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The Future of Welding & Gases

Monday, June 28th, 2010

June 2010 Welding and Gases Technology I asked four IT professionals about the future of technology in the gases and welding industry. Here’s what they had to say:

Michael Chelgren, American Welding & Gas: “There is an opportunity for mobile applications to facilitate inventory management on our trucks. Our drivers would be able to print out invoices for the customers right from the truck. Orders and deliveries could be processed on a handheld device and transmitted back to our data center and go into the system without requiring any human intervention.”

Rodney Huber, Huber Supply Company: “E-commerce is growing, but it will never replace face-to-face sales, especially in our area. Even with our online orders, customers call us to make sure they’re buying the right part. They rely on us for advice. When it comes to welding equipment, customers want to have a salesman call them and have that personal interaction. Although e-commerce will never replace personalized sales, I think it will complement it and help us reach out to new markets.”

Allison Earlbeck, Earlbeck Gases & Technologies: “From an operational perspective, file sharing could help improve our efficiency. We have the capability now with our network, but we don’t have an organized system in place. Training our staff on the system would help things run smoothly. When you have 40 or 50 employees in the same pool, it can be a big problem if something is saved in the wrong place or is accidentally moved or edited.”

Chris Bennear, Dale Oxygen: “We can do a lot more with automation and with cylinder tracking. Using RFID and microchips can help us track our cylinders when customers don’t know where the cylinders are. We can save money and preserve good customer relationships by avoiding disagreements over lost cylinders.”

To learn more from these and other young IT professionals, see their complete profiles in the June issue of GAWDA Edge.

How To Take Your Gas & Welding Supplies Online

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

These days, a company website is an important part of marketing for a gases and welding distributor. How does your company’s website look? Where are you in the search engine rankings? Maybe it’s time for a face-lift.

For the June issue of GAWDA Edge, I had some great conversations with young IT professionals in the gases and welding industry about their companies’ Web ventures. Allison Earlbeck, corporate development and Earlbeck Gases & Technologies, is currently planning the design for an overhaul of the company’s website. Rodney Huber, production manager and Internet sales at Huber Supply Company, took on the challenge of creating an e-commerce site for Huber Supply.

Huber Supply's WeldingOutfitter.comBeginning in November 2009, Huber has sold to customers in 32 different states. One customer even purchased welding supplies to send to our troops overseas. (Talk about global reach!)

Here are some of the tips they shared for planning a website.

Embrace the Competition
When Huber set out to create a website, one of the best resources he found was the competition. “I talked to the owner of a welding company that has a successful e-commerce site,” Huber says. “He steered me in the right direction and gave me some pointers. He was happy to help me.” Earlbeck also uses the competition for inspiration. “I look at other companies’ websites to see what works and what doesn’t,” she says. “It’s good to find out what other people in the industry are doing.” As Earlbeck draws up plans for the company’s new site, she incorporates those features that are most effective.

What’s in a Name?
When planning a website, an important aspect to consider is a website name/URL. When it came to the company’s e-commerce site, Huber was concerned that the name Huber Supply might not be easily associated with gases and welding supplies. Instead, he chose the name WeldingOutfitter.com as a more search engine-friendly option. To customers, the website’s purpose is self-evident, attracting a wider audience. Earlbeck Gases & Technologies also has an e-commerce site, called Hypermax.org. They chose the name to reflect the fact that they carry Hypertherm products.

Instant Gratification
One of the biggest challenges for an e-commerce website is inventory. “Customers on the Internet want to get their orders fast,” says Huber. “They want to see their order shipped within a day, and they want to see it within 3-5 business days.” That kind of turnaround does not leave time to order products that are not in stock. “I pay attention to what customers are ordering and try to keep it in stock so that we can get it out the door right away,” says Huber.

Of all the tips the young IT professionals offered, one of the most important is to understand that every site is different. By letting go of expectations and getting your company out there, you can—with a little tweaking here and there—get the most out of your company’s Web presence.

What is your company doing to improve its Web presence? I want to hear from you.

Allow me to introduce myself.

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

My name is Devin O’Toole and, as the editor of GAWDA Edge, I will be writing the blog you see before you. I am taking over for Dan Vest, who was gracious enough to act the Edge’s interim editor while I familiarized myself with the industry and GAWDA’s member companies a little bit better.

As I get to know you, here’s a little bit about me. I am 25 and relatively new to the gases and welding environment. With your help, I hope to learn everything there is to learn and pass it along to you. Through this blog and in the magazine, I want to share your stories in fun and interesting ways. There’s nothing I love more than words. (Did you know? The word blog comes from the phrase “Web log.” Think of it like a log book for the Web.)

Now, share with me something I don’t know about gases or welding.

As I see it, the Edge is the voice of young professionals in the gases and welding industry. This blog is an extension of the magazine—a place where you can interact and make your voice heard.

Whether you are a follower of the blog or you simply stumbled across these pages, I invite you to take a moment to comment on my posts. Together, we can turn the blog into a great community, a place to share ideas and stay on top of everything going on in the industry.

August Edge On Its Way

Friday, August 7th, 2009

I’ve been busy all week finalizing the text for the August edition of GAWDA Edge. Being a roller coaster enthusiast, my favorite story is the piece on gases and welding work in roller coaster design and construction. However, the issue also includes stories from mentors and mentees in the gases and welding industry, a look at GAWDA’s upcoming Convention in San Antonio, some social networking tips and much more. With this issue off my desk and out of my way now, it’s time to begin work on the September issue. I’ll be sure to include stories related to the issue in the blog whenever I come across them and continue to keep my readers updated on the status of the publication. For now, I bid everyone a good weekend and look forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions on the August GAWDA Edge which hits inboxes everywhere on the 20th.