Three New Offerings For The New Year

What a great way for GAWDA to end another successful year. The Annual Convention in New York City was (as Lloyd says) “amazing.” We had everything we have come to expect from our Annual Convention, including networking for better business relationships, quality speakers covering a variety of timely topics, great dining opportunities and good fun with friends we have made over the years. The added benefit this year was the venue. Broadway shows, American history and great sightseeing were all there to enjoy. My Planning Committee and I have a tough job ahead as we to try to top NYC in beautiful Colorado Springs in September.

As I start my year at the helm of the GAWDA organization, I can’t believe the hand that I have been dealt. The organization is in great shape in many ways. Financially, we are in the best shape we have been in for years. Organizationally, we are in capable hands as John, Natasha and Cecilia start their second full year. But what I am most excited about is that we are finding ways to expand our benefits package to members. At our Board of Directors meeting in New York, we approved three great new offerings: The GAWDA Foundation, Women in Gases and Welding and a deal with the Compressed Gas Association (CGA).

The GAWDA Foundation is a concept that Jenny McCall, Lloyd Robinson and I first started working on in Miami in the spring of 2010. It was delayed as we transitioned management firms, but it is now back and on the fast track. The Executive Committee (EC) recently formalized the creation of the GAWDA Foundation Committee. We all know the difficulty the industry has in attracting and keeping new employees, and this committee is designed to attack that problem. The Foundation will raise money and offer scholarships and educational opportunities to help attract and train the next generation of workers and managers in the welding and gases industry. Lloyd will chair the Committee and be joined by Jenny and Jim Kissler as members. Sam Gentry from the AWS Foundation will be an ex-officio member. Sam’s experience will be invaluable.

Women in Gases and Welding (WIGAW) is a group that became an overnight success story starting with their reception in New York. Because of the overwhelming reaction, the EC approved the formation of the Women in Gases and Welding Committee. We are still defining the overall mission of the group, but the base will surely be to promote, educate and train female workers in our industry. It also will provide networking opportunities designed specifically for women. Jenny McCall has agreed to be the first chairwoman of the committee and will be joined by Amy Milligan, Monica Pfarr and Judy Miller as members. There is a lot of work to do here, but the opportunity is tremendous.

Our deal with the CGA became effective January 1, 2012, and should take the safety of our members’ operations to the next level. The CGA website, www.cganet.com, is user friendly and allows you to scan their list of publications and videos. Electronic publications will now be free to GAWDA members. CGA member discounts will apply to all videos and hard copies in the CGA library. One person at each member location will be given a user ID and password to access the library. A Safety Improvement Award given annually is also a part of the deal. (Read story)

Don’t forget your other great benefit for 2012. If you paid your dues by January 13, you were able to take advantage of our 25 percent early payment discount.

Thanks to all members for the con-fidence they have placed in me to head up this organization for the next year. Please feel free to contact me through-out the year with any suggestions, ob-servations, opportunities or issues you may have.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Bryan Keen Bryan Keen is president of GAWDA. He is also president of Keen Compressed Gas Company in Wilmington, Delaware, and can be reached at bkeen@keengas.com or 302-594-4553 ext. 3324.