IWDC History

 

The History of the IWDC

In 1948, a group under the leadership of Otto Koll and Andy Andrews sent letters to approximately 40 distributors in the western U.S. who were known not to have ties to major air separation companies.

Under the leadership of Tom Kean and Otto Koll, a Nevada corporation comprised of fifteen companies was formed. These companies were the basis of the Independent Welding Distributors Association (I.W.D.A.) in 1948.

Each I.W.D.A. member was assigned a territory, and no new member could overlap without the existing member’s permission. These rights to sales territories were carefully guarded.

Over the years, most of the members prospered in varying degrees. No member company ever filed for bankruptcy, and there always seemed to be a market for the sale of welding supply houses.

By the early 1980’s, there were 54 I.W.D.A. members, which made it the largest unified welding distributor organization in the western U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

During an annual meeting in the early 1970’s, the idea was presented to open a warehouse for members. A Modesto, California, member offered part of his company’s warehouse space, and arrangements were made for staffing, record keeping, purchasing, billing, and shipping.

Some years later, with the warehouse proving its value, a purchasing committee was appointed to contact manufacturers and negotiate better prices for I.W.D.A. members. In 1982, the Purchasing Committee organized a special Purchasing Agents Meeting in San Francisco to review and compare products, pricing, and service. These Purchasing Meetings became so important that they were scheduled annually for November, taking the place of the February membership meeting.

In early 1990, a new, larger warehouse building was rented in Modesto, and all inventory was moved, administrative equipment purchased, and employees hired.

At the 1992 annual meeting, the main topic focused on defining what I.W.D.A. needed to do to be most effective for its members. A steering committee reported on the concept of forming a “Cooperative,” and a unanimous member vote authorized the committee to proceed with its recommendations.

The Independent Welding Distributors Cooperative, Inc., was incorporated, and, on March 7, 1994, the membership voted to become a cooperative corporation retroactive to January 1, 1994. The purpose of the cooperative was stated as the furtherance of its membership through the manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution of welding and related industrial equipment and supplies.

Negotiations began early in 1994 to create a marriage between the newly formed Independent Welding Distributors Cooperative (IWDC) and the Key Distribution Group (KDG). The association effectively took place January 1, 1995, and added fifty members in the northeastern and Midwestern United States. Soon after, the Independent Distributor Group joined the IWDC, and as of January 1, 2000, the Independent Welding Distributors Cooperative included 142 members with 510 locations in the 46 states, Canada, and Mexico.

Recognizing the growth of Members geographically throughout the United States and the need for a more centralized location, the IWDC moved its headquarters and warehouse to Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1995. Today’s facility includes approximately 10,000 square feet of office space and 20,000 square feet of warehouse space in Indianapolis and a second warehouse operation in Reno, Nevada.

With the substantial membership growth throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico, the IWDC was realigned into five geographical areas:

Area 1

Area 2

Area 3

Area 4

Area 5

Alaska

California

Arkansas

Alabama

Connecticut

Arizona

Hawaii

Illinois

Indiana

Delaware

Colorado

Nevada

Iowa

Kentucky

Florida

Idaho

Mexico

Kansas

Michigan

Georgia

Montana

 

Louisiana

Mississippi

Maine

New Mexico

 

Minnesota

Ohio

Maryland

Oregon

 

Missouri

Tennessee

Massachusetts

Utah

 

Nebraska

West Virginia

New Hampshire

Washington

 

North Dakota

 

New Jersey

Wyoming

 

Oklahoma

 

New York

Canada

 

South Dakota

 

North Carolina

   

Texas

 

Pennsylvania

   

Wisconsin

 

Rhode Island

       

South Carolina

       

Vermont

       

Virginia

The IWDC is guided by a nine-member Board of Directors, all of whom are owners of Member distributors and represent the five geographic areas. The basic criteria still prevail: a Member must be totally independent and in the gases and welding supply business.

Today, the Independent Welding Distributors Cooperative is headed by President and Chief Executive Officer, Frank Kasnick, Vice President of Gases, Rich Mansmann and Director of Marketing & Vendor Management, Keith Werkley.

We would like to note our appreciation of W.V. Raymond who, with editing assistance from R.F. Balaam, prepared the IWDC history from 1948 through 1968, and of L.M. Willett, who prepared the history from 1968 through 1994.

 

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