Out of Thin Air: A History of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., 1940-1990

By Andrew J. Butrica; Deborah G. Douglas | Go to book overview

Introduction

This book tells the story of the first fifty years of one major corporation, Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. The story is exciting--full of struggle, determination, crisis, and heroic endeavor. Words like entrepreneurship, sales, finance, engineering, technology, and human resources describe the history of Air Products. So, too, do concepts like being a late entrant to an established industry, struggling to find market niches, seeking for comparative advantage, establishing a discrete set of skills, moving into wholly new but related fields of endeavor, and breaking through to the level where economies of scale and scope would allow the firm to enjoy a secure future as a major player on a global basis. The story is one of success, plain luck at some points. But it also contains its share of hard knocks, disappointments, and mistaken strategies.

Air Products started as a consequence of the entrepreneurial vision and drive of one individual, Leonard Pool. Over the course of fifty years, Pool's precarious venture has grown into a diversified, multinational corporation. Initially, that growth took place wholly within the industrial gas business. Struggling to find its way, Air Products pioneered such concepts as leased "on-site" plants and "piggybacking," as well as being the first U.S. firm to enter European and other overseas gas markets. The early part of the Air Products story forms an important chapter in the wider history of the industrial gas industry.

Since the industry's beginnings at the turn of the century and until

-xv-

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Out of Thin Air: A History of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., 1940-1990
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures and Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • PART I THE ROOTS OF ENTERPRISE 1
  • 1: The Entrepreneur and the Engineer 3
  • 2: Air Products at War 25
  • PART II COMING OF AGE 49
  • 3: Survival and Strategies 51
  • Notes 82
  • 4: Air Products Comes of Age 83
  • 5: The Technological Enterprise and Its Culture 109
  • PART III THE MODERN FIRM EMERGES 137
  • 6: Charting a New Course 139
  • Notes 169
  • 7: Investing in the Future 171
  • 8: Triumphs and Troubles 199
  • PART IV A FORTUNE 500 CORPORATION 231
  • 9: Maturity 233
  • Notes 261
  • 10: Planning for Growth 265
  • Notes 292
  • Technical Appendix 295
  • Note 301
  • Bibliography 303
  • Index 307
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