Acme Cryogenics Continues to Expand Through Adaptation

By LVEDC Staff on May 20, 2014

acme2The folks at Acme Cryogenics sure know a lot about chemistry. So while the Encyclopedia Britannica defines cryogenics as “the study and use of low-temperature phenomena,” we wanted to know just how this process is applied in today’s society.

So, we let Acme do the talking.

“Cryogenics goes well beyond the dictionary definition in today’s society and touches everyone’s lives in several ways,” said Matthew Minielly, chief financial officer of Acme Cryogenics.

“Atmospheric air (the air we breathe) is comprise of three primary elements: Nitrogen (78 percent) Oxygen (21 percent) and Argon (1 percent). These three gases are ‘manufactured’ in air separation units (ASUs) through a process called cryogenics distillation. In short, the process lowers the temperature of the air until the respective components convert to their liquid phase (which happens at three different and distinct temperatures). The gases remain in their liquid state (they are transported and stored as liquid) until consumption at the desired end use.”

Acme Cryogenics is truly a Lehigh Valley business success story. Founded as Acme Screw Machine products in 1969 – and working as a general machine shop providing machining services to industries in the northeastern United States – the company hit it big when it started serving the industry gas industry by manufacturing cryogenic liquid transfer fittings.

“Recognition of the potential of the industry and its need for independent manufacturers led the found to rename the company Acme Cryogenics,” said Minielly. “This would better reflect the industry it served and the opportunity to provide products upstream and downstream of CGA Liquid Transfer Connection.”

Through acquisitions and partnerships beginning with hose and valve manufacturers, the company quickly outgrew its original location.

“In 1984 Acme relocated to a much larger facility and continued to add capabilities and products including vacuum insulated pipe, cryogenic tank rehab, column and cold box fabrication along with field services,” Minielly said.

Those long in the Valley may remember their Acme’s fetching acquisition of the “Engineered Systems and Manufacturing Center” from Air Products and Chemicals in 1993. With that move, Acme entered what we’ll call the “warm” side of the industrial gas industry with the design and manufacturing capabilities for hundreds of gas distribution and control systems.

During the next dozen or so years Acme continued to acquire other companies (and competitors) until December 2006, when a controlling interest in the company was sold to Gladstone Investment Corp (NASDAQ- GAIN) and other limited partners.

“There are currently three manufacturing operations,” said Minielly. “Two in Allentown and one outside of Atlanta. Acme also has field service locations in Allentown, Atlanta, Houston and Chicago.

Quite a lineup, quite a company

In sports terminology, Acme is as versatile as a five-tool baseball player. In short, they do it all with a diverse and encompassing range of products. The company makes cryogenic liquid transfer fittings, cryogenic valves, vacuum insulated pipe, atmospheric tank rehabilitation, various cryogenic and industrial gas process equipment, as well as installation and maintenance services.

“We serve a lot of industries,” Minielly noted. “Medical, pharmaceutical, chemical, petroleum and alternative fuels, food packaging and metal processing to name a few.”

Acme also understands that any successful business needs to have a home and the Lehigh Valley has been a good place to do business for the company.

“The industrial gas business is concentrated in the most populated, industrialized places and the Lehigh Valley offers an ideal location to service our customers,” Minielly explained. “In addition to Air Products and Chemicals, there are five other ‘major’ industrial gas companies that represent a large opportunity for our business.”

Four of these companies are located within a couple hours’ drive of the Lehigh Valley, while the fifth is located in Houston, according to Minielly.

“The Lehigh Valley is perfectly located for transportation of goods and deployment of services to the major metropolitan areas of the Northeastern United States,” the company’s CFO said.

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