Gas & Air Systems, Inc., engineers and packages industrial, specialty and process gas compressors and compressor systems. The company is located in Hellertown, Pa.
“MRC has been an excellent partner for us,” GAS president Stephen St. Martin said. “We’re very pleased they’re available to us. They’re a big advantage to doing business in Pennsylvania.”
Gas & Air Systems (GAS) was founded in 1999 to package and distribute Hamworthy and Bellis & Morcom compressors. It expanded rapidly in 2003, when it purchased the North American inventory and assets of Burton Corblin, for which it now serves as the exclusive U.S. and Canada distributor. In addition to its core mission as a manufacturer of compressor packages, GAS provides engineering, field service and replacement parts for all of its products. GAS is a member of the American Petroleum Institute, the Gas and Welding Distributors Association and the Compressed Gas Association. GAS currently has 17 employees.
GAS faced a number of challenges – some exclusive to its industry, some universal.
In advance of the 2011 expiration of Pennsylvania’s electricity rate cap, company principals were concerned with how deregulation would affect utility rates – and GAS’ market competitiveness.
Meanwhile, the extremely cyclical nature of the petrochemical and specialty gas markets made it necessary for the company to seek out new revenue opportunities within its core competencies. GAS also required the services of a corporate recruiter in order to fill a newly created executive position.
The Manufacturers Resource Center (MRC), a nonprofit organization partially funded by the NIST-MEP program and the Commonwealth of Pensylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development, had the access, expertise and scope to help GAS solve all three problems.
MRC presented GAS with solutions to each of its three distinct challenges.
MRC identified the use of a solar panel system as a way to insulate GAS from the threat of rising electricity costs. MRC properly vetted suppliers and installers based on GAS’ unique needs, and ultimately introduced the Hellertown company to Reading Electric, a locally based installer of Borrego Solar commercial power systems.
“Our previous work with MRC created a sense of confidence that told us we didn’t have to go out there and perform all the due diligence for ourselves,” GAS president Stephen St. Martin said. “Their presence made us confident in the contractors, and that was well-placed confidence. MRC made the process of installing a solar panel system very affordable for us.”
In order to help GAS increase revenues and hedge against down-cycles in its market, MRC collaborated with Lehigh University on an extensive market opportunity research/opportunity research and analysis (MOR/ORA) project. MRC and Lehigh then performed deep-dive research into providing compressed natural gas systems for vehicle fueling, an opportunity based in GAS’ core competencies, but leveraging a separate, broad-based, sustainable marketplace.
“We had looked around ourselves for alternative markets, but we had blinders on,” St. Martin said. “We tend to look at our existing markets and closely related markets. MRC brought fresh eyes to the research. They evaluated our company, our structure and our capabilities, then identified several opportunities for us to expand.”
Finally, to help GAS fill its vacant managerial position, MRC business development manager Diane Lewis provided the company with a list of vetted, recommended corporate recruiters.
The initiatives spearheaded by MRC have proved successful in helping GAS cut utility costs, increase revenues and improve corporate leadership.
GAS’ new Borrego solar panel system was completed by Reading Electric in October 2010. It has worked “exactly as planned,” St. Martin said.
“My primary objective was to insulate us from the effects of rate increases from the local utilities,” the GAS president said. “We achieved that, and we achieved significant savings in operating costs, thanks to the solar system.”
Because of MRC’s careful research, GAS was able to efficiently adapt its capabilities and processes to the vehicle natural gas market. It began taking orders for such systems in 2011, and has since booked four major orders, with three deliveries complete.
“The prospects look very good for that to be an ongoing positive addition to our business,” St. Martin said.
Meanwhile, the corporate recruiter identified by MRC was able to connect GAS with a qualified, successful manager.
“We’re pleased with the result,” St. Martin said.
“MRC has been an excellent partner for us. We’re very pleased they’re available to us. They’re a big advantage to doing business in Pennsylvania.”