Home | Executive Dialogue | Carole Jesiolowski

Archive for June, 2011

Good News For Small Businesses

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Last week brought good news for small businesses, as the government reported record numbers for contracting dollars spent with small businesses. In Fiscal Year 2010, ending September 30, 2010, small businesses won $97.95 billion in federal contracts, which translates to 22.7 percent of government contracts. This is the closest the government has come recently to its contracting goal of 23 percent.

In speaking to GAWDA members, I have learned that government contracts can be a complicated business. In the recent article, “Small Business Scramble,” Jim Earlbeck, president of Earlbeck Gases & Technologies, told Welding & Gases Today, “It’s a moving target.” However, as the numbers above show, it can also be profitable.

With contracting moving to the Internet over the last few years, the game has changed. For some, this means opened doors to contracts that were not easily accessible before. For others, it means increased competition.

If you’re interested getting a piece of the nearly $100 billion dollars that go to small business contracts, start by checking out “10 Steps to Winning DoD Contracts.” Also check out Federal Business Opportunities at fbo.gov, where you can search available contracts.

What’s your experience like working with the government? Share by leaving a comment.

Image Of Welding Incomplete Without Distributors

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Last week I read in GAWDAwiki’s headlines about the Bonita Springs Center for the Arts, a local art center in Florida that is teaching aspiring artists how to weld. Through the Introduction to Metal course at Bonita Springs Center for the Arts, the world of painting and sculpting is blending with the world of plasma cutting and MIG welding.

Within the industry, the use of welding in art is nothing new. The emergence of the Welding Rodeo and several other platforms for artists to showcase their skills has definitely helped bring it to the forefront. But for the average artist outside the industry, the perception of welding may be a little different.

What Center for the Arts is doing is great for artists and for the image of welding, and ultimately good for distributors as well. It may also present opportunities for distributors to get involved with art centers in their area, whether it’s offering instruction or equipment demonstration.

Speaking of the image of welding, what is your company doing to promote the image of welding? AWS offers a series of awards for companies and individuals that promote the welding industry. Somewhat surprisingly, the award for distributors went unawarded in 2010. I know there are distributors out there doing wonderful things for the industry—so share your examples here by leaving a comment. With any luck, we’ll have a distributor winner this year to draw attention to the great things distributors are doing. (The award nomination deadline is July 31.)

When Is It Time To Say Goodbye To A Customer?

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

On Monday, GAWDA’s Consultants held a forum to provide regulatory updates to members. I am amazed at the incredible number of rules and regulations that gases and welding distributors have to know—and how many different regulatory agencies they come from (This was the first time I’d heard mention of the FAA in the GAWDA environment). Even the government seems to admit that regulations can be too complex. Back in January, President Obama ordered a government-wide review of regulations to reconsider outdated or ineffective regulations. Even though changes like this can be good, it is change. With constant change, it’s a good thing we have the Consultants.

One of the items that really stood out to me was Mike Dodd’s synopsis of a recently settled $4.5 million lawsuit against a propane filler. According to Dodd, the propane supplier repeatedly told a customer that they were improperly transporting the cylinders, and that they needed to be transported in an upright position. Regardless, when things went wrong, the company still found itself on the wrong end of a lawsuit. “At some point, a distributor may have to make a business decision not to sell to a customer that continues to ignore proper safety precautions,” says Dodd.

This raises an important question: When is it time to say goodbye to a customer? Especially in times like these, it can be hard to willingly let go of business. But when that customer puts your company at risk, it may be time. What other examples do you have of when it’s appropriate to stop doing business with a customer? Share by leaving a comment below.

Recognizing GAWDA’s Fathers

Friday, June 17th, 2011
2010-2011 GAWDAFather Lloyd Robinson

2011 GAWDAFather Lloyd Robinson

In honor of Father’s Day weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to recognize the forefathers of this great association. Beginning with GAWDA’s founders, Herbert Weiler of Weiler Welding Company (Dayton, OH) and V.S. Rice of Virginia Welding Supply Company (Charleston, WV) and a long tradition of great presidents that followed—from the first, L.O. Schneiderwind of Omaha Welding Company (Omaha, NE) in 1946, all the way up to the current “GAWDAFather,” Lloyd Robinson of AWISCO (Maspeth, NY)—GAWDA’s forefathers have made immeasurable contributions to the success and livelihoods of their fellow association members (I will add that not all presidents were “fathers,” per se, with the amazing contributions of 2010 President Jenny McCall of WESCO in Pritchard, AL).

For GAWDA’s 60th Anniversary in 2005, Welding & Gases Today spoke with many of these living legends, going back to ‘63-’64 President Harry Moore, who just recently passed away. Like fathers, these past presidents looked out for industry members without asking for anything in return. They have led members in facing pricing issues, regulations, legal and insurance threats and more, while providing guidance and education.

Hats off to GAWDA’s fathers—and to veteran members everywhere who have taken the time to mentor the younger generations who have come on board throughout the years. Your efforts have helped GAWDA stay strong for 66 years. Happy Father’s Day!

GAWDA Member Gets A Nod From The President

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Last week, President Obama announced a focused effort to promote workforce development through new partnerships with manufacturers and associations. Among the manufacturers named was GAWDA member Air Products, who is teaming up with SkillsUSA to bring standardized credentials into high schools and colleges to help students make sure they have the qualifications and training needed for welding jobs and other manufacturing careers.

The shortage of welders is not news to GAWDA members. At the Spring Management Conference, the AWS Foundation’s Monica Pfarr and Sam Gentry spoke about the need for welders. The numbers they presented were jaw-dropping: 238,000 new and replacement welding jobs through 2019. The good news is that many of these will be the result of job growth, making way for more welders. The bad news is that a lot of these will be the result of an aging workforce. The White House points out, “This effort is especially important at a time when 2.7 million manufacturing employees are 55 years of age or older and likely to leave the labor force in the next 10 years.”

It’s great to see GAWDA members like Air Products get some recognition for their work with students; and there are certainly many other companies working toward workforce development who have not received the same amount of recognition. Maine Oxy has its New England School of Metalwork, while Earlbeck Gases & Technologies is an AWS accredited test facility, and was one of only 80 in the nation when Welding & Gases Today profiled the company in 2009. GAWDA 2011 President Lloyd Robinson and his company AWISCO work closely with schools, and recently hosted more than 50 students at its 2011 trade show. O.E. Meyer Company donated $50,000 to Terra Community College to help build a new technical center, which is now home to the Omar Meyer Welding Lab. These are just a few examples.

Many other GAWDA members have taken it upon themselves to help prepare and train our country’s future workers. What is your company doing with regards to schools and/or training? Share by leaving a comment.

Best Of The Blog, Year One

Friday, June 10th, 2011

This week marked one year since I started blogging in the gases and welding industry. On June 8, 2010, I introduced myself and invited readers to share their thoughts. Over the year, I’ve gotten some great feedback, and the real validation came at the Spring Management Conference in Tampa when I personally got to meet many of you. Here are some of the highlights of the last year for me.

In the past year, I’ve written about a lot of different things. For one of my first articles in GAWDA Edge, I had the pleasure of speaking to four young IT professionals in the industry about the future of the industry, and it was great to talk with them about what technologies they saw picking up steam. (See “The Future of Welding & Gases“)

I learned all about the original Welding Rodeo from Central Welding Supply Sales Manager Marshall Judy, who helped make the event a reality. In August, I wrote about it on my blog (See “Welding Rodeos Are Customers Too“) and asked readers to put a price tag on one of the amazing welding sculptures that came from the event (See “How Much Would You Pay?“).

In October, I visited Haun Welding Supply in Syracuse, NY. This was the first time I had ever been inside a fill plant, and it was a great learning experience for me. I was especially fascinated by Haun’s history of cylinder tracking. (See “Cylinder Tracking As A Selling Point.”)

Soon after, in November, we introduced 4 new young bloggers to our Young Professionals e-Dialogue. It has been great following along with them and hearing their perspectives. Just recently we added a 5th blogger, and he has been a great addition to the blog so far.

In February, I did some digging to find out how gases and welding were at play in the Super Bowl. I found out some really interesting things, among them that Dallas Cowboys Stadium has 165,000 ft of welding. See “Football And GAWDA: A Perfect Pair.”

April, of course, was the Spring Management Conference, where I blogged daily (sometimes twice a day) on what I saw and learned. It was an incredible experience, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again at the Annual Convention in October. (See the April 2011 archives for all SMC-related posts).

It’s been an educational and fun-filled year on the blog. With a year under my belt and a better understanding of the industry, I’m looking forward to continuing to bring more great posts throughout the next year. If you have any favorite posts from the last year, let me know by leaving a comment.

GAWDA Is Off The Races

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Indianapolis 500 2008Last week was the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, and believe it or not, GAWDA member Indiana Oxygen Company had a presence at the very first race back in 1911. At that time, eventual founders of Indiana Oxygen, Walter and John Brant, sponsored two cars in the race (one of which finished in 2nd). After Indiana Oxygen was founded in 1915, the company soon solidified its place in Indy 500—and racing—history with the development of several innovations.

I spoke with Wally Brant, president at Indiana Oxygen Company, who says, “We had three ‘inventions’ or innovations that we gave to the speedway:
1) 1915: Compressed air in cylinders replaced hand-pumping the tires!
2) 1937: We used nitrogen to ‘ram’ gasoline into the tanks during fuel stops, making faster pit stops. This was later outlawed in 1964.
3) 1958 through today: We helped AJ Watson (famous car builder) invent ‘on-board’ air jacks to change tires faster, operating these self-contained jacks with nitrogen.”

There is no doubting that GAWDA members have had their hands in a lot of innovations and a fair share of inventions, but I continue to be amazed at how diverse and wide-reaching these applications are.

Leave a comment and share the most iconic application your company has ever been involved with.

Social Media Success In Gases And Welding

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Yesterday I heard a great anecdote from Bob Goodliffe, president of J. W. Goodliffe & Son, a GAWDA distributor member. It is the perfect example of the power of social media in the gases and welding industry.

After being approached by a manufacturer about carrying a new line of welding helmets, Goodliffe decided to leave the decision up to the customers. Naturally, he turned to the company’s fans on Facebook. J. W. Goodliffe & Son’s online store, Cyberweld, has established an active presence on Facebook, and fans have returned the gesture.

Since posting a picture of the helmet on its Facebook page last week, Cyberweld’s post has received 42 “likes” and 22 comments to date. “Feedback was so positive that we’ll be launching the new line in a couple of weeks,” says Goodliffe. The feedback is noticeably honest, too. While the majority of customers agree with one user who says, “Killer Hood!!!!!!!!!” others expressed hesitation due to the price point or features of the helmet. This kind of feedback is valuable not only for the distributor, but for the manufacturer as well.

With the help of social media, Goodliffe was able to get almost instant feedback from customers and effectively remove some of the risk of taking on a new product line. He reiterates that customers appreciate knowing that Cyberweld is listening to them. Looks like listening is paying off!

Share your examples of social media success by leaving a comment.