The Association of Independent Welding Distributors (AIWD) gathered in the historic town of Charleston, South Carolina this weekend for the organisation’s 2016 Annual Convention, to address the theme of Opportunities for Growth during Dynamic Times.

The AIWD was formed in 1999 to be a buying group for the benefit of its members. It is now a 140-strong independent gas distributor association focused on the procurement benefits for its members, and is in its 17th year – having originally started out with only 10 distributors meeting in Denver, Colorado in its founding year.

Ron Weldon, Executive Director, welcomed attendees to the conference – which this year included 64 gas distributors (110 officers and family) and 81 vendors, making a combined attendance of more than 270 delegates. He was pleased to announce that there was a net gain in members of six over the past year.

He went on to discuss the challenges the industry faces; explaining changes in supply channels such as UberRush, which provides same day deliveries, and noting that Drone deliveries started in Nevada in March this year.

Weldon then introduced current AIWD President Britt Lovin, who is stepping down this year, and praised his efforts on behalf of the whole association. Lovin himself said a few words on how the organisation is gaining in strength despite the continued consolidation taking place in the industry. He stated the five regional presidents were working hard to encourage and support its members and, with his tenure as both a regional president and AIWD President set to be succeeded this year, he thanked everyone for their support.

The main speaker on Day 1 of the convention was David Ransberg – a Family Business Consultant - who was invited to help member companies understand and leverage their competitive advantage as a family business – especially in these challenging times. This created a lively debate between the invited speaker and the audience – the outcome being positive takeaways for those who attended.

The morning session was followed by a booth programme of over 81 vendors exhibiting their latest technologies and teams, while the overall event was well attended by those gas distributors present.

The AIWD meeting ends 3rd April and many delegates will move onto Savannah to attend GAWDAs Spring management Conference. Stay tuned to the gasworld website next week for updates from the event as it unfolds.