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

7
Investing in the Future

Air Products was in an ideal position to take advantage of the economic expansion that occurred in the United States during the 1960s. Renamed, restructured, rechartered, diversified, and run increasingly by professional managers, the company had cash to invest, a risk- taking style to display, and a high level of technical expertise to sell. The general economic expansion included an extraordinary increase in the demand for industrial gases, from several quarters. As the nation's space programs grew, Air Products was there to provide them with the gases, the engineering talent, and the equipment they needed. In the private, domestic market, the company was quick to satisfy new demands for specialty gases and to expand the market for its familiar low-cost products. chemicals, too, provided a fresh area in which to experiment, to make mistakes, and to grow.

The company passed some important sales milestones. In 1962 total revenue had exceeded $100 million; in 1968 it passed $200 million. Success wiped away the memory that only a decade before cash had been so short that large-scale layoffs had been necessary. A much larger firm was now primarily a producer of consumables. Industrial gases sold in the tonnage, merchant, and cylinder markets and related cutting and welding apparatus accounted for 70 percent or more of Air Products' revenues in the 1960s. The largest contributors to sales were the on-site tonnage plants, which accounted for about 80 percent of the company's productive capacity.

The pace of Air Products' growth is reflected in the fact that, at the end of fiscal 1965, the capacity of all company-run air separation

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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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