John A. Hernandez
Assistant Plant Superintendent
Why did you join Air Products?
Being a Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania resident for 30+ years, nearby Air Products’ primary headquarters, I was aware of the positive reputation and status the company had in the area. I had also been privileged to meet several people with many years of employment with the company who had nothing but great accolades for Air Products. With those testaments to the company’s culture, it was appealing to join the team.
Why do you love working at Air Products? What is it that keeps you working at Air Products?
Air Products has helped me develop into a dynamic person, not only at work but also with my personal life. During my 28-year career, I have been able to apply disciplines learned at work—safety focus, for example—to my home life. Likewise other skills and learnings from my professional life are useful to me in a variety of ways when interacting with friends and family, socially, and in my community. I have worked with a diverse group of professionals that keep me motivated and energetic. This same enthusiasm, thanks to my career, is how I conduct myself on a day-to-day.
Please describe your career at Air Products to date.
My career has been full of opportunities. I was hired in 1990, as a Welding Fabricator, manufacturing helium and nitrogen pressure vessels of various sizes. During this time, I decided to attend college to obtain an Associate Degree in Technology. As my career progressed, I was hired into Gardner Cryogenics (an Air Products affiliate) Engineering Department as a mechanical designer. After several years, I was given the opportunity to work and represent the Engineering Department in the rehab and repair facility in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to work on 11,000 gallon LHE ISO containers.
Again, opportunity came calling, and I decided to attend Villanova University. After completing the 18-month course, I earned a certification in business. I was then promoted to the to Global Operations Hydrogen, Customer Stations Group. I was responsible for the accountability and compliance with our fabrication shops to uphold and follow fabrication design specifications.
After three years in the Hydrogen Group, I again felt that education was instrumental to advancing my career, and my manager enrolled me in the Management Fundamentals Program, an Air Products learning series through Cornell University. This time, I was promoted to the position of Production manager for Gardner Cryogenic WCR facilities.
As the WCR Production manager, I was responsible for three facilities, Whitehall Pennsylvania, Liberal, Kansas, and Istres, France. My role included managing the rehab/repair of multiple product line containers for a worldwide diverse group of customers. At the time when I’d spent six years in this position, the LNG (liquefied natural gas) group was building a State of the Art facility in Florida. After several conversations with the LNG director and several trips to the facility, I accepted the position of Assistant Plant superintendent. This is where I stand today proud and privileged to be working with specialty products and a team of talented, passionate people. Air Products people help each other succeed--so many people that have mentored and motivated me to have this successful career.
Tell me about the most intriguing/satisfying thing(s) you’ve been involved in since you’ve been at Air Products.
My 25-year anniversary was a special time. I will always remember this day as an achievement of monumental proportions. I was grateful to work for a company like Air Products, with many great colleagues, knowing that the success of my family has been helped by my career. I am proud to have a daughter and son both college-educated, and my family’s values and journey reflect my successful career at Air Products.
What career advice would you give to those just starting out in their engineering careers?
Working for Air Products, one of the most advanced industrial gases company in the global market, with a diverse workforce where everyone thrives from others’ successes will give you the opportunity to flourish and grow into adulthood with security and peace of mind for you and your family. Strive to find a position where your values are mirrored in the culture and history of the company, and you can achieve great things.
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