Economist Brian Beaulieu warned the GAWDA (Gases and Welders Distributors Association) 2019 Annual Convention to expect a bigger slowdown in 2022.

Beaulieu, of ITR Economics and GAWDA’s Chief Economist, told US distributors and suppliers to prepare for the 2022 slowdown as he shared his economic forecasts for the next several years here at the Marriott Marquis, Washington, D.C.

“These are challenging times right now,” Beaulieu said.

“This is a slowdown, not a breakdown. In the second half of 2020 and 2021, you’re growing nicely. My biggest concern for you is do you have enough people and working capital to make that happen?”

“There’s another downturn in 2022 and 2023, and that will be the greatest downturn.”

“This technically is not going to be a recession. It’s just a slowdown and that ‘22-23 downturn will not be as big as the great recession. The 2020s will be a decade of growth – if you are ready for it.”

Beaulieu told GAWDA members not to panic amid recent downbeat reports on the US economy, a wobbling global economy, the possibility of a recession, the ongoing trade conflict with China over tariffs and unrest in the Middle East.

“Stop listening to people who are saying we are in demise – it’s not going to happen. The world [economy] is slowing down,” Beaulieu said.

“If you don’t get ready for ’22 you’re going to be in the poo. Borrow the money now to get by in 2022-2023, focus on the business trends.”

There was also a fascinating and inspirational presentation from Admiral William McRaven, a retired US Navy Four-Star admiral and author, on the value of teamwork, accountability, leadership, dealing with risk, overcoming adversity/failure and the determination to succeed.

Admiral McRaven, who advised Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and other US leaders on defence issues, shared some of his experiences in a 37-year Navy career such as how he helped develop the plan to find Osama bin Laden in 2011, as well as the lessons he learned during his Navy SEAL training.

“If you want to be great, you have to be prepared to take some risks,” Admiral McRaven said.

“Make as many friends as you can, respect everyone and know that life is not fair. If you take some risks and don’t ever quit, I guarantee you, you will be successful in life.”

Outgoing President Brad Peterson advised the Annual Convention that GAWDA has “slimmed down regional meetings from nine to four and received positive feedback on this change”. GAWDA has also announced the locations of its locations for the Spring Management Conference and Annual Convention in 2022: Indianapolis and San Diego respectively. 

Peterson, of Mississippi Welders Supply, and his wife Gaby presented cheques of $74,960, for a total contribution of $149,920 raised by donations from GAWDA members, to their two chosen charities as part of the GAWDA Gives Back presentation. Two Washington, D.C. area non-profit organisations were chosen: Community Lodgings and Our Military Kids.

Robert Anders, of Holston Gases, Inc. was announced the second Vice-President and will become GAWDA President in 2022. The incoming Vice-Presidents to the Board were named as Brad Armstrong, Joshua Haun and Steve Rosenthal.

The GAWDA Annual Convention continues with a contact booth programme on Monday, featuring 134 booths, followed by further keynote speakers and a farewell gala on Tuesday.