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GAWDA Connection
Gases and Welding Distributors Association (GAWDA) October 1, 2014
GAWDA Home Executive Dialogue Links Comments Contact Us Welding & Gases Today
A Semi-Monthly Newsletter for Gases and Welding Distributors Association Members
In This Issue
Convention Recap
Member News
Upcoming Events
Gas & Supply

Gas & Supply, a distributor of welding equipment and gases that was founded in Louisiana in the early 1980s, has been strategically fostering its future by investing in states with rapid GDP growth. Read more...

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The Distribution Channel may be in the midst of a redefinition, with suppliers selling direct, new players in the marketplace, increasing online sales, shrinking margins. Distributors and Suppliers talk about the good and the not-so-good with their supply chain partner.

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Held an open house? Hired a new employee? Share your events, employee promotions, new or renovated facilities and other company news with GAWDA members. Submit your news here.

Featured Article

GAWDA Members Seize Success at San Diego Convention

GAWDA's Annual Convention officially opened on Saturday, September 20, at the Marriott Marquis in San Diego, California. Almost 900 people attended the event, including industry distributors and suppliers, 13 Past Presidents and hundreds of GAWDA members, spouses and friends.

At the Opening Business Session, 2013-14 GAWDA President Ned Pontious gave the annual State of the Association address, challenging attendees with the question: "Why do you do what you do?" He expanded on his theme of "Staying Relevant in Changing Times," noting the changes in industry markets and the distribution landscape. He also focused on the upcoming changes in the association as it moves from the AWS building in Doral, Florida, in October. Starting in January 2015, the association will be independently managed with headquarters located in Hollywood, Florida.

GAWDA Executive Director John Ospina welcomes delegates to San Diego.

2014 President Ned Pontious gives the State of the Association address.

Speakers Challenge and Inspire

A variety of speakers addressed attendees, including Economist Barry Asmus, who told attendees, “You must become supply side economists.” He called for fiscal responsibility, telling attendees to focus on the supply side, not the demand side. He also predicted that the United States is set to become the “new Saudi Arabia” due to the opportunities in gas.

Larry Johnson and his daughter Megan gave tips on working with multi-generation employees, pointing out generational signposts and challenges facing different ages. In a workplace survey, 60% of respondents reported tension. An eye-opening graphic showed comments describing the younger workforce. Many in the audience identified with it, especially when it was pointed out that the descriptions came from a 1967 article in Time magazine about the current Baby Boomer generation!

“Selling has nothing to do with selling,” said presenter Rick Farrell of Tangent Associates, who took listeners through strategic changes in today’s sales environment, offering suggestions for each process. Asset Protection Expert Larry Oxenham provided solutions to 3 major problems: lawsuits, taxes and probate.

Magic Johnson sizes up the audience and over-delivers in a motivational presentation.

The final speaker, basketball legend Earvin Magic Johnson, enthralled the audience with his business acumen and proved that he was more than a retired basketball player. Successful entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist, Magic talked about what made him successful on the court and after, acknowledging that he is always looking for the next person to bring him to the next level. “I want a best-in-class organization,” he said. “I’m a competitor and I love to win.” His advice: “Keep up with the changing market. Have staff, especially some younger employees, who can keep you up-to-date. Figure out what needs to be improved, fix it, and over-deliver.”  Johnson has owned movie theaters, Starbucks and additional companies, and is the current owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, WNBA Sparks, real estate holdings and other businesses.

Thomas Biedermann Elected 2014-15 GAWDA President

Thomas Biedermann was elected President of the Gases and Welding Distributors Association and inducted on Tuesday, September 23. Biedermann is vice president of Airweld, Inc. in Farmingdale, NY. His wife Teri shared his background story in a video set to the music "I'm in a New York State of Mind," followed by a moving introduction by his sons Edward and Zak.

In his inaugural address, Biedermann thanked his family, the Airweld team, industry colleagues and his parents. His father, Ken Biedermann, served as 1996-97 GAWDA President and reflected on his son's passion for the industry. As the association enters its first year of self-management, Biedermann pointed to excitement facing the association and industry. Among his goals for the upcoming year is a continued focus on Regional Meetings, which saw an uptick in attendance by 20% this past year. He also plans to target GAWDA's young professionals and women for potential leadership positions.

In a long-standing tradition, 13 Past Presidents, led by 1996-97 Ken Biedermann, led the newest President of the association into the induction ceremony.

2014-15 GAWDA President Thomas Biedermann delivers his inaugural address.

New Board Elected

Members elected several people to leadership on GAWDA's Board of Directors: Robert Anders, Holston Gases; Paul Dillard, Arc3 Gases; Jim Earlbeck, Earlbeck Gases & Technology; Kevin Falconer, Minneapolis Oxygen Co; Gary Halter, Indiana Oxygen; Brad Peterson, Mississippi Welders Supply; and Susan Reiter, Air Products.

Bill Visitainer, Atlas Welding Supply, was elected GAWDA's President-Elect, and will become the association's 2015-16 President. Mark Raimy, president of Welders Supply Company-Raimy Corporation, was named to the Executive Committee and is in line to succeed to the presidency in the fall of 2016.

GAWDA Gives Back

On Sunday morning, President Ned Pontious and his wife Renee presented two checks in the amount of $74,982.50 each to 2014 GAWDA Gives Back recipients STEP, Support the Enlisted Project, and the Warrior Foundation/Freedom Station. STEP CEO Tony Teravanien explained the work of STEP as supporting the families of enlisted men and women in times of crisis and giving them tools to move forward. He pointed out that the average amount of money given to help a family is $1,000. "This will help 75 more families," he said in gratitude to GAWDA members.

Representing the Warrior Foundation/Freedom Station were President Sandra Lehmkuhler and Staff Sgt. Mark Zambon.

Lehmkuhler thanked GAWDA members and said the donation, among other things, will be used to make bathtubs accessible in the cottages in a badly needed renovation. "This money will have an impact on a lot of people," she said. The highlight of the presentation was Staff Sgt. Mark Zambon, a career Army vet and member of a bomb disposal unit in Iraq. After losing three fingers to a detonation, he returned to duty; three months later he was attacked by a device. Now a double-amputee, Zambon has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, coaches swimming, and is an instructor of military bomb technicians. He is the first service man to return to duty after losing his limbs. GAWDA Gives Back raised a total of $149,965 for two worthy organizations in San Diego. Thank you to all who gave.

GAWDA President Ned Pontious and First Lady Renee Pontious present the GAWDA Gives Back check to STEP to help the families of enlisted service men and women.

Staff Sgt. Mark Zambon tells the story of his work as a bomb disposal technician and the help he received from the Warrior Foundation/Freedom Station.

Young Executives Get San Diego-ized

This year's convention featured activities designed exclusively for GAWDA's Young Professionals. In addition to networking, 40 people held a scavenger hunt that sent teams of Young Professionals racing through the Gaslamp District of San Diego.

The winners of the Young Professionals scavenger hunt make for a winning team.

Safety Awards

Two companies were honored for their hard to improve safety at their companies: Cryo Weld of Poughkeepsie, NY, took top honors in the 100,000 or Fewer Employee Exposure Hours category. Lampton Welding Supply of Wichita, KS, was honored in the 100,000+ Employee Exposure Hours. The awards were presented by CGA President/CEO Mike Tiller.

Doug Lampton (center) and Brad Lampton (left) accept the 2013 Safety Award.

Member News

nexAir Buys Atlanta Medical Gas Distributor

Cee Kay Supply Organizational Changes


Air Products Announces Price Increase for Liquid and Bulk Industrial Gas Products


WestAir Acquires Assets of Blanks Welding Supply


Airgas Names East Region President

Submit News

The Fall issue of Welding & Gases Today is in the mail and online. Read about the relationship between Distributors and Suppliers, what's working and what's not. The profile story of Arc3 Gases tells how two independent distributor companies forged a partnership. If you missed any of the Contact Booth Exhibitors in San Diego, they're right here. Selling medical oxygen, electronic logs, DOT filing systems, price pressures, customer service, sales training, workers comp and more are all here.

Upcoming Events
October 6 - 7 Regional Meeting Kansas City, MO
October 21-23 Professional Compliance Seminar Aurora, IL
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The GAWDA Connection is distributed on the 1st and 15th of each month to all GAWDA members as a membership service of GAWDA, the Gases and Welding Distributors Association, 8669 Doral Boulevard, Suite 130, Doral, FL 33166. Neither GAWDA nor Data Key Communications, their Data Key Communications officers, directors, members and staff are responsible for contents or opinions other than those concerning Association activities. Copyright © 2014 Data Key Communications. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this newsletter may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher.