Air Water Inc.’s deal for TOMCO2 Systems marks the latest step in Air Water’s overseas expansion strategy, while also representing another piece of M&A activity in the CO2 business and related markets – a hive of activity in recent years.

Like many of its Japanese counterparts, Air Water has been on a path of diversification for the last decade or more.

Indeed, when I interviewed Air Water back in 2009, the company was mindful of its need to branch out. There was also a single-minded determination to remain current; to remain a leader.

At that time Air Water was working on a new mid-term business plan for the three years ahead, which came into effect in April 2010, and had adopted the vision ‘To be the commanding presence in the industrial gas industry’.

Geographic and product diversification has been key to that goal ever since. Then Chairman, President and CEO Hiroshi Aoki told me that a recession-accelerated market maturity in Japan could yet see Air Water branch out even further and, “review our overseas business accurately in order to maintain our high growth power in the next 10 years and beyond.”

Almost a decade on and we have definitely seen that development arc, with this acquisition of TOMCO2 Systems the latest step not only in expansion but in exerting ‘constant self-change’ – something that Aoki had described as an important competitive edge for the company.

One might observe too that CO2 has been a particular product in focus for the group. TOMCO2 Systems has been delivering trusted CO2 solutions since 1970, so there is a considerable knowledge-base there, while the addition of Taylor-Wharton to its ranks will have enhanced its cryogenics portfolio overseas and Air Water has also reinforced its CO2 supply chain domestically.

Wholly-owned subsidiary Air Water Carbonic Inc. installed a new liquid carbon dioxide (LCO2) and dry ice production facility in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 2013, and completed the construction of a new plant in Kawasaki in late 2016 which the company claims will ‘reinforce a stable supply’ of carbon dioxide (CO2) and dry ice throughout Japan.