Praxair Distribution Inc., a subsidiary of Praxair, Inc. (, acquired in mid-October Hobart Industrial Gases of Fort Wayne, Ind. Since 1956, Hobart Industrial Gases has supplied a wide array of packaged industrial, medical and specialty gases, welding equipment, supplies and services to Indiana and Ohio.

"This acquisition provides a great opportunity to integrate the strengths and skills of Hobart with those of Praxair to build an even stronger business serving customers in Indiana and Ohio," said Wayne Yakich, president of Praxair Distribution, Inc.

Yakich said that in addition to Hobart Industrial Gases, two other recent acquisitions also expanded Praxair's customers service area in North America: A-1 Welding Products, with locations in Dickinson and Bismarck, North Dakota; and S-L Liquid of Woodbridge, located in Ontario, Canada.

Separately, Praxair began production in mid-October at its new hydrogen plant in Whiting, Ind. According to the company, the 20 million standard cu. ft. per day steam methane reformer plant provides increased hydrogen production capacity at Whiting, and will supply hydrogen to BP and other customers in northern Indiana. BP will use the hydrogen in the production of ultra-low-sulfur gasoline and diesel fuels.

Besides a hydrogen-production and pipeline-supply network in Whiting that serves customers in northwest Indiana, the company currently operates 34 steam methane reformers and seven hydrogen pipeline systems that deliver more than 850 million standard cu. ft. per day (1,250,000 cubic meters per hour) of hydrogen.

At the corporate offices of Praxair, Inc., an announcement was issued on October 6 that Dennis H. Reilley, chairman and chief executive officer, would step down as CEO at the end of 2006, and remain as chairman of the corporation until his retirement on April 30, 2007.

Stephen F. Angel, currently Praxair's president and chief operating officer, will become president and CEO, effective January 1, 2007. Angel, 51, will assume the additional title of chairman upon Reilley's retirement.

Reilley commented, "I know (Stephen Angel) will provide Praxair with outstanding leadership in the coming years." He also indicated that his future activities will include serving on the boards of several U.S. corporations as well as two non-profit organizations.