Leonard Parker Pool founded his firm to meet the needs of the mid-level oxygen consumer. Although his idea to combine existing technology with a novel marketing concept was ingenious, immediate orders were not forthcoming. Frustrated but undaunted, Pool seized opportunity and instead, sold oxygen generators to support military efforts during World War II.
Leonard Parker Pool founds Air Products in 1940 in Detroit, Michigan, on a simple, but revolutionary, idea: the "on-site" concept of producing and selling industrial gases.
Air Products leases its first oxygen gas generator to a small Detroit steel company in 1941.
Pictured: Grede foundries plant, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. An R-750 generator, typical of generators sold and leased in the 1940s and 1950s.
World War II diverts the company's attention to the design and manufacture of mobile generators to produce oxygen for use by the military in high-altitude flights.View Larger Photo
Pictured: 1st & 2nd aircraft repair units; two of many crews trained by Air Products in the operation and maintenance of its mobile oxygen generators.
Air Products moves to Chattanooga, Tennessee and produces 240 oxygen generators for the armed forces and for "lend-lease" to foreign allies.View Larger Photo
Pictured: Mobile and stationary oxygen generators under construction in Chattanooga.
After the war, the company refocuses its sights on commercial markets by setting up operations near Allentown in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley.View Larger Photo
Pictured: Emmaus, Pennsylvania, Plant 1
In 1945, Air Products secures a contract with Weirton Steel Company in West Virginia to lease three generators that produce six tons per day of oxygen.View Larger Photo
Pictured: Line drawing of Weirton tonnage plant.