The Gases and Welding Distributors Association (GAWDA) has scheduled its annual spring conference of distributor and supplier members for the 11th-13th of May in Boca Raton. Registration for the event is now open.

The Spring Management Conference (SMC) is being held at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort. Several hundred GAWDA members and their guests are expected to be present.

Keynote speakers for the conference include:

  •  Chris Mapes, Chairman, President and CEO of Lincoln Electric Holdings, Inc. 

  • Alan Beaulieu, President and Principal of ITR Economics, a new GAWDA consultant who will be talking on the industry economic forecast. 

  • Curt Steinhorst of the Center for Generational Kinetics, an expert on communication with and by millennial-aged people. 

  • Kelly Latimer, the Women of Gases and Welding Luncheon keynoter. A Test pilot for Virgin Galactic who also served 20 years in the US Air Force as an instructor pilot flying military transport and combat missions. 


Also featured in the business session is a programme presented by GAWDA Supplier Member George Ratermann, of Ratermann Manufacturing. He will lead a panel discussion titled, ‘Generation Next, Part 2.’ It will feature a panel that looks at the consumer-customer transaction component of the industry from the millennial and next generation age-group perspective.

Panelists will describe their interests, communication style preferences and the approaches they favor as customers dealing with a business. 


The goal of the program is to provide a better understanding of generational differences that can occur in the customer-relationship space.

The spring conference also features a trade show for the industry. The GAWDA Contact Booth Programme, which houses more than 100 GAWDA member exhibitors, showcases the latest product developments and a range of services that can help distributor members run their businesses more profitably and efficiently.

GAWDA will also announce the winners of its annual scholarship programme. The association has awarded a total of $94,000 (in the form of 47 scholarships for $2,000 each) since the programme was established in 2013. The programme is designed to encourage young people to consider and follow careers in the welding and gases distribution industry.

Members can register for the event functions and associated activities directly via the GAWDA portal.