Airgas has a long and rich history. It’s a story we’ve created with pride and hard work. But our history is not the prize. It’s the foundation for the promise of a strong future. Learn more here about the people, events and innovative strategy that created our company and sustain our continued success.
The Early Years
The Birth of a Company
Airgas was formed in 1982, the brainchild of young attorney-turned-chairman Peter McCausland. McCausland saw potential in Connecticut Oxygen (CONNOX), a small oxygen distribution company in Stafford, Connecticut—and used his entrepreneurial spirit to acquire the firm. Airgas became the holding company for CONNOX, with McCausland serving as chairman, in a deal that would reshape the industry for decades to come.
Strategic acquisitions spurred significant early growth. In the early 1980s, the U.S. market for industrial gases was dominated by a few major producers. And with the industry entering a period of consolidation, Airgas purchased distributors in various locations and went after producers in secondary markets that had excellent growth potential.
A Time of Growth
Extending the Platform
By the mid-1990s, with $1.5 billion in sales and over 250 acquisitions, Airgas was ripe to embrace new challenges to ensure lasting value. Having already boldly expanded its offerings to include welding hardgoods and safety supplies, Airgas formed a national accounts program in 1998 to provide a full range of products for various needs in multiple customer locations.
The 2000s saw a significant ramp up of scale with the major acquisitions of industry giant Air Products and Linde’s bulk-gas business, which then gave Airgas 10 percent of the U.S. bulk-gas market. The company also increased its value by expanding beyond gas distribution to gas production. By 2010, Airgas was producing 30 percent of the gases it sells. In addition, the company created Airgas Refrigerants and Airgas Specialty Products, thereby becoming the largest seller of packaged ammonia in the United States.
Commitment to Excellence
A Diverse Customer Base
Opportunity and challenge go hand-in-hand as Airgas advances. Initially a local distributor of commodity gases, Airgas has evolved into a national partner providing value-added products and services to large, leading corporations and smaller, specialized enterprises. Its entrepreneurial, flexible, market-facing approaches enable effective partnering with customers by understanding their businesses and their goals.
A central challenge lies in managing the company’s ever-expanding operations while incorporating new products, new technologies and new information systems. Opportunities for growth are vast and include expansions into new geographies and services, yet Airgas remains committed to the values underlying its continued success: people, customer service, value and excellence.