Leonard P. Pool was the founder of Air Products and the company’s first Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
A boilermaker’s son who had to quit college to work to support the family when his father died, Mr. Pool’s entrepreneurial instincts helped him form Air Products, which incorporated on September 30, 1940. His revolutionary idea of building on-site oxygen plants changed an entire industry. The building of oxygen gas generating facilities adjacent to large-volume gas users by Air Products reduced distribution costs. The concept of piping gas directly from the generator to the point of use proved technically sound and financially attractive. Mr. Pool’s integrity guided his business decisions, earning him respect from employees and the corporate community. What started out as a small Detroit operation, went public in May 1946, and grew into a global company.
Regarded as a pioneer in the manufacture of industrial gases and chemicals, Mr. Pool received numerous awards for his innovations including the Chemical Industry Association’s Winthrop-Sears Medal “in recognition of his entrepreneurial action which has contributed to the vitality of the chemical industry and the betterment of mankind.”
Mr. Pool became an integral part of Air Products’ Pennsylvania corporate headquarters community. He was a principal benefactor and spearheaded the formation of Lehigh Valley Hospital, creating a regionally superior hospital.
He was on the boards of numerous banks, hospitals and colleges, including the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Center in New York, and Lehigh University.
He was general manager of Compressed Industrial Gases and held various posts with other industrial gas firms prior to forming Air Products.
Mr. Pool passed away on December 27, 1975.
Today Mr. Pool’s ideals live on in several ways. At Lehigh University, the Leonard Pool Memorial Scholarship is awarded to Lehigh students who demonstrate entrepreneurial talents which typified the life and career of Mr. Pool, such as operating a business while attending classes at Lehigh.
Mr. Pool’s commitment to safety in the workplace continues to be recognized through the Leonard Parker Pool Safety Awards presented annually by the Compressed Gas Association. Sponsored by Air Products, the awards were created in 1978 and are presented annually to participating CGA member companies that have recorded the greatest improvement in safety performance based on specific criteria.
Two non-profit organizations, the Rider Pool Foundation and the Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust, continue to keep Mr. Pool’s legacy alive by giving back to the community where he accomplished so much.
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