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The Invisible Industry

Gases / Industries / Industry News / Insights

Industrial gases are a critical component for many companies. They are used in virtually every manufacturing process and for many services in a variety of industries. Key applications include welding, cutting, steel manufacturing, lighting, food preservation and carbonation, electronics, oil and gas, aerospace, healthcare, fish hatcheries, construction, and automotives. Despite being critical to so many industries and some of Industrial Gas’ largest providers occupying positions within the Fortune 500, industrial gas companies are not well known. It’s fascinating that such a vital part of the economy can go unrecognized.

The business of industrial gas has been termed “the invisible industry”. This is the case for a few reasons. It initially developed as an extension of the welding distribution industry, which shielded its economic impact. It’s also an industry that hasn’t been studied by many scholars and does not receive regular publicity. Further, the actual products (gases themselves) are physically invisible in our daily lives. However, even though it’s been named “invisible”, the industrial gas industry is indispensable.


The History of Industrial Gas

The history of industrial gases is inextricably linked to the rapid industrialization in the 1800’s. The large-scale generation of certain gases paved the way for new types of technologies and production processes. When the “industry” started taking shape in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, it was focused almost exclusively on oxygen and (for some firms) acetylene. Around 1890, the first high pressure cylinder was constructed and led to an increase in storage and shipping options. Then in 1895, Carl Linde, working in Germany, patented his air liquefaction process which promised even greater levels of production at higher purity levels. By the 1920s, some companies made the decision to combine oxygen and acetylene production and distribution, while some manufactured air separation units and related equipment. It wasn’t until after World War II that other gases such as hydrogen, nitrogen, argon, and carbon dioxide came into the picture.

Our own history is similar. In 1924, The United States Welding Works Company began as a partnership between Charles Lofgren and Adam Schmick. Originally located in downtown Denver, the small store specialized in radiator repair, and included anything from difficult welding jobs to repairing parts and machinery all over the Rocky Mountain Region. By 1928, customers increasingly asked Lofgren and Schmick to stock oxygen and acetylene to aid in their own welding jobs. They were also asked to distribute products for the Linde shop next door and the partners saw a tremendous opportunity. United States Welding Works Company then reformed as a supply house for atmospheric gases and welding supplies. The company continued to grow prior to and during World War II. After which, we changed our name to United States Welding. Considering that the industries our customers work in have diversified beyond the welding industry, we decided to change our name again in 2017 to Rocky Mountain Air Solutions.


Current Industrial Gas Market

The term “industrial gases” is sometimes narrowly defined as the major gases sold, which can include nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, argon, hydrogen, acetylene, and helium. However, there are many more “specialty gases” and “rare gases”. Gases are also known for their uses or industries that they serve, such as “welding gases”, “breathing gases”, “medical gases”, or “fuel gases”. The companies that currently dominate the industry produce, sell, and distribute gases and related equipment internationally. Industrial gases fulfil several industrial, commercial, and domestic purposes.

Industries We Currently Serve

In addition to the current needs and applications, new uses for these gases are emerging with growing industries and technologies. Though the industry is considered “invisible,” its impact is far from it and felt on a daily basis.


Industrial Gas in the Rocky Mountains

Our heritage is about more than being the leading supplier of atmospheric gases. It’s about creating an experience of flawless dependability for our customers. We’ve stood the test of time by adapting to meet the demands of the changing market. Our success is a result of long-term relationships, consistently meeting quality expectations and an excellent customer experience. By intentionally redefining customer service expectations, we promise to work faster, better, and differently. We always have the gases you need — when you need them.

Rocky Mountain Air offers liquid or compressed gases in various concentrations and purities. We offer bulk options for our partners, and include equipment rental such as tanks and trailers. We make it easy for our customers to make cylinder exchanges and will schedule refills on-site for any bulk applications. Contact your local branch today in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, or Nebraska to discuss your gas uses, or to set up a usage evaluation. We look forward to serving you with flawless dependability!


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