Mason and Peter McCausland co-founded Airgas in 1982. The duo soon acquired Connecticut Oxygen as the first of several hundred U.S. gas and welding distributor acquisitions for the company. Airgas first listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1986 and quickly became the largest gas and welding supplier in the U.S.
Mason retired from Airgas in 1997. The company is No. 5 on Industrial Distribution's Big 50 List, with $7 billion in 2016 revenue. Airgas was bought by Air Liquide in 2016 for $13.4 billion.
Mason started in the industrial gas industry at Air Reduction Incorporated after serving in a Navy flight squadron for two years in Hawaii. He was recalled to active duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis, eventually retiring as Lieutenant Commander after 20 years of service. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetary in recognition of that service.
Mason then returned to the industrial gas industry as vice president of Burdett Oxygen Co. before co-founding Airgas. He also served on several industry groups, including president of the International Oxygen Manufacturers Association (IOMA).
"As a hands-on chief operating professional and master salesman, Tom was a perfect complement to Peter McCausland, from the founding of Airgas back in the early 1980’s and throughout Airgas’ formative years," Airgas said in a statement. "Tom’s easygoing, optimistic manner and customer-centric approach helped lay the cultural foundation for Airgas’ growth over the ensuing three decades. He was a friend and mentor to those who were fortunate to work with him, and he was respected by all who had the privilege to know him."
Mason is survived by his wife of 62 years, Peggy Joy, three children and he had 10 grandchildren.