A family business located in the helium hotbed of Amarillo is hoping to transform its operation in response to a changing market. Tex-Air Gas supplies helium to welding supplies distributors across the US, and has also fueled projects like launching a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken into space and illusionist David Blaine’s ascent above the Arizona desert with the help of around 50 helium balloons last year. But now Tex-Air Gas hopes to become more than just a helium distributor, and have its own source.
The US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which operates and maintains a helium storage reservoir, enrichment plant, and pipeline system not far from Tex-Air in Amarillo, Texas, once supplied over 40% of domestic demand for helium, but is in the process of decline. Various exploration projects in the US and Canada hope to result in new helium sources to ease concerns that the US will soon have to rely on overseas sources in Qatar and Russia to meet demand.
Jim Prowell, whose dad Jim Sr. founded the company as a welding supply business in 1952, runs Tex-Air with son Joe (President). Executive Vice-President Jim has seen enough in the business to recognize how significant a moment this is in the evolution of the helium market, and an opportunity for Tex-Air to become more than just a helium distributor.
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