When he founded WestAir in 1970, Andy Castiglione likely wasn’t thinking about this moment, 50 years into the future, where one of his employees would be writing a blog post outlining the success of his brand. But, here we are! Sitting in the National City SuperStore, thinking about how much the business and the industry have changed over the last 50 years.
If you’re not familiar with the WestAir story, here’s a very brief version of it. Castiglione had been working at an industrial supply company when he recognized both the need and the opportunity for better customer service within the industry. With this idea in mind, he set out with his wife, Sue, to found ‘San Diego Welders Supply’, a business to be built on the values of customer service with high quality products. These values quickly proved to be the right foundation upon which to create a business, and WestAir (its new name as of 2001) began to flourish.
WestAir: a compressed history
WestAir is a family owned and run company, with their son Steve joining the company full time in 1980. Prior to taking on a management role, Steve worked as a welder in the San Diego shipyards. Steve also worked pumping cylinders, and driving a route truck for then San Diego Welders Supply. These experiences help him to truly understand the day-to-day from both a customer and an employee side, which has allowed him to lead the company through explosive growth in the 2000’s.
At this time, there are three generations of Castigliones actively involved in the daily running of WestAir: Steve, Andy Jr, and Chris; with Andy Sr stopping by to check to make sure the values that WestAir was founded upon remain present throughout the stores. You can find Steve and Andy Jr overseeing upper management in our San Diego corporate HQ and Chris executing branch operations out of our National City SuperStore.
Over the last 50 years, a lot of things have changed and a lot of things have stayed the same. A deeper focus on gases and delivery systems via the acquisition of several brands in California, Arizona, and Texas has helped the company to expand its product and service offerings in terms of both products and regional distribution. This means expansion beyond the essentials for welding and into a much wider range of gases for an even greater number of businesses and industries.
#WeAreWestAir - our employees make all the difference
Internally, the impact of the values that shape this company can be seen in the long tenure of many employees. From delivery drivers to purchasing to HR and Sales, the values that attract great employees to WestAir are the same ones that encourage them to stay. Take a look at what some of our longest serving employees had to say about WestAir and the gas / welding industry in general:
“The welding industry has become more competitive as the years have gone on and the deciding factor for the customer has been customer relations. These, in my opinion over the years, are something that San Diego Welders Supply/WestAir Gases and Equipment have no equal."
- Donald Mozee, 40 years with WestAir
“My favorite thing working in the company is the positive working environment. WestAir cares about all its employees’ mental and physical health. The people I work with are phenomenal. We collectively work together, collaborate and solve problems.”
- Sammy Olivarria, 37 years with WestAir
“It's exciting to work for a family owned company that places an incredible amount of emphasis on customer service. In addition, over the years the family continues to reinvest in the company which keeps us on the cutting edge of new technology.”
- Dan Fairchild, 24 years with WestAir
"At WestAir, employees treat each other like family within the company; leading to a very good working environment. Andy Castiglione has held customer service seminars to help the employees to understand what customer service is. Those seminars don't only apply to the customers that buy our products; but also to our coworkers - who are our customers too."
- Vivian Ordonez, 29 years with WestAir
When people ask us what some of the biggest contributors to our success are, our staff are certainly at the top of that list. Knowing this, we develop policies and procedures that aim to keep our employees happy, healthy, and in a place of growth and continuous improvement. And we think it’s working! With many employees calling WestAir home for 15+ years of their careers.
What does the future hold for WestAir?
Though it’s impossible to predict exactly how the industry or business will evolve over the next 50 years, we can be certain that we will continue to focus on providing excellent products and services to our customers. As for the immediate future, here are some things we’re looking forward to over the next few years:
- Green initiatives throughout all branches
- New locations
- An expanded digital presence
- More charity events and a deeper community involvement