‘Start your day off in a shipyard, end it in a winery.’

These words from Bob Laing, president of Industrial Source, whose company is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, pretty much sum up the best thing about the gases and welding business. “The variety of customers in many different industries, everything from a sandwich shop to a fiber optic cable plant,” adds Shane Miles, whose company O2 Plus is marking 20 years.

Every year, the Summer issue of Welding & Gases Today honors Distributors and Suppliers marking a significant, milestone anniversary. Their stories, beginning on page 38, are grand and humble at the same time. Who better to ask what the best thing is about the gases and welding business than those whose companies have been at it for 5 to 130 years. Here are a few of their responses…

“Industrial gases and welding supply play a part in everyone’s life daily. Without us, the infrastructure of business would not exist. The best thing about the gases and welding business is gaining a feeling of representing the essentials needed to keeping America on track.”
Earl C. Alexander, President, A & E
(50th Anniversary)
“We don’t sell paper or staples; we work with processes for a diverse customer base: bioscience, fabrication; beverage, restaurants, food, universities.”
Charlie Wright, Wright Brothers
(65th Anniversary)
“Without a doubt, consistency is the best thing about our industry. I tell any recruit or interviewee not familiar with our industry that it is not sexy, and it may not be as easy to explain at dinner parties as their friends who work building aircraft or writing software code, but the products we provide are needed regardless of the condition of the economy. Up year or down year, cylinder gases are needed and used, and with that comes the revenue we all are fortunate to have in our industry – cylinder rental revenue.”
Dale Wilton, Central Welding Supply
(40th Anniversary)
“The entire welding supply business is opportunity. If you’re willing to take a risk, there isopportunity for so many different things.”
Shane Miles, O2 Plus
(20th Anniversary)
“We learn something new from our customers and our fellow Independent Distributors all the time. We have strong relationships with other Independents in the area. We have helped them out in the past and they have helped us. I don’t believe this happens as much in other industries. We all compete for every account out there, but in the end we still respect each other.”
Jim Quicksell, Toll Company
(70th Anniversary)
“Meeting customers and solving their problems, showing them how to get from Point A to Point B and making them more efficient is the best.”
Jim Wright, Argyle Welding Supply
Company (40th Anniversary)

By the time I finished these interviews, I felt so honored to be a part of this industry. Full disclosure: on my way to work last week, I took a detour past a big box store, went inside, grabbed a salesperson and fired off questions about products, services, repair policies and the like. When the poor guy couldn’t respond, I said: “Oh, never mind, I’ll buy it at the distributor across town.” And walked out. Hey, it was a moment. A moment of recognition and gratitude for what you do every day.

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.