One of the largest US distributors of industrial, medical and speciality gases, Airgas Inc, has announced its acquisition of Lehner and Martin Inc. (L&M), the California-based industrial gas and welding supply distributor.

Operations have been integrated into Airgas West, one of the regional companies that make up Airgas' distribution business, with L&M's current manager Mark Lehner joining Airgas West as an area vice president.

With branches in Placentia, Gardena and Chino, California, L&M generated sales of more than $13m in the fiscal year ending March 31st 2007 and the deal is the fifth acquisition completed by Airgas since April 1st.

President of Airgas West, John Irving, commented, $quot;We are pleased to welcome Mark, his brother Reid, and about 50 L&M associates to the Airgas team.$quot;
$quot;L&M has established itself as a reliable distributor to its customers and will increase the efficiency of our service to customers in the Orange County area,$quot; Irving added.

Airgas has also agreed to convert its National Welders joint venture into a wholly owned unit of Airgas. The industrial gas distributor will record a one-time charge of $3m in the second quarter and exchange around 2.47 million of its shares for all preferred shares of National Welders Supply Co.