New Ideas, Big Ideas

Winter was especially rough this year. Where I live and work in upstate New York, the winter dragged on and on. In fact, as I write this, it is snowing outside, even though it is way past the first day of Spring. I know I didn’t have it as bad as some GAWDA members in the Midwest or parts of the East Coast, but when the calendar says “spring” and I am still shoveling, I am ready, ready, ready for the physical signs of Spring. Daffodils, where art thou?

So even though it is snowing outside and I am still wearing boots, a hat and scarf, I am so looking forward to the first big event of the Spring Season… GAWDA’s Spring Management Conference. Whoever created this conference and planted it right in the middle of spring must have known that by this time of year, GAWDA members are ready for renewal, for newness, for growth and opportunity… for Thinking Big in a state synonymous with all things big.

I have been so looking forward to this year’s SMC since last summer when I attended the Planning Meeting in San Antonio. After time at the venue, discussion with committee members, poring over evaluations and suggestions, President Craig Wood declared the theme Think Big. I have not stopped thinking about the conference and what it means as GAWDA members get ready to Think Big, not only in San Antonio, but in our businesses and what we do each day.

So this issue is a response to the directive to THINK BIG. It contains a lot of big ideas, big stories and big suggestions to help you grow your business.

In the cover story, distributors share one big idea they implemented that had a marketable impact on their bottom line. One of the chief benefits of association membership is the sharing of ideas. This edition of Welding & Gases Today and this year’s SMC definitely provide a platform for members to start sharing ideas. And “Big” is a relative term. Sometimes a smaller idea can have a big impact on our bottom lines.

Helium, its availability, cost and current public profile are the topic of a series of articles starting on page 74. GAWDA’s man in Washington, Rick Schweitzer, explains the government’s role and goes behind the scenes of a recent congressional hearing. Distributors share how they are working with helium customers, and a government report published in January 2013 shares all the numbers, such as how much helium is currently in the reserve, how much it is worth, and how much it sells for.

What could be bigger than acquiring a company to expand your footprint?  Not a week goes by that we are not announcing some M&A activity in the GAWDA Connection. This issue takes a hard look at mergers and acquisitions throughout the industry. Steve Byers, formerly the VP of acquisitions for a major company and now general manager at WestAir Gases & Equipment in San Diego, shares what it takes to be successful in the M&A game. He leaves no holds barred and has some good advice whether you’re buying a company or selling yours. And as GAWDA friend Bart Basi explains in his column, “Mergers and Acquisitions Are Not Just for the Big Boys,” you don’t have to be a big company to be interested in acquisitions.

As if the prospect of the end of shoveling snow off my front steps wasn’t enough to get me salivating, this issue contains the Exhibitors Guide to the SMC. Walking the aisles of the Contact Booth Program is one of my most favorite things to do. I love seeing what new products are on the docket and talking with suppliers and manufacturers about their R&D, their plans and activities. I love seeing distributors and suppliers making contact and connecting. I know I’m not alone in this excitement, judging from the number of GAWDA members who cite the Contact Booth Program and networking as the highlight of the conference. The Exhibitors Guide begins on page 28 and is your preview to the many Big Ideas that will be on display.

Finally, we have received a lot of calls and emails asking “Where’s my Welding & Gases Today magazine?” To better reflect the quarterly business cycle, as well as to accommodate the dates for GAWDA’s Spring Management Conference in the spring and the Annual Convention in the fall, the delivery dates for GAWDA’s membership journal have been changed. Look for the1st Quarter issue in January; 2nd Quarter issue in April; 3rd Quarter in June; 4th Quarter in September. You can also visit for the current and archived issues, as well as updated news stories. Every issue is filled with ideas that will spur you to Think Big all year long…

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
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 She can be reached at 315-445-2347 or

Gases and Welding Distributors Association