Continuing Efforts To Stay Relevant And Strong

In the spirit of this year’s theme of staying relevant, GAWDA counts down to the end of the year as we move to self-management. In the last four years, GAWDA has experienced a huge amount of change. First, the move to Florida where the Association was managed by AWS, and now the move to self-management. Both transitions involved major changes in staffing, offices and operating systems. GAWDA continually strives to improve services and grow membership in spite of the continued consolidation of our industry.

The end of the year triggers the final change to self-management, but there has been a great deal of time and effort by many individuals leading up to this point. Many of you have already talked to some of our new employees: GAWDA Accounting Associate Bruce Ellenbogen and Member Services Manager Steven Hill. Both have made great strides in adapting to their respective areas. It is also important to recognize the efforts of Natasha Alexis, GAWDA’s meetings and operations senior manager. Natasha has seen the association through both transitions and is an invaluable asset to both GAWDA and myself.

Although the management agreement between AWS and GAWDA ends at the end of this year, both associations will continue to have a strong working relationship as we continue in support of our respective missions for the welding and packaged gas industry. I’d like to extend a special thanks to Ray Shook, AWS executive director, and the AWS staff for their continued support of GAWDA over these past four years. Finally, none of this could be possible without the continued support and guidance of our GAWDA leadership.

Our Annual Convention in San Diego, California, showed a strong start from the opening of early bird registration. Within the first three weeks (seven weeks from the convention), over 500 attendees registered and quickly sold out our initial hotel room block and golf tournament. The Contact Booth Program also sold out quickly. These were the highest registration pick-up numbers, at seven weeks out, in the past four years. There was also a great deal of interest in the speakers, which include Dr. Barry Asmus, senior economist; Meagan and Larry Johnson, multi-generational workplace experts; Richard Farrell, president of Tangent Knowledge Systems; and of course, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, NBA legend and motivational speaker.

At this year’s SMC, GAWDA began offering a breakfast workshop in an effort to provide more take-home value for our attendees. This idea was carried forward to the Annual Convention with a presentation by Larry Oxenham, asset protection expert and author.

I look forward to seeing all of you at our Annual Convention as we move forward toward a bright future for GAWDA.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
John Ospina Meet the Author
John Ospina is GAWDA’s executive director. He can be reached at GAWDA Headquarters in Doral, Florida, at 877-382-6440 or via email at