November 15, 2013 – Member News

Keen Compressed Gas Acquires Urie & Blanton Welding Supply Co.

Keen Compressed Gas Co. acquired the assets of Urie & Blanton Welding Supply Co. This includes all assets associated with the industrial gas and welding supply business Urie & Blanton covered New Castle County, DE, southeastern PA, the Philadelphia area, and some of South Jersey, and had two retail locations that Keen will take over.

“This is a great overall growth opportunity for us,” says Bryan Keen, president of Keen Compressed Gas.

“We are thrilled to have the employees and customers of Urie & Blanton join us, and look forward to a continued partnership with all.”

ILMO Products Company Honored with Awards

Blair Austin, marketing director at ILMO Products Company, received the 2013 Best in Class Award from Targeted Advertising & Marketing. Austin was honored in the Non-paid Print Advertising category for PR and promotion of “ILMO’s 100th Day / 100th Anniversary Employee Surprise” and subsequent national media attention.

Pattie Curry, SPHR, ILMO’s human resources director, received recognition on behalf of ILMO Products Company, chosen by the 2013 National Economic Commission and American Legion. In the medium business class, ILMO’s Employer of the Year Award was granted due to the company’s promotion of veteran employment. ILMO’s 2012 workforce contained 10.3% veteran employment, with 8% hiring rate of veterans in the past year. Notably, Curry was a ten-year Navy Reserve service member.

Victor Technologies Acquires Gas-Arc Group

Victor Technologies acquired Gas-Arc Group Ltd, a privately held manufacturer of gas control equipment based in the United Kingdom, for approximately $40 million in cash, subject to post-closing adjustments. Gas-Arc’s portfolio includes branded gas control products that meet specialty gas application requirements, as well as cutting and welding equipment for the industrial, laboratory and medical gas control markets. Gas-Arc will continue to operate under its own name.

“Gas-Arc has shown an ability to anticipate changes in the market and innovate quickly, allowing customers to capitalize on the latest industrial, laboratory and medical opportunities,” says Martin Quinn, CEO of Victor Technologies. “In addition, Gas-Arc’s manufacturing and testing facility in Diss, England, will increase our capability in delivering high quality products to the European market and strengthen our position as a leader in the high purity and medical gas control markets globally.”

Douglas Korn, senior managing director of Irving Place Capital, said, “The Gas-Arc acquisition advances Victor’s technological and market leadership in cutting, gas control and specialty welding and is another example of the Victor management team’s ability to drive long-term growth and profitability.” Irving Place Capital acquired Victor Technologies in 2010.

Lincoln Electric Holdings Appoints European President

Lincoln Electric Holdings appointed Mathias Hallmann as president of Lincoln Electric Europe, which includes Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia. Hallman will have oversight of the region’s day-to-day operations, as well as the financial and competitive success of one of the company’s largest business segments. He will also serve as a member of the global executive team.

Hallmann most recently served as director of business strategy for Lincoln’s European business and brings more than 20 years of management and leadership experience, having previously served as the chief executive officer of Bohler Welding Group. He also held various executive roles at Moeller GmbH, a German industrial company, and was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company.

Hallmann succeeds Tom Flohn, who will now be serving as regional president of Lincoln Electric Asia Pacific Region. Flohn will oversee certain Asia Pacific operations, implement Lincoln Electric’s global growth strategies in the region and continue to serve as a member of the global executive team.

LDA Marks 20th Anniversary

The Linde Distributor Association (LDA) held its 18th annual meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, celebrating the sustainability of the buying group which was started 20 years ago. The annual meeting provides the opportunity for LDA members to share ideas for business improvement and to network with preferred vendors. During the two-day meeting, 28 vendors discussed their various services, product lines and rebate programs; they also introduced special sales available only to meeting attendees. This year’s agenda included best practices seminars on current buying trends, as well as a presentation by Linde on the global helium supply situation.

“I was truly excited to share in the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the LDA,” says Mark Falconer, LDA co-chairman and president of Minneapolis Oxygen Company (Minneapolis, MN). “Minneapolis Oxygen has been a member of LDA since its inception and I’m always amazed at the enthusiasm displayed by distributors and vendors at these annual meetings. I believe the reason for this vigor is because LDA has selectively added vendors throughout the years, keeping the distributor/vendor relationship fresh and mutually beneficial.”

Terry Hall, LDA co-chairman and Linde distributor consultant, who was also part of the creation of the LDA in 1993, opened the meeting with a presentation of the development of the LDA through the past 20 years. “The participation this year in the meetings, breakout sessions and vendor trade show was as good as or better than any I’ve attended,” says Hall. It created an atmosphere that enhanced the all-important networking activities. I think everyone who attended thought it was a great opportunity to exchange information and ideas that will have a positive impact on their businesses.”

LDA has 70 member companies who have over 400 retail locations throughout the U.S. Combined, LDA members have made over $1 billion in annual purchases and have earned some $27 million in rebates since the group was established. Products purchased include welding and cutting equipment, consumables, and gas containment and handling equipment.

Based on service, delivery and sales communication, John Tillman Company was chosen Vendor of the Year. Formed in 1928 to provide personal protection solutions for welders and other industrial workers, John Tillman has both domestic and international production operations, as well as distribution facilities in California, Georgia, and Indiana to serve distributors.

ExxonMobil Fined for LF Electric Resistance Welded Pipe Seam Risk Violations

Federal pipeline regulators are fining ExxonMobil more than $2.6 million for violations in connection to the Pegasus pipeline that ruptured on March 29 of this year. The U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) released a violation notification and compliance order to the company, along with the $2.6 million civil penalty, at the end of the agency’s investigation into factors surrounding the pipeline failure.

In a letter to ExxonMobil, PHMSA says the company violated pipeline safety regulations, which include leaving out certain manufacturing information when determining risk factors. Specifically, the letter states, the operator failed to include the susceptibility of its Youngstown-Ohio-manufactured pre-1970 low frequency electric resistance welded pipe seam to failures as a risk factor when the company implemented its own integrity management program. Pipeline manufactured before 1970 using ERW has been documented as early as the 1980s to be prone to failure along its seams. An ExxonMobil spokesman has said the segment of the Pegasus pipeline that runs through the area was manufactured using ERW.

According to PHMSA, ExxonMobil documented multiple hydrostatic test failures along the pipeline’s ERW seam in a test in 1991 and in subsequent hydrostatic testing in 2005 and 2006. The letter states the hydrostatic testing failure in the history of the pipeline “provided more than adequate information for the pipe to be considered susceptible to seam failure.” Further, ExxonMobil did not present an acceptable engineering analysis to PHMSA to demonstrate that the Pegasus pipeline was not susceptible to seam failure, the letter states.

ExxonMobil reversed the flow of the pipeline, which was carrying a mixture of Wabasca heavy crude oil and chemical diluents, in 2006, records show. A federal corrective action order issued three days after the several thousand gallon spill stated the change in direction, along with an increase in flow pressure, could impact the hydraulic and stress demands on a pipeline.

ExxonMobil also failed to prioritize post-hydrostatic testing reassessments in high risk areas, according to PHMSA. High risk areas are defined by PHMSA’s integrity management regulations as those with high populations.

ExxonMobil’s Pegasus ruptured in the Northwoods neighborhood off of Main Street in Mayflower. The crude oil flowed through the neighborhood and into a series of drainage ditches, under Interstate 40 and into the Lake Conway Watershed. About 22 homes were evacuated in the neighborhood, and since the oil spill Exxon has demolished two of the homes the company purchased from residents. Exxon has offered a purchase program to residents. Six months after the spill, many residents were still in negotiations with ExxonMobil.

PHMSA approved a 90-day extension last month for submitting a work plan on Pegasus to allow for the completion of previously approved supplemental testing and analysis on the pipeline. The Pegasus pipeline is still out of commission. According to the spokesman, ExxonMobil will not restart it until the company is satisfied the pipeline is safe and with PHMSA’s approval.

Along with additional violations, including neglecting to take prompt action on “anomalous conditions” and treating immediate conditions with “validation digs,” the letter outlines more orders to comply with federal regulations. Revisions in several procedures and more internal investigations are part of the compliance order. The operator ExxonMobil must update its safety regulations to include consideration of the failure-susceptible pipeline, according to the PHMSA order.

The condition is addressed in a violation that states ExxonMobil failed to update its pipeline risk assessment, and with no identified threats in the segment that includes Mayflower, made integrity decisions that relied upon incorrect analysis.

ExxonMobil’s spokesman said it appears PHMSA’s analysis is flawed, and the agency made some fundamental errors. “For example, Alleged Violation #2 claims that (ExxonMobil) failed to conduct a re-assessment of Pegasus within 5 years of the 2005-06 baseline assessments. In fact, (ExxonMobil) conducted the required reassessment in 2010.”

ExxonMobil has 30 days from the final order to submit a spreadsheet to PHMSA that identifies all ERW pipeline in territory which PHMSA has jurisdiction.

Johnson Joins Keen as Sales Manager

Justin Johnson was named sales manager at Keen Compressed Gas Co. Johnson has 12 years of experience in the welding supply and industrial gas industry. He holds an MBA from Virginia Commonwealth University and has experience with solution-based selling and profit and loss management.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association