GAWDA held its first ever virtual Annual Convention on Friday, September 25, 2020. The hour-long virtual event was the “Business Session” of the Convention, which was supposed to have been held in Phoenix, Arizona. Members of GAWDA’s Executive Committee, including Abydee Butler Moore, Bob Ewing, Gary Halter, Robert Anders, Brad Peterson, and Ned Lane, as well as GAWDA Executive Director John Ospina were on camera and spoke during the event.

Abydee welcomed members to the event, saying, “When I stood before you in fall 2019 in Washington DC, I laid out our 2020 VISION for this year.  That vision included a new format for the Spring Management Conference, targeting operational decision makers within our member companies, focusing on tactical take-home content.  We looked forward to launching the educational breakout sessions in Austin, and we vowed to increase distributor engagement in GAWDA through Committee/Board alignment and the best meeting content in the industry.  They say, ‘hindsight is 2020’ and I know many of us cannot wait to say, ‘2020 is hindsight!’ as we move into the New Year.  However, by no means was this a year lost.  In fact, it was quite the opposite.  This year, on our 75th birthday as an Association, this old dog learned many new tricks.  We learned critical new skills in web-based content, and acted with conviction as we quickly brought business continuity resources to our members at the onset of the pandemic.  Perhaps the best 2020 VISION we had was in January when we expanded our Consultants team with the hiring of Marilyn Dempsey.  We also tackled a huge strategic initiative this year in Young Professional development as we co-hosted the inaugural Young and Emerging Professionals Summit with CGA.  Personally, I am not sure there has ever been a year where our company has needed GAWDA more than this one.  I imagine our fellow independent companies feel the same.  GAWDA provided resources we would never have been able to commission on our own – weekly risk mitigation advisory sessions, sales training on how to be productive virtually, economic intel, CGA medical gas safety alerts, and business continuity plan templates.  Resources available for all members to ensure our industry not only survived but thrived in any areas we could as essential businesses within our communities.  That is the beauty of GAWDA.  We exist to promote the safe operation and economic vitality of the gases and welding industry.  Together, we are stronger.”

Eyes Up

While the 2020 Vision didn’t work out exactly as planned, Abydee announced the theme of 2021 as “Eyes Up.” She acknowledged that tough times, for better or worse, make us inwardly focused and encouraged GAWDA members to keep their eyes up to spot opportunities, threats, inflection points in the market and to lead their businesses forward.

She then laid out where GAWDA is heading in 2021.

The SMC will be held in Nashville, Tennessee, from Monday, March 29, 2021 – Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Patrick Lencioni, who had been meant to be the keynote speaker at the SMC in Austin, will be the keynote speaker.

The 2021 Annual Convention will be held at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, from Wednesday, October 5 – Saturday, October 9, 2021.

GAWDA will hold five regional events in 2021: Southwest Regional will be held in League City, Texas, from April 19-20; Northeast Regional will be held in Galloway, New Jersey, from May 18-21; East/Midwest Regional will be held in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, from June 9-11; Northwest Regional will be held in Sunriver, Oregon, from July 21-23; Central Regional will be held in Oregon, Ohio, from August 9-10.

Thank You For Your Service

First Past President Brad Peterson, then took the opportunity to thank GAWDA’s volunteers for their service.

“Volunteers bring their passion, dedication and knowledge to the table. They push us forward and guide the staff at GAWDA so that we can all benefit as an industry. We need to continually recruit and celebrate their commitment to GAWDA,” said Peterson. Thank you to the following individuals for their years of support of GAWDA and for helping to advance the industry:

  • Stephen Rosenthal, for his outstanding and valued service as co-chair of the Member Services Committee.
  • Evan Bennear, for his outstanding and valued service as a member of the GAWDA Board of Directors
  • Melissa Perkins, for her outstanding and valued service as a member of the GAWDA Board of Directors
  • Bill Proctor, for his outstanding and valued service as a member of the GAWDA Board of Directors

2020-2021 Slate of Officers/Committee Chairs

As Evan, Melissa and Bill depart the Board of Directors, GAWDA is excited to announce their successors on the Board of Directors: Allie Earlbeck, Colleen Kohler, and Linda Smith. Thank you for agreeing to serve on the Board of Directors!

Joining Allie, Colleen and Linda on the 2020-2021 Board of Directors are the returning Board Members:

  • President – Abydee Moore
  • President Elect – Bob Ewing
  • First Vice President – Robert Anders
  • Second Vice President – Gary Halter
  • First Past President –Brad Peterson
  • Second Past President – Ned Lane
  • Vice President – Brad Armstrong
  • Vice President – Joshua Haun
  • Vice President – George Ratermann
  • Vice President – Stephen Rosenthal
  • Vice President – Eric Wood

In addition to the slate of Board Members for next year, the Chair and Co-Chair of the GAWDA Committees were also announced.

GAWDA Scholarship

The GAWDA Scholarship was created in 2011 to promote education within the gases and welding industry. The mission of the Foundation is to, “Help educate, attract and keep quality individuals in the industry.” Since 2013, which was the first year the scholarships were awarded, GAWDA has awarded $196,000 in scholarships to 98 students.

This year, $30,000 was awarded to 15 students. The Scholarship Foundation received $8,600 in donations, which GAWDA matched, to bring the total to $17, 200. Congratulations to the 2020 Scholarship Friend and Family Winners! And thank you to the donor companies and individuals who partnered with the Scholarship Foundation to invest in our Future Leaders!

Thank you for your investment in the Future Leaders of our Industry!

  • Airweld, Inc.
  • ARC3 Gases Inc.
  • Atlas Welding Supply Co., Inc.
  • CarbideIndustries, LLC
  • Craig Wood
  • Holston Gases, Inc.
  • Keen Compressed Gas Company
  • Mississippi Welders Supply Company, Inc.
  • O.E. Meyer Company
  • Oxygen Service Company
  • Red Ball Oxygen Company, Inc.

Award Winners

At the Virtual Convention, the WEMCO and CGA & GAWDA Safety Program Award Winners were also named. Congratulations to the following companies and individuals who were recognized:

The WEMCO 2019 Excellence in Welding Awards Winners:

  • Exceptional: Jeff Deckrow
  • Individual: Tom Kostreba
  • Educator: Elmer Swank
  • Educational Facility: Ferris State
  • Veteran: Derek Beecher
  • Small Business: Major Tool & Machine
  • Large Business: Lincoln Electric
  • Distributor: Coastal Welding Supply
  • AWS Section: Los Angeles/Inland Empire
  • Medica Category Award: Jody Collier
  • Excellence in Welding: Arc3 Gases

CGA Distributor Awards:

Fewer than 100,000 Employee Exposure Hours Award Winner: Andy Oxy Company, Inc. “Andy Oxy Co, Inc. would like to thank the CGA for their continued support in the industrial gas industry. We would like to thank all our employees for their tireless effort to make Andy Oxy a safe place to work. We look forward to many more years of safe work environment,” said N. Britt Lovin, Vice President of Andy Oxy.

More than 100,000 Employee Exposure Hours Award Winner: Industrial Source, Inc.
“It is an honor to accept this award on behalf of the team at Industrial Source. It highlights our company’s ongoing commitment to Safety in all aspects of our operations. On behalf of our entire team, thank you very much!” – Pam Jones, Gas Operations Manager, Industrial Source, Inc.

Looking Ahead

Finally, the Convention concluded by previewing the next three years of GAWDA SMCs and ACs. Over the next three years, we will be going to:

  • 2021 SMC: Nashville, Tennessee, from Monday, March 29 – Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.
  • 2021 AC: Colorado Springs, Colorado, from Wednesday, October 5 – Saturday, October 9, 2021, at The Broadmoor.
  • 2022 SMC: Indianapolis, Indiana, from Wednesday, April 3 – Friday, April 5, 2022, at the JW Marriott Indianapolis
  • 2022 AC: San Diego, California, from Wednesday October 5 – Saturday, October 8, 2022, at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina.
  • 2023 SMC: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from Saturday, May 6 – Monday, May 8, 2023, at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown.
  • 2023 AC: Maui, Hawaii, from Monday, October 2 – Thursday, October 5, 2023, at the Grand Wailea Resort. 
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