Helium Shortage Puts GAWDA Members In The Spotlight

With the helium shortage all over the news, local newspapers and TV stations have turned to GAWDA distributors throughout the United States to tap into their expertise to learn about the helium supply situation. The questions often started with: “Why can’t we get our balloons filled with helium?” and then GAWDA members elevated the discussion to the uses for helium, the reasons for a shortage, and possible strategies for helium consumers.

While a product shortage may not be a boon to business, it has no doubt provided some local exposure for these companies. Here are some of the distributors who have appeared in recent news stories:

Norco (Boise, ID) has been interviewed by several news sources. President Ned Pontious told KTVB, “Obviously the price on helium has been increasing quite dramatically, but what’s really frustrating is when price is not an issue and you still can’t get the product. We’re willing to pay whatever we can pay to get it, but we can’t get it.” Pontious was also interviewed by another area TV station, and the company made an appearance on news station KREM2.

Mike Storie, vice president of sales at Haun Welding Supply (Syracuse, NY), told The Post-Standard that the company has 1,000 empty cylinders that should be full of helium. “We see no signs of it going backward.” Store Manager Brian McDonald was also interviewed by a local TV station, and Sales Manager Grant Hanlon spoke with an area newspaper.
In Wichita, Kansas, Lampton Welding Supply President Guy Marlin was quoted in the Wichita Business Journal: “It’s probably not going to change for a while. We’re fortunate that we’ve been able to hang in there.”
nexAir (Memphis, TN) Senior Vice President Steve Atkins told The Commercial Appeal, “Everything we read and see leads us to expect to see more cost increases in the future.”
“Helium in the earth is depleting, and while there’s not as much as there used to be, demand has gone up. It’s a worldwide product now,” said Melo’s Gas & Gear (Bakersfield, CA) President Dave Melo in an interview with a local TV station.
Noble Gas Solutions (Albany, NY) President and CEO Dave Mahoney told the Times Union, “The last thing I want to do is see a welding operation lay people off … so I can watch a bunch of balloons at a parade.”
“We are trying to spread it out so everybody who needs helium gets something,” Michael Sutley, OXARC (Spokane, WA) vice president and general manager, told the Tri-City Herald.
An update on Weldstar’s (Aurora, IL) website was quoted by the Pharos-Tribune as saying, “Along with many other distributors, Weldstar is feeling the effects of a global helium shortage, which is expected to last up to three years.”
In Bend, Oregon, Airgas Branch Manager Phil Price told The Bend Bulletin, “As far as we know, we could see the end of helium-filled balloons.”

Inthese interviews, GAWDA members offered insights into the helium supply situation and strategies for end-users to deal with the shortage. Recognized by the local media as the go-to experts, these distributors made it clear to tens of thousands of television viewers and newspaper readers that they truly are the experts. It’s about time that the general public got to see how knowledgeable and well-spoken GAWDA members are.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association