Home News & Events WEMCO 2017 Spring Meeting

WEMCO 2017 Spring Meeting

Mar. 03, 2017


During the last full week of February, WEMCO (An Association of Welding Manufacturers) of which Bug-O Systems is an active member, held their annual meeting in sunny San Diego, California. The meeting was very strongly attended by all major manufacturers and proved to be a full two and a half days of networking and sharing industry up-dates and economic trends.    


As one might have expected, the hot topic was the current state of the economy, our new President’s goals and of course gas and oil prices. However, it’s not just the lower oil prices that have people concerned, but more over what effects this might have on the welding and cutting markets in North America and abroad and for how much longer. What really was quite enlightening was the presentation given by Alex Chausovsky of ITR Economics. Everyone missed having Alan Beaulieu (President of ITR) speak as he has done for so many years, but honestly I truly did enjoy Alex and frankly the work and economic data ITR presents is excellent and with a 94% success rate allows one to have confidence in what they report. The sum and substance of what they are telling us is that there will be moderate and slow growth during the remainder of 2017 with a slight additional increase in 2018. During 2019 we should expect a slight economic “correction.”   Certainly no one expects oil prices to return to $100+ per barrel in the very near future, so of course growth in that sector will be slow, steady and well calculated. This type of growth will force us all to become better planners and go after other markets that are showing signs of better growth and those markets do exist. Bug-O Systems has recognized those trends and has been going after those markets since last quarter 2015.


The next speaker and his message were extremely emotional and moving. John Jones, Director of Development at the Workshop for Warriors, is a young veteran. Workshop for Warriors is located in San Diego so this year’s WEMCO meeting was a most appropriate venue for having John speak at this event. John is a Purple Heart recipient who served three duties in Iraq until he lost both legs in a mine that took out his Hummer. John’s heartfelt life experiences and story of serving his country, coupled with the work the Workshop for Warriors provides, were very inspirational. Lyle Palm, Dean of Welding was on hand to also speak about the welding program and provide tours of their training facility. Bug-O Systems was one of the Workshop for Warriors first sponsors in 2015 when we agreed to donate not only equipment for cutting and welding, but also provided training to their instructors and ongoing support to their people. We are committed to their fine work and we also want to “give back” to this organization that helps those who have served this great nation of ours. If you want additional information on how you can help Workshop for Warriors, please contact Lyle Palm at lyle@wfwusa.org.  


The next speaker was also extremely interesting for me because it was David Levin, VP of Hard-goods for Airgas. Of course with the recent tough economy during 2016 and the recent closure of the Air Liquide/Airgas acquisition, everyone was very interested in what David was going to report. Some of the key take away points David shared were that of Airgas’s $6 billion in sales, $1.9B is hardgoods. Airgas as a company, even now under Air Liquide, remains focused on the US market. This is very good news for everyone because with over 1,100 locations, Airgas is a welding and cutting distribution giant. With over 18,000 Team Members, Airgas has over 540 of them as Process Specialists. Any way you look at it, that’s some serious horse power in the field.  


This year’s WEMCO meeting was once again a great way to kick off the year. It is insightful, meaningful and thought provoking to say the least. The power of the people in attendance and that one has access to in one room is unprecedented. This is a must attend meeting and one I personally recommend.  


Norm Sted – Director of N. A. Sales & Global Marketing