Meet the GAWDA Board of Directors

The 2014-15 Board of Directors is the first leadership in GAWDA’s 70-year history to be self-managed. We are STRONG. We are PROUD. And now we are INDEPENDENT. Reflecting on the association’s theme for this New Year, each member of the board describes what the words mean to them. And to celebrate GAWDA’s move to self-management, they have taken a ‘selfie,’ a photo taken independently, by themselves, with a cellphone. It’s harder than it looks, and this group is no slouch. They’re truly a courageous, dedicated, fun-loving lot devoted to the industry and our membership.

GAWDA President Thomas Biedermann
Vice President, Airweld, Inc. (Farmingdale, NY)

Strong: My three tours on the board allowed me to work with many great leaders and committed board members, so I have lots of experience to draw from.

Proud: I’m proud of our association’s consistency. We continue to be a strong educationally oriented association, helping both distributor and vendor members.

Independent: Our association was started by independent distributors, who continue to be the cornerstone. The independent distributor is really what makes us roll and continue on.

GAWDA President-Elect Bill Visintainer
President, Atlas Welding Supply Co., Inc. (Tuscaloosa, AL)

Strong: My 35 years of industry experience (18 with a major, 17 as an independent distributor) in 3 North American geographic regions give me a unique and balanced perspective of our industry and our membership.

Proud: I am proud of our long and well-documented history of working together to improve our industry. I’m also proud of our generosity with money, time and talent giving back to the communities in which we operate.

Independent: Despite continued consolidation, independent distributors still make up approximately 50% of the North American gas and welding supply market. As an independent in this continuously evolving industry, our options for redefining our businesses, strategies and partnerships are almost limitless.

GAWDA 1st Vice President Mark Raimy
CEO, Welders Supply Company – Raimy Corporation (Erie, PA)

Strong: I bring a passionate dedication to our industry with a specific emphasis on being customer-focused. GAWDA is customer-centric, as we are all customers of GAWDA in different ways. All the decisions of the board must have the benefit of our members/customers in the forefront.

Proud: Our industry has a far reach into the economy, and our businesses touch in a very dependent way an enormous number of companies and their products.

Independent: Independence implies being rich in resources and assets so as to ensure the business has as much control over its future as possible. This is where GAWDA is and will continue to improve as we execute our plan.

GAWDA 1st Past President Ned Pontious
President, Norco (Boise, ID)

Strong: My strength is broad experience as Past President and my experience running the country’s largest privately held producer and distributor of welding gases and supplies.

Proud: We are well-connected with each other in our association. I can relate to smaller players, and smaller players know they can call Norco to ask our advice or counsel. There truly are no walls separating all of us.

Independent: ‘Independent players’ in our business has taken on a new meaning. Recently several larger players have chosen to merge and form entities that are larger, yet remain independent. Some have chosen to use ESOPs as a strategy to remain independent. These are all good things that have shown that owners are looking at new ways to remain separate, yet united, as we try to provide the absolute best service that our customers continue to demand.

GAWDA 2nd Past President Craig Wood
President-Weld Division, O. E. Meyer Co. (Sandusky, OH)

Strong: I always focus on the big picture.

Proud: The integrity of the folks who make a career in our industry is something to be very proud of.

Independent: With a thank you to AWS for their support, GAWDA is a nimble organization with focus on membership value and industry sustainability.

GAWDA Vice President Robert Anders
President & CEO, Holston Gases, Inc. (Knoxville, TN)

Strong: I bring over 30 years of industry experience working for a major and a strong regional independent.

Proud: I’m proud of how the people in our industry reach out to help a peer in need.

Independent: GAWDA’s independence allows for more flexibility to react to the needs of our members.

GAWDA Vice President Paul Dillard
Regional Manager, Arcet Equipment Company (Richmond, VA)

Strong: I bring simplicity, candor and brevity to the board

Proud: I am proud that we help companies work more safely and be more profitable.

Independent: We are more in control of our destiny. Ultimately, independence will make us stronger.

GAWDA Vice President Jim Earlbeck
President, Earlbeck Gases & Technology (Baltimore, MD)

Strong: The ability to leave my ego at the door and recognize the fact that it is not all about us, the distributors. It is about how distributors, manufacturers and wholesalers work together to solve our customers’ problems so that all of us can remain relevant in a global market.

Proud: Manufacturing is the primary vehicle that all nations use to create prosperity. Our industry supplies the capital assets, materials and technical knowledge needed to keep our nation’s manufacturing base healthy.

Independent: We have the right and ability to recommend only what is in the best interest of our customers. We are not handcuffed to do business in any particular fashion with any specific product.

GAWDA Vice President Kevin Falconer
General Manager, Minneapolis Oxygen Company (Minneapolis, MN)

Strong: My strength is that I can listen and offer opinions and hopefully put forth some ideas and options that may not have been considered. I also bring a positive attitude and a sense of humor to the table.

Proud: The strong relationships our industry offers to those in it. It’s a great comfort and joy to see so many familiar faces at the GAWDA events and I look forward to seeing more and more familiar faces.

Independent: The independent distributor has a great opportunity as we move forward. All the consolidation only makes the independent distributor stronger and ever more important to the customer and ultimately, our industry.

GAWDA Vice President Gary Halter
President, Indiana Oxygen (Indianapolis, IN)

Strong: I’ve spent time in each of the functions of GAWDA: vendor, manufacturer and distributor. I’ve seen the best of the best in our distributors and vendors and draw on that experience every day. I’ve also run five GAWDA Regional Meetings and have been on the planning committee for the 2013 SMC.

Proud: I am proud to be part of such an outstanding group of hardworking, honest, smart, kind and fun people. There are a great number of amazingly successful people throughout our industry and I have the privilege of being on a first-name basis with an overwhelming majority of them and consider many of them dear friends. The friendships developed through GAWDA and this industry are friends for life and people you can really count on.

Independent: We can make decisions about our business and how we serve our customers, while being accountable only to the others who work with us and their families, which allows us to truly have their best interests in mind. We have wonderful relationships with our hardgoods and gas vendors, but of course being independent means that we control our own destiny as often as we can.

GAWDA Vice President Brad Peterson
Chairman, Mississippi Welders Supply Company, Inc. (Winona, MN)

Strong: I bring an extensive background in organizational leadership. My industry experience, naval career, and work with many boards and committees have provided insight into how different organizations are led and operate. I hope to use this knowledge to help GAWDA in any way possible.

Proud: I am proud to be a member of an industry that is all about building and creating value. What we do brings long-lasting improvements to our society and way of life.

Independent: Independent means exactly what it says…not dependent on others. Self-reliant. Able to make our own way. Making decisions that we feel are morally and ethically right, based on sound business and economic principles.

GAWDA Vice President Susan D. Reiter
Regional Sales Manager-Distributors, Air Products (Allentown, PA)

Strong: As a vendor/supplier, I provide a different perspective. Plus my work at a Fortune 500 company enables me to share a far-reaching, global view.

Proud: I love this industry and how what we do in the form of services and products impacts so many other industries. We do a lot of things that solve problems. I’m proud to be a part of that.

Independent: I look forward to GAWDA’s move to self-management. It took a lot of hard work to get to this point of independence, and with a lot of risk comes a lot of opportunity.

GAWDA Treasurer David A. Walker
Clearwater, FL

Strong: More than 30 years of financial operations and budgeting experience.

Proud: I love the fact that this is a familial industry. I like to see second, third and fourth generations owning and operating successful businesses. It really embodies the American dream.

Independent: The money GAWDA saves by being independent will allow us to add more programs to benefit members.

GAWDA Legal Counsel Richard P. Schweitzer, Esq.
President, Richard P. Schweitzer, PLLC (Washington, DC)

Strong: I share knowledge of legal, regulatory and policy issues facing association members and experience in helping to meet their needs.

Proud: I am proud of the commitment and effort of our volunteer leaders.

Independent: This is an opportunity for new growth for the association.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association