Airgas, Inc. has marked the groundbreaking of its new 7,000 square foot cylinder fill plant, warehouse, and distribution centre in Kapolei, Hawaii, built to meet demand for packaged gases and related products in the Pacific Rim Basin of the US.

The new facility will be operated by Airgas West, one of twelve regional companies in Airgas’ nationwide distribution business.

Sam Thompson, President of Airgas West, and Max Hooper, Western Division President for Airgas, were joined by more than 50 Airgas staff, local and state officials who gathered to participate in a traditional Hawaiian ground blessing ceremony.

Construction is now underway, and the facility is expected to be complete later this year, in June 2010.

The new three-acre site will add capabilities and create a more efficient supply chain for Airgas West’s distribution of industrial, medical, and specialty gases including oxygen, nitrogen, argon, helium, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide. The company also produces dry ice and is the leading retailer of camping, cooking, and other outdoor products, as well as the largest distributor of propane and propane-fueled products in Hawaii.

“This new facility represents Airgas’ ongoing commitment to serving the diverse needs of Hawaiian businesses and communities,” said Thompson.

“We greatly appreciate our role in supporting the Pacific Rim Basin, and are proud to be able to contribute to the economic vitality of the Kapolei region with this long-term investment.”

Airgas’ Hawaii operations, also known as Gaspro, recently celebrated 100 years in the state’s business community, having opened its doors in 1909 as Hawaiian Gas Products, a small, family-owned business that made bricks, pipe and, eventually, industrial and medical gases like oxygen and nitrogen.

Today, as part of Airgas West, it has grown to nine locations — three in Oahu, three in Hawaii, two in Maui, and one in Kauai.