Gas Innovations and Atlas Welding Supply, in conjunction with a growth investment from AEA Investors’ Small Business Fund, have combined to form Meritus Gas Partners, a new packaged gas distribution platform.

Source: Gas Innovations

Meritus intends to assemble a national federation of high-quality independent distributors of industrial, medical, and specialty gases and welding and safety supplies, located in diverse geographies and serving growing end-markets across North America.

The Meritus executive team is led by Chairman Scott Kaltrider, who has held various senior executive operating roles at Praxair Inc. over a 35+ year career which included serving as President of Praxair Distribution Inc (PDI), its packaged gas business in the US, from 2013 to 2016.

Rob D’Alessandro, the former owner of independent distributor Welco Gases Corp. in Newark, New Jersey, is Vice-Chairman of Meritus. D’Alessandro served as PDI’s Vice-President of Corporate Development for nearly 15 years, and led the acquisition and operational integration of approximately 100 independent distributors.

Mike Masha, former CFO of Messer MG Industries and mid-Atlantic distributor GTS-Welco, will serve as Meritus’ Chief Financial Officer, while Dave Marek will serve as its Director of Business Development following a 40-year career in the industry.

“AEA is a pioneer in the private equity industry with a sterling reputation and long track record of successfully collaborating with founders and entrepreneurs to scale their businesses,” Kaltrider said.

“Together, we see an opportunity to provide transformational capital to well-positioned businesses across the packaged gas industry. We will partner with exceptional businesses and management teams, allow them to remain independent and entrepreneurial, and support them to accelerate growth, improve business quality and enhance value. We will offer the owners the opportunity to roll over a meaningful amount of their equity into our holding company to allow them to share in the success of the overall platform. We believe this approach will resonate with owners who are seeking liquidity today but are committed to the industry and want to be part of something larger and more dynamic.”

Gas Innovations, strategically located at the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel in La Porte, Texas, is a wholesale provider of high purity hydrocarbons and refrigerants as well as equipment such as tube trailers, cryogenic ISO containers, and other packages for gases to our distributors. Gas Innovations produces, purifies, packages, and distributes a wide range of high purity specialty industrial gases through a deployable asset base to customers in the US and internationally.

Source: Atlas Welding Supply

Tuscaloosa, Alabama-based Atlas is a supplier of industrial, specialty, high purity, medical grade and mixed gases, as well as welding and cutting supplies.

“We are fortunate to have two exceptional businesses to launch our exciting initiative,” Mr. D’Alessandro said.

“Over the past 20 years, Gas Innovations has established itself as the industry’s primary source for specialty hydrocarbon gases. Its record of superior service, broad range of quality products, technical abilities and deep asset base distinguishes it among other specialty gas companies. It has a unique supply chain position and strong and entrenched collaborative relationships with industrial gas majors, independent distributors, and end users alike, and the owners we are aligning with have stellar reputations throughout our industry. We are proud to have them as our partners as we seek to expand our footprint across North America.”

“We are also impressed by Atlas’ ‘customer-first’ culture and demonstrated track record of exceptional customer service and reliability, as well as its commitment to safety,” D’Alessandro added.

“We believe Atlas is well-positioned to continue its strong growth trajectory both organically and through additional M&A in both Alabama and the surrounding region. We have great appreciation for the professionalism and dedication of Atlas’ talented team and its focus on providing customer solutions backed by best-in-class products and service.”

Gas Innovations and Atlas will continue to operate independently under their own local brands. Financial terms of the transactions were not disclosed.

Gas Innovations’ principal owners and Co-Founders Ashley Madray and Jason Willingham will maintain significant equity ownership in Meritus and will operate as President and Vice-President of Gas Innovations, respectively, while serving on Meritus’ Board of Directors.

“We chose to partner with Meritus because of its relevant industry expertise, experience in scaling similar types of businesses, and strong cultural fit,” Mr. Madray said. “We are confident that together we will grow Gas Innovations while simultaneously building a national federation of great businesses with like-minded entrepreneurs.”

Atlas is led by owners Bill Visintainer and James Cain who will maintain significant equity ownership in Meritus and continue to operate in their current capacities at Atlas. Visintainer has not only served as the President of the Gases and Welding Distributers Association (GAWDA) but also was a founder of the Airco Distributer Association (ADA), now known as Messer Distributor Group and will join the Meritus Board of Directors.

“The opportunity to partner with Gas Innovations to form Meritus is very exciting for us,” Visintainer said. “We look forward to partnering with a team that will empower us to grow Atlas to a level we may not have been able to achieve alone. We believe the packaged gas industry remains highly fragmented, which presents a significant consolidation opportunity. We are committed to the industrial gas industry and are now able to diversify our investment into businesses in other geographies and sectors across the US, and ultimately, the continent.”