Praxair Distribution, Inc. has acquired Harlingen, Texas-based Acetylene Oxygen Company (AOC), a distributor of Praxair industrial gases one of the top ten independent gas and welding products distributors in the US.

The acquisition of AOC allows Praxair to further expand its packaged gases presence in Texas, having recently acquired two independent distributors in the second half of 2011 that serve the Houston area, National Alloy and Texas Welders Supply Company.

Formed in 1932 and majority-owned and controlled by the founding Wolf family, AOC operates from 24 locations throughout central and southern Texas, including four cylinder-filling plants.

AOC’s sales, technical support and related services are largely directed to the energy sector and complement Praxair’s broader pipeline and bulk liquid gas offering to global refinery and petrochemical customers along the Gulf Coast.

“The acquisition of AOC expands Praxair’s capabilities to supply industrial and specialty gases, equipment and services to our customers,” said John Panikar, President, Praxair Distribution.

“Additionally, AOC’s presence along the US-Mexico border enables Praxair to better serve customers in this region. The Wolf family has built a premier distributorship with 80 years of strong commitment to superior customer service. They have done an exceptional job capitalising on tremendous growth opportunities, serving drillers and other energy-related service companies along the Eagle Ford shale formation in central Texas.”

Albert (Bert) Wolf, President of AOC and a majority shareholder, said of the deal, “Our philosophy of service has allowed us to become a leading packaged gas distributor. Combining our business with Praxair will continue to benefit our customers and employees.”