The 2016 Annual GAWDA Convention came to an end today with the passing of the Presidency from Bill Visintainer to Mark Raimy, CEO of Welders Supply in Erie, Ohio.
The final session started with Ned Lane, Executive Board Member, announcing that there were around 840 total delegates (including spouses) attending the conference in Maui, Hawaii.
Lane also revealed the location for GAWDA’s Spring Management Conference (SMC) 2018, which is to be held in St. Louis, Missouri.
Mike Tiller, General Director of the Compressed Gas Association (CGA), was then invited to the stage to award the CGA/GAWDA Distributor Safety Awards to CTR Inc. of Rock Hill, South Carolina (more than 100,000 exposure hours) and to Spectrum Gas Products of Anaheim, California (less than 100,000 exposure hours).
He went on to declare that there are currently 85 GAWDA Distributor Members now participating through the GAWDA/CGA link; these companies operate 703 facilities throughout the US and Canada.
Norco Inc. of Boise, Idaho was awarded the WEMCO Best Gas and Welding Distributor for 2016 – Excellence in Welding Award.
Following the guest speakers that included former Governor Mike Huckabee and social media guru Dave Nelson, the proceedings returned to the handing over of the ceremonial Presidential Hammer and State of Office to new President Mark Raimy, who was introduced to delegates by his father, Bruce and Wife, Kathryn. “I am truly honoured to be your President over the next coming year and that you trust me with the stewardship of the GAWDA organisation,” he said.
Raimy thanked the previous president’s present for their tenure of office and for building a strong base from which to build upon. He particularly thanked Bill Visintainer, the outgoing president, for his leadership and all the initiatives he had introduced in the past year and creating a solid foundation to build upon.
Raimy recalled the experiences that ultimately brought him to the role. He recalled how he took over the reins of Welders Supply from his father in 2004 following a successful financial career in New York City and how, at the GAWDA Annual Convention in Orlando in 2006, he was a nervous first-timer and found the first few hours daunting. However, the ‘warmth and support’ of the GAWDA members soon dissipated the ‘first night fears’.
Turning to his future aims, Raimy conveyed the main theme for his Presidency as being about promoting and building a ‘positive experience’ for GAWDA’s members; this year will be very member focused and he wants to improve the members experience at all levels. Recognising the importance of the suppliers (vendors), the Executive Board has formed a new committee for the booth programme to improve the value to the supporters of GAWDA. The first Chairperson will be Melisa Perkins of Electronic Fluorocarbons, LLC.
He went on to say that the membership experience needs to embrace everything we do – from the events and regional meetings, and the content of the Welding & Gases Today magazine, to the use of more technology associated with the GAWDA website. He finished with confirmation that the 2017 SMC meeting would be in Boca Raton, Florida in May next year, and that the Annual Convention would return to New York City in October 2017.