The kiwi touch to branding and service pays off for Global Welding Supplies
By Mike Bishara
Engineering News - August 2013
Global Welding Supplies moved to new premises in Avondale, Auckland just over a year ago. In that time the GWS team spearheaded by general manager Dave Page and operations manager Ryan Hunter has made giant strides in achieving its mission to make the company a nationwide leader in welding supplies and service. That includes offering a full range of welding equipment, quality imported and home branded parts, consumables and a full repairs centre.
Since GWS moved, the team has pulled together a widely increased range of quality products and spares anchored around Kemppi – Finland's global leader of Mig and Tig machines. CEA – Italian manufacturer of affordable high-quality pulse Mig Tig and arc machinery. Hypertherm – producer of advanced plasma cutting machines.
GWS is also an authorised distributor for Translas, TipWorks, Atlantic Wires and Electrodes, MTL Alloy Wires and Menem Stainless wires.
"The company's triple treat – best quality, best price and best service – was completed with the purchase of Auckland Weld Repairs," says sales and marketing manager Michael Atkinson.
"I had worked with owner Phil Lovegrove since 1998 so when Phil spoke of retirement it made sense to buy the company and bring our repair service inhouse.
"Finding someone to run it was a mission but we were lucky to get an experienced fi rst class operator from Durban who had been running his own business for 14 years and was interested in resettling in New Zealand with his young family."
"GWS was joined by long time Auckland Weld Repairs employee Phil Lovegrove and between the two of them, there is little they cannot fi x. Recently, for example, instead of replacing the whole board and charging $1500, they fixed it for $195.
"It's a key part of our operations to keep repairs and maintenance costs down so customers can afford to continue to run equipment outside of its warranty."
Shawn's running the show and Phil is bringing a library of experience and information to the task ahead of retiring in four or fi ve years – somehow you wonder if that will really happen.
The GWS master plan is gaining traction – sales have increased markedly thanks to a 30 percent increase nationwide in the customer base.
"Global Welding Supplies is about New Zealanders, even newly arrived ones like Shawn. Kiwis started the company and kiwis own it. At the end of the day all we are looking to do is offer a VIP service to the industry," says Mr Atkinson.
Another part of that master plan is to brand Global Welding supplies products in a way that ensures buyers of the triple treat – best quality, best price and best service.
"We import high quality welding products from around the globe and brand them for quality assurance," says general manager Dave Page.
"For example, the MIGarc range is for MIG related products, Tigarc for Tig related products and Weldarc is for arc welding and accessories.
"We have trademarked them as a benchmark for quality and back up service and are now ready to appoint qualified distributors or set up GWS Branches throughout New Zealand," he says.
Mr Atkinson says the company is very passionate about what it delivers. The vast majority of New Zealand engineering shops have less than a dozen staff and these are a target market," says Mr Atkinson.
"It's basically kiwi to kiwi and that's why our motto is 'Keeping New Zealand Together'. If we don't stick together we're going to get overun, taken out, undercut and our industry will collapse.
"We're helping to grow the small guy – we want the small guy to grow as we grow. Global Welding Supplies is owned by sales and marketing manager Michael Atkinson who has 29 years in the industry and his school mate Stephen Smith.
"Steve has been a marine engineer for 29 years and he's very good. He worked for Southern Spas for many years, then Team NZ, then jumped ship to become chief engineer for Team Alinghi for eight years and now is in San Francisco with Luna Rossa," says Mr Atkinson.
"Steve helped me run the business for two and half years when Paul Medhurst passed away suddenly. But the lure of Americas Cup racing proved too much for Steve and he is expected back before the end of the year."
Mr Atkinson himself has put in six days a week for the past eight years and does not have any intention of slowing down. He restructured and refinanced the company a few years back.
"We are Global Welding Supplies – we've got very good prices, very good quality products and now we can offer a VIP service that supports and repairs everything we sell."
The harder you work the luckier you get would seem to sum it up.
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