Airgas Acquires Fitch Industrial & Welding Supply

Airgas announced Dec. 1 it acquired the assets and operations of Lawton, OK-based Fitch Industrial & Welding Supply, an industrial gas and welding supply distributor. Fitch, which has three locations in Oklahoma and one in Wichita Falls, TX, employs 39 people and generated more than $10 million in revenue during calendar 2008.

The Oklahoma branches have been integrated into Airgas Mid-South, headquartered in Tulsa, OK, while the Wichita Falls branch has been integrated into Airgas Southwest, headquartered in Houston, TX. Airgas Mid South and Airgas Southwest are among 12 regional companies within Airgas’ distribution business.

Airgas is a direct merchant of industrial gases and safety gear. Company spokesperson Jay Worley says acquisitions are a central element of the Airgas growth strategy, “and we have a dedicated corporate development department that sources and closes acquisitions.” Fitch has the same core business – distribution of packaged gases and related welding hard goods – as Airgas, Worley says, and was an attractive acquisition.

Airgas has completed about 400 acquisitions in its 27-year history, Worley says. Fitch will complement Airgas well, Worley says, because of its geography, team of associates, and customer base. Specifically, Worley says the acquisition can help Airgas add density to its local delivery routes. “We have the most complete product and service offering in the business, so new customers can streamline their supply chains by taking advantage of our expanded offering,” he says.

Will Airgas continue its acquisition strategy next year? “While it is impossible to predict timing and quantity of acquisitions, we have no plans to change our acquisition program and it remains a central element of our growth strategy,” Worley adds.

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