helping us improve the way we run our company. I was flattered to be nominated for the GAWDA Board and hope to bring as much to the table as I get out of it.

2. ADVICE The best piece of business advice that I have received is from my father. He has instilled my family with the belief that we are in a position to serve our company, our employees, and our customers. A business is only viable if you are profitable, but profits alone cannot sustain a business. An attitude of serving to lead can set up a business for long-term success in addition to providing personal fulfillment.

3. RELATIONSHIP I have formed many relationships with suppliers and other distributers during my time with GAWDA. The first supplier that I remember connecting with at a GAWDA event was during my first Annual Convention in NYC. It was a Young Professionals scavenger hunt where I met the guys from Direct Wire. This quickly led to my first experience working on a GAWDA committee. Some of those guys have since moved on to other companies within the industry, but our relationships continue to grow. These are the types of relationships that keep me excited about the time I spend at GAWDA events and with GAWDA members. It is really encouraging to see the interactions and support within the GAWDA community.


MELISSA PERKINS Electronic Fluorocarbons

1. INSPIRATION My inspiration to serve on the GAWDA Board of Directors comes from the people who belong to the organization and the industry it supports. Being a part of this Winter 2020 • 33

HQ & PROGRAM NEWS organization is important to me because GAWDA continually strives to keep up with current industry standards while at the same time keeping the core values it has been built on. The people who belong to this organization are dedicated business professionals who not only want to support their own business, but also support the businesses that make up the GAWDA membership. As a member of the Board of Directors, we can facilitate some of the changes that need to occur to keep GAWDA current in the industry, while still protecting the roots of the organization. I also want to help facilitate the value-added resources that GAWDA has to offer to its existing members and help promote them to new and potential members.

He suggested I should consider filling one of the soon-to-be open Board seats. After considering the value the association brings nexAir and the quality of the other Board members I would have the opportunity to work beside, I accepted the invitation. GAWDA has been a great way to expose more of our people to the industry thru the SMCs, network with key decision makers, and utilize our excellent consulting base. I saw it as an opportunity to be more involved in an association that has been very important to our company.

2. ADVICE • •

Culture trumps strategy. Some decisions are best made after a night of sleep.



Some of the best business advice I have received is to never give up and always strive to do better, and, most importantly, to be passionate about what you are doing. I think this is important in any business organization because we will all face failure at some point that gives us the opportunity to grow and make changes for the better. In a world where everything is constantly evolving, it is much easier to work as a group instead of an individual entity. I am very thankful to be part of GAWDA and I am looking forward to see what the New Year has to offer.

The Annual Convention is an efficient networking opportunity. It gives members an opportunity to meet many of their peers as well as strategic suppliers to their business in one location over a few days.

3. RELATIONSHIP In addition to the resources GAWDA provides, the membership itself is an immeasurable asset that provides amazing networking potential and business relationships. It never ceases to amaze me how wonderful the people are that make up this organization.



1. INSPIRATION My participation on the GBD resulted after a conversation with our association’s past president, Bill Visintainer. I’ve known Bill for a number of years and have a tremendous amount of respect for him and the way he operates his business. I knew Bill’s involvement in GAWDA had been extensive leading up to and including his presidency and required a certain time commitment. He quickly pointed out whatever time he had invested over the years had been more than paid back by GAWDA’s value to him and his business. 34 • Winter 2020



Ratermann Manufacturing, Inc.

1. INSPIRATION I was honored when I was asked to join the GAWDA Board of Directors. I was excited for the opportunity to serve on the Board for several reasons. GAWDA is such a dynamic organization filled with dedicated members; the combination of the two allows us to achieve countless growth opportunities along with new and creative resources and solutions for GAWDA members. The people I get to work with on the GAWDA Board are open-minded, focused and looking for new ideas for the future development of GAWDA. GAWDA has so much to offer and I am very thrilled to serve on the Board!

2. ADVICE Do the right thing, especially when it’s hard to do.

3. RELATIONSHIP My first time going to a GAWDA Convention, or as originally called NWSA, was back in 1979. Since then, I have attended as many GAWDA events as I have been able to and have met great people along the way. Over the years, the people I have met at GAWDA have turned into personal friends as well as great business associates. Both my business and myself have been sculpted by the meetings I’ve attended and conversations

HQ & PROGRAM NEWS I’ve had at GAWDA. I am so grateful I have had the opportunity to meet GAWDA members over the years and be a part of the GAWDA association.

you and that they are always happy to get any information you need. These events are great for “starting” the conversation that may lead to a lifetime of professional and personal relationships.





Economy Welding and Industrial Supply, LLC

O.E. Meyer Company

1. INSPIRATION I have previously served on the Board and as President of The AIWD, as well as Vice Chair of our Local AWS board. I feel that it is an important part of being in the industry, particularly as a distributor, to be a part of these communities. While I have been on the membership committee for a few years and find it very rewarding, joining the Board of Directors will be a wonderful complement.

2. ADVICE Buy Low, Sell High! Honestly, the best advice I got when I started in this industry 16 years ago was always acknowledge to the customer if you do not know the answer, but then tell them you will get the answer for them. Never lie to a customer; they always know.

3. RELATIONSHIP I’ve met so many suppliers over the years at events held by GAWDA that it is hard to pick one out. I’ve found that all of the smaller vendors look forward to catching up with

1. INSPIRATION Our company and our previous leaders have been involved in GAWDA and previously the NWSA for decades. My father, Craig, was a long time Board member and GAWDA President from 2012-2013.

2. ADVICE To not be afraid to tell a customer, “I don’t know, but I’ll get the answers you need.” If you’re truthful, and respond in a timely manner, you’ve gained their trust and built a longlasting relationship.

3. RELATIONSHIP Many strong relationships have formed with vendors because of our GAWDA affiliation. I feel the most rewarding and valuable relationships from GAWDA have been formed with other distributor partners. The networking, data sharing, and best practice discussions have awarded me with a tremendous amount of knowledge as I grow in our business.

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A Strong Culture Propels Purity Cylinder Gases to More than 80 Years of Success One of GAWDA’s charter members, Purity Cylinder Gases, has built its business on five core values. BY STEVE GUGLIELMO


he evolution and growth of Purity Cylinder Gases (Grand Rapids, MI) is closely aligned with the evolution of GAWDA. Purity was a charter member of the association, attending the first ever National Welding Supply Association (NWSA) meeting at the Hotel Van Cleve on November 13, 1945. However, the genesis of Purity goes back even further than that, when founders Edward Butterfield, Glenn G. Garman and Howard Sweet organized the company in 1938. Purity was incorporated into the state of Michigan in October of that year. The first ever store was opened at 721 S. Division Avenue in Grand Rapids. Butterfield, Garman and Sweet were all involved in the formation of NWSA, with Garman serving as president of the association in 1950. “GAWDA brings the best of the industry together,” says Doug Nyhuis, President of Purity Cylinder Gases. “The best partners and best practices. Together, we can be stronger than we would be on our own. It is a forum for networking, both with fellow distributors and from vendors.”

36 • Winter 2020

As NWSA continued to grow and flourish, so did Purity. In the mid 1960s, three of the distributor’s employees became new officers within the company. Glenn DeVries, Ken Nyhuis (Doug’s grandfather), and Don Wyngarden purchased the company from the original founders. These three officers began to build onto the solid foundation left by Butterfield, Garman and Sweet. “The second generation really started that growth process,” says Doug. “They guided the company through several expansions of buildings, personnel and computers.”

Photo above: Purity’s first Grand Rapids store.

GROWTH Today, Purity has 15 locations throughout Michigan and Indiana, with more than 175 employees. Much of that size can be attributed to the groundwork laid by DeVries, Nyhuis and Wyngarden. In the mid 1970s, Purity increased its Grand Rapids infrastructure and moved toward more independence. It added offices, expanded its filling capabilities, built an acetylene plant, purchased cylinders and installed its first computers.

Another milestone event in Purity’s history took place in 1980, with the purchase of Airway Oxygen, Inc. Airway sells and rents home medical equipment. Today, these two com-


panies have grown to cover all of western and central Michigan and Northern Indiana. The 1980s also saw Purity purchase adjacent property and introduce a new

fill plant and hydrotesting facility and remodel its showrooms. Purity also expanded its use of computers to all users. Through it all, Purity has stayed partnered with top brands in the industry to bring its customers the best possible equipment to partner with its top-of-the-line customer service and culture. “We’ve been with Miller since Purity has sold welders,” says Nyhuis. “We’ve also had a strong relationship with ESAB from the start. And we began to really build up our relationship with Lincoln.” Other major supplier partners include Messer and Hypertherm. The 1990s saw many watershed events happen within Purity. The first was the beginning of a partnership with Computers Unlimited. The second was the introduction of spec gases within Purity. And the third was Doug Nyhuis joining the company.

“I started my career here kind of on a part-time basis in 1990, while I attended school,” Nyhuis says. “I worked several jobs: painting cylinders, working in our fill plants, in shipping and receiving. You name it.” When Nyhuis graduated college in 1994, he decided to come back to the company. However, if he expected to come into the company with a corner office and an executive title, he was quickly disabused of that notion. “I ended up going and buying a pair of steel-toed shoes,” he says. “I got my DOT Drivers License and drove trucks for a while. I went back to the plant and worked there for a few years. About 2.5 years in, I moved up front and worked in our accounting department. I worked a little bit in our payables department. Really, I’ve worked everywhere. That helped me understand our entire business. It was a really good place for me to start my growth in the business.” Winter 2020 • 37


CULTURE One of the reasons that Purity has thrived for more than 80 years is its rock solid cultural foundation. It’s one of the reasons that Doug, even as the third-generation Nyhuis in the company, had to cut his teeth the same way everybody else did. “I think you earn respect from the people who have been here a lot longer than I had been,” he says. “You’ve walked in their shoes. You can sympathize. And more importantly, you get a better appreciation for the job that all of our folks do. You understand what can and can’t be done. And when you suggest changes, you’re speaking from a position of experience.” Purity is built on a foundation of five core values. “Our core values really define the type of person we’re looking for,” says Nyhuis. “When we sit down and we’re interviewing people, we really frame our questions around those core values.” 38 • Winter 2020

Culture is more crucial than ever. We focus on hiring people who fit our core values. Those five core values are: 1. Integrity: Do they have a strong moral compass? 2. Customer Focus: “Our customers are one of the most important things in our business,” says Nyhuis. “Without them, we don’t have a business. We look for people who communicate well. Who appreciate customers and people.”

3. Positive Attitude: “We want people around us that are in good spirits,” Nyhuis says. “Not every day is a great day, but they need to be easy to work with.” 4. Driven to Succeed and Grow: “We want to hire folks who want to grow up in the organization,” he says. “They might start out as the truck driver and move into a counter role, or start in the fill plant and work their way up to being a truck driver. We are looking for people who want to advance themselves throughout the organization. That helps our succession at the same time.” 5. Relationship Focused: “We want people who really value relationships, whether that’s coworkers, our suppliers or our customers,” says Nyhuis. “Those are things that we look at when we hire someone. We always start with, ‘Are they a good fit for Purity, culturally?’

MEMBER PROFILE years, it’s been people who have been here for 42 years, 38 years, 36 years. It’s a pretty cool place to work,” Nyhuis says. “It’s a tremendous feeling. We’re so proud of what our founders stood for and what they taught the second generation. They realized how important people are. Making sure that you make time for them as far as education and training but also taking care of them in other aspects. And then they will do the same for the organization. It’s a great feeling. And it’s so fun to be able to see the second and third generation people working for us.”


And then it becomes about getting them in the right seat to get started.” He continues, “Culture is more crucial than ever. We focus on hiring people who fit our core values. We feel that this allows for better internal continuity and faster response times for our customers. Decisions can be made at the local level. I would say our culture is a corporate family. That’s why we’ve had such longterm employment.”

Purity is extremely proud of the fact that more than 60 people have retired after working the majority of their career at Purity Cylinder Gases. The company’s major source of new hires and recruiting is word of mouth from existing employees. Many of the current employees are the children or even grandchildren of retired employees. “When we start looking at people who have retired here in the last five

One of the things that Purity prides itself on is its independence in the business. “Independence, to us, means that we’re not so reliant on others to run our business,” Nyhuis says. “One example would be that back in the early 2000s, we began to purchase our own liquid transport trailers. Prior to that, the majors were always the ones making the deliveries to our customers. So even though we had the relationship with the customer, our suppliers were still in there making that delivery. We decided that it was important for us to be that main presence. So we invested in that.” That push toward independence traces its roots back all the way to the 1970s. “Before then, the distributor was really just an extension of the supplier and the majors,” Nyhuis says. “There wasn’t a whole lot of independence at that point.” Many of Purity’s expansions were as part of an effort to become a true independent. In 2003, Purity purchased its first transport cryogenic trailer. Today, it has seven. The company has done two acquisitions (2012 and 2013) and seven scratch start-ups since 2001. “Our industry is a bit disjointed. It’s important to us to build our capacity and be able to not rely so heavily on Winter 2020 • 39

MEMBER PROFILE others to be successful,” says Nyhuis. “Also partnering with suppliers who value the distributor relationship has been very important. It helps build a stronger relationship. They recognize what the distributor brings to the table.”

SHIFT IN INDUSTRY AND WHAT LIES AHEAD Dating all the way back to the 1970s, Purity has seen the writing on the wall with how computers and eventually the internet would impact our industry. Today’s customers are more tech-savvy than ever, and with more information instantly at their fingertips, they are also more educated. “Customers often access more information before contacting us,” says

Nyhuis. “It puts us in a much less strong position to make recommendations and adds to downward price pressure. We’ve definitely seen some erosion of hard goods.” They’ve also become accustomed to instant gratification, or what some call the “Amazon Effect.” “Customers want information now. When they order products, they want it now,” says Nyhuis. To combat that, Purity continues to invest in technology. Five years down the road, Nyhuis expects to see Purity more involved with utilizing ecommerce, delivery routing software, barcode scanning and mobile solutions. “We are always concentrating on succession because that’s what is im-


portant to us,” he says. “We’re always developing people and we have this vision of this next generation eventually stepping into leadership roles over time.” It is important to Nyhuis that the company’s succession remains strong and that the company promotes from within and develops its own talent. “It sends a message to the employees, customers and suppliers of our long-term outlook and stability,” he says. “Our sales reps continually remind our current and potential customers of it.” While Purity Cylinder Gases has been around for more than 80 years, it has the strong foundation and strategic planning in place to ensure that the next 80 are even more successful than the first.



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ne of the largest trends in American consumerism is the rise in direct to doorstep food delivery services. Companies like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh are popular meal kit services and now even Amazon is promising two-hour grocery delivery. As Americans get busier and the “Amazon Effect” continues to take hold, more and more we’ve grown accustomed to being able to get goods brought directly to our home at the click of a button without ever having to leave the couch. According to Statista, the fresh-food meal kit industry was valued at $4.65 billion in 2017. By 2022, it’s projected to more than double, reaching $11.6 billion.

42 • Winter 2020

An unsung beneficiary of this consumer trend is the dry ice market. “Dry ice is a growing market with the ecommerce business model for food delivery,” says Brad Dunn, Vice President at Cee Kay Supply, Inc. “Grass fed beef, ready-made meals, baby food, dog food, seafood. You name it, they’re using dry ice to deliver their product.”

TYPES OF DRY ICE There are four main types of dry ice: pellets, rice, snow and blocks. Each has a different application and is used in different markets. Blocks – According to TOMCO2 Systems VP of Business Development Bill Wiggins, dry ice blocks can be traced

all the way back to the 1930s. “Prior to companies having liquid CO2 systems, companies just made block dry ice. Those were typically made and shipped in rail cars,” he says. “Once it got to its destination, that dry ice would be used for food preservation or vaporized and used for the bubbles in cola.” Today, blocks are used very similarly to how they were in the 1930s, with big blocks cut down into smaller 10 pound or smaller blocks and used in food shipping. “You get a high density block that is convenient for shipping,” says TOMCO2 Systems VP of Sales & Market Development Jeff Holyoak. “It will sublimate slower than pellets so your shipment has a 5-7 day hold time and you


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still have fresh meat when it gets to you.” Pellets – Pellets are also used in food shipping but not in the same way that the blocks are used. “As the market grew in the ‘70s, instead of making a 55-pound block of ice, which typically was cut up in smaller pieces, that’s when pelletizer machines were developed,” Wiggins says. “The machines made pellets ranging from ¼ inch in diameter to ¾ inches. And then those pellets would be primarily used in the food industry to scoop pellets onto a box of poultry or beef.” In addition to food shipping, the pellets are also used in the medical field for shipping specimens, organs, blood or pharmaceuticals. It can even be used in food production.

“The process of grinding pork to make sausage generates a lot of heat,” Wiggins says. “So, to keep that temperature of the meat from rising, you add dry ice to keep the heat out.” Snow – Snow is used very similarly to the pellets. As the name would indicate, snow is a finer form of dry ice than the pellets or blocks. “It’s more a of a misting and layering agent,” says Holyoak. “You can interlay it throughout the entire package and obtain greater surface area coverage.” That way, you get more consistency all the way through the box. If it’s meat, the meat in the middle of the box is the same as the meat on the outside, as far as temperature retention.”


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1305 Eden Evans Center Rd Angola, NY 14006 Winter 2020 • 43

Rice – Dry ice rice is the most recent and arguably most consequential innovation in the product. “In the 1980s, when the concept of dry ice blasting was developed, machines were developed to make smaller pellets, typically 3 millimeters or 1/8 inch, also referred to as rice,” says Wiggins. Dry ice blasting is similar to sandblasting. According to a blog article by Interstate Carbonic Enterprises, “There are many different forms of blast cleaning that can provide a range of finished product, toxicity, waste, and levels of safety. The most common type of blasting that people think of is sandblasting, which uses an abrasive media. It is commonly used in numerous applications, particularly in paint and rust removal of sheet metal applications. Alternatively, dry ice blasting is a non-abrasive media that provides the same qualities without some of the expected leftovers.” With dry ice blasting, there is less concern about damaging the material that you are cleaning. With an abrasive like sandblasting, you run the risk of damaging the surface by scraping or scuffing it up. Dry ice, as a nonabrasive, will not damage those products. And 44 • Winter 2020

because it is not a liquid and sublimates on contact, it is safe to use around electrical components. Dry ice blasting was originally developed by the military to strip the paint off military aircrafts. Today, due to its nonabrasive and non-toxic nature, it is also used in food production facilities and in industrial environments, and is ideal for removing oil and grime. “It’s not as aggressive as sand, but it’s more aggressive than water blasting,” Wiggins says. “Bakeries, for example, use it to blast cookie dough off the conveyor. There’s no residue and it’s completely safe to use around food.” Things to Know – Dry ice is undoubtedly a growth market. A study by Research Nester concludes that the market will continue to expand at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 6.8% over the next ten years. However, before making the investment into dry ice production or distribution, there are some things to keep in mind. Losses – Dry ice will sublimate at a rate of 5-8% per day, depending on the insulated containers it is stored in, according to Wiggins. That means that, ideally, the product should be made,

delivered and used all within 1 to 2 days. It is not a product that can be stored long-term. “It’s a different product because it’s perishable,” says Dunn. “You can’t make it and put it on the shelves. That creates challenges in production. The majority of customers want their ice fresh on Monday mornings. So, it’s a bit of a challenge.” Regional Product – Because of the losses that it can incur, dry ice distribution can be more regional. If you’re in an area with a high concentration of meat or poultry producers, it may be a market that would make sense for your company. “We’re not in a heavy area of research and development or pharmaceuticals,” says Dunn. “But we’re also not necessarily a big food manufacturing town. You have to find out where the demand is. Like down south, there are a lot of chicken and meat producers. There are areas of the country that are more seafood producers. They might have different demands than the customers in our area.” Safety – Dry ice is a very safe product when the safety best practices are followed. However, many dry ice customers are not well-versed in the gases

industry and may not be aware of what those best practices entail. “It’s important to educate customers on the inherent safety risk,” says Dunn. “A lot of people aren’t really naturally exposed to the potential danger. So, it’s important that the distributor educates all of the customers on things like not touching it, not putting it in their drinks and not keeping it in confined spaces.” The biggest safety risk is asphyxiation. “When dry ice sublimates it becomes a vapor,” says Wiggins. “When the vapor is allowed to accumulate in a confined space or a closed room, it can be very dangerous. So, any time they either use or store dry ice, they have to be very careful to prevent any build up of CO2 concentrations. The depletion of oxygen is an asphyxiation concern.” Growth-Market Cee Kay just completed their fifth year of dry ice manufacturing and distribution. “There are a lot of ways that you can get involved in this market,” says Dunn. “You don’t necessarily have to make it yourself. You can buy it and resell it. You can start with a very small machine and test the market. You don’t have to jump in all at once.” Dunn cautions that as a distributor, there are certain disadvantages when going up against major dry ice manufacturers. “There are major suppliers in the industry that have huge scale facilities tied to ethanol plants and CO2 manufacturing plants,” Dunn says. “And they can distribute over long distances. There are more efficiencies that they have. They’re at a significant advantage when it comes to cost. We have to be more of a local, same day or next day service. And we have to compete on service.” He adds, “There are different business segments and industries that are using dry ice now. There’s a diverse demand. And a lot of times, the customer is somebody that you’re already selling gases to. So,

There’s a diverse demand. And a lot of times, the customer is somebody that you’re already selling gases to. So, you already have that relationship. you already have that relationship. But there are also new businesses that you wouldn’t necessarily deal with that also buy dry ice. It’s a good little niche.” Holyoak and TOMCO also see the dry ice market as a growth vehicle, both for manufacturers and distributors. “We talk a lot about food processing, but that’s a volume market,” he says. “Because of the volume, you get highly competitive pricing. I think for our gas

distributors at the individual retail store level, it can be a great profit generator. They get much higher prices for offthe-street, on-demand ice for general users. People use it for hunting, fishing, camping, etc. They can get great margins off that ice on a daily basis and it’s also generating traffic to the retail stores. It’s a great opportunity to diversify the product portfolio in the retail store for the gas distributor.”

Winter 2020 • 45





APRIL 7 2020

SPRING MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE (SMC) Designed to promote interaction between Owners/CEO’s, management and operations decision makers, the SMC serves as an ideal platform for tactical networking, processoriented business education, and actionabletake-home solutions.




CONTENT 46 • Winter 2020


Frequently Asked Questions


AW D A’ s S p r i n g Management Conference (SMC) will take place April 5-7, 2020, at the JW Marriott Austin in Austin, Texas. This year, the association has opted for a new format that we hope will be more inclusive for management at all levels of the company. As this is the first year of the new format, we have received questions from the membership about the new-look SMC. 2020 GAWDA President Abydee Butler Moore addressed these FAQ’s below. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to GAWDA headquarters or visit gawda. org/spring-management-conference. What was the reason for the change in format of the SMC this year? Tom Elliott’s presentation at the 2019 SMC in Minneapolis about their catastrophic fire rocked the audience to its core. It was one of the most content-packed, ‘go home and make a change to save your business’ talks the industry has experienced. I said to our 2020 SMC Austin Planning Committee, “Let’s add a safety workshop to the agenda, to take a deep dive into safety content targeting distributor owners and core level managers. In other words, let’s continue the conver-

sation that Tom started.” The Planning Committee challenged, “Why just do it for safety? Why not for sales, HR, even IT?” and the Education Tracks concept was born. Some of the industry veterans on our Planning Committee recalled the days of NWSA Operation Interchange, a similar concept that drove more content into the Zone Meetings. This format change is all about delivering actionable business takeaways at the operational level, back to blocking and tackling, to engage more distributor participation. What has changed about this year’s format compared to past years? We are replacing one of the two general business sessions with an Education Track series. The first morning of the SMC features four meeting rooms, each with a focus area: Safety and Operations, Human Resources, Sales and Marketing, and Information Technology. Attendees can spend the morning in a single Track or rotate among the rooms. Three presentations from different distributor businesses will be shared in each Track, twelve unique learning opportunities in total across the four themes. Each presenter will be sharing a best practice or lesson learned, something which we can all learn from and implement.

How will the new format benefit me, as an attendee? You will learn something that you can implement to pay for your trip. This meeting is designed for take-home content. And it will be plentiful! You will meet new contacts. The new format is drawing new faces to the SMC - managers from safety and compliance, HR, sales, IT and administration. These managers will spend the morning with their counterparts across our member companies, providing an immediate network of like-minded resources for future connection and consultation. Furthermore, these core level managers will network with our suppliers during the Contact Booth program, which follows the Education Tracks, expanding product and service knowledge, and your supply chain network. Why should I attend if I’m an executive and this conference is targeted toward core level management? The keynote speaker during the general business session is Patrick Lencioni, business guru and author. Owners, executives, and core level managers alike will learn how to be better leaders and team players for their organizations. Specific to the Education Track format, attendees do not have to stay in one room all morning. A distributor owner, for example, could spend the morning

learning how to protect his/her business from cyber threats in the IT Track, discovering a solution for tracking and measuring Driver performance in the Safety and Operations Track, and uncovering how to get employees to give a damn in the HR Track. Yes, “Getting Employees to Give A Damn” is the actual topic, being presented by Ryan Craven, Vice President and General Manager of General Air. “A Dark Web Nightmare” is being presented by Joe Ripslinger, Vice President Information Technology of S.J. Smith. “Keeping Score in Distribution” is being presented by Craig Harris, Vice President of Operations of Red Ball Oxygen. What actionable takeaways should I expect to take away from this conference? This conference is being built so our members cannot afford not to attend. The Education Track presenters are all GAWDA members, sharing what has worked and what has not worked for their businesses. Takeaways will include successes to emulate and most importantly, failures to not repeat. Additionally, Patrick Lencioni, our business session’s keynote speaker, is called “one of the most in demand speakers in America” by The Wall Street Journal. He is renowned as the pioneer of the organizational health movement and is the author of 11 books, which

have sold more than 6 million copies and have been translated into more than 30 languages. Anything else I should know about the new SMC before I register? Four people from your organization have to attend if you want to capture the content from every Education Track. The schedule is 4x3, four tracks with three presentations in each. And just because the focus is content does not mean we forgot about the fun. The opening reception will include dinner to keep all GAWDA distributors and suppliers together, networking and building rapport. This event is being held at Austin City Limits, a stateof-the-art live music venue that hosts approximately 100 concerts a year. One of them will be ours! This three-part GAWDA party features a reception, dinner, and live concert. ATTIRE

The average high temperature in Austin, TX in early April is 80 degrees and the average low is 59 degrees. Attire for the Spring Management Conference is business casual. CONFERENCE SCHEDULE ON NEXT PAGE

Winter 2020 • 47



President’s Welcome Reception & Dinner


SATURDAY, APRIL 4, 2020 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.


6-10 P.M.

GAWDA President Abydee Butler Moore welcomes attendees of the Spring Management Conference to Austin, TX!

Early Badge Pick Up

Join us for a legendary evening at Austin City Limits as we connect with industry friends. No need to leave early – members can explore Austin City Limits, music’s best address, home of the longest running music series. Drinks, dinner and entertainment will be provided.

SUNDAY, APRIL 5, 2020 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Conference Registration

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Executive Committee Meeting

9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Board Meeting 1

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Strategic Plan Rollout Working Lunch with Committee Chairs

1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Exhibitor Booth Set Up

1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Committee Meetings

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Board Meeting 2


3-TWO-1 Reception 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

If this is your first GAWDA meeting, or if you or your business are new to our Association or industry within three years, please join the GAWDA Board, Past Presidents, Committee Chairs, and Headquarters Team for this special New Attendee Reception. Mix and mingle with established GAWDA members in an intimate setting prior to the President’s Welcome Reception.

6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. President’s Welcome Reception & Dinner

MONDAY, APRIL 6, 2020 6:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Exhibitor Booth Set Up 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Conference Registration

7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.

Networking Breakfast and Welcome By GAWDA President, Abydee Butler Moore

8:00 a.m. – 8:55a.m.





We Now Get CRM Colleen Kohler, Noble Gas Solutions

The True Cost of an Accident Marilyn Dempsey, Safety Dragons and Workplace Consultants

Cyber Security – The Pain and Cost of Being a Victim and How to Protect Yourself Joe Ripslinger, SJ Smith

Winning The Talent War Bill Proctor, nexAir

8:55a.m. – 9:15a.m.

9:15a.m. – 10:10 p.m.

Break Grow Time! What You Need to Know About the New Cannabis and Hemp Extraction Markets Jason Kirby, Oxarc

10:10 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

10:30 a.m. – 11:25a.m.

48 • Winter 2020

Doing More with Less: Automating Administrative Functions Will Roberts, Roberts Oxygen

Our Story Your Lesson Mike Dodd, GAWDA Consultant

Using HR to Maximize Employee Potential and Protect The Business You’ve Built Anne Hayes, Indiana Oxygen

Break Playbook for Sales & Marketing Growth through Company Alignment Allison Earlbeck, Earlbeck Gases and Technologies

Keeping Score in Distribution Craig Harris, Red Ball Oxygen

Changing Your ERP Without Taking Years Off Your Life David Healzer, CeeKay Supply

Getting Employees to Give a Damn Ryan Craven, General Air



Compliance Made Simple.

MONDAY, APRIL 6, 2020 (continued) 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Group Lunch & GAWDA Presentation by GAWDA

12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Contact Booth Program

4:30 p.m.

Industry Hospitalities

President, Abydee Butler Moore & Executive Director, John Ospina

TUESDAY, APRIL 7, 2020 7:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Conference Registration

7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.

Networking Breakfast

Electronic Records Electronic Signature

Gas + Cryogenic Production Records

General Business Session 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

10:00 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.

• President’s Address: GAWDA President, Abydee Butler Moore • Keynote Speaker: Patrick Lencioni


Medical Gases: O2 / N / N2O2 / CO2 Food/ Beverage Gases: O2 / N / N2O2 Industrial Gases: O2 / N / N2O2 Aviation: O2

General Business Session 10:20 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

• GAWDA Scholarship Presentation • Industry Keynote Speaker: Jens Luehring, President & CEO of Messer Americas

FDA Inspected + Validated


Tracking + Records:

Production / Training / Labels / Maintains COA + Certification / Equipment

Winter 2020 • 49

OF Y E A RS 50 • Winter 2020


Winter 2020 • 51


GAWDA Distributors Expect Sales to Continue to Rise in 2020 Despite calls for a slow first half of the year, GAWDA distributors look ahead to 2020 with confidence. BY STEVE GUGLIELMO


ach year in the 1st Quarter Issue of Welding & Gases Today, we survey the industry to try to determine what can be expected from the economy in the coming year. To do this, we have solicited not only distributor and supplier member expectations, but also spoke with the Chief GAWDA Economists at ITR Economics to hear their perspective (page 68.) These three perspectives, combined with the in-depth ITR Quarterly Report (page 72-83), all help paint a picture of what the economy has in store for the gases and welding industry this year. New this year, we have broken the distributor forecast down by region, as the economic climate is not uniform across the country and the industry. Though the economy has seen a historic run of growth since the depths of the Great Recession, we have actually been experiencing a slight downturn in the second half of 2019 that is expected to extend into the first half of 2020, according to ITR Economics. However, off such a tremendous decade of success, even those companies who have forecasted a neutral or flat expectation for 2020 are basing that off of what was, in many cases, a record setting year in 2019. The following are responses from GAWDA distributors across North America about what they expect to see in 2020. Thank you to those who participated.

EAST The Eastern region of the United States is the most optimistic region of the country in 2020, predicting a cumulative 6.25% growth. It is also one of only two regions of the country that did not have a single forecast of decreasing or even level growth. 52 • Winter 2020

Lloyd Robinson, president of AWISCO, projects 2-3% growth for 2020. “The uncertainty with the tariffs along with the continuation of ‘trade wars’ is not helping grow the economy,” says Robinson. “I project that next year will be a somewhat difficult year with little to no growth.” In 2019, Robinson made an investment in automation that he expects to contribute to growth for the year. He also noted growth in the cryotherapy market. Though uncertainty of trade policy is dampening expectations, Robinson still predicts slight growth in 2020. Liberty Supply, Inc. forecasts a growth of 5-7% in the New Year. Treasurer Pete Matarese is optimistic that the economy will remain strong in 2020. “If the economy remains strong, infrastructure needs rebuilding, which certainly helps our business,” he says. He notes that the corporate tax relief legislation passed in 2018 had an overall positive impact on business, but that it was not felt by Liberty. Specific markets that Matarese sees with growth potential include: infrastructure, roads and public transit. “These have recently had a significant impact on us,” he says. 2019 started poorly for Industrial Welding Supply, but President Jim Cusick saw an uptick toward the end of the year that he expects to carry into 2020. He forecasts a growth of 15% for the company in 2020. Like many other GAWDA distributors, he cautions that positive growth expectations could be hampered if the 2020 elections lead to more Democratic lawmakers. “We’re working on getting a new Bulk Contract and trying to get another equipment line,” says Cusick. “This will add to the bottom line.”


EAST +6.25%

CENTRAL +5.29%

WEST +5.71% SOUTH +5.25%

“We are constantly looking for new paths of growth, which include acquisition opportunities as well as working more with fellow independents,” says Jim Earlbeck, president of Earlbeck Gases & Technologies. Earlbeck notes that while growth is slowing from the last few years, he still anticipates a 4% growth in 2020. He notes that while customers have normalized to the political gamesmanship in Washington, D.C., an impeachment may put a wave out that the industry will find difficult to navigate. Short of that, however, Earlbeck predicts slightly positive growth for the overall industry. He also predicts that the trend toward consolidation will continue, but at a slower rate. Echoing a sentiment expressed by many members, McKinney Welding Supply President Steven Mattiace says, “Political uncertainty continues to effect long-term planning.” He forecasts slow growth for the first quarter of the year. Similarly, he predicts neutral to slow positive growth for the industry at large. McKinney does not have plans to expand its lines of business or introduce new locations in 2020. Churchtowne Gas expects a 5% sales increase in 2020, according to President Charles Mundt. This is roughly in line with Mundt’s projection of 2% growth for the industry at large, though he notes with 2020 being an election year it could “go either way.” One trend that Mundt has noticed is that propane prices have stayed lower in the cold weather, which has led to increased demand for Churchtowne. “We are

considering adding employees if we can find the right experienced folks,” he says. One major change that he notes is that “Our costs to hire and keep drivers have grown by 20% in the last two years. We need to raise prices and/or add on charges to maintain margins.”

SOUTH For 2020, the Southern region of the United States (and Caribbean) is the least optimistic region in the industry. However, it is by no means pessimistic, predicting an aggregate increase of 5.25%. Interestingly, though it has the lowest cumulative forecast, the South is the other region that had no predictions of negative or even neutral growth. Every respondent predicted positive growth for 2020. “I’m optimistic,” says Southern Welders Supply Co. President Jan Fogle. “A lot of money has been spent by the major and intermediate players in our industry to expand. I see new competition in all aspects of our industry. I think it will be a conservative year as far as expansions are concerned.” Fogle notes that the uncertain political atmosphere has affected manufacturing most of all. “That greatly affects my business,” he says. “I think it has both grown and shrunk it. I expect this jaggedness to continue no matter what happens in the election. Manufacturing has been tumultuous due to China negotiations, both on a supply side and a customer Winter 2020 • 53


side. I don’t know what to expect, but hopefully things grow more than they shrink.” Larry Simpson, President of Welders Supply of Louisville, expects 4% growth in 2020, driven primarily by gas prices and an expanded product offering. Trends that he’s seen in 2019 that he expects to continue into 2020 and beyond include: big regional distributors continuing to grow/expand, customers in need of help identifying productivity improvements/savings, and talent acquisition/development as a key pivot point for supporting growth. “We will continue expanding product offerings that complement our traditional gas and welding business,” says Simpson. “We will look to expand wallet share in existing accounts and create new account opportunities.” Some growth markets that he’s identified are abrasives, first aid and safety, and beverage gases. Interstate Welding Vice President Greg Bradshaw sees growth both for Interstate and the overall industry on the back of a great economy next year. He specifically points to steel sales as a reason for optimism for Interstate. “We do welding supply and we added steel sales years ago,” he says. “In our area, this works well together.” He notes that tariffs have had an impact and continue to increase but says, “Sales continue to rise.” Empresas de Soldaduras General Manager Wigberto de la Cruz forecasts an increase in sales in 2020. “For our region (Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands) we project positive growth because a lot of new projects are coming in 2020,” he says. “Also, we are opening a new location for sales and a new expansion in our gas operation facilities.” He goes on to say, “Our advantage is that we are locals and our service is faster than competitors in our area. Prices are always a concern and because of our condition as an island, we have to pay more in shipping. Customers know about changes in prices in the market.” In addition to the new location and expanded gas operation facilities, de la Cruz says that the company is acquiring more space in one of its eight locations. “In the last ten years, our big growth has been in cylinders,” he says. “It’s a part of the business where we put a lot of effort and investment.” Michael Crambes, VP of Operations at Pure Air Ltd., predicts 2-3% organic growth for the company over 2019. “We are in the southern U.S. and Caribbean. In the U.S. we are projecting positive 2-3% above 2019,” he says. “In the Caribbean, we are projecting 4-5% above 2019.” He notes that consolidation has been an ongoing trend but says, “In our opinion, consolidation helps a market and stabilizes prices. We see a slow down in consolidation for the next 2-3 years.” He also says that he doesn’t expect “measurable inflation” 54 • Winter 2020

to hit until 2021, when he sees 3-4% inflation. The company has expansion plans in 2020, with a pending acquisition in North Texas. “We see an opportunity to become a regional player over the next few years,” says Crambes. “Secondary and rural markets service levels are being neglected and we see a niche opportunity when that occurs.” Marvin Rodgers, III, President of Airco Gases and Big Three Gas and Supply, says the company is investing heavily in its people to communicate its message to the market, as well as in assets and operations. “We expect that sales for our acquisition in the DFW market will be up significantly in 2020 from their 2019 run rate,” he says. “Our entire business model is focused on expansion, primarily organic. We will be adding bulk distribution, medical and specialty gas sales and production, and expanding our technology offerings. We also expect to scratch start at least one new location in 2020. By expanding our offerings, and particularly by controlling more of our production and distribution capabilities, we expect that we will be able to leverage our willingness to differentiate ourselves by providing high levels of service to the customer without sacrificing profitability.” He adds, “We are glad to be back in and involved with such a dynamic and broad industry.”

CENTRAL The Central Region of the country had the most respondents to this year’s survey. With forecasts ranging from a 5% contraction to a 15% growth, it was easily the most volatile region of the country. Overall, respondents forecasted a combined 5.29% growth for 2020. Construction will drive an expected 5% increase for Central Ohio Welding in 2020, according to General Manager Brad Davis. “I would expect neutral growth for the industry as a whole. Our national economy is still healthy, but the factors that are driving it have changed in the last two years,” says Davis. “Whereas business investment was increasing in 2017-2019, it is now flat to slightly negative. Other types of spending have positive benefits, but not to the same extent.” He continues, “If the economy falters or goes into recession, I think we will see some large independent distributors purchased by majors in a similar way to what we have seen during other recessions. Steel prices were more of an issue during 2018-19 than they will be in 2020.” After being in the same set of buildings for more than 100 years, Central Ohio Welding will move into a newer and larger headquarters in 2020, complete with a new fill plant, showroom and administrative offices. The distributor will also open a new satellite branch, the first in its history. “These moves were driven primarily by the growth


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GROWTH/NICHE MARKETS Cannabis Cryotherapy Infrastructure Rural Markets Beverage Gases Safety Plasma Technology Robotics Dry Ice Training

56 • Winter 2020

in our region and our faith in its future,” says Davis. Weldstar Company also anticipates 5% organic growth in 2020. “We really have difficulty projecting overall growth due to various political uncertainties including trade agreements and an upcoming election,” says Weldstar President Matt Winkle. “Most economists we have heard are calling for very modest growth through 2020.” The company expects to launch a new location in the spring. It also completed a new state-of-the-art specialty gas lab, which Winkle expects to bring increased capabilities and new and non-traditional opportunities. Josh Weinmann, President of Delille Oxygen Company, forecasts 10-15% growth in 2020. “I think overall growth will be slightly positive to neutral. I don’t believe it will be as good as 2019 was, but not as bad as the forecasts are predicting,” says Weinmann. “With interest rates so low and a strong stock market going into 2020, I think there will be some investments being made in various sectors, but political uncertainty and trade wars will limit that.” Weinmann says that Delille is expanding its business by doing a special project of on-site gas generation. “This will greatly help our overall growth in 2020 as well as future growth, and not just in revenue, but the experience of doing this project,” he says. “Whenever we have taken on new manufacturing projects, we make sure to utilize the lessons learned for future expansion.” Hartman Brothers, Inc. President Kirk Hartman also expects 15% growth in 2020, on the back of bulk CO2 for CBD extraction. Hartman cautions that this projection could be negatively impacted by the election results in November. “Our company continues to grow and prosper, thanks to Trump,” he says. A growth market that Hartman is


excited about is the coal business. James C. Dawes Co. Inc. Owner Brian C. Dawes anticipates a flat 2020, with gas & oil construction down. That prediction applies to both James C. Dawes and the overall industry. The distributor is currently looking at property in West Virginia, across from a multi-billion dollar plant along the Ohio River. Dawes will pay special attention to the continued growth of the domestic gas and oil industry in the U.S., which he believes will have a positive impact on the economy going forward. An election year with a robust economy will lead to a 6% growth for Indiana Oxygen in 2020, says CEO Wally Brant. “Online sales have been hit very hard by the Supreme Court reversal regarding sales tax,” says Brant. “The cost to comply with all the different state taxes is extremely time-consuming and expensive. Still, I believe online sales have stabilized permanently, proving the brick and mortar stores still have a prominent place in our industry.” Something Indiana Oxygen is focusing on is “bringing the online B2C business experience and convenience to existing B2B customers.” Assuming a business-friendly president and Congress are elected, Brant expects the economy to remain strong through 2020 and into 2021. However, he cautions that growth will continue to be restrained by the lack of qualified CDL drivers. As process automation continues to increase, Mississippi Welders Supply Chairman Brad Peterson predicts a 5% growth in 2020. He anticipates that Mississippi Welders will continue to add key players to broaden its market penetration. “Automation has been very good for us,” he notes. “Customers can’t find employees, so they need to automate.” With so many uncertainties, Peterson expects a neutral year for the industry overall.

BIGGEST IMPACT ON GROWTH IN 2020: Tariffs/Trade Uncertainty Passage of the USCMA Tax Legislation Steel Prices Looming Election Consolidation Online Sales Impacting Retail Tight Labor Market

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Paul Rensing, President of Weld Plus, Inc., anticipates 10% growth in 2020. “Experts say the first two quarters of 2020 will be slow,” says Rensing. “We had bad third and fourth quarter of 2019. We have so much work quoted and have heard customers say they plan to get this work done that I believe we will see a 10% to 15% increase from 2019.” While he notes that tariffs have slowed things down a bit, he believes that they will be relaxed a bit in 2020. The bigger international impact is that, “There are other places in the world that now have to compete with the U.S. straight up. That should give us an advantage on the world stage.” Weld Plus, Inc. has started a private label and Rensing says they will continue to expand that business. O.E. Meyer Co. forecasts growth in the single digits over 2019. “I think our industry will continue to grow, but at a slower rate in 2020 than we’ve experienced the last few years,” says VP of Sales Eric Wood. “In 2019 the trends that impacted us the most were low scrap prices, low propane costs, and our struggle to employ and retain CDL personnel. We are beginning to see propane prices increase with the increase in demand, and we are taking a different approach to hiring, training, and the investment in our drivers.” Wood believes that growth in 2020 will come from growing market share by taking competitive business. “We continue to expand our automation capabilities and are expanding the geography of our beverage CO2 and residential propane business units.” A loss of hard good sales leads Rodney Huber to project a 5% decrease in 2020. The President of Huber Supply Co., Inc. notes that the distributor is entering several new markets, “But we do not have plans to set up physical locations at this time. We plan to service from our existing footprint.” He notes that propane is a potential growth market for Huber. In a departure from what several other respondents have said, Huber does not believe that the political atmosphere or the looming presidential election have impacted sales or that they will in 2020. A stable economy and continued capital investment spell a 5% growth for Purity Cylinder Gases, according to Sales Manager Scott Berg. He expects the overall industry to be slightly positive but with continued price pressure from suppliers and customers. Purity continues to build in two newer markets in 2020. That combined with a growth market in dry ice manufacture and dry ice blasting, keep Purity optimistic going into 2020, despite the price chaos driven in part by the tariffs. “Everyone is spending money to rebuild,” says Thomas Budae, President of Flint Welding Supply. “Hopefully it being an election year doesn’t put a hold on a lot of proposed projects.” Budae projects level sales with 2019. He notes that 58 • Winter 2020

the company is upgrading its liquid oxygen station, which will lead to lower costs. As many have noted, “The medical marijuana market in Michigan is booming right now. CO2 is a big seller,” says Budae.

WEST The Western region of the country is the second most optimistic, according to this survey. Respondents predict a cumulative 5.71% growth in 2020. Steve Cox, Harris Industrial Gases Sales Manager, expects the gas portion of the business to grow by 10%, while the hard goods side remains flat in 2020. He expressed optimism for continued growth and stronger margins, “As there will hopefully be some discipline back in the quoting process.” Cox notes that the national atmosphere is overall business-friendly, but that “California continues to drive our clients out of state. This is deleterious to our projections.” As many other respondents have noted, Cox says that the cannabis market “is and will continue to be flourishing.” Cox also says that Harris is seeking to become more independent, with plans to add a location and fill plant to lessen dependence on the majors. Construction, Oil and Forestry Recovery will be the primary drivers of a 6-8% growth for Western Gasco Cylinders Ltd., according to President Stu Younger. Younger notes that he has seen the economy slow in the waning months of 2019, which leads to a neutral to slightly positive projection for the overall industry. “We’ve seen rising prices due to trade uncertainty, tariffs and steel prices,” says Younger. “Everyone has really increased prices, so we may have some retrenchment if the economy softens.” With a new minority government in Canada, Younger doesn’t expect a lot of changes to the Canadian economy. However, he says, “We expect 2020 for the U.S. to be full of uncertainty, just as 2019 was.” DJB Gas Services President Dave Burnett forecasts 1015% growth in 2020. “We’re planning some smaller acquisitions and a new major product line that should add growth in 2020,” says Burnett. For the economy as a whole, he predicts positive growth, albeit at a slower rate than 2019. He notes that the political atmosphere in Washington will have “no impact as long as there are no major governing changes.” He notes that in the event of a major governing change, growth could be negatively impacted in 2020. In terms of growth potential, he notes that CO2 and the life sciences markets continue to be growth markets. Following a strong 2019 and a slow down in manufacturing, Glenn Bliss, president of General Distributing Co. predicts a 1% decrease in sales compared to 2019. Like many others, he notes that tariff uncertainty and a looming election year,

combined with a slowdown in manufacturing in Q4 2019 that he believes may linger into 2020, have all had an impact on business. To counter a slowdown in sales, Bliss notes that possible new locations and territory and a new product line could be in the cards for the distributor next year. “Commercial and industrial customers are holding onto cash and holding off on capital investment,” says Bliss. “Election uncertainty seems to be a common theme and concern.” He also notes that a continued tight labor pool of qualified employees and challenges in the health care system are an ongoing concern. Britt Wuest, President of Bishop Welding Supply, anticipates a level year for Bishop and a 3% growth for the industry in 2020. Wuest expects mild inflation of 1-2% in the upcoming year. Bishop has seen tariffs but has been able to pass those costs through. Growth markets for Bishop include carbon dioxide for breweries and cannabis extraction. Norco Inc. CEO Jim Kissler anticipates 5-8% growth in 2020, with a similar projection for the industry. “We will be impacted by the national economy,” he says. Other impacts include manufacturing growth and a potential end to the trade war with international trading partners. “The Trump economy is charging ahead,” says Kissler. “Job growth is good and consumer confidence is holding up. Employees will continue to face competition for hiring good employees and general wage increases to retain staff.” To combat this, Norco initiated a minimum wage of almost double the Federal minimum. The distributor adds 2-3 new locations per year, through acquisition or start-ups. “We also remodel or build new stores aggressively,” Kissler says. “We currently have seven construction projects underway in the states we operate in. Our headcount is fairly stable, but we are adding executive positions to oversee the branch locations and ensure safety.” He adds, “The last 5 - 10 years have provided stable economic growth opportunities for most distributors. Investing in our businesses and facilities is the right thing to do while the economy is strong. Acquisitions will also be available to distributors with strong balance sheets. Look for small or medium distributors without viable succession plans.” Though Vern Lewis Welding Supply CEO Stacy Lewis Hayes notes that the market is slowing, she still anticipates a 5% growth in 2020. Vern Lewis has plans to open a new location and expects to see returns quickly from that expansion. While Hayes notes the impact of tariffs, she feels that the new tax law has offset the impact. “We don’t feel the election will affect us much,” says Hayes. Hayes notes that “anything that moves forward technology-wise” is a niche/growth market in the industry, specifically pointing to plasma technology and robotics. Winter 2020 • 59


GAWDA Suppliers Project Modest Growth in 2020 BY STEVE GUGLIELMO


onsistent with what the GAWDA distributors projected, GAWDA suppliers are also predicting modest growth in store for 2020. While the disparity of answers varied a little bit more widely among the suppliers, the consensus was for continued, albeit slowing growth in store for 2020. Also consistent with the distributors projections was a fear of election year softness and the continued impact of trade barriers and tariffs. However, even with those fears looming over 2020, most suppliers still projected growth ahead. The following are responses from GAWDA suppliers across North America about what they expect to see in 2020. Thank you to those who participated. With the oil and gas and automotive markets projecting strong years in 2020, Arcos Industries General Manager Harry Wehr projects an 8-10% increase for the manufacturer. Arcos is also a strong supplier to the U.S. military. “We’re a major supplier to the military, especially the Navy,” Wehr says. “There are currently 25-30 years of contracts for new ships, aircraft carriers, destroyers 60 • Winter 2020

and submarines that have been awarded. That will be a big plus for us.” Aside from being involved with strong growth markets, 2020 is slated to be an exciting year for Arcos. The company will complete a new warehousing facility by the end of March and a complete office renovation by the end of the summer. The company also has plans to build a new manufacturing facility, which Wehr predicts will increase capacity and make the manufacturing process more efficient and modern. “There are a lot of things going on here at Arcos and where I was thinking about retiring at one time, now I’m going to stay until these projects are completed,” he says. “We’re probably looking at a time frame for the new manufacturing building and moving the equipment of 2.5 to 3 years. It’s going to be a challenge and that’s what I like. I honestly believe the welding industry would see a world-wide growth in 2020 unless something unexpected happens on the world stage. Arcos will continue to grow with new business opportunities. Arcos has been serving the industry with a quality product for the past 101 years.” Based on the trend shown in the

Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), Weldcoa President and Co-Owner Hector Villarreal anticipates a level year in 2020. “Normally, the PMI is about six months ahead of us,” Villarreal says. “Right now, it’s in its fifth month of contraction.” He notes, however, that there haven’t been any signs of the industry slowing down to date. “Last year was our third record year in a row,” he says. 2020 will be an exciting year for Weldcoa, as it gets ready to debut a new product for a growth segment of its market. “We’re basically automating a process that has never been automated before. And it really needs it. The cost savings are going to be tremendous and the quality improvements are going to be off the charts,” Villarreal says. He does not expect the looming election to have a tangible impact on sales in 2020 and notes that, “Regulations have eased up. Money is still cheap. The economy isn’t overboiling but it’s still moving in the right direction. It’s a good time to be in business, so take advantage.” Mercer Industries will see high single-digit growth in 2020. President Jim Wallick explains that distributors continue


to seek value, something that Mercer provides. “I think that distributors and their end users, welders, are looking for common-sense purchases,” says Wallick. “They’re not looking to spend more; they’re looking to get more value for what they purchase and to understand how they can get that value.” Mercer expects to add new products in wire wheels, wire products and advanced zirconia products in the 2nd Quarter of 2020. “We’re continuing to expand our line with products that give value, increased performance and durability to our users,” Wallick says. He adds, “The support of independents and family businesses for companies like ours, with a 50-year history is overwhelming. We truly appreciate it.” 2018 was a record year for Norton Abrasives in the entire 130+ year history of the company. 2019 maintained that record number. And 2020 projects to be another record year. Director of National Distribution for Norton Abrasives and Carborundum Abrasives Jim O’Connor projects an increase this year. Last year, the company contended with the fallout from the Chinese tariffs, driving the decision to leverage its strong global manufacturing footprint. “We had hoped that the tariffs would be resolved quickly in China,” O’Connor says. “When it didn’t look like it was going to be a quick fix, we made the decision to review those products where it made sense to move the manufacturing while maintaining our quality and market position.” Though the company’s core business is abrasives, it has seen substantial growth in its non-abrasive business. “We’re expanding the non-abrasive side of the business,” O’Connor says. “That is pneumatic tools, carbide burrs, wire brushes and other corresponding accessories that go with them. That’s a big growth area for us.” As Controlled Efficiencies continues to grow its business, President David

Graves anticipates strong growth for 2020 and beyond. “The knowledge of our product is getting out there and the word of mouth is picking up,” Graves says. “And we’re planning on continuing to add product. As our customers want new products added, we then offer those enhancements to everybody.” Customers that have implemented the Controlled Efficiencies software have all seen a significant increase in productivity, sometimes as much as 25-35%. “Compliance paperwork is one of the most labor-intensive processes that plant managers deal with,” says Graves. “So having that data instantly available at their fingertips and automating that process allows companies to spend more time utilizing their labor to produce profit.” Kaplan Industries Executive Vice President of Operations Jim Johnston forecasts a growth year in 2020. “We’ve just gotten involved with providing hydrocarbons to our customer base,” Johnston says. “We’ve seen some real growth in that this year and anticipate it growing even more next year.” To capitalize on that hydrocarbon market, Kaplan installed two new bulk tanks. “When we entered this market, the thought was that butane was going to be the major hydrocarbon that would be used in the extraction of the cannabis oil,” he says. “But as things have developed, a wide variety of mixes and combinations have been used. These tanks allow us to have individual tanks for butane, isobutane and propane. So now we can provide the mixes that are required.” Another exciting development for Kaplan this year is the addition of a new paint line, with 1,000 stations. Says Johnston, “This paint line will enable us to be a true, consistent just-in-time supplier.” Select Arc President Dale Stager anticipates a level year in 2020 compared to 2019. He notes that the company, like

many others in the industry, is being impacted by the tariffs. “I think that if they ever get that straightened out it would certainly help people,” says Stager. He does think that 2020 being an election year will have an impact on the economy, and notes that the result of the election could have an impact on the economy beyond 2020. FIBA Technologies has seen their backlog grow significantly over the past year, leading Sales Director Chris Finn to forecast continued growth this year. As the industry continues to experience a helium shortage, more and more wells and sources are coming on line. “Historically, with the BLM, you had helium coming from central locations in the Southwest,” Finn says. “Now you have a variety of different sources of helium, so that drives demand for storage tanks FIBA manufactures and assembles. If you have everything coming out of one central location, you don’t need as many trucks. But if you have a dozen sources of helium now from Canada through the Midwest, now you need a lot more equipment. The ever changing landscape of supply is the biggest driver of change.” The company is in the process of expanding its service locations in Pennsylvania and Louisiana, and recently completed a massive expansion of its manufacturing facility in Massachusetts. Those expansions, combined with its recently launched Type IV helium trailer, will all start hitting the bottom line in 2020. 2020 is poised to be an explosive year for Anthony Welded Products, Inc. according to President Frank Salvucci, Jr. The company plans to open a new manufacturing plant in the first half of the year. “This plant will double our manufacturing capacity,” Salvucci says. “It also enables us to go into different sectors of the business. We’re exploding with new products and new innovative ways to move and store cylinders.” Salvucci Winter 2020 • 61


forecasts a sales increase for 2020. “Part of that growth will be the result of expanding our product line which includes new patented products, like the new 3n1 cart design,” he says. “It takes three carts that we currently offer separately and rolls them into one cart keeping it the same cost as a standard cart.” Hyperkinetics Corporation Executive Vice President Wade Holt is very bullish on the company’s prospects for 2020. “We’re forecasting a 10-15% increase over 2019,” says Holt. “I think what’s driving this forecast are the favorable actions taken by the Trump administration to reduce taxes and hold back on regulations that may have popped up had someone else been in control.” In addition to the favorable business climate, Hyperkinetics is excited about two new product launches: A security cap for the beverage CO2 industry that will protect the fill connector from contamination, and a new line of caps for NPT threads. The company is also looking at the possibility of building a new warehouse that will increase its storage space by about 100%. “We’re very excited about that,” says Holt. “Right now, we have two different warehouses that are in different locations. We’re excited to put everybody under one roof.” 2020 projects to be a strong year for Flange Wizard, according to Owner and CEO Bob Doan. The company is highly dependent on the oilfield business, pipelines and natural gas, all of which project to see growth in 2020. “We have seen huge increases last year and the year before,” says Doan. “We’re developing new tools, especially for the pipeline industry and have seen a very strong increase.” Among those new products are a new wrap around and new cutting guides, which debuted at the end of 2019. “On the wrap arounds, I had my own material made. The welders seem to really like it,” Doan says. “We’ve made some 62 • Winter 2020

improvements on our new cutting guides, as well. We’ve developed a couple new ones that are just now coming on the market that not only cut, but they bevel at the same time.” Doan, who has been in the business since he was 13 years old, says that working in the welding business is the greatest thing that ever happened to him. Coming off a strong 2019, California Cylinder will continue that momentum into 2020, according to President of Sales and Purchasing Curtis Brown. With competitors moving out of the state and a continued growth in the cannabis extraction market driving increased CO2 cylinder sales, California Cylinder sees strong trends signaling growth in the new year. “Things have picked up at the end of the year,” Brown says. “We’ve seen a big uptick and I see our business staying pretty strong.” Brown saw the warning signs of the coming trade war with China and was able to secure deals on steel from other countries and lock in rates. “While other companies were scrambling, we had our prices locked in,” he says. Hypertherm CEO Evan Smith predicts a continued softening of the global industrial economy through the first half of 2020, followed by a recovery in the second half of the year. All told, Smith forecasts sales to be relatively flat next year leading into a growth year in 2021. He looks forward to a degree of stability in the market in 2020, after an uncertain 2019. “I think 2019 has certainly been affected by the trade conflict. That’s resulted in some materials cost inflation plus the absorption of import tariffs going into China. I would say the strengthening dollar through the year also had adverse impacts for multi-national companies like Hypertherm,” says Smith. “The dollar has stabilized and is not likely to strengthen much further, and the Fed is likely to remain on the sidelines on interest rate policy. Trade conflicts, especially going

into an election year, seem to be settling down a bit. That would normally be conducive to some return to risk-taking by business decision-makers. So, I think that could be helpful in the second half of 2020, dampened perhaps a little by policy uncertainty surrounding the election.” The company expects a major generational product launch in one of its plasma lines in 2020 and will continue to invest time and resources into continued integration of OMAX, a leading waterjet cutting company acquired in 2019. McDantim CEO Dan Fallon projects a level year for the company in 2020. He notes that McDantim operates in two very diverse markets: the beer market and the industrial market. The craft beer market has been a major growth driver for the company, but Fallon sees a slowdown in growth for that market, which he believes will negatively impact McDantim. However, he sees positive growth on the industrial side of the business that he believes will balance out that decrease and lead to level growth. The company plans to debut two new products in 2020. Says Fallon, “These products will give us the ability to provide a better product to specific niches in the marketplace.” Eleet Cryogenics forecasts double-digit growth in 2020. The primary drivers of that growth engine include the company’s new bulk tank rehab services facility in Houston continuing to ramp up production, and a new Taylor-Wharton microbulk tank stocking location on the West Coast that is anticipated to come online in early 2020. The new stocking location will give Eleet a stocking presence in all areas of the country, with the West coast joining its Ohio, Georgia and Texas locations. “There seem to be new applications in cryogenics and we have found the trend to be that customers want to work with companies that offer quality product, with people they can trust and that offers technical expertise,”


says Eleet Cryogenics VP of Sales Doug Morton. “There is continued confidence in the time-tested performance of our products as we expand our territory.” Eleet, which is the exclusive provider of Taylor-Wharton bulk and microbulk tanks in the U.S., has been unaffected by the tariffs on Chinese goods as their tanks are manufactured in Malaysia. “The facility in Malaysia is the newest stateof-the-art manufacturing facility in the world for microbulk tanks with a recent $6MM investment in the new production line,” Morton says. “And the quality, standard features and performance are unmatched.” The company continues to make investments in inventory and increasing throughput at its Texas and Ohio bulk tank rehab facilities. With microbulk being one of the most aggressive growth markets in the gases

and welding industry, Taylor-Wharton expects see strong growth in 2020. “From a microbulk standpoint, our recent expansion in Malaysia, which doubled our production capacity, is going to be a great driver for us,” says President Tim Miller. “We see great growth in microbulk, with this expanded capacity and with new products coming online. We continue to build larger tanks and penetrate more markets and industries with those.” In the U.S., Taylor-Wharton is exclusively distributed by Eleet Cryogenics, Inc. which plans to add an additional stocking location for the new Taylor-Wharton micro-bulk tanks this year. Coming off of a strong 2019, with a strong backlog and a continuing strong GDP, TOMCO2 Systems Vice President Sales & Market Development Jeff Holyoak is expecting to see solid growth

in 2020 across all of the company’s market segments. Two markets that Holyoak is especially excited about are CryoSystems and cryogenic freezers. “One of our growth platforms is going to be what we classify as CryoSystems, which includes ambient vaporizers, vacuum insulated pipe and vacuum insulated valves,” says Holyoak. “We’ll have a commercial product coming online in Q2 for ambient vaporizers for all atmospheric gases, vacuum insulated pipe soon thereaftere. We do a lot in service and installation and we partner with a many companies in those markets, but this puts us back into the manufacturing footprint to give us the beginning to end, from all product applications.” He continues, “The other dynamic opportunity that we have is our partnership with Dohmeyer cryogenic freezers. They come in both liquid nitrogen and liquid CO2. TOMCO

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the exclusive distributor for Canada and the U.S. With our strong position in the food processing industries and market segments, we fully anticipate a greater expansion of cryogenic freezer applications in the U.S. through the Dohmeyer partnership.” Bill McCloy, Managing Director of AmWINS Program Underwriters’ (APU) Welding Supply Distributors insurance program, recently provided insight to GAWDA members regarding an important issue that is impacting the entire industry for 2020 and beyond. “Auto liability continues to be a difficult line of insurance and coverage,” he says. “A lot of it has to do with ‘social inflation.’ Economic trends and political views are causing the cost of insurance claims to increase. Which in turn is escalating verdicts, litigation funding and jury distrust of big corporations.” McCloy adds, “Millennials are becoming a larger portion of the jury pool and their tendency to be more mistrustful of big corporations is driving up the cost of insurance for companies.” APU’s Welding program is committed to working with GAWDA members in an effort to keep the cost of insurance down. “We’re placing a larger focus on loss control and ways to educate members on risk mitigation,” McCloy says. “However, our program is impacted by these issues as well. Our carriers are not only looking at welding supply distributor accounts, they are reviewing the entire auto portfolio.” McCloy likens the issue to the recent helium crisis, stating, “The increase in premium is affecting welding distributors’ cost structure and, in some cases, taking a toll on their ability to do business. The issue is real and not going away for the short term.” SuperFlash Compressed Gas Equipment will see a continued increase in sales in 2020. CEO Victoria Marquard-Schultz, Esq. says, “Our products such as gas mixers, flashback 64 • Winter 2020

arrestors and manifolds are vital to gas safety and management, especially in the welding industry, our largest market. As the cost of treating injured workers soars, more companies are investing in a culture of safety aimed at preventing injuries in the workplace.” The company set the stage for expansion by opening new offices in Phoenix, Arizona, and Orlando, Florida, in 2019. These allow SuperFlash to provide greater customer service in the West and Southeast. “These regions are among the fastest growing in the U.S.,” says Marquard-Schultz. “We are excited about the opportunity our expansion will give us to reach and serve new and existing customers with greater speed and efficiency. New warehouses associated with these offices will allow us to ship products faster and with greater flexibility.” She also points to the welder shortage as something that will impact our industry going forward, saying, “We should all support programs, such as those sponsored by AWS and other organizations, to help close the skilled trade gap and encourage high school students and others to consider careers that involve welding, gases and metalworking.” Tom Bennett, President of Cyl-Tec, Inc. anticipates 5-7% growth in 2020. The biggest factors behind that growth will be additions to Cyl-Tec’s product lines, particularly in cryogenic vessels and specialty gas cylinders. “We continue to add new products such as more sizes and types of cryogenic vessels, more telemetry offerings, more specialty gas cylinders and valves,” Bennett says. “We will continue to expand and improve our efficiency in our plants with new production equipment.” Bennett notes that the increased use of CO2 and N2 in concrete production, the growth in the cannabis market and CBD oil extraction, and new micro-breweries are some of the new markets that Cyl-Tec has entered, and he projects that they

will continue to provide Cyl-Tec with growth opportunities in 2020. Computers Unlimited-TIMS Software plans to make additional investments in mobility, business intelligence tools, and logistics capabilities to help distributors achieve additional operational efficiencies and insights, according to President David Schaer. This will enable customers to “Capitalize on Microsoft’s advanced business intelligence capabilities and realize additional operational efficiencies through the use of smartphone apps,” says Schaer. “Mobile technology advancements continue to make day-to-day business processes more streamlined than ever, especially in regards to gas and hardgood deliveries, gas production in plant operations, and customer information such as open orders, cylinder balances, and inventory availability all readily accessible on smartphones and tablets.” The 3G Network Shutdown will be the biggest factor behind an increase in sales at Wise Telemetry, according to CEO Eric Wise. “I believe we will continue to see positive growth in the gases and welding industry as long as the overall economy continues to perform well,” says Wise. “I believe the telemetry industry, specifically, will continue to see exponential growth as technology becomes more powerful and cost-effective.” The trend that Wise has seen most in recent years is companies monitoring assets that historically would not have been cost-effective. Wise plans to launch new products in 2020 that “will allow us to provide additional monitoring services to our existing and new customers,” according to Wise. Geographic expansion will pave the way for double-digit growth in 2020 for Exocor Filler Metals. “Exocor has expanded into new geographies in each of the last three years, and the plan is to continue to bring our ‘partnership’


philosophy to a greater number of independent distributors in new U.S. markets in 2020,” Paul Kinsella, President and COO at Exocor says. “Based on the enthusiasm and results from prior expansions we can’t help but think this will continue our growth trajectory.” Kinsella notes that as we get closer to the election, buyers’ behaviors could be impacted by who is predicted to win and thus what they think the business landscape will be heading into 2021. But, despite some uncertainty ahead, one thing is constant, he notes, “I truly believe that all of us are in the service business and it becomes more apparent every day when you are dealing with a company that lives to serve vs. one that forgets this important fact. ‘Make it easy for customers to do business with us’ is a frequently used expression at Exocor

and if we practice that each day, then only positive results will occur.” Bill Dwyre, Managing Director at Weiler Abrasives, says that the election and continued trade unrest, especially tariffs, are causing uncertainty in the industry. Because of this, Weiler is expecting low single digit market growth, but expects to outperform that in 2020. He also notes that the oil and gas markets have been a market that Weiler has had success in and mentions that Weiler will continue to focus on new products in the new year According to Mike Verne, Director of Strategic Accounts at Worthington Industries, 2019 was a neutral year for the company and 2020 should follow a similar trend. “At Worthington, we’re excited by potential growth in areas that can benefit our unique expertise in materials science, purchasing, design

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and manufacturing, supply chain, and insights and analytics to create new solutions,” says Verne. He notes that the raw material tariffs initially led to a spike in demand, however lack of tariffs on finished goods neutralized the effects of early sales. Says Verne, “As the nation approaches an election year, it will be difficult to forecast how the regulatory environment will evolve.” Worthington is seeing increased demand for transportation and storage of hydrogen fuel, which Worthington is well-positioned to capitalize on, with nearly 50 years of experience building composite high-pressure cylinders. Worthington has also increased its workforce at its Alabama facility as a result of an increased demand for domestically-produced microbulk tanks. Growth in specialty markets and a new product pipeline will lead Chart Industries to grow at a rate greater than GDP in 2020, according to President of Distribution & Storage, Western Hemisphere Grady Walker. Among those specialty markets is food and beverage, cannabis, space flight and industrial lasers. “We have quite a few exciting new products in the pipeline and are planning for some important launches in 2020,” says Walker. “Among these will be a new 7,200 gallon Orca™ MicroBulk Delivery Trailer featuring a hydraulically driven pumping system with 500 psig discharge pressure and a magnetic coupling.” The trailer couples Chart’s existing automated filling technology with the capability of filling laser accounts without having to lower the tank pressure and potentially interrupting the operations of the customer. The Walker Family, owners of SafTCart in Clarksdale, Mississippi, project 2020 to be around level with 2019. The company notes that evolving markets mandate product changes. SafTCart plans an expansion of existing buildings and the addition of new buildings in 2020.


These facilities will give the company more room to fabricate. Two niche markets that have been providing dividends for the manufacturer are the composite cylinder market as well as pods. They note that this is mainly driven by the natural gas and fracking industries. The biggest challenge that SafTCart, and many others in the industry, currently face is the shortage of skilled labor. “There is considerable need for more skilled labor due to the shrinking skilled workforce.” Catalina Cylinders, Inc. forecasts 2-3% growth in 2020, according to VP of Strategy & Operations David Silva. “One of the biggest factors for us will be the direction of the U.S. economy, specifically the industrial sector. We’ve been watching the yield spread closely for inversion (bond-market recession indicator). So far, the Fed has managed to keep rates low enough to continue stimulating the overall economy, and there hasn’t been a meaningful inversion yet which is good,” says Silva. “However the manufacturing segment of the U.S. economy has been slowing down this past year, and with the upcoming election we expect to see increased volatility in the market as well as with our customers’ CAPEX spending.” Silva notes that Catalina Cylinders plans to launch its largest CO2 high-pressure package cylinder in 2020, the B63, which can hold 63 pounds of CO2. The previous largest package gas CO2 aluminum cylinder contained 50 pounds. Not only does the B63 provide 26% more capacity, it doesn’t require the expense of refrigeration or venting that is required for bulk systems. Like many others, Silva says that the aluminum tariffs have negatively impacted Catalina. He also notes that an election year brings uncertainty to the market. “Investment in software automation is a must to ensure that the distributor can compete in any marketplace, up or down,” says Prism Visual Software

Vice President Andrew Kuneth. “For these reasons, Prism expects sales to continue to grow. Kuneth notes that customers want technology to make it easier to do business with distributors and distributors want to do more in their business, with less labor. “Prism expects to continue to invest in webstore and app technologies so the distributors can have a more loyal and committed relationship with the customer in the store or on their phone,” Kuneth says. “This, coupled with Prism’s inventory management and automated communication tools, will help customers remember to contact their local welding supply distributor to point, click and pickup or receive delivery on more hard goods and gases.” Rafael Arvelo, GM of EQUIGAS, Inc. forecasts a robust 35% increase in

sales, which he attributes to a strong economy and increased market share. “2019 was an excellent year, I believe that 2020 being an election year there will be lots of uncertainty but it is still a strong economy,” says Arvelo. “I believe it will keep growing in 2021 if the current president gets reelected.” EQUIGAS will be making new hires in 2020, as it expands its location by 30%. Says Arvelo, “I believe that in the last 10 years, MBAs and U.S. Manufacturers have been drinking the LEAN Manufacturing Kool-Aid too strong with no common sense. They teach to measure savings, but they do not measure every time they lose a sale or market share because they cannot ship. While foreigners are investing millions of dollars in warehouses in the USA.”

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12/18/2019 8:45:10 AM


How GAWDA Members Can Capitalize on the Upswing in the Second Half of 2020 BY STEVE GUGLIELMO AND BRIAN BEAULIEU


TR Economics CEO Brian Beaulieu is GAWDA’s Chief Economist. He and his team of economists produce the ITR Quarterly Report for each issue of Welding & Gases Today. Brian also gives a presentation at the GAWDA Annual Convention each year. ITR produces an annual webinar describing how to use the data in the ITR Quarterly Report. GAWDA members can access this webinar on the GAWDA.org members section. This year, Brian was kind enough to discuss a wide-ranging of topics with Welding & Gases Today, including his expectation for the economy going forward, his take on the looming presidential election and its impact on the economy and how GAWDA members can use the ITR data in their strategic planning. For more insight on how GAWDA members can use that data in their planning, please check out the roundtable article on page 84. Thank you to Brian for your help in putting this article together. W E L D I N G & G A S E S T O D AY: W h a t i s y o u r overarching message to GAWDA Members on the state of the economy as we enter 2020? BRIAN BEAULIEU: The slowdown that we’re currently experiencing is already abating. It won’t be over until we get through 1Q or maybe even 2Q 2020, but the leading indicators that we follow, more and more of them are turning up. We surpassed the demarcation point of five leading indicators turning up a couple of weeks ago (in November 2019), so we are good to go for this economy turning up in the second half of 2020.

68 • Winter 2020

WGT: In your experience, how does the gases and welding industry correlate with the overall U.S. and world economies? BB: The gases and welding distributors, if we’re talking about the ones who are associated with manufacturing or fabricated metals or just industrial welding, they will tie in very well with U.S. industrial activity and world industrial production for that matter. So they will be feeling the affects of what we’re talking about very directly. But some folks are more tied to ship building. And ship building is a totally different animal. It’s on its own cycle. Then there are those who are tied to the aircraft industry. And the aircraft industry is very much a function of what’s going on with oil prices. Oil prices being soft makes that a different ballgame. WGT: So it depends on what your core competencies are, how closely it correlates? BB: Yes. WGT: You produce a very comprehensive report for GAWDA each quarter, it’s 12 pages in the magazine. How do you think that GAWDA members should be utilizing those reports in their strategic planning? BB: They should be looking at, stopping and thinking if not actually crunching the numbers, “Is my business performing like any of the data points that ITR is providing through these quarterly reports?” If the answer comes back as yes, then take that outlook or those outlooks and say, “Ok, assuming that’s me and I’m going to be getting busier, what will I need more


of in order to handle that additional business in the second half of 2020 and on into 2021?” Start asking yourself those questions. That’s more tactical. The strategic part of it comes from, “Well, I don’t like going through slowdowns. I don’t like going through downturns. ITR has a downturn in the outlook for 2022 and 2023. I don’t want to experience that. How can I strategize today to avoid going through that downturn?” WGT: Is there a way that members can take that big picture macro outlook and extrapolate that down to their individual businesses. So that they can almost make their own indicators for their own companies? BB: I don’t mean this to be self-serving, but we developed a subscription service called Data Cast, and you can learn about that right on our website. We created it for that specific reason. Some companies pay us to do the work for them and to come up with quantitative forecasts. But if they want to do it themselves, if it’s a DIY situation, that’s fine too. Using Data Cast, you load in your company data, you can load in divisional data. Any way you want to look at it. And we have about 9,000 different data series that you can run that data against.

Chances are, we have something that you relate to, logically. Just start off with U.S. Industrial activity, GDP, Fabricated Metals Production, etc. The computer will look for the high correlation values for you and you’ll start cherry-picking off the high-correlation values but some of what is logically related to you, won’t even be the high-correlation ones. You’ll go in and say let me look at each of the series that ITR is currently providing in the quarterly reports and what they’re showing us at the Annual Convention. That’s what I would do. WGT: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the USMCA is on the “one yard line.” I think it’s closer to being passed than it has been previously and there is supposedly a phase one deal with China. If both of those things come to pass and are actually encoded into law, does that impact your projection for next year or going forward? BB: No. And here’s why. The USMCA isn’t going to have a big impact on the economy. We’ve already got workarounds in place. And it’s an improvement over NAFTA, but we know what NAFTA was like and how that impacted things. So no,

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Winter 2020 • 69


that won’t have a material impact on our forecasts. It may help some individual businesses, but when you talk about the macroeconomic level, no it won’t have an impact. Vis a vis China not imposing additional tariffs would be helpful. Imposing additional tariffs would probably be detrimental to our forecast. Exactly how much, we would have sit down and measure. So, I guess, if anything, the forecast assumes things aren’t going to get worse with China. We’ve been down this road so many times with this administration, they say we’re about to conclude something and then the Chinese say, “No we’re not.” And then the Chinese say we’re about to conclude something and the administration says “No we’re not.” So it’s hard to know what to actually believe. WGT: So until there is actually pen to paper, we’re going to assume status quo? BB: Correct. WGT: We’ve discussed this at length before, but just to reiterate, you do not expect the winner of the 2020 Presidential Election to have a material impact

70 • Winter 2020

If you’re willing to invest in your entrepreneurial self, you’re going to really enjoy the next ten years.

on your forecasts going forward unless there is a corresponding change in Congress? BB: Yes. And that’s only if that Congress is willing to go along with any significant change in agenda, as well. What we all presume will happen in the Congress is that more Democrats will get elected, but if there is still a check and balance with the White House, then absolutely nothing will change. And even if we were to get a Democrat in the Oval Office and a Democratic Congress through and through, nothing much is going to change for 2021. Anything they’re going to do is going to impact 2022, not 2021. And we’ll have plenty of time to figure that out. We plan scenarios all the time here. I’m not


coming up with anything that will make me feel better about 2022 and 23. I can come up with some scenarios that make me feel worse about it, but not better. WGT: You’ve cited a statistic before about the average rate of growth with a Republican in office versus a Democrat and how they’re virtually identical. What was that statistic again? BB: Since 1976, when a Republican is in the Oval Office the economy grows at an average rate of 2.81%. When there is a Democrat it’s 2.85%. WGT: So all of the hysterics about the election are overblown? BB: Yes. It’s the Pareto Principle. People are so caught up in the 80% of stuff that doesn’t matter. In my life, I try to just look at the 20% of stuff that does matter. And it makes life a lot better. WGT: There is so much noise to sift through, determining what that 20% is has got to be a lot harder today than ever before.

BB: I guess. Although, we understand what ultimately drives the economy and it isn’t this morning’s trending Twitter topic. It isn’t a temporary gyration in the stock market. That makes life a little bit easier. WGT: If you were in an elevator with a GAWDA member and they asked you to give one piece of advice going forward, you only have time for one answer, what would you say? BB: I would tell that person, be bullish on America for the next ten years. I would tell that person to invest heavily in yourself and your business. I would look for ways to automate. Use technology to gain an edge over your competition. And if you’re just confident over the long run instead of being afraid over the long run and you’re willing to invest in your entrepreneurial self, you’re going to really enjoy the next ten years. And I know there are going to be business cycles. I’m not saying there won’t be business cycles, there will be, and I know there is 2022 and 23, but don’t be paralyzed by fear. Become and economic marine. Figure out how you’re going to overcome with what you have available to you.

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ITR First-Quarter Outlook




here is no change to our economic outlook for 2020 and 2021. We expect a business cycle trough in U.S. Industrial Production in mid-2020, recovery in the second half of the year, and record highs in 2021. We achieved statistical significance regarding the leading indicators by virtue of meeting the ITR Economics criteria of having five or more leading indicators providing the same signal. Global leading indicators such as the JP Morgan Global Purchasing Managers Index and the OECD Plus Six Nonmember Economies Leading Indicator monthly rates-of-change have risen for five and seven months, respectively, providing clear indication of an upcoming rising trend in World Industrial Production. Within the U.S., we are seeing rates-of-change rise in U.S. Exports to the World, the U.S. ISM PMI (Purchasing Managers Index), the Wilshire Total Market Cap, and the ITR Consumer Leading Indicator™, among others. The U.S. housing market is also in a recovery trend.

We are not in the agitated camp regarding corporate debt for four reasons: 1. Rising debt alone is not indicative of a clear and present danger. The shaded areas on the chart show when recessions occurred from 1950 to date. The only time debt doesn’t rise is during a recession. Rising debt is normal and occurs when the economy is growing. Perhaps too much debt is an issue. We address that below. As an aside, the same corporate debt trend is happening for the world as a whole. 2. Taking on more debt in certain instances is logical. Note that the line on the chart bends upward most appreciably beginning in the 1980s. This is a natural response to interest rates coming down. Interest rates are still low. Borrowing when money is cheap is logical, provided you are using the leverage in order to purchase wealth-creating assets. 3. The delinquency rate for commercial and industrial loans at U.S. chartered commercial banks suggests that corporations have not taken on too much debt at this time. The current delinquency rate is 1.07%. This is low, and we are not getting any rate-of-change threat indications. The average delinquency rate in the 1990s was 3.30%; 2.45% for the first 10 years of this century; and 1.47% since this decade began. The current rate is reasonable and not indicative of distress. 4. Debt as a percentage of the value of corporate equities is low at 32.9% (see chart on next page). Additionally, debt

as a percentage of net worth for nonfinancial corporate business at market value is 42.8%, below the five-year average of 43.0% and well below the record high of 51.1% set in 1Q94. A risk is a sudden and protracted decline in corporate equities. While this will likely be an aggravating issue in the 2030s, we do not expect it to be a point of pain in the near to intermediate term.


We don’t harbor any overarching conThis content is exclusive to GAWDA Members. cerns regarding consumer debt. A big factor is health of mortgage repayments. However, For more information on GAWDA andtheassociation here are a couple of areas to watch: membership, contact Andrea Levy: No concern in the residential space. The residential mortgage delinquency (844) 251-3219 / alevy@gawda.org rate is 0.97%. This is comfortably below

DEBT Our concern about debt and its ability to hinder future growth is well known. We have frequently said during our talks that there is a right time to load up on debt and a time when cash is king. What follows is an update on the trends for Corporate, Consumer, and Public debt. Our families are going to have to be smart about debt the closer we get to 2030.

CORPORATE DEBT The chart on the next page shows that nonfinancial corporations are more in debt than ever before. That alone might get people “excited/agitated/concerned.” 72 • Winter 2020

the 10-year average of 3.90%. There are no indications of an ominous rising trend taking shape. No concern for credit cards either: The credit card delinquency rate is at 2.42%, below the 2.99% 10-year average. The current rate is up seven basis points from a year ago, but the rate has been fluctuating in the 2–3% range since 2Q12. We have concern within the automotive sector: The auto loan delinquency rate is 4.71%. This is up 44 basis points from one year ago and above the 4.10% 10-year average. Long-term loans that enable people to “afford” more car than they otherwise could is a debt trap waiting to spring when times get tough. We have concern regarding student loans, but not for the frequently espoused reasons. The U.S. student loan delinquency



















Nonfinancial Corporate Business; Liability of Debt Securities and Loans Trillions of $ Source: FRB

Nonfinancial Corporate Business; Debt as a Percentage of the Market Value of Corporate Equities Percentage Source: FRBFor


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20 more information and 1945 1950 1955 1960 1965 on 1970 GAWDA 1975 1980 1985 1990association 1995 2000 2005 2010 membership, contact Andrea Levy: (844) 251-3219 / alevy@gawda.org

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U.S. Student Loan Deliquency Rate (over 90 days) Percentage 3 Month Moving Average


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9.5 9.0 Percentage 8.5

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rate stands at 10.90%. This is down 63 basis points from a year ago, and it is below the record-high 11.83% of 3Q13. The good news is the default rate is edging downward (although that will probably temporarily reverse direction in the next recession). Perhaps the bigger issue (and most troubling for folks) is that the student loan total is roughly $1.5 trillion. However, the





$1.5 trillion is spread out among 43 million people. That comes to $34,884 per person. Obviously, some folks carry a lot more and some carry less. Our concern is not regarding whether the loans can be or will be repaid. We also are not in the camp that thinks these 43 million people or the economy at large have been irreparably harmed by the amount of student debt. What has us





concerned is the political discussion of a national bailout totaling $1.5 trillion when the government can’t afford it (unless you are not concerned about the national debt). This seems a pertinent question given the average student loan debt load of $34,884. Our concern is not the individual debt; it is the temptation to appease voters by putting the U.S. government further into debt. Winter 2020 • 73


PUBLIC DEBT The national debt is rising. How you react to that reality will likely define your philosophy on the subject. You may be a “hawk” (bring the debt down, now), a “dove” that is willing to accommodate higher levels of deficit spending to accomplish fiscal goals, or an “owl” that thinks the discourse and/ or concern is irrelevant (these folks tend to fall in the Modern Monetary Theory camp). Unless the economy is in recession, we tend to be hawkish about the national debt. We have good reason to be concerned. Reports suggest deficit spending is on the rise. The good news is that GDP is also on the rise. Looking through the relatively short-term political lens, this is appealing. Notice that the resulting leveling in our national debt as a percentage of GDP (see chart to the right) could mean that a) things are not getting worse, and b) it suggests a current dovish policy perspective toward deficit spending in Washington, D.C. Our concern is twofold: 1) decreasing spending is historically hard to accomplish once the political machine becomes used to it, and 2) it is inevitable that GDP will contract.

Total U.S. Public Debt (Percentage of GDP) 130


120.0% 110









30 Total Public Debt (Percentage of GDP)

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Applying fiscal policy to stimulate the economy because of a 2022–23 recession may






10 2030

could hamstring the Federal Reserve’s abilities to counter the recession.

be tenable, or it may be constrained As Herbert Hoover said… This content isnotbecause exclusive to GAWDA Members. we spent the money during the “Blessed are the young, for they shall

good times. Not being constrained will add the national debt.” For more information on GAWDA andinherit association to the national debt, which could lead to We had better find a way to make sure membership, Andrea Levy: bigger issues incontact the future; additionally, a our kids and grandkids have the means to amount of deficit spending in 2022–23 pay this debt should it ever come due. (844) large 251-3219 / alevy@gawda.org CORE DASHBOARD


12MMT/A CURRENT 2019 2020 2021







Decline in the Production 12MMA will extend into mid-2020.






While above last year's level, New Orders spending is declining.






Employment will rise through at least 2021 but will decelerate into late 2020.






Retail Sales are expected to accelerate in late 2020.






The Wholesale Trade 12MMT is expected to end the year virtually even with the 2018 level.






Decline will be brief, and rise will take hold by the second half of 2020.

Note: Forecast color represents what Phase the market will be in at the end of the year. 74 • Winter 2020


ITR Leading Indicator™ Production


eading Indicator


The ITR Leading Indicator™ tentatively transitioned to a rising trend with November data. Rise in the Indicator, if it holds, supports our outlook for the industrial economy to traverse the back side of the business cycle through the first half of 2020 and subsequently rise in the second half.





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This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members. For more information on GAWDA and association membership, contact Andrea Levy: U.S. Total Industry Capacity Utilization Rate THE RATE 1/12 (844) 251-3219 / alevy@gawda.org DECLINED FURTHER IN OCTOBER

The U.S. Total Industry Capacity Utilization Rate 1/12 declined further in October. Decline in the Rate 1/12 suggests decline in the US Industrial Production 12/12 into at least the second quarter of next year.





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LEADING INDICATOR SUGGESTS INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION 12/12 DECLINE INTO AT LEAST MID-2020 The Conference Board’s U.S. Leading Indicator 1/12 was virtually flat in October after declining for 12 consecutive months. This suggests the U.S. Industrial Production 12/12 could decline into mid-2020, in line with our macroeconomic outlook.

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This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members. For more information on GAWDA and association U.S. ISM PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) contact Andrea Levy: PMI 1/12 SIGNALS RISE membership, Rates-of-Change Production FOR THE INDUSTRIAL (844) 15.0 251-3219 / alevy@gawda.org ECONOMY IN THE SECOND HALF OF 2020

The U.S. ISM PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) 1/12 ticked down mildly in November but is above the tentative September low. Overall rise in the PMI 1/12 suggests that the U.S. Industrial Production 12/12 will rise in the second half of 2020





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Annual Production peaked in August following 33 months of consecutive rise. Leading indicators point to recovery in Production during the second half of 2020.




Declining Steel Prices likely contributed to a drop in the Price Index. On the opposing side, wage growth due to a tight labor market is putting upward pressure on Prices.




Oil Prices tentatively transitioned to Phase A, Recovery. Quarterly average Prices are expected to rise during at least the majority of 2020.




Although still above the year-ago level, annual New Orders declined in recent months. Trends in the ITR Leading Indicator™ signal decline into at least mid-2020.



Decline in the Electrical Equipment Capacity Utilization Rate means less wear and tear on machinery, signaling further cyclical decline in New Orders in coming quarters.


This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members.


For more information onhighs GAWDA and association New Orders are at record but may dip slightly during the 2.5% first half of 2020. Address capacity constraints, as further rise is membership, contact expected by the secondAndrea half of 2020. Levy: (844) The 251-3219 / alevy@gawda.org majority of economic evidence points to cyclical decline in






New Orders into mid-2020. Leading indicators signal rise for the latter half of that year. The ITR Leading Indicator ticked up. If the rising trend does not hold, it could indicate sluggish recovery in the industrial sector during the second half of 2020.

The next two or three quarters are going to feel tough for many. The industrial economy has been on the back side of the business cycle for about one year. At this stage, few businesses are left unaffected by broad-based weakness in the U.S. and global economies. This period of the business cycle can be particularly stressful;

business leaders will likely feel increasing pressure as they work to meet performance metrics while facing increasing headwinds. Things are going to get worse before they get better, but the good news is we are not that far from the low and this is NOT another Great Recession. U.S. industrial and business-to-business markets are expected



-0.3 (Monthly)


to reach a trough around mid-2020. We are at a critical juncture of the business cycle where decisionmakers will need to start implementing strategic plans for the upcoming rising trend in the industrial sector. Companies who begin preparations immediately will be at an advantage relative to their competitors.

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U.S. Industrial Production Index Data Trend Inde 120

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HIGHLIGHTS: Despite 12MMA decline, Production was 1.1% above last year Decline in the Production 12MMA will persist into mid-2020

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Utilize the mild declining trend to prepare for rise in the second half of 2020 U.S. Industrial Production during the 12 months through November was 1.1% above the year-ago level. Decline in annual Production will extend into mid-2020. Production will then rise during the second half of 2020 and through at least 2021. Production’s September-to-October decline was the most severe of the last decade. Decline in annual Production will extend into mid-2020. Production will then rise during the second half of 2020 and through at least 2021. ITR is monitoring leading indicators to further corroborate our expectations for a mid-2020 cyclical low for Production. Indicators such as the ITR Financial Leading Indicator™ and the U.S. ISM PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) 1/12 have tentatively turned up; Production is unlikely to decline to levels seen in 2015-2016. Avoid negative thinking at the bottom of the cycle and plan for Production ascent in the second half of 2020. Optimize cashflow, and ensure you are putting the right people in the right positions before upward momentum in the industrial economy begins in the latter half of 2020.
















U.S. Industrialto Production Index Rate-of-Change This content is15 exclusive GAWDA Members.15

For more information on GAWDA and association 10 membership, contact Andrea Levy: 5 (844) 251-3219 / alevy@gawda.org

Management Note: Be cautious pulling back in 2020; our outlooks for many industrial markets suggest you’ll need the capacity by 2021.

78 • Winter 2020

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

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HIGHLIGHTS: The New Orders 12MMT was 1.4% above the same time last year

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Expect decline in the 12MMT to extend into mid-2020 Utilization rates are suggesting that cyclical decline in New Orders will persist into mid-2020














This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members.

The New Orders 12MMT declined further in October, as expected. While the New Orders 12MMT is above the year-ago level, the most recent three months came in 0.8% below the same three months last year. Decline in the New Orders 12MMT will extend into mid-2020. Subsequent rise will take hold later in 2020; New Orders will reach record highs by late that year. Rise will extend through at least 2021. Utilization rates provide roughly two quarters of advanced warning for New Orders activity. Both the U.S. Total Industry Capacity Utilization Rate and the U.S. Machinery Manufacturing Capacity Utilization Rate are below their respective two-year averages. This suggests waning activity and excess capacity, which supports our expectations for New Orders to traverse the back side of the business cycle in mid-2020.

U.S. Nondefense Capital Goods For more information on GAWDA and association New Orders (excluding aircraft) Rate-of-Change membership, contact Andrea Levy: 20 (844) 251-3219 / alevy@gawda.org 10

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Management Note: Closely monitor your credit policies during this cycle, but keep in mind that decline is expected to be mild. Consider extending credit to worthy clients.

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U.S. CRUDE OIL FUTURES COMMODITY PRICES A - RECOVERY Dec 2019 $51.08 per barrel Mar 2020 $54.79 per barrel Jun 2020 $58.26 per barrel Sep 2020 $60.88 per barrel HIGHLIGHTS: A trough is forming in the Prices 3MMA Prices will rise during at least the first three quarters of 2020, reaching the low $60s by the second half of 2020 General Inventories decline since 2017 suggests that a supply glut that would keep Prices from rising is unlikely Oil Prices have been essentially flat for the last four months, but the rates-ofchange signal that a positive inflection point is forming. The Prices 3MMA is likely to trend toward the upper end of the forecast range in the near term. Prices are likely to move higher during at least the first three quarters of 2020. Crude Oil Inventories (Cushing, OK) are 15.6% below the peak level established in March 2017. General descent in Inventories since the apex of the supply glut suggests supply-side factors are likely to support, rather than impede, rising Prices during this cycle. However, the imminent rise in Prices will be relatively muted as global economic growth falters and U.S. producers try to fill gaps in the market left by OPEC’s intentionally limiting its own Crude Oil Production.

U.S. Oil Futures Commodity Prices Data Trend /


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For more information on GAWDA and association Rate-of-Change 80 membership, contact Andrea Levy: 12/12 orecast Range (844) 251-3219 / alevy@gawda.org

Management Note: If oil represents a vertical market for your business, do not expect rise in Prices to translate to significant growth opportunities next year.

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ITR FOR GAWDA U.S. STEEL SCRAP PRODUCER PRICE INDEX D - RECESSION Dec 2019 330.81* Mar 2020 363.25* Jun 2020 380.66* Sep 2020 404.83* * Index based to 1982 = 100. HIGHLIGHTS: We revised the forecast lower for the next four quarters The Steel Prices 3MMA will trough imminently Prices will reach, but not exceed, the mid-2019 level by 3Q20 We revised the forecast for Steel Prices downward by an average of about 10% for the next four quarters. Global economic growth is waning, as expected, and China is concurrently increasing steel output relative to the year-ago level. The combination of these two trends – along with temporary issues such as the now-resolved General Motors strike – led Prices to come in lower than we expected in October. However, the Prices 3MMA is expected to reach the low point imminently. Our expectation for a late-2019 low in the Steel Prices 3MMA is unchanged. Prices will rise for most of next year, but upward momentum will likely be lackluster as industrial-based recessions plague several major economies in 2020.

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U.S. Steel Scrap Futures Commodity Prices on GAWDARate-of-Change and association

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Management Note: If your steel needs for 2020 are clear, build inventory now at low prices. If your needs are not clear, the cost of waiting to purchase will be lower than we previously expected.







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Winter 2020 • 81


U.S. FABRICATED METAL PRODUCTS NEW ORDERS C - SLOWING GROWTH 2019 0.8% $402.6 billion 2020 2.9% $414.3 billion 2021 5.2% $435.8 billion HIGHLIGHTS: Annual New Orders will plateau in the near term and then rise from mid-2020 through 2021 Recovery in auto and machinery markets in late 2020 will help spur demand for fabricated metal products Uncertainty caused by tariffs poses a downside risk Annual U.S. Fabricated Metal Products New Orders in October totaled a record-high $405.3 billion, 2.5% higher than one year prior. The pace of growth is expected to diminish into mid-2020. Annual New Orders will likely plateau in the near term, with the possibility of a mild contraction. Annual New Orders will then rise during the second half of the year and in 2021. Downstream markets such as automotive and machinery are declining. Annual North America Light Vehicle Production is down 2.9% from one year ago. Annual U.S. Machinery New Orders are in their sixth month of decline; further decline is anticipated. However, these markets are expected to enter recovery trends by mid-2020, which will help spur demand for fabricated metal products during the latter part of 2020 and into 2021. Uncertainty caused by tariffs poses a potential downside risk to our New Orders outlook.

U.S. Fabricated Metal Products New Orders Data Trend ils of 150

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Management Note: If capacity constraints held back your company in 2018 and 2019, start readying new capacity for the next rising trend. Relatively low interest rates may help you finance any needed additions.

82 • Winter 2020

New Orders Rate-of-Change






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U.S. Construction Machinery New Orders Data Trend

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New Orders are expected to fall to a low around mid-2020 Corporate Cash Holdings are tentatively suggesting the second half of 2020 will be more robust U.S. Construction Machinery New Orders during the 12 months through October were down 3.9% from the year-ago level. The recession is intensifying, and New Orders spending will decline into the middle of next year, consistent with our expectations for business-to-business activity. U.S. Domestic Corporate Cash Holdings are trending along the back side of the business cycle. It is likely that corporations will limit their investments in capital equipment given less-robust Cash Holdings. Trends in Cash Holdings, which typically lead New Orders by about three quarters, suggest that the New Orders 12/12 will likely decline into at least early next year. Looking further out, Cash Holdings are showing tentative signs of recovery, which suggests New Orders could be stronger in the second half of next year. This is in line with our expectations for New Orders.


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This content is exclusive to GAWDA Members. For more information on GAWDA and association membership, contact Andrea Levy: U.S. Construction Machinery (844) 251-3219 / alevy@gawda.org New Orders Rate-of-Change

Management Note: Communicate to your customers the unique advantages of your products, such as their quality or included services, to avoid competing on price alone.



























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How GAWDA Members Use the ITR Report A roundtable discussion with GAWDA Members who find value in the ITR Report BY STEVE GUGLIELMO, MARK RAIMY, BOB EWING, BILL VISINTAINER, BRAD ARMSTRONG AND PETE ANDERSON


ach issue of Welding & Gases Today contains the ITR Quarterly Report. This issue’s report can be found on page 72. GAWDA members who attend the Annual Convention are very familiar with Brian and Alan Beaulieu, ITR’s CEO and President respectively, who give a presentation each year discussing the economic trends and what GAWDA members can expect going forward. So how should GAWDA members be using the information that the Beaulieus present and that is contained in the quarterly report? We had the opportunity to speak with six GAWDA members who are using the ITR Report as part of their company’s strategic planning about how they are using the report and why they think this information is valuable. Thank you to Mark Raimy, Bob Ewing, Bill Visintainer, Brad Armstrong and Pete Anderson for your input and participation. 84 • Winter 2020

What about the ITR Quarterly Report do you feel is most beneficial to somebody in our industry?

Mark Raimy: This type of report and this type of information can be used in many different ways and many different situations. The information can be used within your business, outside of your business and with your customers. It can be used all types of different ways. I would say it’s important to use it. Engage it. Find a way to use it. What I would say to somebody who is saying, “I don’t really get it,” is to stick with it. At some point, it will occur to you, “Hey, I can use this in this way.” The idea is that there is no one way to use it. It’s what you want to do with it. BOB EWING: We all rely to some extent on gut instinct. How busy are

we? What’s the sentiment from our suppliers and customers? It’s a very sound idea to check that gut feel against actual data, because by the time we sense things changing, it’s often too late to react in a measured way. The investment decisions we make in our industry often have years long impacts, so it’s important we don’t get got flat footed by the cycle. BILL VISINTAINER: The report gives the user a clearer picture of the leading indicators and their rates of change. This allows for more useful conclusions regarding timing and direction of business cycle trends. BRAD ARMSTRONG: For at least 15 years now, we have subscribed to ITR and their monthly reports on our own. We get a monthly executive summary describing what is happening in the economy in all of the different sectors. I use it for a general indication as to what is going to be happening in the economy. As an example, for this next year, we’re


budgeting for a flat or slightly less that last year. What decisions will that cause us to change? We’ll look at how aggressively we’re investing in some of our Capex initiatives, how aggressive we’re going with some of our expenses that we’re monitoring, like wages. Anything that we have control over, it helps us determine how aggressive we should be. PETE ANDERSON: I have the magazine on my desk with the report every quarter. I thumb through it and look at it and I see what Alan has written and see if we see similar trends in our business. And then if you do the shift on the rate of change, where are things heading in the next 4, 6, 12 months, etc. I look at that and it helps me match up and validate our numbers as a whole. If we’re seeing similar things, it increases my confidence level in the report, knowing that our markets are similar to what is being shared.

Are you able to extrapolate the data that is included in the report to your own business/economic climate?

MARK RAIMY: Yes. Anybody can do that. The 3/12 and the 12/12 are blended moving averages. And so, you take a whole bunch of the data and you average them together and you get a data point. And you plot that. Then, the next month, if you’re using your sales data or delivery data, really any type of data you want, the new data goes in the front, the old data falls off and then you do the math again. So, yes, you can pick out anything in your business that you can get data on and you can apply this to it. This type of moving average analysis is not unique or centered on

macroeconomic analysis. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never going to get there. Somebody in your company needs to say, “This is where we’re going. And we’re doing these things at this time because…” This fills in a big part of that. It’s imperative to be able to say to your team, “We’re not hiring another salesperson right now because I think things are going to slow down and it will be tough sledding for the next nine months. But after that, things will start booming, that’s when we’ll start looking at it.” That is an informed answer to a question that is difficult, sometimes, within your company. People will look at you and know that you know what you’re doing and where the company is going. BOB EWING: We are. It doesn’t correlate exactly – our geography is impacted much more heavily by oil and gas field activity than other parts of the economy, for example – but there’s no question that we participate in these business cycles just like everyone else. BILL VISINTAINER: To some degree. We are always trying to understand where we are in our own business cycle compared to our competitors. BRAD ARMSTRONG: I use it more from a 50,000-foot view, general indication. Now, sometimes it gets more granular than that. We have some of our business that is easily attributed to the gas and oil segment. It seems like the data, whether it’s the PMI or the Industrial Manufacturing Index, are just proof of the conclusion that they’re coming to. We do track our 3/3 run rate versus our 12/12 run rate just to see if we’re in more of an expansion or contraction mode. PETE ANDERSON: We track rate of change analysis on total sales, gas sales, hardgoods sales, rent and propane.

And then we break it down, even for individual account manager territories. So, we have leading indicators on different territories, who typically is in what phase. And we look at that on a monthly basis.

Do you consider the trends/ prognostications of the ITR Report when doing your own company’s strategic planning?

MARK RAIMY: If you’re in any organization, especially if you’re in the leadership of an organization, having a world view is very important. And having a strategic vision is very important. Where you put your money, when you make your moves, how you do things. How do you get that world view? You have to know when things are coming up through your company, here is when I say yes, here is when I say no, and here’s why. This is an integral part to developing that. BOB EWING: We do. It’s not the only or even predominant data point we consider, because local market conditions are always going to play a big role. But it does let us put boundaries on the conversation. We can upgrade or downgrade a forecast based on whether the tide is coming in or letting out. It encourages everyone to bring data to the conversation – both national trends and facts particular to our customers and markets – that are likely to affect our business. BILL VISINTAINER: Absolutely! ITR has changed our decision-making behaviors and processes. BRAD ARMSTRONG: Yes. Everybody measures something different in their Winter 2020 • 85


This information will help you get ahead of the next Recession and be better prepared.

business. And they draw conclusions from that. So, I’m amazed at how little a lot of organizations do measure. And on the other hand, I’m amazed at how much others do. I just put this in front of my general understand bucket on what’s happening in the economy and how my business is operating. I think it makes me a more informed leader and I think that I probably make better decisions for our organization, our employees and our families. So maybe we’re a little healthier because of it. Sometimes when you’re making decisions, you feel like you’re throwing a dart in the dark. This is just one of the things that help me make decisions with a little greater intentionality. PETE ANDERSON: We look at everything, I look at all the leading indicators that the report points out. And we look at current growth rates, on the 12/12, and it helps us take a look at our CRM program and see what’s in our pipeline, what’s the hit rate, what is the expected market growth, and balance it against that growth rate and come up with a budget for 2020 and 2021. Say we’re going to shoot for 4% growth next year. I’m not licking my finger and sticking it in the air. We are using a CRM pipeline and using the ITR Reports and Conference Calls. We have some benchmarking. And we do trend analysis to determine what we’re seeing.

86 • Winter 2020

Are there any misconceptions you have heard among GAWDA members about the ITR Report or the information that it contains?

MARK RAIMY: No, I don’t think so. If anybody says they don’t get the report or they don’t like it, I would point them to how they feel when the Beaulieu brothers come speak. Everybody loves that. There is no difference between the two. Sometimes it takes two or three times to read the report but if you pay attention to what it’s saying and see the trends and the movement in your company and what your customers are doing, it won’t take long to figure out that this stuff is all connected. BOB EWING: Not really. Most of the folks I have visited with appreciate the data and factor it into their thinking. Some have expressed points of disagreement, or incorporate other sources, but that’s all well and good. It’s important not to over-rely on any single source of information. GAWDA and ITR have done a great job at educating the membership on the format and method that ITR uses. If you’re at all confused about ITR’s report and how to use it, the teleconferences are an easy way to get acquainted quickly.

BILL VISINTAINER: I have not. Unfortunately, I don’t feel most of our members are using ITR tools. BRAD ARMSTRONG: I’ve certainly heard this topic talked about a lot. I think that there is a general consensus among some of the members that it’s too much information and that it doesn’t have a ton of value for them. I don’t feel that way. But because I’m an individual subscriber and will purchase whatever webinars are applicable to me, our thought process is independent of GAWDA. I get lots of different opportunities to hear the Beaulieu’s speak. Whether it’s at a GAWDA event, or they usually speak at CEO forum here in Colorado, I’ll always make sure, if at all possible, to try to hear what they’re saying. I find value in it. I trust them more than I trust most economists. Even if we’re not exactly seeing it in our market in the current state, to me it’s like, “Well, it’s coming. What would we do differently this year?” Or I’ve got more confidence next year because they’re talking about it being a bullish year. We will adopt some of that confidence in some of the decisions that we’re making for next year. PETE ANDERSON: I have not seen or heard anything. But I also don’t know of anyone else who is doing what we’re doing, either.

For members who aren’t reading or carefully considering the data contained in the ITR Report, how big of an opportunity do you find that they’re missing?

MARK RAIMY: It’s huge. If you go back to the Great Recession, how that presented itself was: September and October of 2008 were great, then November fell

ITR FOR GAWDA off the cliff. Out of nowhere for people. People were blown away by that. There was shock. If you were following this data, you knew this was coming. You knew six months before that something was going to happen and three months before it happened, you knew it was going to be significant. So how many people during that time had just bought a truck or just bought equipment or just hired somebody? If you would have had this information, you wouldn’t have done that. You would have held onto your cash. So, this information will help you get ahead of the next Recession and be better prepared. BOB EWING: Hard to say, because I’ve met a lot of members who are much more savvy that I am. But one thing ITR’s report and presentations have helped me to think about is adapting management tactics to fit the cycle. When should you tighten up or loosen up on credit? What about debt tolerance? Capital investment? Sales staffing? It’s very easy to become a prisoner of the moment – how complacent or paranoid we are can be driven by the most recent quarter’s sales. The problem with that is looking behind instead of ahead is no way to drive. So yeah, I think this data can have a big impact on how a manager runs their business. BILL VISINTAINER: It would be like flying blind. I consider it to be a gift to have advanced warning of an impending change in their business cycle. For instance, if you suspect that growth is or will soon be slowing, would you slow down or cancel new hires? Would you delay purchase of new Capital Assets? Would you be putting on a full court press on A/R. Would you be rethinking earned discounts? Would you be negotiating better terms from you suppliers AND would you be doing this weeks or months ahead of your competitors? I think you get the picture. The ITR Tools will help in your

strategic decision making regardless of the business cycle phase. BRAD ARMSTRONG: To me, our industry is correlated to a lot of these indexes. It’s pretty easy to see how we perform in comparison to some of these indexes. Why you would not want to be informed on contraction or expansion is beyond me. It seems like it’s a no-brainer. PETE ANDERSON: We don’t know that yet. We’ve been doing this for a little bit longer than a year. Right now, we’re looking at further implementation. We’ve got the data and we’ve got some history behind us. I’m doing this and it’s an automatic thing. Now, when we start to see a trend, the next question for us, as a management team, is what do we do about it? Do we look at different markets? Do we look at curtailing our expenses? How do we control costs? On the flip side, if we know that there is going to be a growth cycle, like from 2020-2021, what does that growth trend look like? Hiring or training people now so we can be prepared for key market opportunities.

Is there anything else about the report that wasn’t covered above that you would like to mention?

MARK RAIMY: I was president when we made the agreement with ITR and it’s something I am incredibly passionate about, because this is something that is invaluable. I don’t think our industry was taking advantage of looking at it. The next step of this is to use the data that we have within our own companies. It’s interesting, hedge funds will actually call you up and pay you for a 20-minute conversation. They ask where your sales are going, are they going up or down. It’s

the same stuff you’d be plotting yourself. This information is so valuable that Wall Street will pay you for it. BOB EWING: One thing we have done, and ITR encourages, is building the 3/12 and 12/12 charts with your own sales data. We’ve also done that with indices that are important to us in our geography, like oil and gas rig counts. This really helps us get a sense of the trend. Combined with the ITR report, we feel like we can a bit of a peek around that next corner, and that’s all you can really ask for. BRAD ARMSTRONG: In the Great Recession, we actually had one of the Beaulieu brothers come out and do a seminar for some of our customers. That was just a value add. Our industry and our customer groups are highly relational customers. They’re our friends. We want them to know what we know and hopefully that helps them make some different decisions. We have sent out the subscription to some of our larger customers and they have found value in that. It’s just another positive touchpoint with some of our customers. I share the information with our employees, usually on a quarterly basis. It helped us a lot in the Great Recession and it helped us a lot in the oil crash of 2014. PETE ANDERSON: One thing I have done is shared this information with some of our top customers. And I have said, “Here is the report we get, here’s what we’re involved in. I can break this out for you. Here’s what we’re seeing, what do we need to do different for you?” They don’t even know what to think about it, because they’ve never had a meeting like this. We will continue to figure out if there are things we can do better and how we can implement this. You’ve got the report, you’ve got the data, it makes sense and it matches. Now how do we implement it? That’s the next step. Winter 2020 • 87


4 Steps To A Solid Digital Marketing Plan BY BRIAN BLUFF, SITE-SEEKER, INC.

A Brian Bluff is the president and cofounder of Site-Seeker, Inc., an Internet marketing firm specializing in SEO, SEM, social media and web development, with a strong focus on the B2B manufacturing and distribution arena. Together with his brother, Eddie Bluff, vice president of key accounts, Brian has grown the company into a successful source of search engine and social media marketing solutions.

few years ago, my digital marketing agency audited the internet marketing programs of over 175 distributors and manufacturers and found that only 3.4% had a marketing plan. That’s not to say the companies without a plan weren’t spending money on marketing. Rather, they were letting marketing happen instead of creating a list of objectives, dedicating the necessary resources (internal labor, vendor support and advertising dollars) and establishing a system of measurement to allow for an assessment of progress toward specific goals. As you might imagine, that’s not a great situation. For those committed to taking digital marketing seriously, you’ll need a plan. In this article, I’ve laid out four steps to developing a solid digital marketing plan.

STEP 1: DEEP AUDIT AND BASELINE As a first step, get an accurate picture of where you currently stand. This includes analyzing the performance of your website, SEO, social media efforts, email campaigns and local page and reputation on Google My Business. Without a baseline, you can’t know if future efforts are producing results and, more importantly, if the money you spend is making a difference. How to do this? Leverage measurement tools to gain insight and document key findings. Website - For your website’s performance, use Google Analytics and Google Search Console. If you are running a Google Ads program, you’ll want to integrate Google Ads data into Google Analytics too.

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If you don’t have goals set up in Google Analytics, take the time to set them up now. Record goal completions by traffic source (search engines, email, social media, direct traffic and referral source), as well as conversion path (form fills, phone calls, emails, live chat sessions, successful orders). Social Media - To assess the performance of your social media efforts, you should use the tools associated with those platforms or tools like Sprout Social or Hootsuite that aggregate this data across multiple platforms. Email Marketing - Just about every email marketing and marketing automation platform has native performance measurement tools. Use these tools plus insights gained through Google Analytics to assess how email recipients engage with your email content and then engage with content on your website. Google My Business allows users to quickly find information like hours, phone number, driving directions, links to a business’ website, and customer reviews. You can access data related to the performance of your Google My Business page by logging into your account. You’ll be able to see how many times your page was viewed, how viewers found your page (i.e. they searched for your company by name or Google displayed your page based on a search phrase entered by a Google user), how many phone calls were generated by people clicking on your phone number, and how many people clicked to get driving directions.

STEP 2: COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS Once you’re done documenting your program’s performance through an audit and establishing a performance baseline, it’s time to take a look


the pages on their website and how they are using title tags, descriptions, h1 tags and links to support search engine optimization efforts. SEO and Google Ads - You should also use SEMrush to assess how your competitor’s websites are performing in the search engines (what keywords they rank for and how much traffic they generate) and to see if they participate in Google Ads (how much they spend, what keywords they bid on and 106-8212 1/4 pg. 4C _3.375 x 4.375_Welding & Gases Today_Jan. 2017 view their ads). How to do this? SEMrush also has a compare function so that you can The best way to assess the makeup and effectiveness of compare your performance to a competitor. Some of this a competitors’ marketing efforts is to be vigilant about what functionality is free and other information requires a license. they are doing. In other words, stalk them. Contact me if you’re interested in the more advanced reports Website - Visit their website to understand how they are and I’ll run them for you. communicating with customers, what tools and services are Social Media - At a minimum you should visit their available (training, customer rewards programs, email subFacebook page to see how often they post and assess their scription options, etc.), how their content is laid out and what content strategy (recruiting, community involvement, or tarconversion paths are set up (i.e. contact forms, live chat, online geting potential customers). purchasing, phone, driving directions, etc.). To see if a competitor is advertising on Facebook search If you want an easy and free way to document all the pages for their page, select it, scroll down until you see “page on a competitor’s website, use Screaming Frog to identify at your competitors. Like the audit process, you should look at their website, digital ad campaigns, social media activity, email campaigns and local search efforts (i.e. are they actively building their number of positive reviews online). Going through this process will allow you to identify your strengths and weaknesses as compared to your competitors. It will also give you great ideas about what you can be doing better.



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SALES & MARKETING transparency” and click to “see more”. On the bottom of the page, you’ll see a message indicating whether they are running ads or not. If they are, click “Go to ad library” to view their ads. Email Marketing - The best way to assess what your competitors are promoting through email is to get on their list. If they have an email subscription option, sign up. Alternatively, fill out a contact form on their website or register to download a technical paper. To avoid being too obvious don’t use a company email address as they might review new contacts and eliminate the Jane Does and competitors. Google My Business - Search for your competitor by name and town (i.e. “ABC Inc., Syracuse, NY”) and click on their local listing. The key here is to note how many reviews they have, their rating and whether they are actively engaging with people leaving a review.

STEP 3: DEVELOP A MARKETING PLAN The primary reason for developing a marketing plan is to improve your results and increase your return on investment. Your plan should begin with identifying key strategies and expand to include various tactics. As with any plan, you should develop a timeline, assign responsibilities, allocate a budget and identify success metrics. How to do this? We’ve found that in almost every engagement there is low-hanging fruit, which, when picked, generates significant and quick results. Often this is enough to cause your staff to believe in digital marketing and further engage with the process of improvement. Website - Look to your website for quick SEO wins or ways to improve the conversion rate of visitors - i.e. number of form fills, phone calls (assumes you are tracking calls), emails sent from the website, live chat sessions, or orders placed. Next, determine what your key objectives are and implement a strategy to meet those objectives. In today’s world this would likely involve making it easier for customers to continue doing business with you. That may mean setting up a customer portal through which orders can be placed, or a way for customers to view their order history or account data. A public facing ecommerce website will soon be a requirement for all Gas and Welding Suppliers in order to retain customers. The biggest obstacle will be gathering sufficient product data to deliver a satisfactory experience. Suppliers can help by making product data easy to obtain in a web-friendly format. This should include detailed product descriptions, multiple images of an appropriate size, data sheets, manuals, 90 • Winter 2020

and other data as applicable. All of this information should be easily accessible by distributors. Amazon, Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot and other major ecommerce sites have set the bar high as far as delivering a great customer experience is concerned. Falling short of that bar will result in customers opting for a better experience elsewhere. The good news is that the cost of this advanced functionality is dropping as more plugins and bundles become available. Beyond ecommerce, let’s not forget about stressing a distributor’s primary advantage over online sellers - the ability to provide added value and create strong relationships with customers. Take training for example. Be sure to build out easy-toaccess-and-use paths to content like training calendars and sign up forms, and videos of past training sessions. Finally, leverage the fact that you’re the expert and make product information and specifications and staff contact information easy to access. Local Search - Set up or claim your Google My Business page and begin a program to generate positive reviews. Oh, and don’t forget to respond to all reviews - positive and negative. Search Engine Optimization - SEO is really important. Today, SEO starts with a clean, well-organized website and great content. At the highest level, SEO should be included in every website build project as well as continuously after launch. Each page on your website should include basic SEO elements like page titles, descriptions, h1 tags as well as schema markup code that you can add to your HTML to improve the way search engines interpret and display your page on a search engine results page. Links within and to your website are still very important. Internal links should be defined during the website build content strategy process and reevaluated as new content is added or as a way to improve results. Internal links - from one page to another - let Google know how content is related and the hierarchy of your content. Links from other websites to your site are seen as votes of confidence for the quality of your content, and collectively reflect the relative authority of your website. All of this contributes to improved ranking. Digital Advertising - Digital advertising can range from a Google Ads search and retargeting program to geo fencing your competitors and pushing ads to their customers. Advanced capabilities included under Google Ads customer audiences allow you to target individuals searching for specific terms like a competitor’s name or website address, or terms likely to only be used by your tech savvy target audience.

SALES & MARKETING If I were putting together a list of digital ad priorities, I might start in this order: 1. Google Ads search and retargeting ads 2. Bing AdCenter 3. Social ads (Start with Facebook) 4. Programmatic ads outside of the Google network. Email marketing - Leverage your email lists to push educational and promotional content. Start with a two parts educational content to one part promotional content mix and refine over time to maximize results. Social Media - For a distributor, I’d use social media to stress the fact that you are local, care about your community and are experts in your field. Social media is a great way to open doors and cement relationships. However, I would focus on my website first. Then, once it’s a solid performer, I’d invest in social media.

STEP 4: MEASURE AND ADJUST The most important and exciting part of digital marketing is the ability to measure results, make adjustments and continue improving.

How to do this? For most business-to-business companies, it makes sense to set up a quarterly reporting initiative. Monthly would be better, but typically in the b2b world there isn’t enough data to draw conclusions about the success or failure or specific initiatives monthly. You should look at the high level metrics - traffic volume and sources, goal completions and cost per lead - but also dig deeper into results derived through different tactics like efforts to improve conversion rates, promote a new website feature, or improve an ad campaign. On an annual basis, reaudit your program (Step 1) and complete a competitive analysis (Step 2).

SUMMARY Following these four simple steps will put you on a path toward success and sticking to this process with yield long term benefits. If you get stuck or have a question, please reach out. I’m happy to help. Best of luck!

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n the 4th Quarter 2019 issue of Welding & Gases Today, we debuted a new feature called “Search Engine Trends for the Gases & Welding Industry.” This feature is designed to help readers understand the terms and searches that are ranking highly in Google Trends. Part of developing a comprehensive digital marketing campaign is understanding how customers and potential customers are using the Internet to find your products and your website. The graphs and information below all come from Google Trends, which analyzes the popularity of search queries in Google Search across various regions and languages. The graphs scale “Interest Over Time” which represent search interest relative to the highest point in the

for the Gases & Welding Industry BY STEVE GUGLIELMO

chart for the given region and time-period. So, a value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. Another alternative is “Google Keyword Planner.” To use this tool you must have a Google Ads account. The Keyword Planner lets you search keywords and suggests other words or phrases related to your products and services. It lets you research the trend information for how often certain words are searched and how those searches have changed over time and also gives you suggested bid estimates for each keyword so you can determine your advertising budget. In today’s digital environment, we strongly encourage members to capitalize on this growing trend and ensure that your company is visible in the place where people search the most.


TOP RELATED SEARCH QUERIES • Average monthly search volume has increased by 15.7% YoY • Average monthly search volume has increased by 7.4% over the past 5 years

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Effective Leadership How to develop a positive attitude and culture among your staff BY RANDY SQUIBB, 1994 GAWDA PRESIDENT

E Randy Squibb is available for Customer Relations presentations and can be reached by email at crsquibb@aol. com.

ffective leadership starts at the very top of your organization and permeates down through the staff. Attitude reflects leadership. I can walk into a business and know within the first two-to-three minutes what kind of leader that company has. The leader sets the tone for the business and if I walk in the door and am instantly greeted by a smiling associate who says, “Thank you for coming in today, sir. We’ll be right with you!” I know that there must be a pretty effective leader. If you, as the owner or boss, come around the corner and find that your associates act like Houdini and disappears, that’s a pretty good indication that you might have a problem. It doesn’t cost anything extra to treat your associates with dignity and compassion. In fact, it can actually make you money. Employees who feel valued will naturally work harder and take more pride in their jobs than those who feel demeaned or intimidated. Here are some effective leadership techniques that I have learned over my long career in this industry.

ATTITUDE TRICKLES DOWN If a manager’s first instinct is to jump down the throat of an associate every time something doesn’t go exactly as planned, it’s no wonder why they will scurry the other way every time they see you coming. Instead of screaming, “WHY DIDN’T WE MAKE THAT DELIVERY YESTERDAY?” consider calmly and respectfully addressing the question directly with the employee. There’s a 94 • Winter 2020

good chance there’s a valid reason. “Hey, I noticed that we didn’t get our eight deliveries made yesterday. Was there a reason why we missed ABC company yesterday?” “Yeah, boss, there was a huge tie-up on 635. They shut the freeway down and the company closed at 5:30. We weren’t able to get there but I called and told them what the situation was and that we would bring the delivery first thing tomorrow.” That’s a whole lot more productive of a conversation than just jumping on somebody. If you treat your associates with respect, that’s how your associates will treat your customers when you’re not around. If you have ten branches, you can’t possibly be at all of them at once. But if you create a culture of respect, you can be sure that your managers will treat those customers with that attitude when you aren’t there.

THE LITTLE THINGS MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE I addressed this in my last article, but remember the dates of hire of your people. Pick up the phone and congratulate them on that anniversary. If you have an organization of 600 and you can’t personally call everyone, make sure somebody on your management team does. Congratulate your people on those milestones. That means more to an associate than just about anything. Reinforce that positive recognition and let them know that you value them and that they are a valuable member of your team.



I think an effective leader shares information with the company. We used to post, every month, what our sales goal was for that month. Not the profit margin or what our expenses were, just the sales number that the management team would determine. We would post that number so that everybody in the company knew what our goal was for that month. And at the end of each month, if we had hit that goal, everybody in the company from the president on down got a $20 bill. And at the beginning of the month a couple of branch stores might call in and ask how we were progressing toward that goal, but by the end of the month, if we hadn’t hit yet, our AR department’s phone was ringing off the wall. You would have drivers telling the salespeople, “Go out and get that last order. We’re so close to getting our $20!” Share that information with your associates. Everybody should share in the wins.

Take time to get out of your comfort zone. Ride on the truck. Put on the steel toed shoes and the blue jeans and go out on a route. You can learn more about your service levels and your associates’ attitudes toward customers in one day in the field than you can in eight months sitting in management meetings. If you have created an atmosphere where people want to talk to you and be a part of the successful company, they will tell you. And you’ll learn the challenges they face first-hand.

PEOPLE DO WHAT YOU INSPECT, NOT WHAT YOU EXPECT If something is important enough for you to track it, make sure you follow up on it. So many times, we just send information out to our associates and then we never follow back up on it. If there is no follow up, a lot of times the attitude is, “If it’s not that important to the boss, and they’re not even going to ask about it, then I’m not really going to worry about it either.” If you expect people to take the time to do something, make sure you take the time to inspect it. You do that simply by asking questions. Our salespeople were expected to fill out this call report log each month. And I would look at them and read them and go back and say, “I saw where you visited this client the other day. Tell me about that call.” That makes a difference.

THE FIRST 90 DAYS ARE CRITICAL I believe that the most critical time for a new employee is the first 90 days. I encourage them to ask as many questions as they possibly can about the company, our business and our industry. If they ask

us a question and the only answer we can give is, “That’s the way we’ve always done it,” that’s not a very good answer. We owe our employees a better answer than that. We’re only as successful as we can make our associates successful. I truly believe that. A good leader sets the tone of the organization and then gets out of the way. Surround yourself, as much as possible, with people smarter than you. Your main responsibility, as a leader, is to set a direction. Where do you want your company to be in five or ten years? And then share that information and set the company on a course to achieve it. And if the winds change, it’s your responsibility to make adjustments. The most important asset that we have as a company is our people and it’s the leader’s responsibility to make sure those people are performing to their peak capability.

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INDUSTRY NEWS Acme Cryogenics Welcomes New Sales Engineer

Weldcoa Hosts Cylinder Filling Operations Seminar Weldcoa hosted a Cylinder Filling Operations Seminar at its brand new, full-functioning Innovation Center in Aurora, Illinois from October 8-10, 2019. “For years now, Weldcoa has been hearing feedback from customers and fellow industry colleagues that there’s just not enough quality training and education for our industry that addresses the needs of the aging workforce and loss of years of tribal knowledge, specifically on the operations side,” says Melissa Heard, Director of Marketing for Weldcoa. “Weldcoa understood the urgency and importance of that issue and wanted to contribute and took the lead to address that need.” Along with that, it was important for Weldcoa to communicate a message of overall fill plant knowledge, not just filling equipment. To communicate that knowledge, Weldcoa asked a wide-range of industry leaders to join in that effort. “We wanted to give the audience a head-to-toe fillplant overview training,” says Heard. “Those fellow industry leaders were Chart, Nikkiso, Swagelok, Norris Cylinder, Fastest, Tuthill, Sherwood, Cyl-Tec and PDC Machines.” The aim of the seminar was for attendees to walk away with a better understanding of “why” things are done the way they are in our industry specifically. The goal was to have everyone leave smarter, safer and more productive. As Rich Craig, VP of Technical and Regulatory Affairs for the Compressed Gas Association recently stated, “Having well trained and knowledgeable people is critical to maintaining our industry’s enviable safety record and is key to remaining self-regulated.” “On behalf of Weldcoa, Chart, Nikkiso, Swagelok, Norris Cylinder, Fastest, Tuthill, Sherwood, Cyl-Tec and PDC Machines, we deeply appreciate the participation and feedback we have received in this continuing education effort,” says Heard. “We all see now just how thirsty our industry was for this type of tribal knowledge training. We look forward to offering more classes in 2020.” 96 • Winter 2020

Acme Cryogenics announced the recent addition of Jim Daly to the position of Cryogenic Sales Engineer based in San Diego, CA. Jim will be responsible for supporting existing customer base on the West Coast and adding new customers to Acme’s expanding vacuum jacketed piping business. J i m r e c e ive d h i s M e c h a n i c a l Engineering degree from Virginia Tech University in 2012. Since that time, he has gained relevant experience working as a Technical Sales Engineer at Diakont, FLW, Inc., and most recently at Mersen USA. Jim brings a solid technical background and exceptional selling experience Jim Daly to his new role.

TOMCO Systems Hires Chris Schmoeckel as Vice President of CryoSystems TOMCO Systems welcomed Chris Schmoeckel to its team, as Vice President of CryoSystems. Chris spent eighteen years with Chart Industries, where he most recently held the role of President-Americas following a variety of management roles involving engineering, product management, and manufacturing. Chris graduated from the University of MinnesotaTwin Cities, with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He also holds a Master of Science in Management of Technology, from the University of Minnesota- Technological Leadership Institute. “We continue to focus on customer solutions and applications to further our growth,” stated Luke Bradshaw. “Chris’s experience in applications, commercializing products and operations management will enable us to support turnkey systems that incorporate vaporizers and vacuum-insulated pipe.”

Holston Gases Opens New Location in Cynthiana, Kentucky Holston Gases, Inc. announced a new store location in Cynthiana, Kentucky. Holston Gases President Robert Anders said, “We are very pleased to add the Cynthiana Miles LP customers and product lines to those of Holston gases. Miles LP has a great reputation and loyal customers that we are excited to bring into the Holston family.” Miles LP owners agreed that the consolidation of the two companies’ resources in eastern KY brings added value to the current Miles LP customers.

INDUSTRY NEWS ILMO Products Company Welcomes New Specialty Gas Program Director ILMO Products Company welcomes Peter Van Slyke to the company’s Specialty Gas Division as Specialty Gas Program Director for the Jacksonville, Illinois-based company. Van Slyke brings over 20 years in sales, financial, and management experience in specialty gases and will be responsible for Peter Van Slyke directing the sales functions for ILMO’s Specialty Gas Division. He began his career in Charlotte, NC for National Welders Supply as a Specialty Gas Sales Rep, and has since spent the last 20 years working in the Specialty Gas industry. Prior to joining ILMO, he worked as Specialty Gas Products Manager for Scott-Gross Company and then assumed the role of VP of Specialty Gases for AWG – both located in Lexington, KY. Van Slyke holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. “ILMO offers true specialty gas value and innovation to our current and future specialty gas customers,” states Peter

Van Slyke. “I’m enthusiastic to apply my industry-specific knowledge to ILMO’s Specialty Gas Division. Through the various leadership styles I’ve experienced, I will take the best from each and apply those to this new role.” ILMO’s Vice President of Sales, Tim Atchley, adds, “We are very excited to have Peter join our team here at ILMO Products Co. Peter brings with him the acumen and personality required to communicate effectively with internal and external customers. This is another step forward for ILMO as we strive to continuously advance growth and form lasting partnerships through our Specialty Gas Division.”

Trendex Adds Two New Members to its Customer Support Team Trendex added two members to its customer support team: Maksudur Rahman comes to Trendex from Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce with a major in Accounting.

Maksudur Rahman

SHARE YOUR NEWS If you’ve hired new people, moved your facility, acquired a company, added a product line, have new offerings or anything else newsworthy is happening at your business, please let us know. We’d like to share those updates with your fellow GAWDA members. GAWDA publishes a twice-monthly e-newsletter (The GAWDA Connection) and a quarterly magazine for its membership audience. Simply forward your information to GAWDA Media at: editorial@gawdamedia.com or call us at 315-445-2347, x120. Winter 2020 • 97

INDUSTRY NEWS Parin Patel also comes to Trendex from Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce with a major in Business Technology Management. Both of these new members are at Trendex to provide support to its customers on the Gastrend Parin Patel Software. They will also be responsible for installation, training and implementation of our systems throughout North America.

First place: 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmet 9100, 06-010030iSW, with ADF 9100Xxi • 3M™ Grinder 28824, T27 4-½ in. 5/8-11 External 1.5hp • 3 cases of 3M™ Cubitron™ II Abrasives • Average Retail Value: $2,707.03 Second place: • 3M™ Speedglas™ Welding Helmet 9002NC • 4 cases of 3M™ Cubitron™ II Abrasives • Average Retail Value: $1,286.60 Third place: • 3M™ Speedglas™ 100 Welding Helmet, 07-0012-31BL • 3 cases of 3M™ Cubitron™ II Abrasives • Average Retail Value: $982.60 Congratulations to J.D. Brewer, who was crowned this year’s champion! •

Flame Technologies Donates to Women Who Weld Flame Technologies presented Samantha Farr, founder and CEO of Women Who Weld, a check for $4,000 during FABTECH. The proceeds were raised from the sale of Women Who Weld branded merchandise. Flame Technologies President Shawn Toops was on hand to present the check. After the check presentation, Farr stayed at the Flame Technologies booth to take part in an interview on the Arc Junkies podcast with influential Instagram welder Rae Ripple. Flame Technologies initially announced its support for Women Who Weld in December 2018, and have been selling tee shirts through its website FTMerch.com to raise money for the worthy cause.

3M Hosts Clash of the Grinders 2019 at FABTECH 3M Hosted “Clash of the Grinders 2019” at FABTECH. The event featured 12 metalworking pros going head-tohead grinding 4-inch welds to see who the fastest grinder in America is. The event took place at 3M’s booth at FABTECH on November 12, 2019. The prizes included: 98 • Winter 2020

Atlas Welding Supply Hosts 75th Anniversary Open House Atlas Welding Supply Co. celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2019. As part of that celebration, the company hosted an open house on December 4, from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. The event featured a welding competition, local food trucks, vendor demonstrations, cryotherapy and raffles and prizes. It also featured special sale promotions. Suppliers in attendance at the event included: The Harris Products Group, Select-Arc, Lincoln Electric, Hypertherm, Euroboor, Metabo, Flame Tech and John Tillman Company.

Controlled Efficiencies Moves to New Location

Controlled Efficiencies has moved to a new location. It is now located at 107A Flex Ave., Portland, TN 37138. The phone number remains the same. Please update your records accordingly.


IWDC Members Raise More than $30,000 IWDC celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a novel art auction event that generated more than $30,000 for Workshops for Warriors. “We wanted to do something special and, through generous vendor partner support, we were able to commission an artist who crafted a one-of-a-kind oil painting on steel titled ‘Warrior to Welder,’” stated Frank Kasnick, President & CEO of IWDC. “We held a live auction during the closing dinner that included a silent auction and some games that had everyone on their feet having a blast supporting this great cause.” The IWDC would like to thank Dave Mahoney of Noble Gas Solutions with a winning bid and all the other winners for their generosity and support of Workshop for Warriors. “In addition to fund raising, we updated members on IWDC’s strategic initiatives and received valuable feedback on our programs during our October 22 – 24 Owners’ Meeting held at Eau Palm Beach Resort, Manalapan, FL,” reported Keith Werkley, IWDC Director of Sales & Vendor Management. “We would like to thank our members, vendors and employees for their generous donations to this worthy cause,” commented Erica Janas, IWDC Director of Marketing. “We take great pride in our affiliation and look forward to supporting future campaigns.”

Weiler Abrasives Group Raises $100,000 to Support Pocono Mountains United Way

The generous employees of Weiler Abrasives Group, the Cresco-based global abrasives manufacturer, raised more than $40,000 in their annual campaign benefiting Pocono Mountains United Way. The company matched that effort with a $60,000 corporate contribution, bringing Weiler’s total donation to $100,000. The money raised will support Pocono Mountains United Way’s Monroe County programming initiatives that address

poverty alleviation, healthy food access, and critical housing needs for local families. “Weiler was built on, and continues to thrive because of, our strong partnerships with our customers, coworkers and community. We call them the 3 Cs, and they are the foundation of our company values,” said Bill Dwyre, Weiler managing director, Americas. “Our steady support of the United Way campaign is one of the ways we’ve had the privilege of living those values out in the community we call home.” “We, like Pocono Mountains United Way, believe in making our community a better place,” said Cristina Matos, Weiler sales and marketing analyst and United Way committee chairperson. “That’s why we have continued our tradition of supporting them for the last 16 years.” To help promote the United Way campaign among her colleagues, Matos led a United Way committee with representatives from several Weiler departments. The campaign was 75 days long, themed “75 Days of Giving,” and culminated on October 12 at Weiler’s Family Day Fall Festival, a celebration of the company’s 75th anniversary. In September, the committee also hosted its Fifth Annual Golf Tournament at Skytop Lodge in Skytop, PA, another fundraiser for the company’s United Way campaign.

Sherwood Valve Announces New Additions to Sales Team Sherwood Valve LLC is pleased to announce new additions to the Sherwood sales team. John Lyons, Key Account Manager of Midwest/West Region. John is a seasoned industry professional with diversified experience working at industry leading gas and welding distributors as well as a manufacturer of gas regulation and distribution systems. “We are excited to have added John to our team,” says Tim Madden the company’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “He brings a high level of industry knowledge, experience and enthusiasm that enhances our value-added services to our customers.” Thomas Minnillo, Key Account Manager of South Region/Mexico. Before joining Sherwood Tom was a previous Director of Automotive Sales. Tom has extensive knowledge in strategic account management, project management and new product development and is also fluent in Italian and Spanish. “Tom has a proven track record of success helping customers increase their market position as well as effectively expand into new markets,” says Madden. David Roberts, Customer Service Technician. David was previously a Biomedical Technician and has great past experience in technical sales and customer problem resolution. Winter 2020 • 99

INDUSTRY NEWS “David’s enthusiasm and ability to effectively communicate enhances our unrivaled customer service established by Karen Wilson, Sherwood’s renowned Customer Service Manager,” says Madden. Matt Gimmer will continue to serve as Key Account Manager of Northeast Region/Canada. “Matt has done an outstanding job of expanding Sherwood industrial and specialty gas valve presence in his customer territory,” says Madden.

Excellence In Welding Awards. This is Jeff’s retirement year after decades of unparalleled contributions to the welding industry, volunteering for WEMCO, GAWDA, AWS and the AWS Foundation. Jeff will continue serving in a few committees after retirement.

Toll Announces Retirement of Jim Quicksell

Cyl-Tec welcomes Kirill Zelin as its new Regional Sales Manager for the Northeast & Central regions of the U.S. In this role, he will be responsible Kirill Zelin for selling Cyl-Tec’s full product line as well as its testing, telemetry, and repair services. His main goal is to learn each of his customer’s businesses and to find solutions to drive mutual growth. He states, “Cyl-Tec, with its strong family history in the gas industry, is very customer-focused. I immediately felt that sincere dedication to service on the first day I started. Cyl-Tec is a great place to work because the team is not only committed, but also agile and responsive – jumping to instantly fix issues and working on custom-tailored solutions for each client.” Zelin began his professional career as an intern with Koroseal Interior Products and eventually led an entire division of their business. Following that position, he worked for The Coca-Cola Company with his last role calling on national accounts based out of Minnesota. His Master’s in Business Administration is from the University of Phoenix and his undergraduate in Sales Management is from the University of Akron.

Toll Company announced that Jim Quicksell, president of Toll Company, retired on November 1 after 36 years at Toll. During the course of his 36 years, Jim served as Credit Manager, HR Manager, Operations Manager, Vice President and his final stop as President of Toll Company. Jim Quicksell Under Jim’s leadership, Toll consolidated its retail locations, expanded its rental fleet and lab capabilities and joined with four other independent welding distributors to build an air separation plant in Faribault, MN. These are just the highlights. Jim was instrumental in many things during his 36 year career, and Toll is thankful for the many positive things he brought to the company.

Jeff Deckrow Recognized for Exceptional Excellence in Welding Long-time WEMCO Member and Past Chair Jeff Deckrow, was recognized by current WEMCO Chair, Steve Fyffe, and the Executive Committee in the Exceptional Category of

Cyl-Tec Appoints Zelin as Sales Manager of Northeast/ Central Regions

GAWDA Media Visits Messer CO2 Plant

Thank you so much to Messer, who hosted members of GAWDA Media at their CO2 Production Facility in Fulton, NY, on Tuesday, November 19. The facility, built in 2007, produces more than 700 tons of clean CO2 per day. It is located next to an Attis Biofuels ethanol plant and cleans the waste gas to produce food and medical grade CO2 for consumption. The team was given a tour of the plant as well as a crash course in how the carbon dioxide goes from the ethanol plant, through the cleaning process and out for delivery.

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Lincoln Electric Announces Joint Education Program with ASM International

Lincoln Electric, in partnership with ASM International, is proud to announce the development of a Certificate Program called “Welding Technology and Materials Science.” The Joint Education Program (JEP) will provide learners the opportunity to advance their material science knowledge and obtain handson training with various welding technologies. The certificate program provides a platform for advancement of scientific expertise. To ensure rigorous training and education standards are being applied, all coursework has been previously accredited with The International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). Professionals entering the program will come from a variety of industries and backgrounds, most appealing to engineers, materials science professionals, technicians, and those working in the manufacturing and industrial sectors. The certificate is based on completion of eight total courses. The foundational curriculum consists of five pre-set required courses that offer a deeper dive into the subject matter of metallurgy, mechanical testing, welding inspection and control, welding economics and steel weldments. The remaining three courses offer the learner the ability to tailor their certificate to one of 15 desired industry focus areas.

One Equity Partners Completes Carve-Out of ORS NASCO One Equity Partners (“OEP”), a middle-market private equity firm, announced that it has completed the acquisition of ORS Nasco, from Essendant, Inc. in a corporate carve-out transaction. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. ORS Nasco is North America’s leading wholesaler of industrial and safety supplies, selling exclusively to distributors throughout North America. ORS Nasco offers access to over 200,000 skus of premium products from more than 600 brands for use in the industrial, welding, energy, safety, electrical, construction, HVAC, MRO, PVF, plumbing, janitorial, and rental channel markets. ORS Nasco serves rapidly growing distributor customers with a network of 16 strategically-placed distribution centers nationwide and internationally. ORS Nasco’s distributor relationships are well-rounded across the entire country with its product offering and unique services. With this versatile portfolio, ORS Nasco enables distributors to lower their product cost-of-acquisition and better serve their customers. ORS Nasco’s long-standing vendor

relationships and branded offerings enable manufacturers to lower their cost-to-serve and reach under penetrated markets. “We are excited to partner with the management team lead by CEO Chris Kempa to provide them with capital and operational resources that will allow them to pursue the next chapter of growth as an independent company,” said David Han, Senior Managing Director at OEP. “This acquisition is well aligned with OEP’s historic focus on structuring carveouts of attractive industrial businesses in close partnership with management teams and corporate sellers.” “We are thrilled to become an independent company through our partnership with OEP and believe that we will be able to increase and expand sales to existing and new customers based on ORS Nasco’s market-leading wholesale distribution capabilities and continued focus on providing exceptional customer service,” said Kempa.

All Safe Global Continues on Growth Path with Acquisition Minnesota-based All Safe Global continues its expansion by acquiring Thunderbird Cylinder of Phoenix, Arizona. Thunderbird Cylinder has been providing compressed gas cylinder requalification, refurbishment and maintenance services for more than 70 years. The services provided by ASG and Thunderbird parallel each other – both dedicated to safety, customer service, best practices, and DOT compliance. Each location offers hydrostatic testing, ultrasonic examination, cylinder refurbishment, visual inspection, and wide variety of replacement products, equipment customization, branding services and more. “All Safe Global’s acquisition of Thunderbird expands our presence in the western United States and is an important step toward realizing our vision of building a national network of cylinder requalification centers,” said Matt Boettner, President and CEO, All Safe Global. “Thunderbird’s core values and strong reputation for compliance, safety and service bolsters ASG’s long tradition of providing our customers with industry leading products and services.” “Both companies come to the table with a wealth of experience and a shared vision of compliance and service,” said Thunderbird Cylinder owner Fred Nachman. “Together, we look forward to blending our expertise, and bringing exceptional and standardized services on a national scale to the compressed gas industry.” This acquisition expands ASG’s geographic footprint and Winter 2020 • 101


provides additional scale to the company’s growing business. The combination will enhance our ability to provide new and current customers with exceptional service, quality products, and fast turn-around times. ASG offers expansive truck routes and competitive shipping services to make delivery fast and affordable for customers in all geographical locations.

Anova and Silicon Controls Merge to Further Innovation in Logistics and Consumer Engagement

Anova announced that it has merged with Silicon Controls, provider of the Gaslog solution and a key player in the global LPG & propane industry. This merger is motivated by a shared approach to customer engagement, innovation and global engineering capabilities in tank telemetry, telecommunications, cloud applications and mobile platforms. The combined capabilities uniquely position Anova to help its customer base transform logistics and redefine consumer services, ultimately driving greater profitability for propane distribution. This accelerates Anova’s strategy of connecting the industrial world around this. With over 25 years of proven experience providing end-toend solutions in remote telemetry, Silicon Controls has leading positions with customers in North America, Europe and Australia. “With a reputation for taking a consultative partnership approach to logistics transformation, we have secured a strong market presence and installed base,” said Mike Neuman, CEO of Silicon Controls. “Silicon has done extensive work over many

CGA Annual Convention New Orleans, Louisiana APRIL 26-30, 2020

MAY 2020 AIWD Annual Convention Miami, Florida MAY 3-6, 2020

upcoming industry events

APRIL 2020 GAWDA Spring Management Conference Austin, Texas APRIL 5 – 7, 2020 102 • Winter 2020

GAWDA Regional Meeting Houston, Texas MAY 11-12, 2020

JUNE 2020 IWDC Sales & Purchasing Convention Louisville, Kentucky JUNE 9 -11, 2020

years in the propane industry, helping customers decrease the number of trucks on the road by improving delivery efficiency.” “Collectively, we are reducing winter overtime, minimizing miles per stop, improving safety and productivity, and addressing the growing decarbonization conundrum. We’re stronger together – and that is the immediate value our customers will feel,” said Robert Battye, Silicon Controls’ VP North America. This partnership will allow Anova to play an even more significant role in supporting the LPG and propane industry across the globe. Most notably, Anova will increase its presence, and the availability of industrial IoT in Europe, offer relevant business models to an expanding Asian and South American market, and support the rapidly growing use of technology across North America. In response to customers demanding more reliable technology solutions to improve supply chain strategies and operational efficiencies, Anova continues to invest in R&D and is strengthening its industry engagement. This merger is further proof of its customer-first mentality – listening and responding to market needs and what keeps customers up at night. “Our customers need a dependable partner that is heavily invested in developing next-generation technology solutions that will not only provide the lowest total cost of ownership, but, quite simply, make their lives easier,” said Chet Reshamwala, CEO of Anova. “The new Anova team has over 90 years of LPG & propane experience and intends to build on that, ensuring our customers have access to the best technology, equipment, partners and people to support our customers’ needs.”

GAWDA Regional Meeting Seven Springs, Pennsylvania JUNE 24-26, 2020

JULY 2020 GAWDA Regional Meeting Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho JULY 22-24, 2020

AUGUST 2020 GAWDA Regional Meeting Oregon, Ohio AUGUST 10-11, 2020

SEPTEMBER 2020 GAWDA Annual Convention Phoenix, Arizona SEPTEMBER 25-28, 2020

OCTOBER 2020 IOMA Annual Meeting Washington, D.C. OCTOBER 10-14, 2020 IWDC Owners Meeting Rancho Mirage, California OCTOBER 20-24, 2020

NOVEMBER 2020 FABTECH Las Vegas, Nevada NOVEMBER 18-20, 2020





1. American Torch Tip Announces

3. Kaplan Industries Adds

American Torch Tip Co. (ATTC) has designed and trademarked the GEN™ (Gas Efficient Nozzle) for Laser Cutting applications. This Patent Pending Nozzle has a design that directly addresses common customer issues. The sleeve decreases the amount of turbulence during cutting and therefore decreases the amount of slag. The inner nozzle is prevented from dislodging during cutting by the cutting-edge design that provides a more secure fitting. Independent sleeve allows continuous contact with the plate during cutting, even when cutting over rough terrain. The nozzle will significantly save on gas consumption. Short piercing times allow for increased acceleration and higher productivity and fee rates. This new product is American-made with tight tolerances and high-quality materials Their goal is to create a better experience for their customers by reducing costs through the smart design. The GEN™ design is based on customer feedback and shared challenges.

Kaplan Industries is increasing its capacity to service their growing distributor base and has just installed two new 11,000-gallon bulk tanks at their Ohio facility. These new tanks will go alongside their existing instrument grade N-Butane tank at its state-of-the-art, filling and cylinder cleaning facility. The tanks will contain Instrument Grade Propane and Isobutane at a purity above 99.5%. With the addition of the two tanks, Kaplan will be better able to continue providing distributors with premium packaged gas for the expanding industrial hemp and cannabis markets. “It’s an exciting time here at Kaplan Industries,” says Devon Goodman, Specialty Gas Sales Manager “With so much momentum in the cannabis industry, we’re excited to be able to more effectively serve our distributors in this growing market.”

the GEN Nozzle for Laser Cutting

2. Techniweld USA Launches Revolution Lead Reel

Techniweld USA just launched the Revolution Lead reel, a revolutionary high-quality yet low-cost lead reel that will surely change a welder’s experience. By bringing affordable lead reels to market now even the “helpers” will have a lead reel. With heavy duty powder coated paint job and premium construction, the arc Star lead reels are sure to impress even the most critical Rig welders.

Two New Bulk Hydrocarbon Tanks

4. Harris Products Offers Guide to

Maximizing Helium Gas Allocation

To help research laboratories lower helium costs during its current shortage, The Harris Products Group has developed a free guide to maximizing helium allocation. This guide provides valuable insights to customers in the areas of analytical labs, chemical processing, research and development, biotech and pharmaceuticals who want to reduce helium usage, and also avoid the hefty capital expenses and time expenditures involved in having to convert to hydrogen usage. Included in the guide is technical information and practical tips that provide advice about determining benchmarks, calculating inefficiencies and finding efficient solutions. The ‘Maximizing Your Helium Gas Allocation’ white paper can be downloaded at harris.co/Helium-Shortage Winter 2020 • 103



5. The POWER MIG® 360MP Welder Takes

6. Tekno Valves Introduces Offline Residual

Lincoln Electric has taken the next evolutionary step in POWER MIG welding technology with the introduction of the POWER MIG 360MP welder. This professional-grade machine combines an easy-to-use interface with a number of advanced welding features. The result is a multi-process workhorse, ideal for metal fabrication, maintenance and repair, auto body and light industrial applications. Designed with a 7-inch color display to facilitate smooth communication between operator and machine, the POWER MIG 360MP welder is capable of Stick, TIG, MIG and FluxCored welding. In addition to an increased duty cycle, the welder is equipped with the following features: • MIG and TIG Pulse welding, which provide better control of heat input and minimize warping and burn-through on thin metals. • Ready. Set. Weld.® setup, with intuitive push-and-turn digital controls to make setup quick and effortless. • Lincoln Electric’s ArcFX® Technology, which provides instant graphic feedback on the user interface and illustrates how a welder’s settings affect the weld outcome. The POWER MIG 360MP package also includes a 15-foot (4.5-meter) Magnum® PRO Curve™ 300 welding gun and .035/.045 in (0.9/1.2 mm) drive rolls and guide for steel. Other accessories include: • Gas regulator and hose • Work clamp and cable • 230V input cord and plug • 115V AC auxiliary power receptacle • Built-in storage compartment

Tekno Valves is pleased to offer new generation Offline Residual Pressure Valve (RPV) with Non-Return Valve in BOWN-12 series, successfully tested to EN ISO 10297:2017 and EN ISO 15996:2017 standard. The design is certified by BAM Berlin to European Transportable Equipment Directive (TPED) 2010/35/EU and available with “Pi” mark, rated at maximum valve test pressure of 360 bar. The designs are offered in three different variants based on gas applications with following distinguishing features.

a Giant Step Forward

104 • Winter 2020

Pressure Valve (RPV) Series







Oxygen & Hydrogen

OPST tested for 50 shocks at 360 bar



Inerts and Argon+CO2 gas mixture

Stainless steel* lower spindle


Carbon Dioxide

High flow valve with Stainless steel* lower spindle


*Prevents cracks in brass soft seal retention skirts prone to stress corrosion cracking in Carbon dioxide environment.

BOWN-12 is available in recently published CGA 320R, CGA 580R and CGA 590R outlet connection as per CGA V-1-2019. This allows fillers to use the standardised filling connector on any RPV manufactured to CGA XXXR outlet connections. The design has ingenious Residual Pressure Device (RPD) technology to prevent extrusion of the piston O-ring




at high flow, provide reliable service life and discourage tampering. The RPD assembly is capsulated to facilitate ease of maintenance.

7. Lincoln Electric Announces the Prism Compact Air Filtration System

Lincoln Electric announces the newest system to the Prism® series—the Prism® Compact air filtration system for welding and cutting applications. The Prism Compact system introduces a compact design and quiet operation, while delivering quick and easy installation and maintenance to help promote a safe and healthy work environment. The Prism Compact’s design enables the user to position the unit directly next to a cutting table or robotic cell. Available in indoor and outdoor configurations, the system sits at a lower height configuration to fit comfortably and efficiently into smaller spaces. Additionally, the system ships without a pallet and assembles without the need for a crane. Lincoln Electric’s Smart Connect™ technology produces quick and seamless wire connections. The circuitry enables the operator to connect a variety of functions: power, compressed air and duct sensor for fan speed control. The Prism Compact operates quietly, thanks to a silencer and sound deadening materials that dramatically reduce airflow noise. The variable frequency drive (VFD) adjusts fan speed and extraction airflow to the volume of air moving through the system in a given application, while intelligent fan control technology helps maximize fume extraction, conserve energy and extend equipment life.

Maintenance is simple with the Prism Compact. The unit’s automatic cleaning process is initiated once the pre-set pressure differential has been reached. The vertical filter orientation allows for easier and more efficient cleaning, and particulate matter is collected in a 20-gallon dustbin. Lastly, a UL-listed and FM-approved Prism Thermal Suppression system is available with the Prism Compact, as well as an integrated spark arrestor for added safety. Both of these features are optional but highly recommended by Lincoln Electric, especially for applications that include oily or stamped parts.

8. Saf-T-Cart Stainless DP-8AR Saf-T-Cart’s sister company, Carolina Piping Services, announced its new stainless DP-8AR supports up to 8 welders. This unit comes equipped with 200 PSI Gauge (150 PSI Safety), unique inlet connector to prevent incorrect hookups of gases, and a compact and lightweight frame. Inlet and outlet connectors on each end allow units to be daisy chained together to increase capacity (8-16-24). • • • • •

1/4” NPT Outlets, with flowmeters. Eight outlets with the ball valve allows use for 1-8 operators. Each unit is labelled with working pressure with pressure release device. All stainless-steel construction, TIG welded, cleaned and passivated. Distribution tube acts as a reservoir of accumulated gas, allowing uninterrupted flow for up to eight welders per unit. Winter 2020 • 105





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.

The following businesses recently joined the Gases and Welding Distributors Association. For more information about the benefits and services available to members, please contact GAWDA at 844-251-3219 or visit www.gawda.org.


DISTRIBUTOR MEMBERS: SELECT GASES LLC (2019) 6375 Regency Parkway, Suite 710 Norcross, GA 30071 770-742-8400 ANDREW PAZAHANICK, COO EMAIL: apazahanick@selectgases.com


21500 Sharp Rd. Montgomery, TX 77356 936-441-8333 KEN HOFFMAN EMAIL: ken@allcryo.com

65 Glendale Ave. Edison, NJ 08817 732-382-3600 DEEPAK SABNANI, Managing Partner EMAIL: northeasthelium@gmail.com

ADVERTISERS INDEX Acme Cryogenics............................................................45

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

AmWINS .........................................................................91

Hobart Institute of Welding Technology .......................... 70

ANOVA/DataOnline .........................................................63

Kaplan Industries ............................................................ 17

Anthony Welded Products ..............................................27

Lincoln Electric .................................................................7

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

McDantim ....................................................................... 91

ASM/American Standard Manufacturing ........................18

Mercer Industries ..............................................................3

Black Stallion/Revco Industries ......................................59

NorLab Calibration Gases Division of Norco................... 95

Bug-O Systems International ..........................................67

Norton Abrasives ............................................................ 32

California Cylinder .......................................................... 89

ORS Nasco ..................................................................... 56

Carborundum Abrasives .................................................23

Rotarex ........................................................................... 40

Catalina Cylinders ...........................................................35

SafTCart.......................................................................... 13

Chart Inc .........................................................................55

Select-Arc ......................................................................BC

Computers Unlimited ........................................................9

Sherwood Valve .............................................................. 65

Controlled Efficiencies ....................................................49

Superflash Compressed Gas Equipment ........................ 41

Cryogenic Industrial Solutions ........................................28

Thermacut....................................................................... 29

Cryoworks....................................................................... 69

Thermco Instrument Corporation .................................... 19

Eleet Cryogenics .............................................................66

TomCO2 Systems Company .............................................5

Exocor ............................................................................71

Veite Cryogenic .................................................................1

Flexovit USA ...................................................................43

Watson Coatings ............................................................ 57

Gas Innovations ..............................................................69

Weldcoa .......................................................................... 11

Generant Company .........................................................71

Weldship Corporation ..................................................... 21

Genstar Technologies .....................................................31

Winton Products Co........................................................ 70

H & H Sales Company ....................................................89

Wire Wizard/ELCo Enterprises ........................................ 97 Winter 2020 • 107



AWDA members shared the below posts and pictures using Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. We encourage GAWDA members to keep the conversation going all year long by using #GAWDA next time you post.

Rollin into the new year like... #weld #welding #welder #weldingcarts #weldernation #steel #fabrication #cylindercarts #anthonytough #americanmade

hypertherminc The Upper Valley Haven Food Pantry in White River Junction, Vermont, gives healthy food to individuals and families in need. Hypertherm’s CEO, Evan Smith, and Engineer, Sanjay Garg, stock shelves as a part of our community service program. #feedthehungry #actsofkindness #volunteer #volunteerism #HyperthermCares #Hypertherm

hectorvillarreal I hope everyone got what they wanted for Christmas and had a Happy New Years! #weldcoa #gawda #iwdc #cga #gasworld

awisco_welding esabweldingcutting Want a head start on your Valentine’s Day gifts? Check out this step-by-step guide from one of our ESAB Elite. @scott_raabe Valentine’s Day is approaching soon, here is a step by step to help you out making that rose for your special someone! #esabweldingcutting #stickwithesab #esabelite #welding 108 • Winter 2020

Check out our AWISCO president Lloyd Robinson who has partnered with @ volunteernynow for the past 5 years! He’s sharing his #GivingTuesday plans as a part of #Bridge2Give with @ lohud. #ThankYouWednesday #EveryoneCanServe

Arcos Delivers Solutions to Stainless Steel Alloy Welding Challenges.

Arcos Industries, LLC offers over 100 stainless steel electrode products to handle the countless array of demanding welding applications that challenge you daily. Our reputation for exceptional quality and outstanding service ensures that you can depend on Arcos to provide you with the finest in bare wire, covered and tubular stainless steel alloy welding electrodes.

Discover for yourself how Arcos stainless steel alloy electrodes can help you solve your critical welding problems. Call us today at 800-233-8460 or visit our website at www.arcos.us.

BUY THE BEST SelectAlloy 308L – Horizontal

BUY AMERICAN SelectAlloy 308L-AP – Vertical Up

Ask your local distributor for SelectAlloy flux cored stainless products. 800-341-5215 | www.select-arc.com

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