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How To Double The Effectiveness Of Company Events

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
The ROI of a Welding Rodeo

You're not seeing double, just maximizing the ROI on your sponsorship of the local welding contest or event.

When it comes to local welding contests and other events, goodwill and giving back to the community are great reasons to support these events. Even looking out for the good of the industry is a worthwhile reason to get involved. But just because generosity may be your motivation, it doesn’t mean gases and welding distributors can’t take full advantage of the event to maximize their returns.

Take Bellingham Technical College’s Welding Rodeo for example. Central Welding Supply (North Lakewood, WA) has been an avid supporter of the welding rodeo for the entire 11 years it’s been running. In fact, Central Welding Sales Manager Marshall Judy was one of the original people who helped see the Welding Rodeo to fruition. “The Welding Rodeo is a great event for Bellingham Technical College and for the local community. The school and its welding program benefit in many ways,” he says.

When I spoke with Judy recently, he talked about how the event is a way to contribute, but it also provides opportunities for Central Welding Supply to gain exposure and future customers. Based on my conversation with him and conversations with other distributors about their support of local events, I’ve come up with a list of 5 ways to get greatest ROI on an event or sponsorship.

  1. Involve industry partners. You don’t have to go it alone. Central Welding Supply recruits vendors to donate prizes for competitors. Many vendors are willing to contribute, and it only helps to strengthen the distributor-supplier relationship.
  2. Exhibit at the event. A trade show is a nice pairing for a welding competition or other event. Setting up a booth allows you to reach participants and event attendees, and it’s another great opportunity for visibility.
  3. Find teachable moments. Central Welding donated oxygen and chemtane fuel gas for each of the booths this year. Safety training is conducted with the competitors before the event to make sure students know how to use the fuel. This helps keep everyone safe and establishes your reputation as an expert.
  4. Product placement is kosher. If you’re donating product, nobody’s going to complain if it provides value to you as well. As for the aforementioned donation of chemtane fuel, Judy says that it’s a great way to expose students to an alternative fuel. On the altruistic front, it broadens the students’ experiences.
  5. Stay in touch. Students are your future customers, so it’s important to make a good first impression. But don’t stop there. Stay in touch as their career grows. Says Judy, “We like to have exposure early on, so that when the students go on to management positions in 10 or 20 years, they remember us.” With the Welding Rodeo in its 11th year, Judy reports that a number of students have now gone on to decision making positions.

What other tips do you have to get the most out of company events? Share by leaving a comment.

Welding Rodeo Broadcasts Live On The Web

Friday, May 18th, 2012

2012 Welding Rodeo via webcam: Students in action.

The Welding Rodeo is one of the most impressive—and downright coolest—events I can think of in the gases and welding industry. For more than a decade, the Welding Rodeo has been challenging welders to turn piles of scrap metal into pieces of art that fit the event’s theme. This year, the theme is Into the Garden, which could lend itself to some great practical pieces. It’s always fascinating to see how teams interpret the theme and create true original pieces of art.

The event does a great job of encouraging participation from young welders, with separate competitions for amateur (high school and technical school) welders and professional welders. Today (Friday, May 18) is the competition for amateur welders. The professionals will don their welding hoods tomorrow (May 19).

The competition started as a way to draw interest for the welding program at Bellingham Technical College in Washington. When the even kicked off, BTC could accommodate about 12 welding students in its program. Today, expanded welding facilities allow the college to train almost 100 students, and when I spoke to instructor Don Anderson in 2010, the program had a waitlist of almost 100 students. I would say BTC has achieved its goal of boosting enrollment.

Anderson and Central Welding Supply’s Marshall Judy, who helped create the event, gave me the complete run-down of the Welding Rodeo’s history—and what it takes to run an event like this in “Welding Rodeo Roundup.”  If you’re looking for a way to draw interest to welding in your area, an event like this could be the answer.

While the Welding Rodeo has now been imitated throughout the country, the one in Washington is the original, and it has quite a following. The event exposes thousands of people to welding over two days of competition. Not only does it raise awareness of welding, the event raises money for welding scholarships by auctioning off the pieces created at the event.

I would love to someday make it out to Washington to see the Welding Rodeo, but unfortunately it won’t be this year. I was thrilled to discover that BTC has live webcams on the event, which you can access from the Welding Rodeo website (You will have to enter the user name “btc”; there is no password). There are two cameras currently set up on the welding booths so you can get a close up look at the action. I’m really impressed with what I see from the students so far.

Drawing Artists To Welding & Gases

Monday, December 13th, 2010

One of the niche markets that gases and welding distributors serve is that of artists and sculptors. I learned the real deal behind welding art when I wrote about the Welding Rodeo, a welding sculpture competition. I was amazed to see the things some of the artists created, and also to discover just how popular the craft is.

Even here in the offices of Welding & Gases Today, I walked past a piece of welding art without ever knowing it. In fact, the piece relies not only on welding but the gas cylinder itself. I’m talking about a bell made by Bowden Bells—and it’s made from a used gas cylinder. So, in making art, not only does BB make use of welding gases and welding as a process, but the actual gas cylinders.

As I was thinking about it, I wonder how many artists even realize the possibility of using gases and welding to create art. If it was a surprise to me, then it would probably surprise a lot of people. Do any of you market specifically to artists? How do you reach out to the artist community for customers?

Also, check out a post from my colleague Dan Vest, who recently wrote about an artist who is making art out of used gas cylinders recovered from Mt. Everest.

If you are curious, here’s what the bell looks and sounds like.

How Much Would You Pay?

Friday, August 20th, 2010

In the tradition of the casual Friday blog entry, started by my predecessors at the GAWDA Edge blog, here’s an interesting video to supplement the latest issue of GAWDA Edge. As you learned in the August issue that came out yesterday, Bellingham Technical College’s Welding Rodeo is a welding sculpture competition. At the end of the contest, sculptures are auctioned off to raise money for scholarships.

Here’s a video of one of the sculptures being auctioned off from this year’s event. It was made from the mold of a female model and welded together using scrap metal.

Take a guess how much it went for. How much would you pay for it? (Don’t forget it goes to a good cause.)

Want to know? You might be surprised. Watch and find out.

Here’s another view:

Welding Rodeos Are Customers Too

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Welding RodeoNow that it’s August, a lot of people are thinking about “back-to-school.” I’ve been talking with GAWDA distributors over the last week about how they work with schools. I’m amazed by the efforts that welding and gases distributors are putting in to help future generations of welders. The best part is that they aren’t doing it for selfish reasons. Some companies contribute time, others contribute equipment or money.

One of the most unique projects I’ve seen has to be the welding rodeo, which originated at Bellingham Technical College (BTC). The event is a competition where amateur and professional welding teams face off to weld sculptures out of scrap metal. BTC instructor Don Anderson says the rodeo, now in its 9th year, has helped turn the school’s welding program from a struggling program to one with a 100-person wait-list. He also says he couldn’t have done it without the support from distributors and suppliers.

The welding rodeo is a great example of how teamwork can lead to some of the best solutions. BTC had students and a venue; distributors and suppliers had equipment to use for the competition and for prizes. Individually, each side could not have duplicated the outcome that they have achieved together.

For distributors, schools are similar to other customers in many ways. It’s important to find out what their needs are to help develop solutions. (In this case, putting together a welding rodeo gets you bonus points for going above and beyond the call of duty.) And by teaming up with schools, distributors not only helped build future welders, they ultimately helped build future customers.

We’ll have more about the welding rodeo in the August issue of GAWDA Edge. In the meantime, tell me about an instance where you worked with a customer to develop an innovative solution to their problem.