A format change created greater interaction between distributor members and vendors at this year’s Linde Distributor Association (LDA) annual meeting held in Miami, Florida, leading to a much more productive meeting.

“We listened and they responded to make the meeting one of the most effective we’ve had in the 21-year history of the association,” said Mark Falconer, LDA Co-Chairman and President of Minneapolis Oxygen Company, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “All participants agreed at last year’s meeting that increased interaction would greatly improve the effectiveness of the meeting. So, that’s what we gave them.”

The agenda for the two and a half day meeting was a significant departure from previous meetings. Vendors were given podium time to provide their profiles and to present their various services, product lines and rebate programs; they also introduced special sales available only to meeting attendees. The new format also included an extended trade-show-style event that gave vendors and distributors more time for face-to-face meetings. “The feedback after the meeting was very positive,” Falconer said.

Terry Hall, LDA Co-Chairman and Linde distributor consultant, said, “The new format created an atmosphere that enhanced the all-important networking activities of the association. I think everyone who attended thought the new format provided a greater opportunity to exchange information and ideas that will have a positive impact on their businesses.”

Attendees at the meeting were also introduced to the new and vastly improved version of its website, www.ldabuy.com. “Our members were the impetus for the upgrade,” said Jim Lisiecki, Distributor Program manager for Linde LLC, which provides the LDA with administrative support, participates in vendor selection and programs, manages committees and provides guidance on best practices and changing trends in the industry.

“They wanted a web site that gave them more control of content and enhance their ability to increase transactions and to grow their business.” The new site has a vastly improved Directory of members, a completely revamped Buyers’ Guide, and a clearing house for distributors who wish to sell used equipment or overstocked accessories to other member distributors – among other improvements.  

Vendor of the Year

Based on service, delivery and sales communication, Weldcote Metals, of Kings Mountain, North Carolina, was chosen Vendor of the Year. Weldcote Metals, a VOY winner for the second time, is a wholesaler of welding supplies selling only to distributors throughout the US and various parts of the world.

In receiving the award, Bill Roland, President and CEO, said, “We pride ourselves in our attention to customers. We strive to understand their requirements and satisfy them through a variety of products that stand out for their quality and reliability. I think this award indicates we’re accomplishing our mission for LDA members. I and all Weldcote Metals employees are proud to receive this recognition”

LDA has 70 member companies who have over 400 retail locations throughout the US Combined, LDA members have made over $1bn in annual purchases and have earned some $27m in rebates since the group was established. Products purchased include welding and cutting equipment, consumables, and gas containment and handling equipment.

This year’s LDA meeting was sponsored by preferred vendors CK Worldwide, Chart Industries, Cryovation, Cyl-Tec, Direct Wire & Cable, Dynaflux, Flame Technologies, Gas Innovations, H & H Sales, Hougen Manufacturing, Hypertherm, Metabo, Norris Cylinders, Norton Abrasives, ORS Nasco, Ratermann Manufacturing, Safe-T-Cart, Miller-Smith Equipment, John Tillman Company, Label Solutions, Victor Technologies, Washington Alloys, Weldcote Metals, Weldcraft, Worthington Industries, 3M Hornell, American Torch Tip Company, ArcOne, ACE - Associated Equipment Corp., United Abrasives/Sait and Welding Material Sales.