The annual spring meeting of the Gases and Welding Distributors Association (GAWDA) moves to the Midwest this year and shifts its focus to presentations designed to provide tactical, take-home solutions and process-oriented business education.

Registration is now open for the Spring Management Conference, which takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, 6th to 8th May, according to GAWDA Executive Director John Ospina. The event is based at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel. Its theme is, ‘Gateway to Progress: People, Process, Plan.’ GAWDA 2017-2018 President Ned Lane, President of Cee Kay Supply Co., of St. Louis, will preside over the meeting. GAWDA has a special registration offer: if a company registers three full delegates, the third delegate’s registration is free.

“This year, the Spring Management Conference is designed to focus more intently on bringing GAWDA company management and operations decision-makers information which addresses their everyday issues and questions,” says Ospina. “The speakers selected and the programme format are intended as an idea platform for tactical networking, process-oriented business education and the presentation of actionable, take-home solutions,” he adds.

Much of the programme reflects 2017 - 2018 GAWDA President Lane’s ‘People, Process, Plan’ philosophy, Ospina says. Lane helped select speakers who will address the realities member businesses deal with every day, including achieving operating excellence, maximising retail space, quarterly planning and hiring and retaining an excellent workforce.

This year’s business session speakers include:

Mitch Milstein, Ph.D., of the University of Missouri/St. Louis College of Business’s Center for Business and Industrial Studies. He also is principal of Supply Velocity, Inc., and his topic is ‘Lean/Operational Excellence.’

Andy Stawski, commercial market manager at Miller ITW. He will discuss, ’Maximising Your Retail Space.’

Jeanet Wade, a certified EOS implementer, speaking on, ’Getting a Grip on Your Business; Gaining Traction.’

Jim DelCarmen, a partner at Collaborative Strategies, Inc., discussing ’Hiring and Retaining Great People.’

A panel composed of GAWDA distributors and suppliers also will assess best practices in people and planning aspects of business operations during the business session.

Last year, more than 600 GAWDA members and their guests attended the annual spring conference.

Contact booth programme

The Contact Booth Program will be an essential part of the event. The show permits members from all over the country and from international locations the opportunity for face-to-face networking between distributor company decision-makers and buyers and their GAWDA vendor and supplier counterparts. It also serves as a showcase of the newest products and services as opportunities to help businesses expand operations and increase revenues and profits.

Five years of scholarships

Also planned is another year’s presentation of GAWDA Foundation scholarship awards. The organisation has annually presented scholarships to young people planning higher education studies in industry-related curriculums since it established a scholarship awards program five years ago in 2013. As of last year, 59 students had received scholarships with a total value of $118,000. The funds are donated by GAWDA member companies and are matched by additional funding from the association.