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  News> Press Releases> 2003 Archives
Press Releases
Airgas Acquires 14 Locations in Florida, Georgia and California

Airgas Acquires 14 Locations in Florida, Georgia and California

RADNOR, PA – March 31, 2003 -- Airgas, Inc. (NYSE: ARG) today announced that it has acquired 14 branches in Florida, Georgia and California from Union Industrial Gas Group (UIG). UIG, an independent distributor headquartered in Irving, TX, will retain about 30 branches principally in the Southwest, as well as its propylene business.

The operations acquired have annual sales of more than $20 million in packaged gases and welding hardgoods and include 10 locations in Florida and Georgia, doing business as Action Welding Supply and Equipment Sales Company, and 4 locations in California doing business as Northwestern Equipment & Supply Company (NESCO). The acquisition closed March 31, 2003.

Airgas will integrate the acquired locations into 3 of its 12 regional companies: Airgas South, Airgas West and Airgas Northern California & Nevada. The sites will all do business under the Airgas brand. Airgas is the largest U.S. distributor of industrial, specialty and medical gases, welding supplies and related safety products. As part of the acquisition, Airgas will offer employment to most of the 90 employees of Action Welding and NESCO affected by the acquisition.

“We look forward to welcoming the UIG associates in these locations to Airgas and to offering our new customers a broader product range to meet their gases, welding and safety product needs,” said Glenn Fischer, president of Airgas, Inc.

Airgas Chairman and CEO Peter McCausland commented: “During most of fiscal 2003, we have concentrated on the successful integration of the Air Products U.S. packaged gas business. Yet, this will be our fourth acquisition of an industrial gas distributor since September 1, 2002, with combined annual sales of almost $35 million. We see the pace of acquisitions picking up in fiscal 2004 as the consolidation of the packaged gas industry continues. With more than half the packaged gas industry still made up of independents, we should have plenty of opportunities to add to our national footprint.” The acquisition is expected to be accretive to earnings and cash flow in the first year.

“This planned transaction will allow UIG to focus on our core market in the Southwest, while assuring that our customers and employees in Florida, Georgia and California have a company like Airgas with the scale, scope and resources to serve their needs,” said Jeff Ellis, president of UIG.

About Airgas, Inc.

Airgas, Inc. (NYSE: ARG) is the largest U.S. distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gases, welding, safety and related products. Its integrated network of nearly 800 locations includes branches, retail stores, gas fill plants, specialty gas labs, production facilities and distribution centers. Airgas also distributes its products and services through eBusiness, catalog and telesales channels. Its national scale and strong local presence offer a competitive edge to its diversified customer base. For more information, please visit www.airgas.com.

About Union Industrial Gas Group

Union Industrial Gas Group (UIG) is the parent company of strategically aligned firms that provide repackaged industrial, medical and specialty gases as well as the distribution of related welding equipment, industrial supplies, welding rental equipment, and repair services. For more information, please visit www.union-gas.com/.

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Forward-Looking Statement
This press release may contain statements that are forward-looking, as that term is defined by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 or by the Securities and Exchange Commission in its rules, regulations and releases. These statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding: the Company’s plans to acquire 13 branches with sales of $20 million from UIG; Airgas employment opportunities for the UIG employees; the offering of a broader product range to the Company’s customers; the expectation that the acquisition will be accretive in the first year; the Company seeing the pace of acquisitions picking up in 2004; and the number of acquisition opportunities that will be available to the Company. Airgas intends that such forward-looking statements be subject to the safe harbors created thereby. All forward-looking statements are based on current expectations regarding important risk factors and should not be regarded as a representation by the Company or any other person that the results expressed therein will be achieved. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement include the successful integration of the UIG branches; the Company’s ability to retain the former UIG employees; the Company’s ability to satisfy the needs of the former UIG customers; the Company’s ability to identify, consummate and successfully integrate future acquisitions; an economic downturn; increased competition; customer acceptance of the Company’s products; adverse changes in customer buying patterns; adverse changes in general economic conditions; political and economic uncertainties associated with current world events; and other factors described in the Company’s reports, including Form 10-K dated March 31, 2002 and Forms 10-Q dated June 30, 2002, September 30, 2002, and December 31, 2002 filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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For more information on Airgas, please visit www.airgas.com.
Contact Information

Airgas, Inc.
259 N. Radnor-Chester Road
Suite 100
Radnor, PA 19087
tel: (610) 687-5253
fax: (610) 687-1052

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