Airgas invests in new building

Dennis Schaefers, western Colorado area manager of Airgas, demonstrates a filling manifold at the new 20,000-square-foot facility on G Road.

The new Airgas plant is located on G Road near Western Slope Ford.

If it puts the fizzle into that Coke, helps damaged lungs breathe, fires up a welding torch or helps push natural gas out of the earth, chances are that it comes from Airgas Inc.

Airgas will move into a new 20,000-square-foot building later this month at 693 Long Acre Drive in the Grand West Business Center. It about quadruples the size of the existing building at 2584 U.S. Highway 6&50.

The $7.2 million building will be home to more than a variety of gases, western Colorado Area Manager Dennis Schaefers said.

If nothing else, Airgas has learned how to be nimble, an especially helpful tack in the face of rapidly changing economics, Schaefers said.

In addition to gases — oxygen, nitrogen and argon, to name the three big sellers — Airgas offers safety classes for customers, sells a variety of safety equipment and sells some construction equipment, from ladders to tools to electrical cords.

“We hope to add a construction specialist in 2011,” Schaefers said.

The new building will house 18 employees.

To be sure, “A lot of our business was in the energy sector,” but Schaefers said plenty of business remains to be had.

Airgas supplies oxygen to hospitals in western Colorado, from St. Mary’s to Community and elsewhere. Airgas also landed the contract to supply oxygen to the new hospital under construction in Moab, Utah.

The new Airgas building includes an 11,000-gallon oxygen tank, a 9,000-gallon nitrogen tank, a 3,000-gallon argon tank and a 14-ton carbon- dioxide tank.

The company also supplies specialty gases, such as the gases used in lasers by CoorsTek and others used in medicine, Schaefers said.

That makes the Airgas building the largest of its type between Denver and Salt Lake City, Schaefers said.

We fill a lot of cylinders,” from 9,000 to 10,000 a month, Schaefers said.

The plant section of the building features state-of-the-art manifolds in which tanks and cylinders can be refilled, as well as one dedicated to refilling “walk-about” oxygen bottles used by individuals with breathing difficulties.

Customers are eager to see the new building, Schaefers said.

Since the Airgas sign was installed, “Customers have been showing up already asking when we’ll be open,” he said.

Airgas a publicly held company, NYSE:ARG, is the largest distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gases in the United States. It employs more than 14,000 people in 1,100 locations.


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