Airgas Buys Refron; Will Keep Brand Name

Airgas Inc. announced on June 12 that it signed a definitive agreement to acquire the assets and operations of Refron Inc., a national reseller and distributor of refrigerants that also provides technical services and refrigerant reclamation services. The companies expect to complete the transaction by the end of July, subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions, according to an announcement from Airgas.

The announcement said that Refron, which is based in Long Island City, N.Y., will continue to go to market as Refron, and will be integrated with Airgas’ existing refrigerant and reclamation business into a new company, Airgas Refrigerants Inc.

Airgas said it intends to offer employment to about 60 Refron associates working in Long Island City, N.Y.; Baton Rouge, La.; and Long Beach, Calif. Refron owners Jay and Jerry Kestenbaum, whose father founded Refron in 1950, will join Airgas after acquisition.

“As a leader in supplying refrigerants for over 55 years, we are excited about the prospect of joining forces with Airgas,” said Jay Kestenbaum, president of Refron. “Our can do attitude will fit well with the Airgas culture. Our combined resources will help our people and customers meet the challenges of a changing industry as more environmentally-friendly alternatives are required in the marketplace.”

Chuck Broadus, president of Airgas Specialty Products, has been named president of Airgas Refrigerants, effective immediately. Jay Kestenbaum will become senior vice president for product management, vendor relationship, and marketing for refrigerants, reporting to Broadus. Jerry Kestenbaum will continue as vice president of technology. Broadus will continue to report to Airgas’ Gas Operations Division President Ted Schulte, who will also become president of Airgas Specialty Products, which will focus on its industrial ammonia and process chemicals businesses.

“Chuck has been instrumental in building our refrigerants business in the last 18 months, with the acquisitions of CFC Refimax and Gartech,” said Schulte. “Now with the addition of Refron, it makes sense to break out our refrigerants business. Our ammonia and process chemicals businesses also have seen tremendous growth under Chuck’s guidance since 2006. I will work directly with the Airgas Specialty Products team to continue that progress.”

Publication date: 06/30/2008

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