I saw this news today while reading through my alerts and frankly I’m saddened. It feels like another piece of my past has gone. If we rewind nearly eleven years ago at the beginning of my career I was tasked with the responsibility of negotiating and purchasing all of the R-134a refrigerant for my company. The company I worked for was a chain of Kenworth Truck dealerships that spanned across the country. When I would receive quotes on R-134a it would be by the pallet. (Forty cylinders of thirty pounds on each pallet.) Sometimes we would buy three to four pallets per location. Sometimes we would buy an entire trailer-load of the stuff. (Yes, twenty pallets worth!)
It was my job to negotiate between refrigerant distributors such as CoolGas (Now A-Gas), Refron, Automotive Associates (Small business up in Minnesota), and a host of other distribution companies. I would get a baseline price and go back and forth between suppliers hoping to get them to lower their price. There was one company out of Baton Rouge, LA that was always a pleasure to deal with, Refron Refrigerants.
I don’t know if she still works there now but my contact was Sylvia. We would go back and forth and sometimes they would get the deal, sometimes they wouldn’t but they were always a good sport about it. The best part about it though was that around Christmas time every year I would get a box sent to my desk from Refron. I would open it up and it would be a silk tie. It made the rest of my ties in my closet look terrible. In fact, nearly ten years later, I still have them hanging in my master closet. The quality of these things were great and I wear them to important interviews or work events to this day.
In 2008 AGas-Refrigerants, out of New York, acquired Refron Refrigerants. Ever since then the ties stopped. Now, I have nothing against AGas Refrigerants. In fact they were my supplier a few years back when I was drop-shipping refrigerant on the side and they did superb job. But, why… why did the ties stop!
I swear it seems with each passing year companies are gobbling each other up. There seems to be a massing of giant conglomerates in each industry. Instead of there being ten or even fifteen major players in the refrigeration distribution field there only really seems to be two big dogs now.
- A-Gas Americas: I’m sure most of you have heard of them by now, A-Gas Americas. This company is not to be confused with AGas Refrigerants. A-Gas Americas is a global refrigerant company that bought out CoolGas Refrigerants a few years back. Along with acquiring CoolGas they have also bought many other refrigerant companies here in the US and abroad.
- Hudson Technologies: The other major refrigerant distribution and reclamation company in the US and the world now is Hudson Technologies. Just like A-Gas they have been expanding and acquiring as many refrigerant type businesses as they can to compete.
It was announced earlier this week that Hudson Technologies would be buying Airgas-Refrigerants Inc for two-hundred and twenty million dollars. This acquisition of Airgas will give Hudson a much bigger distribution footprint across the United States and also bring the experts from Airgas and Refron into their ranks.
More and more I feel this industry is going to consolidate into two behemoths fighting back and forth with each other for market share while us little guys struggle for the scraps. Now the deal between the two companies still needs to be finalized and everything worked out at the negotiating table but I can guarantee you that at least one thing has gone away. There will be no more ties from my former pals at Refron Refrigerants.