First Times

It comes as no surprise that membership in GAWDA is dwindling a bit, mainly due to the large amount of consolidation among member companies. Our Membership Committee is working hard to find and attract new members, and since March 2014 through March 2015, 31 businesses have joined our association.

The predominant reason these companies have joined GAWDA is for assistance in becoming better at what they do. They want information about regulatory compliance. They want to know best practices. They want access to information they can’t get on their own. And they want to meet others who are like them in our great industry.

GAWDA’s Spring Management Conference in New Orleans on May 3-5 is the first in 2015’s series of events for members that include October’s Annual Convention to be held in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Regional Meetings in locations throughout the United States. For many attendees, this SMC will be their first experience at a live event with national and international colleagues all attending for the same reason—to learn from distinguished presenters and network with industry peers.

At this year’s Spring Management Conference, you will notice some changes. Whether you are a new member or a long-time member attending the SMC for the first time—welcome! We are excited that you will be with us and have planned a special reception just for you. It will be held prior to the President’s Reception and is invitation-only at a venue separate from the opening reception at Mardi Gras World. If you are a “First Timer,” I urge you to attend this event. You will meet the GAWDA Board of Directors, Committee Chairs, GAWDA Consultants and the GAWDA Staff. You will learn about the association, upcoming events, and how to take advantage of the benefits that come with membership in order to grow your business.

We want and need our members to be active in their association and to take full advantage of all that comes with your membership. The saying, “with knowledge comes power” holds true here. We want you to have the power of membership in your hands. This reception is the place to learn more about that power. If you are attending the SMC for the first time, you won’t want to miss this informative get-together.

If you have attended GAWDA events in the past, you probably remember what your first experience was like. While it was exciting, truth be told…most of us were nervous. We didn’t know anyone, perhaps felt a bit intimidated, and hoped that someone would talk to us. When you see a “First Time Attendee” badge, introduce yourself and give the first time attendee a Great Big GAWDA Welcome!

Another change you will see at the SMC is a very visible presence of our Young Executives. These young men and women are the future of our association and our industry, and they have great ideas and much to offer. We recognize that many of our members are not on the forefront of using Social Media, yet more and more of our customers are. It is something we need to know more about, and my hat is off to those companies that are beginning this social journey.

At the SMC, our Young Executives will be working the room as “Social Media Hosts.” They will be tweeting and networking via smartphone, and…this is the best part….they will be helping the rest of us do the same! Look for the Social Media Host badges. These Hosts will help you set up your smartphone to get started with the SMC Social Experience. And don’t worry. Most of us will be needing and asking for their help.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Thomas A. Biedermann Meet the Author
GAWDA President Thomas A. Biedermann is vice president of Airweld, Inc. and can be reached by email at or by phone at 631-227-3219.