Take a trip with me as we zoom back to the 1980s – a time when our current Saint Louis PRISM Membranes building was actually an electrical distribution warehouse. In fact, the business unit of “Air Products PRISM Membranes” wasn’t even formed until years later.
It started in Research Triangle Park (North Carolina) as a manufacturing project underneath the parent company of Monsanto. Monsanto, who is now a dominant seed & agricultural development company, was an active player in textile manufacturing in the 1970s. They spun tiny textile fibers from plastic which eventually led to spinning hollow fibers for the purpose of gas separation. But nobody in the gas industry had really heard of using these tube-like membrane separators to generate gases, so customers were hard to come by.
Monsanto made some changes to their textile business in 1984. They closed their big building in North Carolina and moved the gas separation employees to Saint Louis…in a vacant building down the street from their corporate office. The building had vacant space, and that’s about it, nothing fancy. So they built a few walls and hallways and moved the fiber spinning equipment over. After years of development, the business grew and more offices and walls went up in our building. The next time you’re in our facility, take a look at the layout, it makes no sense. But it was the product of a growing business, so walls went up where they were needed. And everyone was always too busy to worry about what the building looked like.
In 1991, Air Products acquired the membrane separation business from Monsanto as part of their desire to sell both gas molecules and gas generating equipment. Encouragingly, Air Products kept the existing membrane employees on board. In a merger or acquisition, that’s not always the case. But membrane manufacturing isn’t something you learn overnight, so I assume they valued the years of experience. Like it says in our corporate governance statement:
“Air Products has built a reputation for quality, integrity and goodwill that is the cornerstone of our success.”
So although it all started in North Carolina, we’ve been true Saint Louisans since
1984. And yes, we eat toasted ravioli and flat pizza with weird cheese.