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Archive for July, 2009

Marketing 2.0

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Electronics retail giant Best Buy recently posted a job listing for a senior manager in Minnesota. The job requirements were a Bachelor’s degree, two years of social media marketing experience, a year’s worth of active blogging experience and at least 250 followers on Twitter.

The company seems to appreciate the importance of Internet marketing and social networking sites as business tools. No longer are these resources classified as minor projects that are delegated to entry-level employees with nothing else to do. Too often, upper management doesn’t want to concern themselves with something as seemingly trivial as Twitter or blogging. Best Buy’s approach, however, is a clear indication of the emphasis they place on online marketing.

The gases and welding industry is no exception to this trend. It’s easy to scoff at the retail industry and assume that you don’t need this social networking stuff because your business is different. This isn’t a trend that is going away, though, and the sooner you get involved, the more successful you’ll be in the long run. This doesn’t just involve telling an intern to start a Twitter account and make posts every now and then. Management should be involved and should have some sort of strategy. This should be a policy that permeates the company. All employees should be encouraged to blog and tweet and join LinkedIn in an effort to promote and publicize your company. The best part is, it’s all free.

While social media will never replace a face-to-face sales call, it can be used to augment current marketing efforts and give an edge over competitors. Even if you aren’t wild about doing business on the Internet, you can be sure that your customers are on there looking you up and looking up your competitors. Will they be impressed with what they find? It’s your job to make sure they are.

The Artistic Side of Gases and Welding

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Most of us are probably aware of the role welding plays in modern art. Welded sculptures are a hot ticket item at any museum of modern art and many distributors have probably sold equipment to an aspiring Michelangelo at some point or another. Recently, however, compressed gases have begun to make their name more prevalent in the realm of sculpted art.

Artists have begun taking jellyfish that have died by natural means and preserving them in sculptures using liquid nitrogen. The jellyfish are arranged in the desired position then frozen using the nitrogen. They are then preserved in a resin mold where they harden. The natural phosphor within the jellyfish causes it to glow in the dark. They are typically lit from below with an LED light to add to their radiance. These sculptures have become a trendy art form in Hawaii and are gaining popularity across the rest of the country.

So next time someone comes into your distributorship with a dead jellyfish in a jar, don’t be alarmed, simply find them some compressed nitrogen and help them on their way. Who knows, if you cut them a deal you might even get a free sculpture to spruce up your showroom.

All-Star Celebrations

Monday, July 27th, 2009

This weekend thousands looked on as Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice received baseball’s greatest honor: induction into the MLB Hall of Fame. Both men worked extremely hard to become all-stars on the baseball diamond, and are now being recognized for their acheivements.

The last issue of GAWDA Edge highlighted All-Stars in the gases and welding industry, and this weekend’s events got me to thinking about what makes someone an all-star. One of the biggest similarities I found between the speeches made by the ball players and the interviews I conducted with industry members was an appreciation for the organization the person was a part of.

The players spoke highly of their teammates, their teams and all the people who helped them get to where they were. Similarly, GAWDA members were very quick to praise their companies and the people who had inspired them and helped them succeed in their career. It became clear to me that all-stars only reach the levels they reach with the help of a strong team and support from those around them.

The GAWDA All-Stars may not have received any grand ceremony and there was no crowd of adoring fans to commemorate the publication of the Edge, but they embody many of the same hardworking characteristics as the men who were honored at Cooperstown this weekend.

Read this month’s GAWDA Edge to learn more about some of GAWDA’s All-Stars.

Compressed Gases and Fictional Sharks II: The Sequel

Friday, July 24th, 2009

After reading my last blog post about compressed gases and Jaws, one of my colleagues recalled something he learned on the Discovery Channel a few years back. He immediately called me to alert me that the final scene, while extremely exciting, was not realistic. According to MythBusters, a popular Discovery Channel program, a compressed air cylinder will not explode when shot. Rather, it will simply decompress by expelling the air through the hole created by the bullet. While the tank may move around due to the pressure of the exiting air, it will not explode.

 

I realize that this is extremely disappointing to Jaws fans everywhere (myself included), but ultimately, for gases and welding distributors, this is a good thing. I’m hoping that none of you are firing off guns in the warehouse or around cylinders, but it’s reassuring to know that if a stray projectile does happen to pierce a compressed oxygen cylinder, it won’t blow your facility to bits. This doesn’t detract, however, from the importance of proper cylinder handling within any organization. Just because a cylinder might not explode doesn’t mean someone can’t still be hurt or product can’t still be lost. And of course there are always OSHA regulations to take into consideration (although I’m sure some of us would rather fend off a 3,000 pound shark than deal with Big Brother).

 

Compressed Gases And Fictional Sharks

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

 I was flipping through the channels last night when I came across one of my favorite horror movies of all time: Jaws. While the shark doesn’t seem quite as large or as scary as it did when I was young, it still gives me shivers when that music starts to play, “duh-duh. duh-duh.” It was the ending of the movie, however, that got me to thinking about compressed gases.

 *Warning: The next paragraph gives away the ending of the movie. Readers beware.*

 While on their epic shark hunt, Chief Brody (played by Roy Scheider) knocks over a compressed air cylinder. Richard Dreyfuss’s character scolds him and warns him of the dangers of handling compressed gases (a warning I’m sure most of us have either given or received at some point in our careers). In the final showdown with the great fish, Chief Brody gets the shark to bite down on one of these compressed air cylinders as his boat is sinking. He shoots the cylinder which explodes immediately, blowing the shark to bits.

Moral of the story? Be careful with your cylinders. Cylinder safety and cylinder handling are critical themes in the gases and welding industry, and will be discussed extensively in the upcoming issue of Welding and Gases Today along with a host of other topics surrounding cylinders. Be sure to check it out when it reaches your desk in September.

A Gases And Welding Roller Coaster Ride

Monday, July 20th, 2009

I’m 200 feet above the ground strapped to a small metal car, and for some reason all I can think about is welding. Perhaps this is because welding is part of my job, or, more likely, it’s because the roller coaster I’m currently buckled into is supported by a frame of steel beams, and my life seems to rest upon the integrity of a series of welds. These thoughts are quickly replaced by the sounds of screams (mostly my own) as the cart reaches its pinnacle and begins its 208-foot descent. 90 exhilarating seconds later I hear the hiss of brakes signaling the end of the ride. As I catch my breath and relax my kung fu grip on the poor stranger next to me, I’m already wondering how much compressed air it takes to stop a ride moving that fast and who supplies the cylinders in which it is stored.

It’s now two days later and I’m sitting comfortably in the safety of my office, researching next month’s gases and welding vacation destination: roller coasters. Keep an eye out for the August issue of GAWDA Edge, which will include everything you want to know about the gases and welding work that goes into one of America’s greatest thrillers. And for some other industry hot spots, check out previous vacation destinations.

One Small Step For Gases and Welding…

Friday, July 17th, 2009

It’s been 40 years since mankind first set foot on lunar soil. The effort that was involved with putting a multimillion-pound hunk of metal into orbit was astronomical (no pun intended), and gases and welding played a large role in this process. While the U.S. hasn’t set foot on extra-terrestrial ground in over three decades, plans were made by former President George W. Bush to have a person on Mars by 2030. This will, again, involve mass amounts of gases and welding.

The modern space shuttle is fueled by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. The two fuels combined total more than 500,000 gallons, which is consumed in about 8 minutes. The initial combustion of these liquefied gases is enough to generate 37 million horsepower and over 1.2 million pounds of thrust. Temperatures in the main combustion chamber reach upwards of 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Once outside the Earth’s atmosphere, the shuttle is pressurized by a compressed gas mixture similar to that of Earth’s (78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen).

In addition to these gases, the craft is constructed through extensive welding processes. Unlike its lunar counter parts, the Mars voyage will require welders onboard who can conduct exterior repairs to the ship if necessary (a longer journey will require more maintenance). Welding in a zero-gravity, zero-atmosphere environment will pose a whole new set of challenges to engineers who will have to re-think many of the basic principles of welding.

Fortunately, people much smarter than me are working diligently to put us on the Red Planet within the next quarter-century. And who’s to say where we go from there? It’s good to know, however, that the gases and welding industry is championing our exploration into the depths of our solar system.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

I got home after work last night and decided to try to relax andput work aside for the night. “What better way to do this than with TV?” I naturally concluded. I flipped on the tube and turned to the Major League Baseball All-Star game. As I watched, however, I couldn’t help but notice the different team chemistries and how each team functioned as players who spend 364 days as rivals came together to work towards a shared goal. It said a lot about what can be accomplished when people are given a common task to work at.

This train of thought eventually led me back to this month’s issue of GAWDA Edge, which focuses on teamwork within the gases and welding company. While coworkers aren’t really rivals, they still come from all walks of life and bring in all sorts of different experiences. When given a common goal, however, these people come together and produce excellent results.

My attempt at getting my mind off work may have failed, but it reminded me of a valuable lesson (one which is becoming a theme on this blog): gases and welding is everywhere. Yes, even in baseball. Check out GAWDA’s all-star team in this month’s issue of GAWDA Edge.

Just a Matter of Days…

Monday, July 13th, 2009

In just a few days, the newest issue of GAWDA Edge will be available to view on the GAWDA Edge Web site. This month’s issue takes a look at what it takes to formulate a successful team. Legendary basketball coach Rick Pitino, currently the head men’s coach at the University of Louisville, discusses some of the ingredients of great teams and analyzes a phenomenon he likes to call “team ego.”

Team ego is the idea of using an individual’s ego to the advantage of the team, rather than its disadvantage. Where ego can often get in the way of a successful team, Pitino believes that harnessing a large ego can work to the team’s benefit. If a player (or co-worker) can use that ego to better the people around him or her, then he or she effectively improves the “team ego” as well as his or her own ego.

To learn more about Rick Pitino’s idea of team ego and to see other articles on teamwork in the gases and welding industry, be sure to check the GAWDA Edge Web site Thursday, July 16, for the all new July issue of GAWDA Edge.

Swing For The Fences

Friday, July 10th, 2009

If there are three things I love in this world they’re gases, welding and baseball. And believe it or not, I’ve found a way to combine these three passions in an upcoming article in GAWDA Edge. I know what you’re thinking, “How can this be done?!” Well without giving away the farm, I’d like to take a quick sneak peak at this month’s vacation destination: the new Yankee Stadium.

One of the most unique structural features of the new stadium is a steel frieze that lines the upper deck. The frieze is a tribute to the green copper frieze that adorned the original 1923 stadium. When the ballpark was renovated in the mid 70s, the frieze was torn down and placed atop the wall above the bleachers. The frieze on the new stadium is in the same location as that of the original and is crucial to the structural integrity of the building.

Interested? The next issue of GAWDA Edge comes out Thursday, July 16, and will include photos and more details on Yankee Stadium. Be sure to check it out, and for now, check out the other vacation destinations GAWDA Edge has to offer.