Back in 1949 Harry S. Truman began serving his second term as President of the United States. The average cost of a new home was $7, 450, the average cost of a new car was $1,420, a gallon of gas was 17 cents, and minimum wage was 70 cents per hour. Postwar prosperity was starting to get underway. That year Middlesex Welding Supply was established as an independent distributor with Joseph Martin Sr. as the founding father.
Joseph Martin’s vision for business was clear – to create and operate a strong independent distributorship that would sell quality products at a fair price and back them up with excellent service. With humble beginnings that included an upside down milk carton for a chair and a single pickup truck for deliveries, Joseph Martin Sr. and his associate Tom Qualey began the Middlesex Welding Supply operation in Everett, Massachusetts.
By 1960 Middlesex had outgrown the Everett location and moved to a new facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1965, the company returned to Everett with the addition of a fill plant at what is now Middlesex headquarters. This fill plant is thought to be one of the first of its kind for an independent distributor. To support these new facilities, equipment, and company growth, Middlesex also added to its staff at this time.
In 1974 Joseph Martin Sr. passed away and Joseph Martin Jr. began his role as CEO of Middlesex Welding Supply. Like his father, Joe Jr. continued to focus on the company’s core values and met with even more success, necessitating the addition of other facilities in Massachusetts. In the 1970s, Middlesex purchased a location in Framingham from Airco and also scratch-started another branch location in Haverhill.
By the late 1980s the fabrication business, a leading market for gases and welding supplies, started to dwindle around the country, including in the Boston area. Several gas distributor competitors also emerged on the scene.
As the Boston market started to shift away from fabrication and towards research and development firms, it was important that Middlesex create a marketing strategy to meet new market demands. “Joseph “Bo” Martin became CEO in 1991 and together with his brother Tom as company President, led the company on its new path. He began by overseeing a branding change. In 1992 Middlesex Welding Supply changed its name to Middlesex Gases & Technologies to better reflect the capabilities, products, and services the company now offered to Boston’s emerging gas markets.
By the time Joseph Martin Jr. passed away in 1993, Middlesex had started to fill specialty gases and the company has continued to expand its specialty gas capabilities to meet the new demands of emerging markets. The company decided to develop a cylinder tracking system. This was a huge undertaking for Middlesex as it required the barcoding of all its cylinders. The decision to launch this system, however, has proven to be pivotal to the continued success of the company. Today, Middlesex offers university laboratories and other institutions a cylinder tracking system that allows them to more carefully control and manage their cylinder inventory.
The 1990s saw more growth for the company and in 1999 Middlesex opened a second fill plant in Plainville, Massachusetts. This allowed Middlesex to target new business opportunities in Rhode Island and western Massachusetts.
In 2002 Middlesex decided to purchase its first MicroBulk truck, with the initial goal of supporting the Life Sciences market and research companies. Today Middlesex has four tractor trailers – three for nitrogen, one for argon, and a liquid CO2 truck. In 2007, Middlesex added a third filling and distribution plant by purchasing Mass Oxygen in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Today, Middlesex operates in a tri-state area with three fill plants and two branch locations that service Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. Middlesex Gases & Technologies’ core values remain the same as they were in 1949 and continue to lead the company’s further expansion by assuring its customers of excellent products, service, and support.