April 1, 2014 – Member News

Praxair Acquires Distributors in Texas and Oklahoma

Praxair acquired two independent distributors of packaged gas and welding supplies: United Welding Supplies, headquartered in Houston, TX, with retail stores in LaPorte and Freeport, TX; and Best Welders Supply in Tulsa, OK. PDI President Scott Kaltrider says, “We have been steadily growing our packaged and small bulk business in Houston and the Gulf Coast region. In addition, the growing Tulsa region has a strong economy supported by a healthy oil and gas industry and aerospace equipment manufacturing. The acquisition of these well-established distributors enables Praxair to further strengthen its presence in these important geographies. “We are excited to have them join the Praxair team and look forward to serving our new customers.” Combined 2013 annual sales of the two companies are about $30 million. Financial terms of the transactions were not disclosed.

In foreign news, Praxair Inc. acquired Messer Italia S.p.A’s liquid carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen and argon and packaged gases businesses. The businesses will be fully integrated into the operations of Praxair’s Italian joint venture, Rivoira S.p.A. In addition, Praxair sold its industrial gas operations in France to Messer France SAS. Praxair’s French operations included three air separation units and two packaged gas filling stations. Prior to this agreement, Praxair had a small industrial gases presence in France. This transaction enables the company to deliver on its stated strategy of investing in its core geographies.

Amazon’s Seller App May Benefit Distributors

The Amazon Mobile Seller App has three benefits for distributors and does not require a big investment. An article in Industrial Distribution explains them: access to predictive analysis, automated support and a 24/7 selling environment. Read it here.

Sandvik Opens New R&D Center

Sandvik has unveiled a new, high tech R&D center adjacent to its manufacturing facilities in Zhenjiang of China. Construction of the Zhenjiang R&D Center began in March 2013 and covers an area of 1,440 square meters including laboratories, offices, conference facilities and an exhibition area which will undertake material investigation, application tests, market support, seminars and training courses. The center will also provide technical training and conduct in-depth research on material applications to meet customers’ requirements.

Airgas Names Andrew R. Cichocki President of Airgas USA, LLC

Andrew R. Cichocki was named president  of  Airgas USA, LLC, effective April 1. Cichocki, a member of Airgas’ Management Committee, will lead all aspects of Airgas USA, LLC – sales, operational, organizational, and financial – and will continue to report to Airgas President and Chief Executive Officer Michael L. Molinini.

Formed in 2011, Airgas USA, LLC comprises the majority of Airgas’ U.S. distribution business units, including its 4 divisions, 4 business support centers and 15 distribution regions. The alignment of its legal entity structure with its operating model through the formation of Airgas USA, LLC, has enabled Airgas to create a more seamless interface with its customers nationwide following the implementation of SAP. “With the SAP implementation in our distribution business behind us and proficiency with the new system steadily improving, we can increase our focus on leveraging our unified distribution platform to drive operational efficiencies and, as importantly, on fully developing our sales channels to strengthen our industry-leading position,” said Molinini. “Airgas USA, LLC accounts for the majority of Airgas’ consolidated net sales and will benefit the most from the full development of our sales channels, including our Strategic Accounts and field sales programs, our e-Business channel following the launch of the new Airgas.com later this year, and the full implementation of Airgas Total Access.”

Cichocki joined Airgas in 1988 and most recently served as senior vice president -distribution operations and business process improvement for Airgas, Inc., a position he held since 2011. Cichocki has been responsible for Airgas’ welding hardgoods and safety products distribution infrastructure, product sourcing and management, cylinder gas engineering and supply chain, and fleet management. He has also been responsible for Airgas’ business process improvement  initiatives, including strategic pricing and SAP implementation activities. From 2008-2011, Cichocki served as division president – process gases and chemicals, and also served as president of Airgas National Welders.