GAWDA Members Celebrate 70th Anniversary in Scottsdale
GAWDA's Annual Convention opened on Sunday, October 11, at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona. 816 people attended the event, including industry distributors and suppliers, 14 Past Presidents and hundreds of GAWDA members and guests.
At the Opening Business Session, 2014-15 GAWDA President Thomas Biedermann gave the annual State of the Association address, detailing the results of the initiatives of the past year. He noted that GAWDA had become “independent,” a self-managed association, on January 1, 2015. This entailed a move to a new headquarters location in Hollywood, Florida, hiring staff, purchasing equipment, supplies and other required start-up items. President Biedermann reported that first year stand-alone operating costs were close to the costs estimated. The number of GAWDA members is currently at a 6-year high, with an 8% increase over 2014. Ten Regional Meetings were held, with record attendance. Biedermann ended his address by saying, “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth to have had the opportunity to serve this outstanding association. Thank you.” Please read all of President Biedermann’s address to convention attendees here.
Speakers Challenge and Inspire
A variety of speakers addressed attendees. GAWDA Media Publisher Judy C. Flanagan provided an overview of “The Road From Dayton,” a book commissioned for the 70th Anniversary of the association, and the 1st year of self-management, which led to the convention theme: “Strong. Proud. Independent.” Flanagan touched on different programs offered over the past 70 years to support the independent distributor, saying “Education and networking remain the cornerstones of GAWDA membership.”
FDA & Medical Gas Consultant Tom Badstubner explained the latest Food Gas issues and the Final Rule which went into effect on September 17. Members will receive a checklist in January 2016 to help with compliance. Justin Trafton and Erich Haun, co-chairs of the Young Professionals Committee, shared the group’s new mission statement and urged attendees to join the convention’s Twitter feed #GawdaAZ2015. A new program to provide group health insurance to members was also discussed.
The first keynote speaker, David Nour, set the bar high, engaging members in a thoughtful discussion about strategic planning, delivering customer service, and developing relationships in a new mllennium. He also challenged the audience to look at their websites with a critical eye and make needed changes.
In “Delivering the Perfect Order” Red Ball Oxygen President Bob Ewing reminded attendees that industrial distribution is at a crossroads. “Order management is our core competence,” he said. “Our mistakes are viewed as incompetence,” and called on members to share best practices.
On Wednesday, Dan Thurmon suggested a work-life balance, visually representing the concept. The final speaker, Celebrity Mike Rowe from CNN’s TV show, Somebody’s Gotta Do It, shared his experiences with tradesmen and women.
Contact Booth Crowds
Space was made to accommodate 122 Exhibitors, spilling out into the main hallway. Breaking attendance records for the first time in many years, Distributors spent over 3 hours in the hall.
GAWDA Gives Back
President Tom Biedermann and his wife Terri presented checks in the amount of $94,636.90 each to 2015 GAWDA Gives Back recipients Camp Soaring Eagle and Ryan House. The founder of Camp Soaring Eagle, Max James, called it “one of the largest single donations received this year,“ and said it will allow 50 children to go to camp. Ryan House Executive Director Alyssa Crockett said it costs $1,000 a day to provide respite services for one child. “This donation will help many children. They don’t have to walk alone.” GAWDA Gives Back raised a total of $189,273.80 for two worthy organizations in Scottsdale. Thank you to all who gave.
Bill Visintainer Elected 2015-16 GAWDA President
Bill Visintainer was elected President of the Gases and Welding Distributors Association and inducted on Wednesday, October 14. Visintainer is president of Atlas Welding Supply Co. in Tuscaloosa, AL. In a long-standing tradition, 14 Past Presidents led the newest President of GAWDA into the induction ceremony to the song, “Sweet Home Alabama.” Patrick Visintainer, SafTCart’s Jimmy Walker Sr. and Ashley Madray from Gas Innovations/WWS offered a biography of the new president filled with wit and some surprising facts. Read President Visintainer’s Inaugural Address here.
GAWDA President Bill Visintainer
An emotional introduction to GAWDA's new president from his brother Patrick (at podium), mentor Jimmy Walker Sr. and friend and colleague Ashley Madray had his wife Debbie, Executive Director John Ospina, and the audience laughing and praising Bill Visintainer as he becomes GAWDA's 69th leader.
The terms of Board Members Craig Wood, Jim Earlbeck, Paul Dillard and Sue Reiter came to a close. Each was presented with a token of appreciation for their many years of service. Members elected GAWDA's 2014-15 Board of Directors: Vice Presidents Robert Anders, Holston Gases; Abydee Butler, Butler Gas Products; Bob Ewing, Red Ball Oxygen; Kevin Falconer, Minneapolis Oxygen Co; Gary Halter, Indiana Oxygen Co.; Jim O’Connor, Norton Abrasives; Brad Peterson, Mississippi Welders Supply. David Walker serves as Treasurer.
The Executive Committee includes President Bill Visintainer, Atlas Welding Supply; President-Elect Mark Raimy, Welders Supply Company-Raimy Corporation; First Vice President Ned Lane, Cee Kay Supply; First Past President Thomas Biedermann, Airweld, Inc.; and Second Past President Ned Pontious, Norco.
Two companies were honored for their hard work to improve safety at their companies: Wagner Welding Supply took top honors in the 100,000 or Fewer Employee Exposure Hours category. Coastal Welding Supply was honored in the 100,000+ Employee Exposure Hours. The awards were presented by CGA President/CEO Mike Tiller.