In a tribute to the Native Americans who have lived in this region for centuries, Monday’s business meeting (held on October 12th) began with a traditional ceremonial dance that was amazing to behold.

Tom Bierdermann, current GAWDA President, thanked everyone for coming (the second best attended GAWDA Annual event on record) and noted a few of the accomplishments he was proud of, such as an 8% increase in membership and the launch of the GAWDA Group Health Care initiative during his tenure.

Tom Badstubner, GAWDA’s medical gas and FDA consultant, gave a terrific presentation on the latest Food Safety Modernisation Act rules that became effective on September 17th of this year. He outlined new regulations, and the implications for gas distributors, and told the audience that GAWDA will provide a roadmap of how members have to comply by January 1, 2016.

Always central to GAWDA’s annual meeting is the presentation of donations to local charities. This year Tom and Terri Bierdermann selected Ryan House and Camp Soaring Eagle, each of which received a check for over $74,000. The presentations given by these two groups were extremely moving.

Then July Flanagan took to the stage for the 70th Anniversary celebration of GAWDA with a well researched, and informed review, of the association’s history and announced that a published history would be available soon.

David Nour, CEO of the Nour Group, was the keynote speaker and inspired us with his insight into the significance of relationships in business. Everyone has a story and Nour encouraged the audience to learn and listen to those stories if they want to succeed. “We are all in the people business,” as Nour explained.

Fred Garfield of the Horton Group updated GAWDA members on its health plan initiative, which has been successfully up and running since July of this year. With over 95% of GAWDA members expressing interest in the plan, he urged members to now request a bid.

Finishing up a morning of extremely informative presentations was Bob Ewing of Red Ball Oxygen. He lead us through “Delivering the Perfect Order,” stressing the importance of eliminating as many errors as possible in your order delivery process and of building better supply chain relationships. With illustrations showing how online retailers like Amazon and Grainger really do pose a risk to the welding goods distributor, Ewing’s speech was a call to action.