New Mission For Young Professionals

GAWDA’s next generation of leaders spent the last year soul-searching and came up with a new mission, focus and drive to be the best.

When we took over the Young Professionals Committee in 2013, neither of us were aware of the mission of the group. We had a general idea of what the group did (socialized and had fun) but not a clear idea of its purpose. Over the past year, we have re‐written the Young Professionals Committee mission statement, and made it a point to communicate it to GAWDA’s Executive Committee and all GAWDA members.

Our new mission is as follows:

“To provide a forum to connect young members of the organization and develop relationships that foster personal and professional growth. To bridge the gap between young and established members of the organization to provide continuity, and further support the mission of GAWDA while expanding the organization’s reach and developing its future leadership.”

The main purpose of this move was to put the mission of the young professionals in line with the purpose of the association as a whole. Without losing touch with our social side, we’ve kept the format of the Spring Management Conference as a business-focused social event, while the event for the Annual Convention will be more of a fun/team-building networking activity.

Another change we’ve made is moving the YP event earlier in the meeting schedules. Being younger members, the young professionals overall have fewer relationships with other members of GAWDA. In the past, we had our events at the end of the meetings, so we’d all participate and familiarize ourselves with each other, and then not see each other for 6‐12 months. Moving the event forward helps the young professionals interact throughout the meeting duration and build our networks faster, one of the great benefits of GAWDA.

GAWDA President Tom Biedermann has been very supportive of our new direction with the group. For the first time, the YP committee chairs were invited to take part in the Spring Management Conference planning process, and were also asked to speak to the association at the SMC to discuss our new focus. This has helped give us some recognition for what we’re doing and help show GAWDA members that we’re more than just a social club.

Twitter At The 2015 SMC

  • The campaign to sign up Twitter followers at the Spring Management Conference in New Orleans generated 105 followers.
  • Currently, there are 137 followers.
  • The hashtag #GawdaSMC2015 was used 175 times during the three-day event.
  • Follow GAWDA on Twitter: @gawdaorg

Using Social
Working with GAWDA’s Management Information Committee, the Young Professionals Committee spearheaded a twitter campaign at the 2015 Spring Management Conference in New Orleans. The purpose was to generate dialogue between younger, more tech-savvy members, and the more seasoned members of GAWDA. The YP group was tasked with signing up GAWDA members onto Twitter in order to follow the events at the SMC by posting and following the hashtag: #GAWDASMC2015. The dual purpose of this seemed to bridge the gap between young and established members, and also to embrace social media’s role in GAWDA and our events.

We’re encouraging the regional chairs to involve GAWDA’s young professionals in their meetings and held our first Young Professionals Volleyball Tournament at the Pittsburgh Regional Meeting in June.

We look forward to growing professionally and relationally within our association. If you would like more information about how to become a member of the Young Professionals Committee, please contact Erich Haun (erich@thehaunedge.com) or Justin Trafton (justin@mcdantim.com).

GAWDA Distributors and Suppliers take advantage of the Twitter feed at the SMC, which kept them focused on an up-to-date daily news feed from the conference. Follow GAWDA on Twitter: @gawdaorg

A Look Back at GAWDA’s ‘Next Generation’

The Young Executives Program began in 1986 at a cocktail reception during NWSA’s Annual Convention in Seattle. The following year, 1987, young executives cruised the shoreline of Waikiki aboard a 65-foot catamaran. The programming for this group has been as diverse as the group itself. In 1988, a panel of Young Exec’s talked about working within a family business while their elders talked about “passing the torch.” At the 1989 Annual Convention in Orlando, a speaker discussed ways to help Young Executives who found themselves managing employees with more years of experience. The title of that program was: “Increasing Productivity and Profits Using Participative Management.”

Confirming the credence of the growing Young Executives Program within NWSA, the Board made the group official at the 1989 Mid-Year Board Meeting. Their Mission Statement was added to NWSA’s Standing Rules of Operations and read:

“The purpose of this Committee is to provide an opportunity for early involvement in the Association. A Young Executives Program will be planned at the Annual Convention each year.”

Over the years, many of these Young Executives took over running their family’s businesses, or moved on to start their own companies, or grew into leadership at other companies. The formal program dwindled. By the mid-2000s, a new generation of Young Executives entered the industry, many following in their parents’ footsteps as third and fourth generation gases and welding professionals. Recognizing a need to offer programs for this new generation, the association re-instated the Young Executives Program in 2006. Members were required to fill out an application, which included letters of reference. Age cut-off was 45 years old. The group’s Mission Statement was revised to read:

“To provide young professionals with educational programming and networking opportunities which develop the skills and knowledge needed to reach personal and professional objectives that contribute to their companies, GAWDA and themselves.”

For a few years, the Young Executives met at the Annual Convention, but it was not long before the meeting became just a social event, and participation fell off.

In 2014, GAWDA’s Next Generation of Leaders stepped in to revitalize the group, changing the name from Young Executives to Young Professionals, and rewriting its Mission Statement:

“To provide a forum to connect young members of the organization and develop relationships that foster personal and professional growth. To bridge the gap between young and established members of the organization to provide continuity, and further support the mission of GAWDA while expanding the organization’s reach and developing its future leadership.”

GAWDA has high expectations for this very skilled and talented new generation of members and leadership. If the past year is any indication, we look forward to continued great things from GAWDA’s next generation of leaders.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association

Erich Haun

Justin Trafton

Meet the Author
Erich Haun, manager of Haun Welding Supply’s branch store in Latham, New York, is co-chair of GAWDA’s Young Professionals Committee. Justin Trafton is production manager at McDantim, Inc. in Helena, Montana.