THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT
Mike Molinini, Executive VP and COO
One constant at Airgas is the entrepreneurial spirit. The company puts its employees in charge of their own destinies, then holds them accountable for growing their businesses profitably. Airgas fosters a sense of ownership, responsibility and commitment and this approach pays off. Associates have the autonomy to deal with customers quickly and efficiently without second-guessing their decisions. From the start, Airgas understood that the companies they acquired knew their local markets best, and understood what it took to be successful. The ongoing mantra is “show improvement.”
To promote entrepreneurship, Airgas offers performance incentives in the form of stock options to key managers and subsidiary presidents. The success of this unique corporate culture is reflected in such high profile awards as the Chemical Industry’s Best Managed Company (2003) and one of the World’s Most Admired Companies (2009) from Forbes Magazine.
A CARING COMPANY
At Airgas, workplace safety is taken seriously. The company’s SAFECOR program, begun in 1989, has instituted standardized safety and compliance practices across all Airgas sites and made the safety of associates a top priority. A number one principle is, “Safety must always come first.”
The Airgas Disaster Relief Fund, which started in 1989, assists associates through contributions from their fellow employees and matching funds from the company. The fund proved vital during the great Midwest floods of 1993, when many individuals received interest-free loans to help them get back on their feet. After Hurricane Katrina, Airgas associates contributed generously to the Disaster Relief Fund, matched dollar-for-dollar by the company.
GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
Airgas is a proud supporter of Operation Homefront, which provides emergency assistance to American troops and their families. Airgas also conducts Welding 101 classes for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan service who are interested in exploring careers in that field. Airgas associates nationwide undertake fundraisers to support the organization. Each regional company and business unit has a designated point person to work with the local Operation Homefront chapter.
Airgas Puritan Medical has also worked in partnership with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to help find a cure for this disease, sponsoring fundraising walks, providing matching funds and deploying the Airgas “choppers” for events. These motorcycles were created in 2007 for Airgas’ 25th anniversary by Orange County Choppers, the famed builders of custom motorcycles. One features a gas tank that resembles a cylinder, reflecting the proud history of the company, while the other bike represents the bright future of Airgas, through its sleek, streamlined frame.
In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Airgas associates rushed a tanker of liquid nitrogen 500 miles to the company that builds the transformers used in distributing electricity throughout the Southeast. Hundreds of thousands of transformers had been damaged, and liquid nitrogen was essential to the transformer manufacturing process. The quick delivery helped the company get the region back on the grid.
Airgas is committed to minimizing its impact on the environment. With over one million customers, the company is expanding its refrigerant reclamation business and its use of returnable laboratory cylinders to reduce waste. At distribution centers, efficient lighting, electric vehicles, recyclable pallets, rechargeable forklifts and enlightened associates all do their part.
Many of Airgas’ 5,000-plus trucks are fitted with engine idle shutdown devices. Fuel consumption is further reduced by microprocessor-controlled engines, automated transmissions, lighter-weight wheels, aerodynamic designs and reduced top speeds. In early 2010 Airgas announced its plan to have 400 to 500 diesel trucks equipped with Selective Catalytic Reduction technology, reducing exhaust pollutants. Also in 2010, Airgas acquired its first diesel-electric hybrid cylinder delivery truck. The company employs Paragon software to streamline cylinder delivery routes, significantly decreasing the amount of time spent on the road and miles driven. Similar efficiencies are being achieved in the bulk business with the installation of telemetry systems in bulk and MicroBulk tanks at customer sites. These wireless monitoring systems send out signals to let Airgas drivers know if a tank is reaching reorder, critical or empty status, so delivery trucks only go where and when needed.
To assist its customers in reducing their environmental impact, Airgas launched its SF6 (sulfur hexafluoride) Emission Reduction Program. Aimed at the electrical utility industry — the primary consumer of SF6 — the program provides training, recycling and gas management services to ensure utilities are in compliance with EPA guidelines.
The Airgas Emergency Response Organization takes responsibility for accidents that occur at Airgas sites, customer sites and anywhere needed. This voluntary group of Airgas associates responds to dented, leaking and unlabeled “mystery” cylinders and defuses potentially dangerous situations in the community around the clock.