THE ROOTS OF ENTERPRISE
For almost four centuries Americans have been launching new enterprises to provide products and services needed in this country and in foreign markets. Far more of these ventures have failed than have succeeded. Those that have survived and flourished have without exception been led in their early years by men or women of unusual energy and determination, entrepreneurs with a vision and the ability to convert ideas into successful businesses. So it was with Air Products, a multinational, high-tech corporation today, but initially only one man's dream.
To understand this transformation, it is necessary to understand the man, Leonard Pool--his origins, family, and ideas. Out of those roots in the early decades of this century came the complex enterprise we know today. Our story also grows out of the realities of the industrial gas business in the years prior to World War II. By 1940, the American oxygen industry was well established, with several large and prosperous firms. Air Products was a latecomer to the ranks of that industry. However, its precarious situation changed with the onset of war. If the beginnings were humble and the risks were great, Pool and his colleagues knew how to make opportunity their ally.