Airgas have today announced their first Branch of the Year award winners which honor the best performing branches from its American network of more than 600.

Winners of the awards were divided into US regions and were based on fiscal 2005 performance and included the Gillette WY branch in Airgas Intermountain and Keokuk IA in Airgas North Central.

\\$quot;We created these national trophies as part of our Core Business Strategy activities last year to honor the best of the best. In the last few weeks, each region has honored its best small and large branches. Today, we are very proud to select two of these branches to receive our first National Branch of the Year winners,\\$quot; said Mike Molinini, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Airgas, Inc.

National branches of the year receive trophies constructed from powder-coated platinum 125 cylinders mounted on a welded aluminium base with regional winners receiving 80 cylinder powder-coated gold trophies.

Of the national large branch winner, Mr Molinini added \\$quot;Led by branch manager Eric Reid and outside account manager Steve Bell, Gillette has grown from a scratch start just five years ago to become one of Airgas Intermountain's top performing branches\\$quot;.

He added, \\$quot;In the small branch category, the winner is Keokuk, IA in Airgas North Central. Branch Manager Brian Reed and Inside Sales Associate Wayne Derry generate more than $1 million in sales through walk-in business and hot-shot deliveries while Account Manager Maureen Behne handles outside sales,\\$quot; Molinini noted.

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