Milestone Anniversary

Established 1923 – 90 Years

  • Sellstrom Manufacturing Co.

Established 1928 – 85 years

  • Albright Welding Supply Company
  • Depke Welding Supplies
  • West Penn Laco

Established 1938 – 75 years

  • J. W. Goodliffe (Cyberweld) *
  • Purity Cylinder Gases
  • Welders Supply Company
  • Willard C. Starcher

Established 1943 – 70 years

  • McKinney Welding Supply
  • Ozarc/Gas Equipment & Supply

*Read Member Profile at www.WeldingAndGasesToday.org

Albright Welding Supply Company – Wooster, OH
Customers won’t allow us to become settled, and we constantly evolve and adapt to meet their needs. We just opened a 10,000 sq. ft. store that puts most of our merchandise on display where customers can come in and see it. Before, they had to ask for something, we had to go back and get it, and then return to the counter. We also have a lab at the front of the store with plasma cutters and welding machines for customers to try, instead of walking back to the warehouse. I believe the key to a long life in the industry revolves around dedicated employees, treating customers and vendors the way we want to be treated, and keeping up with industry changes, especially technology. The best thing about our business is that we provide consumable products that require replacement on a regular basis. Non-disposable packaging of gases keeps customers coming back and creates long term relationships.
- Jim Horst, President

Albright, 1950. Bob Horst retired in 2009 at the age of 85.

Wooster location, 2007

Depke Welding Supplies – Danville, IL
I enjoy this business. A small part of the world is interested in what we do on a daily basis, and lots of interesting things happen. With consumable products, there is repeat business so we have to develop relationships. Being steady and consistent and taking care of customers have created long-term relationships. We work hard to gain new business, and we work hard to retain business. We consistently have a solid customer-focused outlook, and we talk about doing the right thing, how best to handle a challenge. Our salespeople are not paid on commission. There’s profit sharing, but no commission. We added bulk delivery of propane in order to bring something else to the table to existing customers. A larger tank was put in for tanker truck loads, and we get fills two to three times a month.
Curt Towne, President & CEO

Danville location, late 1940s

Danville location, 2012

J.W. Goodliffe & Son dba Cyberweld – Linden, NJ

We are a single location distributorship in a highly competitive market that has seen a boatload of consolidation. The only way to survive is to do something different. The Internet now represents over 85 percent of our total revenue, and that continues to grow. We react very quickly once change is evident. An example is Google, something that anyone with an online presence has to be aware of. The Google search algorithm has over 216 variables in it, and over 30 changes to that algorithm are made each year, in terms of what variables are more important. Google is always toying with it, and at any given time an algorithm could be a boon or a disaster for a company. We stay on top of this. Also, every one of my customer service reps has struck an arc and lit a torch. That experience across the company is valuable. It’s been a dream of mine for the past ten years to open a shipping facility closer to our west coast customers. In August, we are opening a brand new 4,500 sq. ft. warehouse and shipping location in Mesa, Arizona. We are in an ancient business, and while some things never change, others change all the time, like power sources, wire formation, material weight. I take a tremendous amount of pride in the fact that the fifth generation, my son Jim, has come into the business. There is a legacy here, and it didn’t die with me.
Bob Goodliffe, President

J.W. Goodliffe Jr. (left), grandfather of Bob Goodliffe, and an employee at the Allentown, PA farm show.

Linden, NJ, 2013

McKinney Welding Supply – New York, NY
I started here as a dock man/driver, worked my way up to sales and bought the company in 1962. I’m 85 years old, and still come in two days a week. Now there is a third generation that brings fresh ideas and a new perspective to our daily and long-term business plans. In 1978, there was an explosion at our facility on a Friday. We were open for business on Monday. Most recently, our fill plant took on eight feet of water during Hurricane Irene. Hard work got us through these challenges. Our sales reflect a strong medical and industrial balance that allow us to deal with slow business cycles. This diversity is also reflected in our locations, both city and suburban.
Nick Mattiace Sr.

Old McKinney

Ozarc/Gas Equipment & Supply – Cape Girardeau, MO

We are on our third generation of stewardship. The next generation of owners and managers bring enthusiasm and fresh approaches. I also am a believer in the adage “You can’t see the forest for the trees,” and am using outside professionals to help put in place new managing tools and establish stretch goals and objectives needed for continued success into the next generation. We’ve invested heavily in new technology and are now fully computerized from the back office to the front counter, into the warehouse and fill plant and on all delivery trucks outfitted with portable computers to generate an electronic delivery ticket at the customer’s site. All cylinder transactions are tracked by digital bar code. Technology has made us a leader in customer service. We are fortunate to have many dedicated and long-term associates who have experienced the highs and lows of our industry and have the confidence in the management team to make the right decisions to handle periodic down turns.

I realized that no matter how proficient we are, there is only so much one person can do. This made me evaluate what the next chapter of the business was going to be. I talked it over with my children, who are all with the company, and got an earnest answer that this was going to be their future. I realized that to find a success path for each of these highly motivated individuals, we need to grow and branch out. In order to get to the next level, it would take not only capital, but professional outside personnel. Finding those people was not the hard part. Letting go of the control and trusting the decisions of those I put in key management positions was the hard part.
Bob Garner, President

Purity Cylinder Gases — Grand Rapids, MI
My grandfather was the first employee of Purity Cylinder Gases when it was founded, and he purchased it along with two others. We are now in our fourth generation of ownership. We seek ideas from a new generation of employees. We don’t over-extend and are fiscally conservative. We make good decisions, are not afraid to invest, stay on top of technology, hire the right people and treat them well. To stay long-term in this business, I suggest having a succession plan in place. We have people that we recognize as future leaders and are bringing them up through the organization.
Gary Nyhuis, President

Old Purity

Purity New

Sellstrom Manufacturing Co. – Schaumberg, IL
Grandpa Sellstrom began the company in his garage and continued as president until 1963. His son Roger continued as president until 1981. His wife Barbara was one of the first female company presidents in the industry and led the company until 1992. As a son-in-law, my challenge is to look at how we can best compete with larger, publically held companies within the safety arena. We try to adapt the products, technologies and systems that they do not excel at. We try to be as flexible, strategically, as we can be, in order to offer our customers the support they are not getting elsewhere. We operate with one caveat: Our products must meet the stringent quality standards that we have established, or we won’t play. Our entrepreneurial spirit is continually demonstrated as we introduce new products that aren’t “me too” products. Our customers don’t necessarily need to hear a long litany of features and benefits. They need to know how that product will meet their needs. “Getting older” as a company can make us “smarter,” but it can also stifle us, limiting our abilities to remain in the lead in the future. In order to avoid being on cruise control, we are enhancing our management teams by appreciating company veterans, but also bringing in new blood. Their role is to constantly challenge us to be better.
David Peters, President

Welders Supply Company – Beloit, WI
In an industry where our peers and suppliers have gone through several mergers, take-overs and buy-outs, we’ve remained financially strong and firm to our commitment to remain locally owned. We have strong ties to the communities we serve; our customers are our neighbors and friends and their total satisfaction is important to us. One of the keys to a long life in this industry is to make industry meetings learning experiences for your children. Bring them to out-of-town meetings and show them the fun that goes along with the business. My father, Chuck Mueller, took us on these trips and we learned a lot and followed in his footsteps. He passed away in March, but he left a legacy that challenges and empowers employees to follow the company’s guiding principles: Be safe. Be productive. Be innovative. Be profitable.
– Ed Mueller, President

West Penn Laco – Pittsburgh, PA
West Penn Laco was started by my maternal grandfather, who brought my father into the business. A year after joining the company, my grandfather died. So my dad and a friend of his bought the business. It was a body shop supply company, but they decided to get into something else, as every body shop had torches and oxyacetylene. They sold welding supplies. Their first delivery was five small oxygen tanks and five small acetylene tanks. Today there are four locations and 35 employees, and the third generation, my son, is working hard. He brings newness. I like working in this industry. It’s different every day, and you never know what’s going to happen when you come in to work.
– Neil Mackay, Treasurer

old Alex Mackay (r) and Bill Richards, 1948

Third-generation president Howard Mackay with the company’s newest truck

Willard C. Starcher – Spencer, WV
Keeping an entrepreneurial spirit is a constant challenge to an older company because of the tendency to oppose change, which we all do. Training for employees and training for the owner is important. It is essential that I get out and go to industry programs like GAWDA’s SMC, Fabtech and others in order to meet other distributors and hear what they are doing. Hard work and some good luck get us through. I like the people we deal with in this business. The competition is tough, but ethical. When times are tough, we’re reluctant to hire, so it’s usually the owners who pick up the slack and stay the extra hours.

An old idea that may come back is using depots. When gas prices go up, we reroute to get from point A to B. I’m thinking about those depots and how they can help save fuel.
John Hill, President

Delivery truck, 1948

(r-l) President John Hill, Treasurer Carol Hill, Manager David Baldwin, Sales Manager Clint Ellis