If I Could Turn Back Time

Cher no-introduction-needed-amazing Cher is on a comeback tour this summer. So are the Rolling Stones. So are Bruce Springsteen, Peter Frampton, Carlos Santana, Billy Joel, Rod Stewart (OK, he’s always on a comeback tour). Have you seen what these cats look like lately? And save for Cher, they do appear a bit saggy, don’t you think? Wrinkled and weathered.

So why are they doing this, dragging themselves across the country, doing a couple of shows a week, singing and dancing their hearts out? Can’t be easy at their age. Managing the complexities of a music business has got to be hard, tracking sales, employees, new technologies, customer wishes, etc. Of course, their resilience has a lot to do with their staying power and success. But there has to be something more.

Then it hit me. They love what they do. They express an innate joy that shows through in their music, their ability to get up on stage (bad knees and whatnot) and still have fun and know the hard work is paying off and the crowds keep coming back wanting more. We, the audience (their customers) don’t see the challenges behind the scenes.

This issue’s cover story marks Welding & Gases Today’s annual tribute to GAWDA member companies that are celebrating a milestone anniversary in 2014. We define “milestone” as divisible by 5, so if a company was founded in a year ending in the numbers 4 or 9, it is celebrating a milestone.

I had the privilege of talking with many distributors about their companies. Some were original founders; others were second, third, even fourth generation owners. Judy Flanagan, WGT’s publisher, spoke with supplier members. We found one commonality with the celebrants: They love what they do. I could say they have a passion for it, even for the challenges that come with growing their business.

Like Cher and Mick and Bruce, these companies are not content to sit on their well-earned laurels. At one point in her concert, Cher flies over the arena and the audience goes wild. She looks down on the audience with a smile on her face, sheer joy. She’s kept up with new ways to delight her customers, who keep coming back concert after concert. Talk about retention.

Half of celebrating an anniversary is looking back; the other half is looking forward. This issue also includes several articles looking forward to new things in the gases and welding industry. Shawn Kelly, Ph.D. explains 3-D Printing and how it may impact the manufacture of welding equipment. Tom Carey delves into the potential LNG market for distributors. Bruce Tulgan has been studying young people and their work habits for a decade, and he presents some interesting theories and suggestions for managers. The two chairmen of GAWDA’s newly revamped Young Professionals Committee take on the big issues facing industry young people.

Amongst GAWDA members marking an anniversary, there is a combined total of almost 2,000 years of experience in the gases and welding business. Read that again: 2,000 years of combined experience in the gases and welding business! If you are an anniversary company, you are probably grinning right now…if you’re just starting out, you should be grinning right now.

There is only one word to describe the feeling. To quote my friend Mick, it’s called “satisfaction.”

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Carole Jesiolowski Meet the Author
Carole Jesiolowski is senior editor of GAWDA Media and executive vice president of Data Key Communications located in Syracuse, New York. She can be reached at 315-445-2347 and carole@weldingandgasestoday.org.