Mike Weller, President of ITW North American Welding, pulled no punches in his address to delegates at the Gas and Welding Distributors Association (GAWDA) 66th Annual Convention, which is drawing to a close in Maui, Hawaii.

In his talk entitled 'Taking an industry pulse', Weller cited some 700 survey responses that he had solicited from customers and distributors active in the gas and welding sector, to home in on important industry trends.

While many distributors think they are supporting customers effectively, customers in general (some 25% of respondents were end-users) say that distributors often overstate the value they provide.

In fact, more customers were increasingly inclined to turn to original manufacturers for technical support, or develop expertise in-house.

$quot;A gap exists between what your end users say you are delivering, and what you think you are delivering,$quot; Weller suggested.

He recommends less focus on sales, and a greater investment in strategy, technical staffing, innovation, and differentiated products and services – so distributors can ensure their relevance to their customers is clear.