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Airgas Puritan Medical Divisions to Focus On Medical Markets in Each Airgas Region


Airgas Puritan Medical Divisions to Focus On Medical Markets in Each Airgas Region

RADNOR, PA – March 1, 2004 – Airgas, Inc. (NYSE: ARG) today announced the formation of Airgas Puritan Medical, which will leverage the dedicated focus of the Puritan Medical Products (PMP) operations throughout the Airgas regional companies.

Through Puritan and Airgas operations nationwide, Airgas in fiscal 2003 had more than $125 million in annual medical gas sales, plus more than $50 million in annual sales of other related products and services sold to medical markets.

“Since acquiring the Puritan Medical business in 2000, Airgas has operated it as a separate medical gas business, which now has 35 medical-only branches nationwide,” said Airgas Chairman and CEO Peter McCausland. “We also continued to sell medical gases through our Airgas regional companies nationwide. Now, we can leverage all of our expertise within these integrated divisions focused exclusively on the medical markets.”

Airgas is forming Airgas Puritan Medical divisions within each regional company, which are headed by regional vice presidents-medical reporting directly to their respective Airgas regional company presidents. Each division will include existing Puritan Medical branches within the region, as well as all existing Airgas dedicated medical resources, facilities and personnel.

Airgas Puritan Medical will offer a full range of bulk and cylinder medical gases, medical gas equipment and related supplies to hospitals, medical institutions, home healthcare distributors, doctor/dentist offices and other medical businesses.

Kelly Justice has been appointed senior vice president – Airgas Puritan Medical, reporting directly to Airgas President and COO Glenn Fischer. He will lead a national team that provides marketing strategies, as well as market development, product development, and operational guidance to the regional Airgas Puritan Medical divisions. The team reporting to Justice includes members of Puritan Medical Products’ current senior management: Bill Fettes, vice president-operations; Richard Sniezek, vice president – sales; John Walsh, vice president – marketing; and Adam Hoyt, vice president – finance.

Justice had served as vice president – strategic planning and market development since 2002 and had led the development of the medical markets strategy, working closely with Puritan Medical and Airgas regional company leadership. He first joined Airgas in 1994 and since then, helped develop Airgas’ eBusiness, eCatalog and Direct Marketing activities supporting the regional companies.

“Our new divisional brand combines the strength of Airgas with the dedicated focus and heritage of Puritan Medical,” said Justice. “In focus groups with customers, Puritan was a well-recognized brand name and we are proud to trace our roots back nearly 90 years in the medical gas field. Whether you’re a major medical center, a home healthcare provider delivering respiratory care to patients, or a local doctor or dentist looking for solutions for your medical gases and related products, you’ll find it with us, Airgas Puritan Medical.”

As part of the transition to Airgas Puritan Medical, all existing Puritan Medical Products branches and vehicles will continue to serve existing medical customers and transition to the Airgas Puritan Medical brand in the coming months. PMP employees will transition to the new divisions in their region, effective April 1, 2004.

Overall, Airgas Puritan Medical will leverage more than 150 medical gas fill plants, including the 35 medical-only fill plants, and a distribution network that includes more than 600 branches and 2,500 delivery vehicles, which gives Airgas Puritan Medical one of the strongest networks of any supplier – locally or nationwide –in the medical gas field.

“For current customers, the transition to Airgas Puritan Medical is going to be seamless,” said Justice, who stressed that there would be no consolidation of facilities or people. “For our future customers, we are going to offer an integrated medical markets portfolio of bulk and cylinder gases, medical equipment and services that will make Airgas Puritan Medical the brand name to choose in the medical market.”

For more information about Airgas Puritan Medical, its national leadership and the 12 new Airgas Puritan Medical divisions within the Airgas regional companies, please visit: http://www.airgas.com.

About Airgas, Inc.
Airgas, Inc. (NYSE: ARG) is the largest U.S. distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gases, welding, safety and related products. Its integrated network of nearly 800 locations includes branches, retail stores, gas fill plants, specialty gas labs, production facilities and distribution centers. Airgas also distributes its products and services through eBusiness, catalog and telesales channels. Its national scale and strong local presence offer a competitive edge to its diversified customer base. For more information, please visit www.airgas.com.

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Forward-Looking Statement

This press release may contain statements that are forward-looking, as that term is defined by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 or by the Securities and Exchange Commission in its rules, regulations and releases. These statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding: the Company’s ability to leverage all its expertise within the new Airgas Puritan Medical division focused exclusively on the medical markets; the Company’s expected product offering through Airgas Puritan Medical; and the seamless transition of existing Puritan Medical Products branches, vehicles and employees to the new Airgas Puritan Medical brand in the coming months. Airgas intends that such forward-looking statements be subject to the safe harbors created thereby. All forward-looking statements are based on current expectations regarding important risk factors and should not be regarded as a representation by the Company or any other person that the results expressed therein will be achieved. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement include the failure to successfully combine the Company’s regional business with its Puritan Medical Products business; customer acceptance of the Company’s new brand; customer acceptance of the Company’s products; an economic downturn; increased competition; adverse changes in general economic conditions; and other factors described in the Company’s reports, including Form 10-K dated March 31, 2003 and Forms 10-Q dated June 30, 2003,September 30, 2003 and December 31, 2003, filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


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For more information on Airgas, please visit www.airgas.com.
Contact Information

Airgas, Inc.
259 N. Radnor-Chester Road
Suite 100
Radnor, PA 19087
tel: (610) 687-5253
fax: (610) 687-1052

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