In the early 1970s, the Association opened a warehouse using space volunteered by a Modesto, California member. Arrangements were made for staffing, record keeping, purchasing, billing, and shipping. As purchases increased and participation grew, a new and larger warehouse was rented in Modesto in 1990. In 1992, a new business model for IWDA was proposed - a Cooperative. Forming a Cooperative enabled the group to become a democratic organization where members have equal voting rights and participate in setting policies and decisions.

Cooperatives generate profits and rebates that are returned to its members proportionate to their participation. Federal
and state governments recognize the way that cooperatives operate and tax them accordingly. On March 7, 1994 the Independent Welding Distributors Cooperative was developed and incorporated with Roger Bolenbaugh its first CEO. On January 1, 1995, IWDC merged with the Key Distribution Group (KDG), greatly extending its reach in the northeastern and midwestern US. Later, the Independent Distributor Group (IDG) joined the IWDC.

To accommodate its new geographic reach, IWDC moved its warehouse from Modesto to its current headquarters in Indiana, which includes a 30,000 square foot facility housing both its warehouse and offices. Since the IWDC is owned by the membership and is not a typical supplier, all rebates and profits from operations are paid back to the members in the form of a patronage dividend proportionate to members' actual purchases. Over $38M in dividends has been
paid to the IWDC members since 2004.


THE IWDC WAREHOUSE

The IWDC's member-owned warehouse operation is located at the Cooperative's headquarters where its Weldmark® product line as well as many other high-turn, highprofit consumable product lines are inventoried. Approximately 3,000 items are competitively priced. The million dollar-plus inventory is managed by a staff of five, including a customer service group, warehouse personnel, and the manager. Purchase orders are processed and shipped within 24
hours of receipt of order to member locations across North America.


WELDMARK, THE PRIVATE BRAND

In 1998, a private-brand line of welding and safety equipment
and related supplies was developed by the IWDC staff under
the Weldmark® brand (www.weldmark.com). The brand
represents a consistent, quality line of MIG and TIG
consumables, Oxy/Fuel and HVAC equipment, Manual Arc
and safety accessories, as well as other products to drive
"end-user pull through sales" to the IWDC member.

Today, Weldmark-branded items are marketed exclusively through the IWDC
members, and inventory is managed and distributed primarily through the memberowned IWDC warehouse operation as well as direct from several manufacturers. Weldmark products are manufactured by market leaders and are identified as such: Weldmark® by Victor, Weldmark® by Tweco, and Weldmark® by CK Worldwide, for example.The IWDC Purchasing & Marketing Committee, coordinated by Pete Gallagher, writes
the specifications for all Weldmark® product lines. An extensive Request for Quotation (RFQ) procedure is in place along with "real
application" testing before any new product(s) is approved for purchase and sale by the membership. The Weldmark brand is exclusive to IWDC members and therefore must meet or exceed their quality expectations.


THE IWDC GAS PROGRAM

In the late 1990s, IWDC expanded its offerings to include bulk industrial gases. In 2001 Ed Pyle joined the IWDC, after spending 35
years at Praxair. He began the process of designing and implementing an all-inclusive IWDC Gas Program.

From its beginning with a single gas agreement for helium, the IWDC bulk gas program has grown to include agreements for LOX, LIN, LAR, carbon dioxide, helium, hydrogen, propane, propylene, and
fuel gas additives. Technical support from "site-survey" to "first fill" capabilities is part of the bulk gas program.

The IWDC Gas Program includes training programs similar to those once provided by the major
gas manufacturers.
Marketing support for the IWDC producer is provided primarily via the PurityPlus® Gas website,
www.purityplusgas.com.
The IWDC Gas Program also includes training programs similar to those once provided by the major gas manufacturers, such as pumper re-certification, training for operational supervisors and sales representatives,
and specialty gas seminars. Leading IWDC's training are Don Renner of Weldcoa and Tom Badstubner of AsteRisk.

The goal of all these IWDC initiatives is to enable the IWDC members to become more independent in managing the growth of their industrial and specialty gas businesses. As IWDC was developing its Gas Program, both Air Products and BOC sold their packaged gas businesses to Airgas. These events solidified the need to establish an independent line of specialty and welding shielding gases exclusively available through IWDC and to its members, and so the PurityPlus® Specialty Gases program (www.purityplus gas.com) was created.

A key goal for IWDC member companies was to produce the very same product, every day and every time and at every PurityPlus Specialty Gas facility. Tom Badstubner of AsteRisk developed a Quality Assurance Manual, created a Safety Manual, and oversaw the writing of Standard Operating Procedures for Purity Plus. AsteRisk
was also retained by each producer as an independent auditor to insure consistency and accuracy throughout the system. The Purity-Plus brand name is now trademarked in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

After a formal RFQ process, Concoa and SGD were selected as the exclusive suppliers for the regulation
equipment required for the PurityPlus Specialty Gas program. Marketing support for the IWDC producer
is provided primarily via the PurityPlus® Gas website (www.purityplusgas.com), custom literature, and a product catalog built by the PurityPlus® Marketing Committee and IWDC staff in conjunction with AsteRisk. Annual laboratory audits, monthly on-line technical training, and scheduled on-site training ensure the quality and consistency of the gases produced by every PurityPlus laboratory.

An Operations Committee, made up of lab managers from approved producers, evaluates the need for additional gases and develops the filling procedures according to Best Laboratory Practices before these gases are
introduced into the program. Since its implementation, twenty-seven IWDC member laboratories have been certified to produce PurityPlus Specialty Gases. PurityPlus includes gases from UHP products to complex gravimetric mixtures, EPA protocols, and medical devices. Currently, four PurityPlus laboratories are ISO 17025 accredited and four are ISO 9000 accredited. All Purity Plus laboratories are initially set up to meet the
ISO 17025 specifications and procedures.

The program was designed to ensure repeatability and consistency regardless of which Purity Plus laboratory produces a product. Weldmark® Shielding Gases are branded gas mixtures developed to meet the AWS
A5.32M Shielding Gas Specification and developed exclusively for IWDC members. This private branded industrial gas program was announced in January 2009 and also includes a Quality Assurance Manual developed by AsteRisk to ensure a consistent product throughout North America, giving the
IWDC member an exclusive line to compete against other national brands.

The IWDC Gas Committee, consisting of owners and/or upper management, monitors the IWDC Gas Program from the owners' perspective. Their involvement includes vendor selection, contract negotiations, formal
and informal meetings with top-level vendor management, additions to the gas program and new and innovative ways of partnering with preferred vendors. The program continues to grow at a rate exceeding 20 percent per
year as members find that it meets their need to stay competitive and grow in their respective marketplaces. The Gas Program will continue to prosper and grow as goals are met in keeping with IWDC's strategic plan.


IWDC NATIONAL ACCOUNTS PROGRAM

As part of IWDC's Strategic Plan, the Cooperative also offers its member companies the ability to service large multi-site customers
and their facilities through a National Accounts Program providing both gases and hardgoods.

Managed by Mike Dobrotka and its National Accounts Committee, "Independents Serving Independents" allows IWDC members to provide their customers with consistent product pricing, value-added and cost-saving initiatives, and customer-driven reporting and analysis that helps improve the customer's bottom line. Most importantly, the
National Accounts Program makes it easy for customers to continue to do business with their local independent gas and welding supply
distributor.

Weldmark® Shielding Gases are branded gas mixtures developed to meet the AWS A5.32M Shielding Gas Specification and developed
exclusively for IWDC members.
BEST PRACTICES

The IWDC supports best practices for members through its Annual Owners' Meeting and through member work on Committees. The Annual Owners' Meeting includes business sessions and high level round-table discussions
offering IWDC owners an opportunity to openly discuss various subjects important to their businesses.

Best practice presentations are also made during these wellattended meetings that foster networking and
help solidify IWDC member businesses across North America. Volunteer Committees also improve and advise the Cooperative. Committees are made up of IWDC owners and management personnel from all five North America regions working with IWDC staff.

Some committee work focuses on IWDC's strategic goals. The Purchasing and Marketing Committee, chaired by Carl Paine of Maine Oxy and Buz Edwards of Arcet Equipment Co., works in conjunction with the IWDC to improve product selection for the IWDC warehouse and aids in vendor negotiations and new product development. The Gas Committee facilitates gaseous and bulk negotiations and supply agreements, and is chaired by Charlie Wright of Wright Brothers Inc. Bruce Albiston of Maine Oxy, chairs the PurityPlus Specialty Gas Committee, which oversees the Specialty Gas Business, Marketing, and Operations plans.

Committees also focus on the organization itself. The Expense Control Committee, chaired by Dave Mahoney of AWESCO, looks at product and service agreements that reduce daily operation costs. Rick Keefer of
Rockford Industrial Welding Supply, chairs the National Accounts Committee, which facilitate the framework and procedures for national accounts. Larry Aarsby of Gases Plus Norco, chairs the Technology Committee, which continues to improve technology within the IWDC.




The Annual Owners' Meeting includes business sessions
and high level round-table discussions offering IWDC
owners an opportunity to openly discuss various subjects important
to their businesses.
The IWDC facilitates training and educational seminars for its membership.
IWDC VENDORS

The core of the IWDC supply scheme is the 200 vendor/supplier/service purchase agreements that are available to all IWDC members. The IWDC strives to be customers' preferred channel to the marketplace by integrating
member and vendor talents to provide the highest quality products and services. There are two categories of vendors: Approved and Recommended. To be an Approved Vendor, the IWDC and Committees utilize a rigorous approval process.

"Approved" vendors have negotiated product agreements that are beyond what any member could achieve individually. Only a few selected vendors achieve Recommended status, which is determined by the IWDC's Purchasing and Marketing Committees after their due diligence. To be Recommended a vendor must show that its agreement is an "Industry Best" and the agreement goes above and beyond a normal business relationship
for all members.

The purchasing power of its members allows the IWDC to negotiate agreements unachievable independently while also offering significant value and growth for the vendors. Typical IWDC purchase agreements are
much more than price; the agreements include adequate liability coverage, extended warranties,
discounted payment terms, advertising and co-op ad dollars, rebate programs, as well as marketing plans and product roll outs.

While leveling the playing field for its members, a successful distributor/vendor agreement also achieves above-average growth and market share for vendors. The IWDC acts as a marketing arm for its vendors through published newsletters, website news, power-email blasts, workshops, and other networking or media communications. To create additional value for all IWDC vendors, the IWDC created a Vendor Alliance Program that offers IWDC vendors the ability to utilize expense control vendors to lower their daily business operation costs.

The IWDC has also organized a Vendor/Member Advisory Council that discusses economic conditions and business best practices while ensuring vendors have a voice within the IWDC membership. This is a
Cooperative strategy in a competitive marketplace that allows the IWDC to be the most innovative and aggressive avenue in the gas and welding supply industry.
INDEPENDENTS SUPPORTING INDEPENDENTS

The IWDC continues to encourage and support bonding of independent distributors in order to increase the Cooperative's market power. As shown in Figure 2, among Distributor Buying Groups in North America,
IWDC now holds a 15 percent share of the
total retail sales market. IWDC continues to strengthen it business through new initiatives and programs that
allow members to remain competitive and independent, and effectively differentiate them from the competition.

In addition to the programs discussed earlier,
the IWDC encourages Succession Planning, ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plans), and independent mergers and acquisitions so that its distributors can remain independent.

By offering the "total package" hardgoods, gases, gas support programs and services, national accounts,
expense controls, training, high quality branded products, and direct marketing to end-users - IWDC ensures that the Cooperative succeeds in the highly competitive gases and welding market.

The philosophy of developing market strength as a group, established many years ago by the founding fathers, is as relevant today as it was in 1948. IWDC remains true to its original core value - Independents
Supporting Independents - as it continues to structure programs that offer far more than the ability to purchase hardgoods at competitive prices. Today's welding and gas industry is much more complex than when the group began. With that in mind, the IWDC keeps its members' interests in that industry at the forefront of programs in development and under consideration. The IWDC is in the business of developing innovative and creative solutions
today so IWDC members continue to succeed tomorrow.




Gases
Hardgoods
ARC Gas & Supply LLC
4560 Nicky Boulevard,
Cuyahoga Heights,Ohio 44125

E-mail Us

Call: 216-341-5882

Fax: 216-341-5886
Gases
Hardgoods
ARC Gas & Supply LLC
4560 Nicky Boulevard,
Cuyahoga Heights,Ohio 44125

E-mail Us

Call: 216-341-5882

Fax: 216-341-5886
Gases
Hardgoods
ARC Gas & Supply LLC
4560 Nicky Boulevard,
Cuyahoga Heights,Ohio 44125

E-mail Us

Call: 216-341-5882

Fax: 216-341-5886
Gases
Hardgoods
ARC Gas & Supply LLC
4560 Nicky Boulevard,
Cuyahoga Heights,Ohio 44125

E-mail Us

Call: 216-341-5882

Fax: 216-341-5886
Gases
Hardgoods
To see a state index of the companies that are members of the IWDC, click the link below.