Partnering For Sales Success

It’s easy to be successful when the economy is booming and the customer’s checkbook is flush. However, when money is tight and budgets are frozen until further notice, distributors may need to practice that basic fundamental of business: uncover the customer’s need and tap every resource necessary to meet it.

This issue of Welding & Gases Today recognizes the success stories of distributors working together with the manufacturers and suppliers who support them. What is evident from these 2003 Sales Success Stories is that distributors, manufacturers and suppliers are partnering to create solutions that are meeting the unique needs of customers.

These stories show that while some things have changed in this new economy, one thing remains the same…sales success takes hard work, commitment and working together. And no matter how small or how big, every sale is a victory.

What can we learn from these stories of sales success? In each one, the distributor listened to his or her customer, uncovered a need and, together with the manufacturer or supplier, was able to meet that need quickly and efficiently. The team spirit required to satisfy customer needs is alive and well.

Welding & Gases Today salutes your success.

Distributor Members

AGA Gas, Inc. (Canton Branch) Maine Oxy
AGA Gas, Inc. (Dayton Branch) Melo’s Gas & Gear Inc.
Airgas Northern California Nevada Merriam-Graves Corporation
AWESCO nexAir, LLC (Grenada Branch)
Byrne Specialty Gases, Inc. nexAir, LLC (Nashville Branch)
California Tool & Welding Supply Praxair Distribution, Inc. (Rochester Branch)
County Welding Supply Co. Praxair Distribution, Inc. (Van Nuys Branch)
Depke Welding Supplies Sutton-Garten Company
General Air Service and Supply Co. Team One Technologies
Holox Terrace Supply Co.
ILL-MO Products Company Texas Welders Supply Co., Inc.
Industrial Welding Supply T-n-T Welding Supply
Kanox, Inc. Valley National Gases, Inc.
Lampton Welding Supply Co., Inc. Weld Specialty Supply Corp.
Linweld, Inc. Welders Equipment, Inc.
Machine & Welding Supply Company Wright Brothers, Inc.

Sutton-Garten: A Cut Above

Distributor: Sutton-Garten Company
Summary: Strong communication between distributor, supplier and end-user face down two-day time constraint.
Manufacturer: H&M Pipe Beveling Machine Co.

“It may not be the best place to be, but somebody has to do it,” says Steven Werner, outside sales representative for Sutton-Garten Company (Indianapolis, IN). His customer, Timberlake Welding, was just beginning a project for a local waste treatment plant when the company realized it needed help, and quickly.

Composed of miles of piping used to transport water and chemicals in the waste treatment process, the plant required various specially sized stainless steel pipes and saddles. According to Werner, Timberlake’s current process just wasn’t cutting it—literally. “In order to supply the pipes and saddles for the project, Timberlake knew they couldn’t continue to rely on hand-cutting everything.”

An H&M pipe cutting and beveling machine reduced time and effort spent cutting templates and pipes during a waste treatment plant project.

An H&M pipe cutting and beveling machine reduced time and effort spent cutting templates and pipes during a waste treatment plant project.

Under pressure from a two-day time constraint, Werner sought the technical expertise of Patrick Dougal, vice president of sales and marketing at H&M Pipe Beveling Machine Co. Inc., to find the most efficient way for Timberlake to get the saddling and mitering pipe job done. Dougal recommended an H&M Pipe Cutting and Beveling Machine, which would reduce both the time and effort spent on cutting templates and pipes. In addition to providing knowledge of the H&M product lines, Dougal coordinated all the necessary part numbers and assured Werner the order would be delivered within two days. It was.

“We’ve learned from our 20-year relationship with H&M that quality equipment and fast delivery go hand in hand. In this industry, that means a lot.” According to Werner, communication between the distributor, supplier and end-user also plays an essential role. For Sutton-Garten and H&M Pipe Beveling, the $4,000 sale smelled sweetly of success.

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AWESCO Comes Through with Specialty Wire

Distributor: AWESCO
Summary: Filler metal and certifications delivered under tight deadline.
Manufacturer: Euroweld

All it took was a phone call for AWESCO’s Paul Pailley, outside sales representative for the Albany, New York-based distributor, to solve a particular problem. While supplying industrial gases and hardgoods to Bechtel Construction Company for a cogeneration plant building project, the need arose for filler metal for P91 pipe and corresponding certifications. But time was tight, and Pailley knew that the special metal, not usually kept as an in-stock item, could be hard to get in a timely fashion.

Euroweld filler metal is ready for delivery at AWESCO.
Euroweld filler metal is ready for delivery at AWESCO.

Euroweld electrodes were listed in the job specifications, and Pailley called company President Roger Swain for help. Euroweld came through with the required E9015-B9, ER90S-B9 and 9018B3-X electrodes. The shipments were delivered within a few days, as promised. “They made it easy for us,” says Pailley, “by providing packaging we didn’t have to fix, enabling us to make the delivery quickly, and including well-written certifications.” Although required as a safety precaution, Pailley says the certifications were never needed to trace wires or electrodes since there has never been a problem in the field. After the initial shipment in April, Euroweld and AWESCO provided several more over the next three months, bringing the total sale to $50,000.

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Custom Design? Maine Oxy Makes It Happen

Distributor: Maine Oxy
Summary: Custom gas mixer meets stringent requirements.
Manufacturer: Thermco Instrument Corporation

For John Robinson, technical sales representative at Maine Oxy (Nashua, NH), welcoming the “new guy in town” turned out to be more than he expected. When a local research and development arm of a major lighting company rented a building across the street from a Maine Oxy customer in Nashua, New Hampshire, the distributor’s delivery trucks prompted the company to invite Robinson over to help set up shop. “They spent time buying various pieces of welding equipment for their machine shop, and they began to include me on some of their engineering issues.”

By the time the need for a specially designed gas mixer arose, Robinson was already aware of the requirements: a tight tolerance of nitrogen and oxygen gases administered with a high accuracy of mixing in the parts per million range, and a flow rate of 0-1000 SCFH maintained throughout all phases of production. Although Robinson originally viewed the needs from an individual cylinder standpoint, it soon became apparent that using a standard welding gas mixer would not maintain the specific requirements.

Thermco's customized gas mixer met resolution, pressure and flow range requirements.
Thermco’s customized gas mixer met resolution, pressure and flow range requirements.

Fortunately, the company had purchased a Thermco Instrument Corporation gas mixer through another distributor in the past and knew who to turn to. They told this to Robinson, who immediately contacted Dennis Richardson, marketing manager at Thermco. Together, Richardson and Robinson worked closely with the end-user and Thermco’s corporate headquarters. Within the confines of a narrow ppm range, the team calculated and recalculated to achieve a high resolution, narrow the pressure and flow ranges, and determine the ratio of nitrogen to oxygen and contaminant levels.

After several in-depth discussions on flow rates, contaminants and pressure levels, Robinson put the customer in direct contact with Thermco. “There comes a point where if you’re not 100% sure, you want to bring in the expert. So I brought in the expert,” says Robinson, who attributes the successful sale to the high level of experience Thermco has in producing the mixers. Once a design was approved, the customer requested a picture of what it would look like. Instead of simply showing them a photograph, Thermco sent an engineered drawing so that the customer could see exactly what the product would look like.

The $27,160 sale was made in November 2001, and delivery of the gas mixer was made within 12 weeks, right on schedule.

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Melo’s Gas & Gear Customized Solution

Distributor: Melo’s Gas & Gear Inc.
Summary: Alterations for perfect tolerance and quick welding make sale.
Manufacturer: Mathey Dearman, Inc.

In California, summer temperatures can reach upwards of 115 degrees. Not the most ideal condition for demonstrating a hot cutting machine, but it has been done by David Melo, president of Melo’s Gas & Gear Inc. (Bakersfield, CA) and Shannon Fanning, vice president and head of worldwide sales for Mathey Dearman, Inc. For the past five years, Melo and Fanning have worked together on numerous projects to find and produce the right products for their customers.

Mathey Dearman's Short Saddle Machine was designed to cut a perfect tolerance.
Mathey Dearman’s Short Saddle Machine was designed to cut a perfect tolerance.

One such project occurred last spring, when a fabrication contractor building a gas plant in Bakersfield, California planned to use a competitor’s pipe cutting equipment for plant pre-construction. The contractor happened to be a regular Melo’s customer, so Service Technician Ron Wade paid the company a visit a year before the project was set to begin in order to assess the requirements for the job. When Wade realized that Mathey Dearman’s cutting and beveling machines did not have the customer’s specific requirements, Fanning worked on design changes to meet their needs. According to Fanning, the tolerance of the cut needed to be .010 degree, and it had to be accomplished in a matter of minutes to keep welding times low. “It’s important to the people in the field to have the confidence that when they finish their cut, it’s going to be at a perfect tolerance,” says Fanning.

Once the new machine was designed, Melo and Fanning once again called on the end-user, this time together, and demonstrated the features of the machine, how it worked and how to set it up. The customer was convinced. The sale of Mathey Dearman Short Saddle Machines was made in May.

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Industrial Welding Supply Braves the Elements

Distributor: Industrial Welding Supply
Summary: Year-long demo logs hundreds of hours in harsh conditions to convince customer to try something new.
Manufacturer: Miller Electric Mfg. Co.

It was an offer too good to refuse: try a machine for one year and return it for a full refund afterward if you are not completely satisfied. The offer was part of a joint effort made by Industrial Welding Supply (Belle Chasse, LA) and Miller Electric Mfg. Co. in hopes of winning the business of Production Management Industries (PMI), a fabrication and construction company that provides services to companies in the oil and natural gas industry. In the past, Miller machines had been almost non-existent in the offshore market due to industry loyalty to a competitive brand of engine drive. But things were about to change.

Plagued by downtime and reliability problems with its traditional machine choice, PMI looked to Industrial Welding Supply and Miller Electric for a solution. The challenge: produce a machine able to withstand the Gulf Coast, one of the world’s most highly corrosive environments. Frank Hemelt, vice president of Industrial Welding Supply, works three miles away from PMI out of the Industrial Welding Supply Service Division in Harvey, Louisiana. As PMI’s supplier for years, Hemelt was determined to find a new welding solution. And that’s just what he did with Miller’s Big Blue 402P CC Stainless Steel Environmental model, which features a metal case and stainless steel fasteners that cannot rust. PMI decided to give it a try. After Miller’s District Manager Tim Harrison and Welding Engineer Mike Brace worked with the end-user to review all the mechanical and electrical maintenance procedures, representatives from Miller spent a day training mechanics and electricians on the back and front end of the unit so that they could service it knowledgeably throughout the trial period.

Then came the test. After a year of offshore service on flux cored welding and hundreds of hours logged onto the machine, the Big Blue 402P became PMI’s engine drive of choice. In December 2001, the company ordered eight additional machines, followed by two more in June 2002, bringing the total sale to $110,000.

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Holox Scores Big Business

Distributor: Holox
Summary: Strike team’s technical expertise changes end-user’s mind.
Manufacturer: ESAB Welding & Cutting Products

How do you convince a customer to switch from its long-time supplier? For Holox (Charleston, SC) and ESAB Welding & Cutting Products, the answer was simple: teamwork!

For years, 95 percent of the potential customer’s machine and wire business had been conducted factory direct from a competitive manufacturer. Holox and ESAB asked to be considered to provide filler metals and 24 mig welding packages last May. They knew there was a way to convince the customer to change and capture the business. Holox’s Jay Campbell, regional sales manager, Tom Huckabee, sales representative, and Alex Williams, branch manager, worked closely with the ESAB “strike team,” which was made up of seven people ranging from vice presidents to field reps.

An ESAB 353 Power Source and Dura Drive 4-30 wire feeder is used to mig weld flux-cored wire.
An ESAB 353 Power Source and Dura Drive 4-30 wire feeder is used to mig weld flux-cored wire.

The strike team made numerous visits to the customer’s site over the course of a week and a half. According to Campbell, the unusual concentration of manpower from such a high-powered team was an important factor in breaking the inertia and ultimately changing the customer’s mind. “The strike team went in and asked, ‘what are your problems?’ and then together we presented our solutions.” The promise of the distributor’s local presence, constant support and availability of the manufacturer’s resources proved appealing. On May 15, the customer purchased 24 ESAB 353 Power Source and Dura Drive 4-30 wire feeders and Dual Shield 7100.045 Filler Metal, a $73,500 sale.

The commitment from Holox and ESAB did not end with the sale. After the purchase, five ESAB employees returned to the customer’s site to install the equipment and lend their support and expertise. “ESAB provided a turnkey solution for both the distributor and the end-user,” says Campbell. The results were apparent: teamwork really works!

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Team One Tracks Stolen Cylinders

Distributor: Team One Technologies
Summary: Tracking system reduces rental bills and increases cylinder retention.
Manufacturer: DataWeld, Inc.

Northern Pipeline needed a change. The company, a major pipeline contractor which also supplies cylinders and gas products like oxygen, nitrogen, argon and CO2 to contractors in various locations throughout the Midwest, was struggling with serious loss-of-use issues throughout its cylinder gas supply and exchange process.

Team One Technologies’ Jim Cook, operations manager for the Romeoville, Illinois-based distributor, couldn’t have had better timing. Cook knew he had a solution for the loss-of-use issues; all he needed to do was prove it. He contacted Ken Travis, superintendent at Northern Pipeline, and explained how DataWeld, Inc.’s AcuTrax and CylTech II transponder tracking systems could help reduce rental bills and retain a higher number of cylinders, giving Northern Pipeline the control it needed. The customer agreed to try it.

According to Peter Kenny, president of Team One Technologies, “The real benefit of the tracking technology is that we proactively work with our customers to help them maximize their cylinder utilization.” For example, if a particular cylinder has been out for longer than it should have been, the distributor notifies the customer. By closing the loop on the movement of cylinders, Team One and DataWeld are able to reduce errors, lower the number of lost cylinders, increase cylinder turnover and minimize discrepancies. “Our connection with DataWeld undoubtedly helped us gain the business.”

Northern Pipeline became a Team One customer in November 2001, and it wasn’t long before the tracking system was put to the test. Within a few months, Team One was alerted by the local police of a number of nitrogen cylinders that had been found in an area neighborhood. The cylinders, thought to have been stolen from a jobsite, were found over 100 miles away from Northern Pipeline, but Team One tracked them back to the company, retrieved the cylinders, and credited Northern Pipeline in full for the return.

“Anyone who wasn’t using a tracking system would have charged the customer for the cylinder loss, since the customer would have been unable to find and return them,” says Kenny. Instead, DataWeld’s AcuTrax system saved Northern Pipeline $1,000. Since utilizing AcuTrax less than a year ago, Northern Pipeline has reduced its rental costs by approximately 35 percent.

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T-n-T Brings Service to New Level

Distributor: T-n-T Welding Supply
Summary: Small distributor catches large conglomerate’s eye with values and expertise.
Manufacturer: Bohler Thyssen Welding USA, Inc.

In today’s gas and welding industry, where the idea of “one stop shopping” is commonplace, the special qualities are what really stand out from the competition. Loyalty. Honesty. Dedication. Robert Templet, president of T-n-T Welding Supply (Baton Rouge, LA), knows firsthand that “old fashioned” customer service goes a long way.

Two and a half years ago, a large conglomerate in Baton Rouge was seeking a distributor to provide for all of its welding and supply needs. After T-n-T’s name kept popping up from individual companies within the conglomerate, the top people listened. Templet wasn’t surprised. “Our relationship with customers goes back many years, and it was our long-standing reputation that brought us to the negotiating table.” Templet was invited to demonstrate just what they were all about. Faced with strong competition, it was T-n-T’s purpose to show a big conglomerate that small family values would work for them.

Dave Lorenc, vice president of sales at Bohler Thyssen Welding USA, Inc., joined the T-n-T team to explain how they could provide everything the customer needed to run its business, from welding rods to abrasives. T-n-T even offered to provide on-site personnel at some of the customer’s shops, depending on volume. In addition, Lorenc and Templet pledged to regularly conduct meetings concerning purchasing material and future jobs. According to Templet, these “tri-lateral negotiations” were designed to give the customer an active role in pricing issues, volume buying and incentive programs. “We showed the customer we’re looking after the best pricing for them,” says Templet. The quick turnaround and fast response time offered by T-n-T and BTW proved it was possible to provide the advantages of a small company to a large customer and cinched the deal.

The conglomerate signed a contract with T-n-T Welding Supply in October 2000, and since then, the high level of service T-n-T and BTW first brought to the table has grown even stronger. Currently, business brings in $8M to $10M a year. Recently, the customer added a safety commodity, increasing the total business to almost $1M per month.

For Templet, winning the bid and developing a strong partnership has reinforced his original company values. “We’re still small, and we’re still locally owned and operated. Our customer service got us where we are today.” For T-n-T and BTW, the good old fashioned way has also proven to be a very successful way.

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General Air Proves Persistence Pays Off

Distributor: General Air Service and Supply Co.
Summary: Eight months of sales calls every week result in sale of high-volume tungsten grinds.
Manufacturer: Diamond Ground Products, Inc.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s the motto Greg Knight, sales representative at General Air Service and Supply Co. (Denver CO), followed over the course of eight months and almost a thousand tries, and succeed he did. In the past, General Air had lost the business of a large automotive company in Denver that manufactures airbag inflators when the company switched to a local machine shop for ground tungsten needs in hope of saving money. Instead, the local shop failed to grind the end-user’s tungsten electrodes properly and could not keep up with the constant demand. That’s when General Air employees found themselves with an opportunity to win back the business.

According to Knight, the competitor’s method of tungsten grinding had been causing a rejection of parts on the lines, which caused welds to wander or change voltage. To further assess the problem, Knight examined some of the rejected tungsten and noticed that some of it was ground in a rotary instead of being longitudinally ground, creating problems with the arc. Knight remembered Diamond Ground Products, Inc., from a trade show he had attended two years prior and called General Manager Deborah Manning to help develop a higher quality pre-ground electrode that could improve the end-user’s productivity. After obtaining drawings of the specified requirements from the end-user, Knight sent them off, along with samples, to Manning for analysis. Next, Knight and Manning visited the customer together to discuss and test different types of finishes, grinds and parts for the tungsten.

Diamond Ground Products grinds tungsten to the proper specifications.
Diamond Ground Products grinds tungsten to the proper specifications.

Because of the nature of automotive work, one of the issues was the large number of tungsten pieces involved in each order: the end-user was dealing with close to 500 pieces. Phone calls, e-mails and faxes flew back and forth as the team tried and re-tried to find the perfect regrind system, one that would not only accommodate a high volume but also reuse the spent tungsten material while lowering waste and electrode costs for the end-user. After trying approximately 1,000 samples of 10 different types of grinds and tungsten, Knight and Manning finally found the perfect system.

The only challenge now was to convince the end-user that the price, which was higher than what the local machine shop charged, was worth it. “The weld technicians understood why they should switch their business to us, but we had to negotiate with purchasing,” says Knight, adding that General Air and Diamond Ground’s system for grinding tungsten electrodes to the required specifications would be worth the added cost because it could lower the end-user’s application cost by 60 percent. “Once their contract with their current supplier ran out, we started replacing their tungsten, but it took about eight months of sales calls every week in order to get the blanket purchase order for the tungsten.”

The contract between the end-user and General Air was officially completed in September, and stock was set up in General Air and Diamond Ground facilities to ensure immediate deliveries. Old tungsten is picked up for regrinding on a weekly basis, and General Air receives orders for approximately 900 tungsten electrodes ground to the required specifications each month, with sales averaging between $35,000 to $160,000 a year.

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Airgas NCN Crosses Bridge with Experience, Products and Service

Distributor: Airgas Northern California Nevada
Summary: Large bridge project requires specially-designed welders.
Manufacturer: Red-D-Arc Welderentals, The Lincoln Electric Company, Bugo, Victor

It took almost six months for the San Francisco branch of Airgas Northern California Nevada (Sacramento, CA) to work through the very comprehensive and detailed welding engineering data required to prepare for a large welding project at the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Bridge. Working closely with engineers from Cal Trans and general contractor KFM, the Airgas NCN team knew that persistence and hard work would pay off.

Airgas had another advantage: Sales Associates Pat Beattie, Rob Kinney and Rex Sabastian brought many years of experience to the table. KFM saw the expertise offered by this team and knew Airgas NCN was the right fit for this very important contract, which also included Bugo mechanized systems, Victor torches and Lincoln Electric power sources.

Mini-girth welder from Red-D-Arc Welderentals mounted on an 8 ft. diameter piling of the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Bridge.
Mini-girth welder from Red-D-Arc Welderentals mounted on an 8 ft. diameter piling of the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Bridge.

KFM presented another challenge to the seasoned team. Specialized circumference welders were required to weld around the bridge piles. Airgas NCN turned to Red-D-Arc Welderentals, a division of Airgas, and to Branch Manager Tom Christner for the solution: specially designed mini-girth welders from Red-D-Arc’s PMT division.

With so many value-added services offered by one company, it was clear that the hard working team of Airgas NCN and Red-D-Arc exemplified a win/win solution for the customer!

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Limited Time Only! Merriam-Graves’ Specials Are a Hit

Distributor: Merriam-Graves Corporation
Summary: Monthly specials spark customer interest and generate tremendous sales.
Manufacturer: Steiner Industries

Sometimes, making a sale isn’t about making a large profit. Bill Mead, vice president of sales at Merriam-Graves Corporation (Charlestown, NH), knows firsthand the other benefits that come with selling, benefits like value, name recognition, opened doors and new opportunities to build relationships. According to Mead, that’s the motivation, or as he calls it, the “charm,” behind the Merriam-Graves monthly special.

Each month, Mead chooses a different item to highlight and strategically prices the product in hopes of creating a mass amount of sales, moving large volumes, gaining market exposure and most important, giving customers a great value that will keep their attention on Merriam-Graves in the future. Last April, the distributor featured work gloves from Steiner Industries with great success following a recommendation from company President Robert Steiner. In 30 days, over 7,000 gloves were sold, creating a huge exposure for both Steiner and Merriam-Graves.

So successful was April’s special that Graves and Steiner partnered up again in September to promote Steiner’s Protect-O-Screen welding curtains. The idea came when Mead toured the Steiner facility for the first time and noticed the curtains. After discussing them with Steiner and Jack McCulloch, chief operating officer, Mead saw an opportunity. “We’ve never focused on curtains before, so this was a way to not only introduce them to our customer base and promote ourselves as a ‘one-stop-shop’ but to let people know we care about their safety.” The special brought in approximately 85 sales during the month of September.

According to Mead, cooperation between distributor and vendor in promoting the special item is a key factor in conducting a successful monthly special. After a sales price is negotiated with the vendor, several methods are employed to promote the featured item. For example, the vendor supplies a promotional flier, which is given to sales representatives to hand out to customers. The driver fleet also supplies fliers to customers each time they make a delivery. Incentives are often provided to salespeople to encourage higher volumes. In the sale of Steiner’s Protect-O-Screens, each salesperson or employee, including fleet drivers and counter help, was paid $5 per curtain sold as a result of their efforts. The branch with the highest sales was awarded a free lunch of their choice and each employee received a $25 gift certificate.

A major benefit of monthly specials is opening doors to customers whom “we otherwise would have a difficult time meeting with because they are supplied by competitors. It gives us an opportunity to reach more contacts and provides new opportunities,” says Mead.

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Long-Term Relationship Still Going Strong for AGA Gas-Dayton

Distributor: AGA Gas, Inc.
(Dayton Branch)
Summary: Torch demo and presentation beat competition.
Manufacturer: Abicor/ Binzel Corporation

Ten years ago, Gary Riffell, Sr., sales representative at AGA Gas, Inc. (Dayton, OH), made AGA Gas a distributor for F&P America, a manufacturer of car parts for Honda, by being one of the first people into F&P’s lobby on the day they opened for business. From that point on, the distributor/customer relationship progressed steadily as Riffell continued to look out for his customer’s best interests. “At AGA Gas, we are always looking for new ways to help F&P strengthen its production process and move forward.”

One major step forward occurred when F&P was seeking reliable robotic equipment for its production mig welding. Riffell called on the technical expertise of Frank Bush, regional manager at Abicor/Binzel Corporation and long-time supplier to AGA Gas. Riffell knows he can count on Bush to provide suggestions and advice “that will help my customers produce more in the same amount of time, thereby lowering their cost of work and increasing profitability.” According to Riffell, selling a product from Abicor/Binzel means the customer is getting two qualified sales representatives from one deal.

Together, Riffell and Bush tested Abicor/Binzel’s torch equipment against the competitor’s being used by F&P at the time. Next, they met with engineering and purchasing decision-makers at the company to discuss how the Abicor/Binzel equipment performed at a higher and longer level with less downtime than the competition. “The amount of downtime that can be eliminated is critical, because sometimes that is the difference between profit and loss.” Once decision makers at F&P realized they could produce more parts in the same amount of time, they were sold.

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On Schedule with nexAir-Grenada

Distributor: nexAir, LLC
(Grenada Branch)
Summary: Joint effort coordinates order, delivery and installation of tube trailers and hydrogen.
Manufacturer: Weldship Corporation

When it comes to making a sale, experience counts. Just ask Beecher Weatherall, gas specialist at nexAir, LLC (Grenada, MS). When a power plant needed tube trailers and hydrogen to use for cooling generators, Weatherall relied on his experience with Weldship Corporation to determine delivery dates and provide a timely solution. It was August. The power plant needed to begin work in mid-October. “I’ve been talking to my supplier, and it will take 6-8 weeks to get everything delivered,” Weatherall told the customer, and promised the delivery could be made on time.

Weldship Corporation hose attaches to a tube trailer for use in cooling generators at a power plant.

Weldship Corporation hose attaches to a tube trailer for use in cooling generators at a power plant.

According to Steve Atkins, vice president of gas technologies. “Customers know they can depend on nexAir because our sales force is trained on delivery dates, times and supply systems.” Atkins believes that would not be possible without the help of Weldship, a dependable supplier for nexAir’s gases and trailer leasing needs for over ten years. nexAir’s Weatherall often relies on the expertise of Weldship Vice President of Marketing Vic Pratt to provide custom designs and advice on trailer systems, especially with regard to size restraints. For example, at the power plant, the trailers had to be short and small in order to accommodate the space allotted for them.

As the team at nexAir knows, consulting with a supplier prior to presenting a contract provides the confidence to know that time frames and delivery dates will be met on time, every time—even when the sale is thrown a curveball. After all the lease agreements were signed, nexAir’s Atkins received a call from Weatherall: the customer decided at the last minute to lease a second trailer for the power plant. No problem. Atkins simply called Weldship, and the matter was resolved. The lease and sale of two high pressure tube trailers with additional hydrogen gas was completed in August, delivery was made in mid-October, right on time.

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Texas Welders Responds to E-Mail Request

Distributor: Texas Welders Supply Co., Inc.
Summary: Sample from Scotland sends distributor to specialist.
Manufacturer: Wilson Industries, Inc.

What do Aberdeen, Scotland and Houston, Texas have in common? Though separated by thousands of miles of ocean, both are home to Dril-Quip, a manufacturer of engineered offshore drilling and production equipment. But that’s not all. Both Dril-Quip facilities in Scotland and Texas also utilize the exact same welding curtain setup, thanks to a partnership between Texas Welders Supply Co., Inc. (Houston, TX) and Wilson Industries.

Adam Foster, inside sales representative at Texas Welders Supply, received an e-mail request for the desired setup from Dril-Quip Shop Superintendent Dave Tagliabue in August, along with photos depicting the curtain setup in Scotland. Constructed out of Shape 8 plasma, the curtain is designed to prevent eye damage and keep spatter confined, and the hanger function allows for motorized movement of the curtain. The e-mail’s question: Would Texas Welders be able to supply it?

Wilson Industries' welding curtain in Houston was assembled by special request based on e-mailed pictures from Scotland.
Wilson Industries’ welding curtain in Houston was assembled by special request based on e-mailed pictures from Scotland.

“It’s not a curtain setup you could get just anywhere. I knew I needed to talk to a company that specializes in welding curtains, and Wilson Industries came to my mind immediately.” After sending the photos to Jeff Kamentz, national sales manager at Wilson Industries, the real planning began. E-mails flew between Foster, Kamentz and Tagliabue to plan out dimensions, part numbers, pricing, stock availability and delivery time frames. Once a final plan was approved, Texas Welders and Wilson received a PO number and the go-ahead from Dril-Quip.

Delivery of the $6,000 Wilson Auto-Coil Curtain Hanger Kit with (Shape 8) plasma see-through curtains was made within eight weeks, and Wilson Industries was able to assemble the curtains exactly as Dril-Quip desired.

According to Scott Chenoweth, president of Texas Welders Supply, the partnership with Wilson Industries works because “working together with the manufacturer gives us an arm for expertise in areas we may not have all the expertise in.” For example, representatives from Wilson often join Texas Welders sales reps on calls to help find potential solutions for customers. “We learn from the calls we make together, and we can then take those solutions to other customers as well.”

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Machine & Welding Supply Backs Up Promise, Big Time

Distributor: Machine & Welding Supply Company
Summary: Guaranteed cost reduction plan wins business.
Manufacturer: The Lincoln Electric Company

It was not by any means a small promise: “We guarantee to save you $200,000 over the course of one year, and if we come up short, we’ll write you a check for the difference.” The pledge was made by a team of several experts from Machine & Welding Supply Company (Dunn, NC) and The Lincoln Electric Company to their customer, a material handling forklift manufacturer with three facilities across North Carolina and Kentucky. Sound extreme? It was. But extreme promises call for extreme measures, and that’s just what the team was prepared to take.

In the Fall of 2000, economic conditions and dwindling customer orders led the customer to re-evaluate its current procedures. The desire to improve its bottom line, reduce costs and improve overall efficiency spurred the company to express an interest in making a significant change, possibly to imported products. But before that happened, Machine & Welding and several of its competitors were given a chance to present how they could better help the customer. Frank Jablonski, regional technical consultant at Machine & Welding, knew that by teaming up with Lincoln Electric and “putting our heads together,” there would be a way to prevent the customer from switching its business. “We wanted to bring some real value to our customer and create a win-win situation for everyone.”

That’s where Lincoln’s Guaranteed Cost Reduction program came in, offering a combined savings of $200,000 for the customer’s three plants. To prove their value, the Machine & Welding/Lincoln Electric cost reduction team needed to save the customer even more than the estimated savings the customer thought could come from switching suppliers. Over six months, the team regularly visited the customer’s facilities, made presentations to upper management, and worked and re-worked cost savings plans. “We offered locked in, long-term prices and promised to actually work in the plant and teach their employees how to weld in a more efficient fashion,” says Jablon-ski. In June of 2001, the customer agreed to give it a try.

The first step in reducing material cost and increasing efficiency came from welding robots. “If it took a part ten minutes to weld and we could get it down to eight minutes, that’s a huge savings.” By changing the size, type and components within the welding procedure, the team was able to reduce cycle time. Wasted shielding gas within the plant was also an issue. To combat the leaks, gas surges and extremely high flow rates, the customer purchased Harris Calorific Gas Guard Regulators, which controlled and minimized the amount of wasted gas, a significant cost savings.

In another effort to increase welding efficiency, Machine & Welding and Lincoln Electric introduced L-56 welding wire, which was able to provide low fume and spatter levels during the welding process. By using the wire, the customer was able to reduce the amount of time spent grinding and cleaning the steel before and after welding, which also saved on cycle time.

At the end of a year, the $200,000 guaranteed cost saving was successfully met. Almost two years later, Machine & Welding and The Lincoln Electric Company are still providing technical support and cost reduction plans for the customer each and every month. In fact, the project has been so successful that the customer’s plant in Berea, Kentucky is undergoing the same type of project in cooperation with Airgas (Bowling Green, KY). Recently, Machine & Welding Supply has begun employee training for its customer to improve on welding and quality control issues. Says Jablonski, “We’re going to continue to make our customer’s processes more and more efficient.”

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Weekly Visits Seal the Deal for Lampton Welding

Distributor: Lampton Welding Supply Co., Inc.
Summary: Frequent visits and honest pledge earn new account.
Manufacturer: Hypertherm Inc.

“That’s my job.” A simple phrase, these three words were the natural response from Art Barnett, outside sales representative for Lampton Welding Supply Co., Inc. (McPherson, KS), and they made all the difference.

Every week for four months Barnett visited Daniel Johnson, owner of PRN Fabricating, to talk about how Lampton could provide for PRN’s metal fabricating and steel needs better than the competition. “You’ve come in here every week, wanting my business,” Johnson said one day. “If I switch to you, will you continue to come?” That’s when Barnett answered with an honest reply and gained a new customer.

According to Barnett, there is a difference between gaining the business of a new customer and making a sale. More than just a personal relationship, it lies in “knowing your customers’ needs, and matching those needs with the proper equipment that will also allow for future growth.” When Barnett noticed Johnson using a competitor’s plasma cutter to cut out flanges and grapple hooks for a loader bucket and experiencing capacity and efficiency problems, he turned to Hypertherm Inc.’s District Sales Manager Jim Aitkenhead for a better solution.

Aitkenhead recommended Hypertherm’s 1250 Plasma Cutter. Barnett introduced the plasma cutter with a flier and then brought the product to Johnson to demo on an inch-thick, 4 x 10 foot steel sheet. “If you’re confident in the machine, your best bet is to put it in the customers’ hands and let them use it. Once they do that, they won’t want to let it go,” says Barnett. After the demo, Aitkenhead and Barnett explained how the consumable life of the Hypertherm 1250 could be used on a wider range of applications and at the same time help Johnson realize dramatic time and cost savings.

The sale of the $3,500 Hypertherm 1250 Plasma Cutter was made in November 2001, and Johnson has since expressed an interest in purchasing another, larger model that will soon become available. In the year following the sale, Barnett has visited his customer every week, true to his word.

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CA Tool & Welding Supply’s Wild Ride

Distributor: California Tool & Welding Supply
Summary: Unusual use for rubber cylinder holder earns big business.
Manufacturer: Tower Mountain Products

They hop. They skip. They even jump. Throughout the West Coast, thousands of car and truck enthusiasts are drawn to shows and competitions featuring as many as 2,500 low-riding vehicles with souped-up hydraulics or airbags which cause them to bounce and spin, sometimes balancing on three or even one wheel. In recent years, airbags have overtaken hydraulics as a less expensive alternative to driving the vehicle’s cylinders and achieving the same effect. Placed beneath the car near the shocks, airbags run on air pressure from a tank, usually located in the bed of a truck, and make for one wild ride. With all that jumping, it becomes necessary to secure the tanks within the car or truck. The only question is, how?

Chris Craig, retail manager at California Tool & Welding Supply (Riverside, CA), describes it as “a simple and easy solution that nobody thought of…until now.” Two years ago, Tim Stults, managing member at Tower Mountain Products introduced Craig to the Tankvise, a one-size-fits-all rubber cylinder holder for securing tanks. Originally designed to meet the fire marshal’s requirement of securing tanks to a wall or the bed of a truck for industrial uses, California Tool & Welding began selling the Tankvise approximately two years ago.

But several California Tool & Welding employees had another way to use the product, one that had nothing to do with industrial uses. As owners of “airbagged” vehicles and participants in the popular shows, these employees realized the Tankvise could be used in their trucks or cars to secure the cylinders which pressurized their airbags to make their vehicles hop. According to Craig, prior to using the Tankvise, people utilized metal braces with rubber gaskets to secure the cylinders beneath the frame. Because the Tankvise is made of rubber, people can mount the cylinders without worrying about them vibrating, breaking loose or breaking a weld. “It’s easy to knock a cylinder loose when your vehicle is jumping around. People appreciate the Tankvise because it makes it a safer application.” Word spread, and pretty soon customers were swarming to California Tool & Welding to purchase the Tankvise for their next show or competition. In the two years the distributor has been selling the Tankvise, sales have averaged about 50 a month.

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Praxair-Rochester Proves Point in Good Time

Distributor: Praxair Distribution, Inc.
(Rochester Branch)
Summary: Eight-month long demo makes the sale.
Manufacturer: Tregaskiss Ltd.

Gun trial. It sounds like something out of a courtroom drama, but it was a gun trial that proved to be crucial last spring when Praxair Distribution, Inc.’s Rochester, Minnesota branch and Tregaskiss Ltd. won the mig welding business of Crenlo Incorporated, a local metal fabrication company that produces modular electronic enclosures.

According to Territory Manager Matt Tichy, Praxair had been providing gas and wire service to Crenlo for a number of years before a division of the company began using welding guns for agricultural, mining and construction equipment enclosures. The welding gun service was initially provided by a competitor, but the employees at Praxair knew that with help from Tregaskiss they could supply not only better value but also a substantial cost savings to Crenlo as well. All they needed to do was to prove it.

Tregaskiss welding guns are used to weld cabs at a metal fabrication company.
Tregaskiss welding guns are used to weld cabs at a metal fabrication company.

Representatives from Praxair and Tregaskiss made several visits to the Crenlo plant to review and analyze the company’s current welding equipment and applications. An assessment of the weldments and enclosures on Crenlo’s cabs and sub-frames found the end-user burning through a high number of contact tips during the welding process. Although a Tregaskiss representative performed a steel welding demonstration for Crenlo, the customer still wasn’t convinced to switch its welding business.

To prove their better value, the Praxair/Tregaskiss team offered to conduct a thorough mig gun trial over a period of eight months. According to Tichy, in order to compare the Tregaskiss gun against the competitor’s, “we gave several welders Tregaskiss guns and told them to save the burned-up tips in a can so that we could keep track of them.” Praxair employees also quizzed the welders about the ergonomic feel of the gun and how it related to their comfort or fatigue throughout the study. By the time the study was complete, Crenlo was convinced. The competitor’s gun had averaged 60 contact tips during each month, while the guns offered by Praxair and Tregaskiss had burned only two. In addition, the lifetime warranty on the triggers and handles was appealing.

Since the sale of 150 Tregaskiss Tough Gun welding guns to the Crenlo facility in Rochester, Minnesota, 60 more have been sold to a branch in Florence, South Carolina. When the burned tips do need replacing, Tichy continues to supply them.

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That’s No Bug Bite! Kanox Plays It Safe

Distributor: Kanox, Inc.
Summary: Quick thinking and extended demo keeps brushes spinning.
Manufacturer: JAZ USA, Inc.

Late summer in Kansas is prime mosquito season. It’s no wonder why someone might naturally think that little sting on his arm is just a small bug bite. But what if it isn’t? When a technician using a cup brush to remove rust and scale out of a plate felt a slight sting on his arm last July, he automatically slapped his arm. The problem was, that action drove in a piece of wire that had flown off the 2,000 rpm cup brush, lodging it into a vein in his arm that required surgery to be removed.

JAZ USA custom cup brushes' safety features prevent fly-away pieces.
JAZ USA custom cup brushes’ safety features prevent fly-away pieces.

Following this incident, the company banned the use of all cup brushes in the facility. But Brian Blackwood, branch manager of Kanox, Inc. (Hutchinson, KS), a long-time distributor for the customer, had an idea. He remembered a special type of brush from Jaz USA featured in a recent sales meeting and quickly called Dave Rodrigues, national sales manager at Jaz, to explain the situation. Rodrigues responded immediately by sending Blackwood several samples of a Jaz high-performance cable crimped wire brush that included unique safety features, such as a cable twist to prevent premature breaking or fly-away pieces, a special coating to increase the tinsel strength of the wires and a plastic guard around the outside of the cup. “I brought the samples to my customer and presented them to the company president and safety director, and they were very interested. Employees certainly did not want the brushes taken out of their plant, but they were not going to take any chances on safety, either,” says Blackwood.

At press time, the customer is currently in the evaluation stages for the cup brush. According to Blackwood, several months are needed to use the brushes enough to the point where they begin to fatigue and the wires start to fracture and come apart. The quick thinking and immediate action from Kanox and Jaz prove that making the customer happy is a number one priority. “A deal like this has nothing to do with pricing. Instead, we’re looking for something that sets us apart from our competitors and makes us a unique company. Jaz USA has been able to help us do that,” says Blackwood.

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Three Distributors Partner to Provide Service and Value

Distributor: Linweld, Inc.,
Valley National Gases, Inc.,
Weld Specialty Supply Corp.
Summary: Cooperative partnership among three distributors and manufacturer spans country to provide aluminum welding wire.
Manufacturer: Gulf Wire Corporation

How do you bring three independent distributors in three separate states into an agreement to provide a multi-location end-user with the same high quality products and services at each of its plants? Cooperate! Cooperate! Cooperate!

Last spring, a Mitchell, South Dakota-based end-user in the chemical industry approached Gulf Wire Corporation with a request for distributors to provide aluminum welding wire to its plants across the nation. The 5356 alloy in 3/64 and 1/16 diameters on 13 and 20 pound spools of aluminum welding wire was required for building chemical over-the-road trailers, and evaluations by the end-user had found Gulf Wire products to be best suited for the job. Nick Dietzen, president of Gulf Wire Corporation, knew that in order for the sale to work, cooperation between Gulf Wire and several distributors would be essential. In order to offer the same high-quality level of service as well as price stability to the end-user for a sale of such great magnitude, Dietzen proposed a collaboration between Gulf Wire and three distributors in different locations throughout the country: Linweld, Inc. (Watertown, SD), Weld Specialty Supply Corp. (Milwaukee, WI) and Valley National Gases, Inc. (Falls Creek, PA).

Dietzen approached Scott St. Peter, vice president of Weld Specialty, and Mark Kowalski, sales engineer, because they were already servicing a parent company of the end-user. According to St. Peter, a shortage of domestic aluminum wire manufacturers throughout the country means it’s important to partner and deal with suppliers you can count on. He knew he could count on Gulf Wire because they “promised to hold the price for us so that we could hold it for the customer, and that’s what made the whole deal work.”

“It’s a great win because we’ve got quality product, good delivery and a satisfied customer,” says Greg Hoffman, area manager at Linweld, Inc. In addition to the cooperation with Gulf Wire’s Midwest Area Manager Roman Uchyn and Sales Representative Caroline Ellzey, Hoffman says the deal was also a great win because it eliminated a lot of time spent on problems, and that means increased profit and value not only for the customer but for all involved. Just as important as profits, value and solid, dependable pricing, is being prepared for future growth. Of the cooperation with Gulf Wire, Linweld’s Hoffman says, “In the ever-evolving world we live in, having someone to bring the latest technologies to our table that we can in turn bring to our end-user isn’t just important, it is vital to our existence.”

The sale of the aluminum welding wire along with a two-year contract was made in February 2002.

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Snowballs in Louisiana? Welders Equipment Supplies in Bulk

Distributor: Welders Equipment, Inc.
Summary: Bulk vessel installation solves flow rate, purging and venting problems.
Manufacturer: H&M Pipe Beveling Machine Co.

It was April 2002, and H.B. Zachary Construction was in the process of building a new power plant for the Central Louisiana Electric Company. When Construction Supervisor Eddie Perkins asked Tommy Hormell, president of Welders Equipment, Inc. (Eunice, LA), to supply some snowballs for the project, he wasn’t kidding.

The three giant, round white balls were actually 500 gallon portable cryogenic vessels filled with argon. Prior to requesting the snowballs, Zachary had been using VGL liquid cylinders containing 4,500 cubic feet of argon gas to purge pipes. According to Hormell, the large amount of argon required for the project made the VGL cylinders an inefficient means of gas delivery. “H.B. Zachary was going through about ten cylinders a day, and we were spending a lot of time running back and forth to replenish them. They wanted something with more volume that would require less labor to disconnect and reconnect.”

Hormell turned to Charles Jones, distributor sales manager at Air Liquide America Corp., for something more feasible. Jones reviewed the requirements and recommended the 500 gallon vessel for two reasons: first, it could provide adequate flow rates for purging and welding without the venting and handling problems normally associated with VGLs; and second, the vessels, manifolds and multiple hoses could be moved relatively easily as the job progressed.

To stay on track within a tight construction deadline, Welders Equipment and Air Liquide had just two days to supply the product. Hormell never doubted they could do it, and they did. “Bulk vessels were the perfect solution. Each time our customer was down to a certain number of inches of liquid, they would just call us and Air Liquide would come refill.” H.B. Zachary was so pleased after the first installation that they ordered two more snowballs over the next four months, bringing the total sale to over $100,000.

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What a Laser! County Welding Supply Makes It Work

Distributor: County Welding Supply Co.
Summary: Bulk delivery station supplies high-powered laser.
Manufacturer: BOC Gases,
Chart Industries

Steven Lash, executive vice president of County Welding Supply Co. (Wharton, NJ), describes the laser beam used by his customer, Jersey Sheetmetal, as simply incredible. “They’ve had it up and running since May, and it still amazes me.”

Jersey Sheetmetal uses the laser to cut stainless steel, aluminum and even plastic. Running at 400 psi and using upwards of 4,000 cubic feet of nitrogen per hour, the laser requires a mixture of three high purity, low moisture gases and a large amount of nitrogen to serve as an assist gas. Tired of running through approximately 15 cylinders an hour, Jersey Sheetmetal looked to County Welding Supply, its long-time supplier for welding and cutting needs, for a more efficient way to provide gas for the laser. Lash contacted BOC Gases Steven Brady, distributor sales manager, and James Lisiecki, distributor marketing manager, for help. To meet Jersey Sheetmetal’s minimum gas purity requirement for the laser, Brady recommended BOC’s Lasershield nitrogen, helium and CO2. Supplying the ultra pure gases was easy; supplying a bulk delivery station to hold 3,000 gallons of liquid nitrogen took more planning.

A bulk delivery station supplies liquid nitrogen from BOC Gases to the end-user.
A bulk delivery station supplies liquid nitrogen from BOC Gases to the end-user.

“BOC was instrumental in helping to size the liquid container, do the conversions and match the specifications to ensure delivery would be needed just once a month,” says Lash. BOC also provided the proper specifications for a 12 inch, reinforced concrete pad for the liquid nitrogen tank to sit on. During the project, County Welding also partnered with Chart Industries to set up a trifecta which could deliver the large volumes of high pressure nitrogen; the distributor also received help by way of Glen Davidson, an ultra-high purity plumbing specialist at GTD Services.

Lash describes County Welding as “a small mom-and-pop shop in one location for 40 years,” adding, “working together with our suppliers, we are able to supply the capital and the expertise that our customers need.” The sale was made in May 2002, and installation of the $100,000 project was completed in November.

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Prodigal Customer Returns to Depke Welding Supplies

Distributor: Depke Welding Supplies
Summary: Side-by-side comparison earns back gas business.
Manufacturer: Praxair Distribution, Inc.

“In tight times, it’s natural for a customer to be tempted by a lower price,” says Curtis Towne, president of Depke Welding Supplies (Danville, IL). Proving that cheaper isn’t always better is the challenge. For close to ten years, Depke had supplied wire, gases and other hard-goods to agricultural equipment producer Ogden Metalworks. Then, in 1996, Depke lost Ogden’s welding wire business to a competitor. When the same competitor moved to take over Depke’s gas business with Ogden in April 2002, Towne was prepared to fight back.

Farm equipment is welded with a Praxair Stargon gas mix.
Farm equipment is welded with a Praxair Stargon gas mix.

In contrast to Depke’s three-part Praxair Stargon gas mix, the competitor was offering a two-part mix at a lower cost. But with the cheaper price came a great deal more smoke and spatter, and Towne could prove it. Working with Depke Sales Manager Jedd Swisher, Towne arranged an experiment for Ogden owners Mike Wright and Jeff Mohr. “We hooked up the gases side-by-side with a valve to switch between them, so they could physically see how our gas was better,” explains Towne.

The experiment worked. Depke retained Ogden’s gas business, and signed a two-year, $40,000 contract with the company for all of its welding supplies. Depke’s expertise proven, Ogden didn’t just come back—they came back all the way.

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Clean Sweep for Terrace Supply

Distributor: Terrace Supply Co.
Summary: Knowledge of new product and insight into its use brings new solution for long-time customer.
Manufacturer: J. Walter Inc.

It can happen: a customer is so thrilled after a demonstration that he buys a product on the spot and takes it away with him that very same day. Such was the case when Jim Latz, industrial territory manager at Terrace Supply Co. (Wheeling, IL), and John Thompson, division sales manager at J. Walter Inc., introduced a weld cleaning system to Paragon Aquatech last September.

For over 25 years, Terrace Supply has provided Paragon Aquatech with all of its welding and industrial gas needs during the design, construction and renovation phases of the company’s facilities, pools and spas. Added to the successful mix is J. Walter’s Thompson, who is always on the lookout for better, more efficient methods to get any job done. According to Latz, “Whenever new products come out, we can always rely upon J. Walter to bring them to our attention so that we can better serve our customers.”

When the Surfox Weld Cleaning System (model 101) from J. Walter was introduced, Latz remembered that Paragon Aquatech employees had struggled to clean the welds on a stainless steel pool during a recent project for a Chicago high-rise. Knowing the system could help reduce the labor intensive process, Latz quickly contacted Keith Fullerton, welding superintendent at Paragon Aquatech, to arrange a demonstration at Terrace Supply’s facility in Wheeling, Illinois. He explained that because employees were cleaning the welds by hand with a stainless steel wire brush, they could literally cut their labor time in half with the Surfox system. After witnessing the system at work on the samples he brought to test clean, Fullerton was intrigued. He promptly purchased the $2,000 system, along with extra cleaning solution and a dozen insulating pads, on the spot, proving that this dynamic demo was one the customer just couldn’t refuse.

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AGA Gas-Canton Scores Touchdown with High Pressure Hose

Distributor: AGA Gas, Inc.
(Canton Branch)
Summary: High pressure tube trailer assembled under extremely tight time constraint.
Manufacturer: Specialty Hose Corporation

The 2002 Football Hall of Fame induction parade in Canton, Ohio, was another memorable event for fans and inductees. No one would have known that less than 24 hours before, employees of AGA Gas, Inc. (Canton, OH) and Specialty Hose Corporation were scrambling to make sure the four-story-high helium balloons would be able to get off the ground and into the air in time for the parade.

At 5:00 pm on the eve of the parade, Rob Sehein, senior sales representative at AGA Gas, received a panicked phone call. Although he was prepared to supply the 55,000 cubic feet of helium necessary to fill 14 giant parade balloons, Sehein knew a backup game plan needed to be in place in the event that the proper hoses to off-load the helium from the high pressure tube trailer were not supplied on-site. “It became clear that the hoses were not going to cut it for the type of pressure we needed to put through the manifold.”

Sehein called Bob Howard, manager of industrial and specialty gas products at Specialty Hose Corporation, and explained the situation. The vendor was a long-time supplier for AGA’s specialty and high pressure hose needs and Sehein knew he could count on Howard. “We didn’t have much time. I told him we needed the hoses to fill those balloons at 2:00 am the next morning, and he just said, ‘No problem, come on over.’”

With the clock ticking, Specialty Hose employees never fumbled. Within 45 minutes after Sehein’s arrival at Specialty Hose, Howard and several other employees put two 5,000 psi hoses together, welded them, supplied Sehein with the proper tee valve and sent him on his way.

Achieving such success under pressure proves that together, AGA Gas and Specialty Hose can tackle any problem.

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Byrne Specialty Gases Proves Its Point

Distributor: Byrne Specialty Gases, Inc.
Summary: Side-by-side comparison changes customer’s mind.
Manufacturer: CONCOA

When Kris Cackette, biotechnical division sales manager at Byrne Specialty Gases, Inc. (Seattle, WA), saw the complete purchase order for a biotech facility building project in Seattle last spring, she was stunned. Cackette had worked directly with the end-user and a mechanical engineering firm on a regular basis to specify requirements for the 527 Stainless Steel Autoswitchover from CONCOA, which was to be included in the system project. However, when the purchase order was released, Byrne and CONCOA were not even listed. Instead, the firm releasing the specs had selected a company off-the-shelf. “I was told that the order had been signed to one of CONCOA’s competitors, and that there was no way to make a change at that late date,” says Cackette.

Knowing there must be a way, Cackette called the project manager. “I knew he would care about the systems going in because he would have to deal with them after the job is finished.” Cackette carefully explained her concerns about switching to a competitor, which ranged from support to flexibility in the future. Next, she stressed the importance of the pressure switch gauges for alarm capability in the 527, which tie into a central alarm console for remote monitoring. A unique feature on the manifold means the customer does not see downtime if a manifold needs to be changed. Without Byrne and CONCOA, Cackette explained, there was no way to bypass for repairs and keep the system live if it were ever to go down.

CONCOA's 527 Autoswitchover was designed with unique features for a biotech facility in Seattle.
CONCOA’s 527 Autoswitchover was designed with unique features for a biotech facility in Seattle.

“This is wrong. Something has to be done!” was the worried response on the other end of the telephone. Switching a purchase order is not a simple process, and a side-by-side justification to show a cost savings for the customer was required. “CONCOA gave me the information they knew about the competitor, which was critical for me in order to add the value features that we put on the manifolds,” says Cackette, who worked closely with Brent Fernyhough, president of Byrne Specialty Gases, throughout the process. In addition, CONCOA’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing Patrick Carlucci, Manager of Product Enhancement David Durkin and Lee Hiner, district manager, were all essential in the design and justification process. Says Cackette, “I could call them and give them an idea of what we wanted to see, and they would work on it to come up with a result,” says Cackette.

To highlight the appeal of the 527 Autoswitchover, part of the justification was dedicated to the ongoing services and plans that Byrne and CONCOA could provide. In addition, the 527 offered what Cackette dubs a “drop and swap” system, where a unit can be removed from the system for replacement or repair, keeping the line still pressured with product and gas. This is critical because the lab is designed to run sub-culture growth and mass spectrometers, things that cannot go without product unless there is a proper shutdown with equipment.

It took two months, but Byrne and CONCOA proved their team had the best available combination of equipment and local services and successfully displaced the competitor. In August 2002, the purchase order for the competitor was retracted and reissued to Byrne and CONCOA.

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ILL-MO’s Customized Solution Beats Cost Concern

Distributor: ILL-MO Products Company
Summary: Cross-training of distributor’s sales force, coupled with technical and equipment expertise of manufacturer, overcomes limits of off-the-shelf items.
Manufacturer: Advanced Specialty Gas Equipment

According to Tony McLaughlin, sales manager at ILL-MO Products Company (Jacksonville, IL), providing customized solutions is more than just a regular occurrence: “It’s our mantra.” When a laboratory in Decatur, Illinois needed a gas delivery panel system to replace its existing, antiquated system, ILL-MO had a chance to put that mantra to the test.

Sales Representatives Jerry Cox and Jim Brown teamed up with Advanced Specialty Gas Equipment’s Kurt Swaylik to analyze the customer’s gas delivery needs and find the best way to refurbish the laboratory.

After identifying specific issues, such as limited space around existing pipes, inlets and outlets on the lab wall, and the customer’s desire to keep costs down, the team quoted a high-quality, modular unit with design capabilities that would allow for future laboratory expansion. “We had a certain area where we had to customize in order to fulfill the specs. We did that by making the panels as small as possible,” says Cox. To address the cost concern, ILL-MO showed the end-user one of ASGE’s sample panels to demonstrate its value. “Once they saw the quality of the product, they were convinced the extra money was worth it,” says Cox.

Customized gas delivery panel system from Advanced Specialty Gas Equipment is designed to fit within a small area.
Customized gas delivery panel system from Advanced Specialty Gas Equipment is designed to fit within a small area.

“Our people have intensive cross-training, and our gas expertise in cooperation with the technical and equipment expertise of ASGE allowed us to meet requirements by overcoming the limitations of off-the-shelf items,” says McLaughlin.

Adding to the distributor’s professional drawings, ASGE followed up by e-mailing CAD designs to ILL-MO, who reviewed them with the customer. Several iterations took place and a final design was approved. According to McLaughlin, the hours of revising drafts and CAD drawings were well spent. “We were not the incumbent, and we were at a clear disadvantage by working against two strong competitors, but our professionalism and our ability to be flexible put us head and shoulders above the competition.”

The sale of an ASGE eight station, modular panel gas delivery system was completed in August, and delivery was made within four weeks. The customer was so pleased with the system that they later purchased a duplicate system.

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Aluminum Offers Improved Solution from nexAir-Nashville

Distributor: nexAir, LLC
(Nashville Branch)
Summary: Need for aluminum welding wire prompts creation of new drum pack.
Manufacturer: AlcoTec Wire Corp.

Uncharted territory. A brand new venture. Two years ago, Yoruzu, a Japan-based tier one supplier to the automotive industry, decided to begin making underbody parts and engine cradles out of aluminum rather than mild steel. To succeed in the new project, the company relied heavily on nexAir, LLC (Nashville, TN) and AlcoTec Wire Corp. because of their proven level of expertise among employees. “Prior to taking on the project, employees from nexAir and Yoruzu attended a week-long weld training school put on by AlcoTec to learn more about mig welding aluminum,” says Bill Proctor, nexAir’s vice president of sales. “It was important for Yoruzu to partner with companies that are knowledgeable in the welding of aluminum and will be able to help in the event of any problems.”

At the time Yoruzu decided to make the switch to aluminum, the company was using AlcoTec’s small wire spools, which were creating too much downtime to change out given the large amount of wire they went through. “In an automotive parts plant, production time is everything. Any savings in downtime means more parts built and more profit for the customer. That’s what we were aiming for,” says Mike Devine, area manager at nexAir. Yoruzu’s process had 40 robotic welders spending 15 minutes to change out wire close to 80 times a day. To meet Yoruzu’s needs, not even a larger spool was satisfactory enough because of the high maintenance costs of the de-reeling equipment that would be required. Something entirely different was needed. In Japan, drum packs are commonly used, and because the company was already familiar with them, it requested a similar drum pack.

An engine cradle and drum pack from AlcoTec Wire Corp. work on the welding robotic line.
An engine cradle and drum pack from AlcoTec Wire Corp. work on the welding robotic line.

“Aluminum is such a malleable product that it’s hard to put it into a large package,” says Proctor. Tim Carlton, sales representative at nexAir, agrees, adding, “We were a little skeptical about putting the wire in a pack because aluminum is so soft and that can cause tangling when it comes out of a drum.” Because of that, it was necessary to find the proper weight that would prevent the wires from getting crushed or springing up and tangling during the feeding process. AlcoTec’s Grahame Savage, vice president of sales and marketing, worked with several AlcoTec employees on intense research and development. In addition to the tangle problems, packaging and shipping of the drums presented another challenge, since freight lines could damage the drums if they were not packaged properly.

AlcoTec developed a 300 lb. drum which held double the amount of wire as the drums from Japan, and after six months and several test packs, Yoruzu approved a final design.

The 300 pound drum pack offered improved feedability and eliminated arc shorts, enabling Yoruzu to eliminate change outs and meet production with a 25 percent improvement rate. The initial sale of the drum packs was made in the summer of 2001, and nexAir and AlcoTec employees spent two weeks at Yoruzu conducting hands-on aluminum mig welding training for their employees. So pleased was Yoruzu with the drum packs that they have collaborated with nexAir and AlcoTec on two additional projects.

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Earth-Shaking Sale for Praxair-Van Nuys

Distributor: Praxair Distribution, Inc.
(Van Nuys Branch)
Summary: Store displays and samples promote sales.
Manufacturer: Alvin Products

For Fernando Montes, manager of Praxair Distribution, Inc.’s branch in Van Nuys, California, the only proof he needs rests in a half inch crack in the wall of his store. Ever since an earthquake created the crack, Montes has routinely brought customers over to the wall to see the large screw he secured inside of it using Alvin Products’ Lab-metal patching compound. “The screw supports a metal bar we place across the door when we lock up at night, so it’s extremely important that it remains secure.”

Branch Manager Fernando Montes readies his Lab-metal display in hopes of attracting new customers.
Branch Manager Fernando Montes readies his Lab-metal display in hopes of attracting new customers.

The attention to Montes’ wall and the success it has generated in selling Lab-metal can be attributed in part to a Lab-metal display which Montes set up with the help of Robert Close, California manufacturer representative for Alvin Products. Positioned in a high traffic area of the store, the display features brochures, cans of Lab-metal and hardened samples that demonstrate the patching compound’s physical properties and uses.

“Once customers see the display, they want actual proof that it works,” says Montes. Dan Luna, owner of Lunas Mufflers, was one such customer. He came to the Praxair store in search of a way to weld cast iron motor heads. As an alternative to a $3,500 machine, Montes showed Lunas the Lab-metal display and explained how the products could withstand repairs from 360 to 1,000 degrees. “He was concerned about temperature for the cast iron, but when I showed him the Hi-Temp Lab-metal for 1,000 degree repairs, he was convinced.” Instead of spending thousands on a machine, Luna purchased the Lab-metal for $42.

Word spread: Praxair and Alvin Products have a partnership that sticks.

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Wright Brothers Steel Cutting Innovation

Distributor: Wright Brothers, Inc.
Summary: Distributor partners with manufacturer to develop alternative fuels for caster operations in steel plants.
Manufacturer: BMS/BTU,
Flame Technologies

There’s a first time for everything, as Wright Brothers’ (Cincinnati, OH) CEO Charlie Wright and Mike Pinson, president of steel industrial products, well know. Recently, one particularly important first for the distributor involved an industry-changing process.

It all started two years ago, when Wright and Pinson saw an opportunity to improve the efficiency of a caster cutting operation in a steel plant by using an alternative fuel instead of natural gas. After countless hours of research and development and dozens of tests, both on-site at steel plants and in Wright Brothers’ lab facility, the team developed a new process for cutting steel slabs, billets and blooms using propylene as an alternative fuel. Wright Brothers has a patent pending for the use of alternative fuels for caster operations and slab yards in steel plants across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

In order to support the process, Wright and Pinson partnered with supplier BMS/BTU. “We knew BMS/BTU is able to transport large amounts of propylene fuel across the nation and Canada,” says Pinson. He adds that BMS/BTU’s Sales Manager Steve Baughman and Sales Representative Skip Traxler were essential in coordinating the transport of large amounts of gas, which were necessary to move ahead in the project. In addition, Wright Brothers also partnered with Shawn Toops, president of Flame Technologies, and Tom Hossler, national sales representative, for the necessary torches and tips. “The combination of the gas and the tip is part of what makes the whole process work,” says Wright.

Pinson approached Kentucky Electric Steel, a bar mill that produces billets for end-users, and explained how Wright Brothers could help in the billet cutting process for their caster operation. It was a system that would add benefits for their cutting operation, one that Kentucky Electric Steel found appealing. Many different tests were conducted to assess the quality of cut, yield savings and speed of the continuous caster operation as it cuts solidified steel with torches and propylene gas. According to Pinson, the tests provided Kentucky Electric Steel with confidence to move forward with the process. “After testing, we were able to put the whole package together—torches, tips, gas and all.”

Kentucky Electric Steel signed a contract with Wright Brothers in September. Following the installation of piping and tanks, the facility was up and running by November 6.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association