DANBURY, Conn., March 26, 2004 — Praxair, Inc. (NYSE:PX) today announced that Praxair Canada Inc. and Blue Rhino Corporation have signed an agreement for Praxair to supply Blue Rhino propane tank exchange services at major third-party retail locations throughout Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.
Praxair will act as Blue Rhino's exclusive independent distributor providing filling and distribution services across all six provinces. The program will begin immediately in Ontario, and plans call for full implementation across all six provinces before the end of the 2004 summer outdoor barbecue season. The agreement represents Blue Rhino’s first move outside the United States and Puerto Rico for its tank exchange services.
"We are pleased to be working with Praxair to take Blue Rhino tank exchange to Canada," said Tim Scronce, President and COO of Blue Rhino. "The propane distributor plays a significant role in ensuring consumers enjoy a safe, convenient tank exchange experience. Praxair was the obvious choice as our exclusive distributor in these provinces, because of the company's strong management commitment to operational discipline and its sophisticated Canadian distribution system."
"Our objective is to build the Blue Rhino tank exchange business throughout the major population centers of Canada," commented Wayne Yakich, President of Praxair Distribution, Inc. (PDI), a subsidiary of Praxair, Inc. "We expect to primarily use PDI's existing tank filling and distribution infrastructure to supply this market.
"We believe Canadian consumers who use propane tanks to fuel outdoor barbecues, deep fryers, patio heaters, mosquito eradication devices or other appliances will appreciate the one-stop convenience of Blue Rhino's service, "Yakich continued. "Consumers will be able to go to retail stores they know and trust and purchase new or exchange their empty propane tanks for 'like new' full Blue Rhino tanks." Blue Rhino has branded tank exchange locations at leading home improvement centers, mass merchants, hardware, grocery and convenience stores including Home Depot, Lowe's, Wal-Mart, Sears, Kroger, and ExxonMobil. Retailers are receptive to Blue Rhino because it offers a high-margin branded product, requires no interior floor space, provides direct store delivery using sophisticated inventory control, and offers customers the convenience of a full tank with their propane gas grill or appliance purchase.
Blue Rhino is a leading provider of branded propane tank exchange and complementary propane-fueled products to consumers. Blue Rhino tank exchange is offered at leading home improvement centers, mass merchants, hardware, grocery, and convenience stores, with branded tank displays at more than 29,000 retail locations in 49 states plus Puerto Rico. Tanks are delivered to retailers through a national network of both independent and company-owned distributors. The company's propane-fueled products segment is focused on appliances such as grills, patio heaters and mosquito eradication devices, which are sold through many of the same retailers that offer Blue Rhino's branded tank exchange service. The company's common stock is quoted on The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc. under the symbol RINO. The company in February reached an agreement to be acquired by Ferrellgas Partners L.P. (NYSE: FGP) in a transaction that will allow Blue Rhino to continue to operate under its own trade name and remain headquartered in Winston-Salem. For further information regarding Blue Rhino, visit the Blue Rhino Web site at www.bluerhino.com.
Praxair Distribution Inc. and Praxair Canada Inc., and its subsidiaries and distributors deliver a large array of industrial, medical and specialty gases, equipment, supplies, and services to thousands of customers in the United States and Canada. With hundreds of locations throughout North America, Praxair Distribution provides differentiated product and service offerings that help customers achieve their objectives faster, better and at lower total cost.
Praxair is the largest industrial gases company in North and South America, and one of the largest worldwide, with 2003 sales of $5.6 billion. The company produces, sells and distributes atmospheric and process gases, and high-performance surface coatings. Praxair products, services and technologies bring productivity and environmental benefits to a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, chemicals, food and beverage, electronics, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, metals and others. More information on Praxair is available on the Internet at www.praxair.com.