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
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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

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