Out of Thin Air: A History of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., 1940-1990

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The story of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., is exciting--full of struggle, determination, crisis, and heroic endeavor. Air Products grew out of the vision and drive of one individual, Leonard Pool. In the course of fifty years, Pool's precarious project has become a major, multinational corporation. Words like entrepreneurship, sales, finance, engineering, and technology are central to the history of Air Products. So too are concepts like being a late entrant to an established business, struggling to find market niches, moving into fields of endeavor, developing human resources, and breaking through to the level where economies of scale and scope would allow a secure future as a major player on a global scale. The story is one of success; plain luck at some points. But it also contains its share of hard knocks, disappointments, and mistaken strategies. The enduring style of Air Products--its customer-focus and its emphasis on sales and growth--emerged from the interactions of Leonard Pool's personality, the engineering skills of his colleagues, and the opportunities offered by the industrial gas supplier in the world. It is also a major chemical company and a pioneer in the emerging field of environmental and energy systems. Multinational, technology-based firms like Air Products are an important part of American society and of the emerging global economy. The history of Air Products will be of value to everyone interested in the industrial gas and chemical industries, business history, entrepreneurial history, and American studies.