Leaders For A New Economy

“When times are tough, leaders must be tougher.” These are the opening words of author Joe Takash’s article, which begins on page 105. If I learned nothing else over the past few months putting this issue together, I learned how tough, how really tough, GAWDA members are.

Each October, the staff of Welding & Gases Today begins calling GAWDA members throughout the United States. We speak with almost 200 suppliers and distributors about the challenges their businesses are facing, the innovations they are working on, the strategies being planned, and the hopes they have for the upcoming year. They tell us what’s working and what’s not, and where they believe their businesses are heading in the next 12 months.

All of the information gathered from these conversations makes up Welding & Gases Today’s Annual Business Forecast, a report which looks at the inner workings of the industry from the viewpoint of both suppliers and distributors. It begins on page 40 and is filled with important and timely information. (View distributor forecast / supplier forecast).

What became apparent as we spoke with GAWDA members this year is that no one is putting their head in the sand and waiting for this downturn to be over. Distributors and suppliers are facing the new year with a commitment to recover and survive, and they have plans and strategies.

Some of these strategies include becoming known as a solution provider rather than a seller of product, upping technical knowledge as the demand for robotics and automation increases, adding efficiencies for greater productivity—your own and your customers—and getting better at the one thing that separates you from the competition—your level of service, and learning how to charge for it. Understanding your customer’s business and gathering more knowledge will be critical skill sets in 2011.

The gloves are off, and many are declaring that they will take market share. Perhaps my favorite comment of all came from a distributor located in the South who, when asked how he plans to grow sales, simply said: “I WILL take business away from non-GAWDA members.” Talk about loyalty to your association colleagues!

If you are not a GAWDA member and you are reading this forecast, watch out. Contact GAWDA headquarters and become a member. Our resources are many and we will be stronger on the other side of this economic mess because of them.

Finally, talk about strong. Four young executives have volunteered to share their day-to-day industry experiences as part of Welding & Gases Today’s e-Dialogue, a new feature on the magazine’s website. Meet them on page 120 and read their commentary at www.WeldingAndGasesToday.org.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Carole Jesiolowski Meet the Author
Carole Jesiolowski is managing editor of Welding & Gases Today magazine, which is published by Data Key Communications in Syracuse, New York, and on the Web at www.datakey.org. She can be reached at 315-445-2347 or carole@WeldingAndGasesToday.org.