What’s it like when your company’s acquired by Airgas?

We asked, and quite a few of you told us. Find out what our employees have to say about their acquisition experience and what it is like to work at Airgas.

When I was first notified of the acquisition, my immediate thoughts were that I would most likely pursue other opportunities, as I didn’t really know what to expect, and it wasn’t clear to me that Airgas wanted me to stay on as an employee. It wasn’t until we had a meeting with the local Airgas team that I understood that they wanted me to be a part of their future and the success of the branch, which wasn’t shared by All Welding ownership.

Once the future was clearer to me, I really became excited about the opportunity of going to work for a company as large as Airgas and the immense opportunities and infrastructure they had in place. No more bouncing from local competitor to local competitor to help support the customer base that we had developed. I knew it was a great opportunity to be a part of a company that had its own internal capabilities, and after meeting with local leadership, I felt more comfortable and excited about what I was going to be a part of.

After the first few months, I was still trying to adjust to all the changes on how a large company worked, such as the invoicing, product replenishment for the branches, logistics, accounts receivable, the SAP system, etc., but Airgas offered a variety of individuals to help support all the questions I had while learning the Airgas way. From working with local branch managers, BSC support personnel, local specialists, operational and sales leadership, everyone helped and was extremely patient while I was adjusting. I was also appreciative of the fact that the local team took the time to make the best of a small branch like All Welding and its limited amount of space — and restocked and branded the store. Airgas was also very safety conscious, which was really great to see.

I’ve been with Airgas for over two and a half years now, and every day is a learning experience. We’re eagerly looking forward to the new opportunity where Airgas is taking our small, dilapidated branch and moving to a much larger and better location in order to grow and offer our customer base a greater selection of hard goods and gases and a better overall experience. I also love the security of working for Airgas and the appreciation I feel for being rewarded for my work ethic with yearly increases and bonus potential that I didn’t receive from my previous employer.

Being acquired was cause for a great deal of trepidation, but I can’t say enough how fortunate I feel to be a part of such a great company. That was never more prevalent than during the COVID pandemic, where a tremendous amount of the population was losing their jobs, yet Airgas did everything they could to keep the company stable while also making sure that we all continued to work. I can’t say enough how great that was.

I don’t know what my future holds, but I know that there is a great opportunity here at Airgas — and the local team from sales, operations, and specialists are really great to work with. It just solidified my position of knowing I made the right decision to stay.

Jason Castro, Branch Manager, Billerica, MA — All Welding Supply acquisition

When the announcement was made public, I was scared initially and then was excited as I was made aware of potential opportunities ... I performed back-office functions for Alloy Oxygen and wasn’t sure if I would have a job at Airgas, but as time progressed, I realized I would have a lot of opportunities.

My concerns that I had were getting to know new people, what I would be doing at Airgas and where the other employees from Alloy Oxygen would fit in. At Alloy, we were a very close group so their success was important to me.

After the first few months of the acquisition, I was excited. Everyone was welcoming. At Alloy, my career movement was very limited, but at Airgas, I feel there are plenty of future opportunities for me.

After the acquisition, I stayed in my existing role for about six months working at the legacy Alloy location performing back-office functions. Once this location moved to SAP, I moved to another Airgas branch in Pittsburgh to learn how an Airgas branch functioned. I was there for about a year and a half before I was promoted to branch manager of our Export branch, where I am today. I participated in management development training, SAP training, and various other branch and product training. My biggest accomplishment so far has been my promotion to branch manager for a very large branch in Pittsburgh.

From the beginning, I was very focused on the safety culture ... I have been very impressed with the level of support at Airgas, and there is always someone willing to help. I also like how everyone is positive and how welcoming everyone has been from the very beginning.

Dana Anderson, Branch Manager, Export, PA — Alloy Oxygen acquisition

I started in 1984 with a small independent and was employee #2, and I was there until the company sold to Airgas in 2016. I had done everything from driver to outside sales, specialty, medical and cryo gas sales and had a great experience, and so I was nervous about the change. Even though my company was a 20-year distributor of Airgas, I had concerns about Airgas: learning their computer system, was my pay going to change and I would not get any raises, would my health care change and would I be able to keep the same doctors, and would I be locked into my offer letter role and be stuck?

About six months after the deal, all those concerns were gone. Airgas provided resources and weeks of training to help with the SAP computer system conversion, and I soon became confident in SAP, especially after continued offerings of advanced SAP training courses after the conversion, which I took part in. My pay — I thought it would never increase, and that was not the case. I have received annual raises; we have a profit-sharing program where if we did well, then we received a portion of the profits; and we’ve even had some OT opportunities. Airgas has thousands of employment opportunities across its U.S. network (now more with Air Liquide), and I saw so many people progress their careers — from the yard or dispatch person going to a sales specialist role or becoming branch managers, both males and females, and I soon realized that you can go as far as you want to go within Airgas as long as you work toward it. Airgas has multiple health care plans available, and the choices worked very well for me, including dental, vision, life insurance, and 401K match with a top-tier provider. I thought the medical premiums were very reasonable for my family, and I was able to keep my same doctors. I really felt like Airgas provided true career offerings, and I am glad that I was patient and gave Airgas a chance.

Safety culture has been the most positive aspect. This is paramount at Airgas, and I was provided proper PPE, footwear, and forklift training. Drivers received Smith training, and Airgas invests in its fleet and it is very well-maintained. Employees feel comfortable pointing out safety issues that they encounter, whether it be at an Airgas facility or an unsafe customer delivery location, and it is really encouraged, as Airgas wants to make every employee feel safe and know their utmost concern is that every employee goes home in the same condition that they went to work in. Airgas is all about safety, and that has been greatly appreciated.

Robert Grenier, Inside Sales, Concord, CA branch — Heath Welding acquisition

I worked for Mahany Welding Supply for fifteen years as the sales manager. When I learned that Mahany was being acquired by Airgas, my first instinct was to find another small distributor to work for. I was asked to give it a chance, and it’s been a great decision for me personally and professionally.

I pride myself on my relationships with my customers and on providing excellent customer service. I wasn’t sure that a large company like Airgas would be able to give my customers the individual attention they deserved, and I was concerned that they would leave for another independent rather than working with a big company. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I could still take care of my customers in the same fashion as when I worked for the independent. One of the benefits of working for a large company is the ability to offer more products and solutions to my customers than before.

I am extremely happy that I stayed with Airgas and look forward to furthering my career. I have many more opportunities for growth. Coming from an independent and working alone much of the time, Airgas allows me to work with a team to bounce ideas off of and brainstorm solutions. I really look forward to taking my career to the next level with Airgas.

William Shoemaker II, Account Manager, Rochester NY — Mahany Welding acquisition

I was a 15-year employee of Nordan Smith Welding Supply when Airgas acquired the company in 2012. When employed by the company being acquired, it’s understandable that you may have concerns and/or apprehension regarding what the future holds for you, your co-workers and your customers. I recall having those feelings when I was first advised of Airgas’ acquisition of Nordan Smith.

During several group meetings with different Airgas management personnel in the weeks following the acquisition, all employees were assured of their value to the company. We were advised that there would obviously be procedural changes but that there were opportunities for any employee who desired to continue their career in the industry with Airgas. Even with that assurance, I was skeptical, given we competed with Airgas for years in most of the markets we served. Trusting the competition can be challenging and can create anxiety.

The ensuing months were very busy with multiple training classes, planning the merge of overlapping locations, assets, route synergies and countless other related tasks. Even through that stage of the acquisition, the company’s focus was the retention of its newly acquired associates and the service to their new customers.

I have been fortunate to advance to an area vice president role for the company with the support of the sales and management teams I have been privileged to work with in my time at Airgas.

One advantage in working for a larger company within the industry is the wide range of employment opportunities vs. that of smaller companies. The number and variety of assets, breadth of product, service capability and market footprint all contribute to potential for an employee to specialize, advance or even relocate within the company.

My experience has been that Airgas offers opportunities for acquired employees who want to continue within the industrial, specialty, and medical gas industry and that the company strives to retain and promote the knowledge and experience of the individuals involved. Airgas’ history and growth are, in large part, due to the acquisition of good companies with experienced personnel. Many of its employees, spanning all areas of the business, came to the company through acquisition.

Paul Knapp, Area Vice President, Southeast Region — Nordan Smith acquisition

My initial thoughts were concerns about a transition to Airgas and whether a position would be available to me due to primarily performing accounting-related tasks at OAP (Ohio Air Products). Others shared similar fear of losing their jobs, especially uncertainty of what would happen after the initial six-month transition period. I also had concerns that Airgas may choose to shed smaller customers, which was not the case. After a few months, I was still trying to find a role within the company, although I had a more positive outlook based on training that was provided. I was also still adjusting to a change in culture (corporate versus independent).

I initially settled into a branch administration role at the Canton, OH branch and later moved into a distribution role at the same facility. I was promoted to the Akron branch manager in 2019. Opportunities for advancement with OAP were very limited based on the size of the company. Connection with internal resources at Airgas and MDP training have been very beneficial in terms of career development, including developing greater confidence, which has been the most pleasant surprise. The connections and relationships built with others within Airgas have been positive.

Jessica Beard, Branch Manager, Akron, OH — Ohio Air Products acquisition

As a Rockford Industrial employee, the announcement caused concern there would be jobs eliminated because there was already an Airgas location in Peru; however, we were quickly informed this would not be the case. While there were still some anxieties, Airgas’ transparency built trust almost immediately.

The team at the Airgas Peru location was very welcoming, and that too helped to build trust and ease the transition. Learning Airgas procedures was a very BIG change from Rockford Industrial — but in a GREAT way. The Airgas training was overwhelming, but I now know this was necessary, and it shows safety is the top priority that leads to overall satisfaction with employees and customers.

The Airgas management team always listens to their frontline workers. They want to hear what you have to say; it shows they care and that I am valued. After ten combined years of service, I recently became a driver trainer. I do not think I would have had the opportunity to become a driver trainer with a smaller company. Bonus structures and keeping up with the market have also been a noticeable change with a larger company. Equipment is kept in excellent condition; a larger company has the resources to do this and keep their employees safe.

Jeff Herron, Driver, Peru, IL — Encompass Gas Group aka Rockford Industrial acquisition

Initially, when I found out the company was being purchased by Airgas, I had many thoughts and concerns race through my head:

We competed fiercely against Airgas in all of our markets and I had subconsciously built a true dislike for Airgas, as in my eyes, they were the enemy. How could I join the enemy?

As the independent, I felt like I was a very critical part of the team. My decisions mattered. My voice was heard. With Airgas, would this be true? Would I just be a number?

Would my team of fellow associates be treated with the respect we were accustomed to being treated with?

Immediately after the acquisition, Airgas deployed a team of associates to work side by side with us to ensure each of us had the resources we needed to make a smooth transition. HR was onsite daily to answer any questions our team had and was the calming voice we needed in a stressful time. It was apparent Airgas had done this before and was very good at it. Months into my new career with Airgas, I noticed that the majority of Airgas associates were just like me and had come to Airgas through acquisitions. They thought like me, they shared the same principles, and they shared the same desire to take care of our associates and customers.

I’m now seven years into my Airgas career, and I can honestly say I have the best of both worlds. Airgas has the independent mindset in regard to team culture, valuing associates and offering superior service to our customers. Airgas also offers the most resources in the industry with subject matter experts, national footprint, ASUs and assets, to name a few. With over 1,200 locations and multiple regional companies within Airgas, the professional opportunities are abundant. When I started my career with Airgas, I was living in the Midwest but always had the desire to move south near the coast. I’m happy to say I’m now a valued part of the south region living on the Gulf Coast. This wouldn’t have been possible working with my independent. Looking back on my transition to Airgas, I can honestly say no other company could have done a better job. Airgas followed through on all of their commitments to our associates and gave them a home and chance to be a valued part of a team with the possibility to advance through performance, which is all an associate can ask for. Change is not easy, but Airgas made my change much easier.

Sean Bruckner, Area Vice President, Airgas South — Encompass Gas Group aka Rockford Industrial acquisition

When it was announced that my previous company, Tech Air, would be acquired by Airgas, my initial concern was potentially being out of a job, or at minimum, work as I knew it would be upended. The strong work relationships and company culture were at risk of changing, and the collective process improvement efforts at the time would go in a different direction. As with all things, change is inevitable, and you can either resist, cooperate or adapt. It pays to be optimistic! Much to my surprise, I was presented with an opportunity to manage the cylinder control team housed at the regional corporate office in Sacramento.

Since my time with Airgas, I have learned so many new things from knowledgeable associates and various levels of leadership. I credit being surrounded by people who are dedicated to the work of providing our customers with consistent, quality service they can depend on.

Not only does the customer benefit from partnering with Airgas, so do its associates. Working for smaller companies can be comfortable for many; however, career opportunities can be harder to come by. Airgas offers career development and many growth opportunities for people of almost every skill set.

It is said that one disadvantage of working for a large company could be that you become just another number or just another associate. This has not been my experience at Airgas. Each associate is tasked with mission-critical work and is therefore essential to the organization. And during that mission, you develop work relationships that lead to meaningful collaboration with some pretty amazing people who come together every day for a common purpose!

My decision to work for Airgas has been personally rewarding, and I look forward to a continued partnership.

Lisa Joplin, Cylinder Control Manager, NCN Region — Tech Air acquisition

I have been in the gas business for many decades. Upon hearing that Tech Air was being bought by Airgas, I thought, I wonder what the culture will be like! As the leadership teams began their meet-and-greets, it became apparent that Airgas models itself as a large independent. The northeast team truly runs its own business but has the resources of a global company. With Airgas being a national company, and now recently merged with Air Liquide, a global company, there are many opportunities for employees to pursue a variety of career paths. Staple positions such as management, sales, distribution, and production are always looking for quality and knowledgeable people, but there are also support positions in FDA, DOT and business analysis, to name just a few. My current role is vice president of operations in the Northeast. At Airgas, safety is the number one priority. This is backed up by a consistent safety focus, with the end goal being zero accidents and injuries. There are many locations in the Northeast that are on multiple years of zero incidents. The region leadership dedicates time every day to ensure all associates work and go home safe and sound. Is Airgas a perfect company? All companies have challenges, but at Airgas, the organization truly wants to be the best in the industry for both the customer and our associates.

Mike Muller, Vice President Operations, Airgas Northeast — Tech Air acquisition

Being on the initial call from Senior Management, we all knew the call was concerning something big. Once it was announced, my first thought was for the employees who gave much effort to the success of the Tech Air Southeast Region. That said, I was a part of a transaction back in 2007 when Airgas acquired the Linde business, so I know that more than likely, everyone would be placed. So that previous experience being acquired helped calm any concerns as I worked with the Tech Air personnel.

After the final close date, it was business as usual, as the Tech Air full implementation to SAP was to occur later in the year. I had essentially turned over my responsibilities to the Airgas area vice president while still working closely with the Southeast Tech Air Region. In the meantime, I had posted for a bulk sales specialist role in the ASO Region and I subsequently went through the hiring process. I landed it in August 2019. This happened a few short months after the close date.

Airgas has always been an industry leader in the industrial, medical, and scientific gases markets. I was no stranger to the organization but was ready for the challenges, as with any company that is a leader in the marketplace. Since being relocated to a new market, the upside has been tremendous, because quite frankly, There is nothing that Airgas can’t do in the process technology markets for healthcare, scientific, safety and industrial gas markets with ALTEC Engineering and the global presence of Air Liquide. As for career progression, I am just waiting to be called up to action to provide the best experience from all aspects of a P&L, i.e., Sales and Ops.

In the first year, I signed a major customer for an onsite nitrogen plant with 15,000G backup storage and also worked on a new patented process for CO2 in the treatment of a certain material. This is only due to the team of specialists and Airgas engineers who work hand in hand to market the Airgas Technologies and set definitions of Senior Management. The biggest positive is the arm reach Airgas has into the local, national and global markets. A most pleasant surprise was the Sandler Training provided, which allowed me to further my negotiation skill sets.

Seth Stanley, Bulk Gas Specialist, Airgas Southeast — Former General Manager Southeast Region. Tech Air acquisition

My initial thoughts on hearing that the company I worked for was being acquired by Airgas was that I was not sure this was going to be the best move for my career and what exactly would be my role moving forward. After a few months, my concerns eased dramatically. I found that most of the Airgas associates were from independent distributors as well and shared my views on operating a business and servicing the customers. I also found out there were many more avenues to explore job opportunities. I could stay local or apply for positions across the country. I could stay in my role in sales management or look to explore the many varied fields inside of Airgas and now Air Liquide. Being acquired by Airgas was a change, and change can be difficult — but that change opened so many new doors and possibilities for me and many others, and we all have grown and progressed in our careers.

Jim Ford, Area Vice President, Airgas Southeast — Tri-Tech acquisition

My initial thought was shock, probably like most people. Weiler’s had been in business for 98 years, and I had been there for 25 years. I was their purchasing manager. Of course, I was concerned for my job itself. I had been told by a salesman that they were familiar with Airgas, and that they did not have buyers in their stores. That job was done at a different location. I also worried about how this was going to affect my schooling. I had one more year at a community college for an associate degree in supply chain management.

For the first three months, it was business as usual from the buying standpoint, but once we were put on SAP, everything changed as far as my job. I was told there would be a place for me. And there was.

Once our stores were put on the SAP computer system, I became part of the Customer Service Team. There I learned aspects of the working of an Airgas store. Working in the Warehouse, learning to PGI sales tickets, as well as working on the stocking levels of the stores. For a short time I worked with the ABOC for Great Lakes on several projects. I am currently working with the Inventory Control Team, for the North Division. My current team balances the inventory needs in our stores while working on moving non selling items out of a store.

One of the final things I needed to earn my degree from a local college was an internship with a company with specific goals to meet regarding my degree in supply chain management. I was able to work with the area vice president and inventory control manager in Great Lakes, setting up a program to meet that criteria. I successfully completed that program and graduated in May 2019 with my associate degree.

I had the chance to meet the regional president of Airgas the night of our meet-and-greet after we were told of the buyout. He commented that there are many employment opportunities at Airgas. I have found that to be true, whether it is a lateral move or an advancement in a current department. Job openings are posted on a regular basis.

Robin Dewine, Inventory Control Specialist North Division — Weiler Welding acquisition

I am the past owner of Weld Direct, a two-location distributor in Northern Florida. I sold my business to Airgas in December of 2015. The sale went smoothly, on time, with no surprises by either party. Airgas was responsive in coming to terms of sale that were beneficial for both parties.

I have now been with Airgas for over five years. This was longer than I was planning, but I found my experience and opinion were appreciated even when we were not coming from the same perspective. It was probably just the opposite, and that was why they valued my perspective. I am now the director of operations for the South Division of Airgas, which covers the 17 Southern U.S. states.

Alex Bryant, Director of Operations SDIV — Weld Direct acquisition