Air Apparent – Alliance Medical Gas Continues to Expand Its Market Share

Chet Wojcik says the growth his company, Alliance Medical Gas, is experiencing isn’t the norm for this region, but he says he’s not surprised.
“From 2009 to 2010, we had 18{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} growth in business, which I thought was very conservative,” said Wojcik, who has since moved his company twice: from a small office in Agawam to a suite in the Springfield Enterprise Center in the Technology Park at Springfield Technical Community College, and most recently to an office at Monarch Place in downtown Springfield. “From 2010 to 2011, we had 25{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} growth; from 2011 to 2012, we had 36{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} growth; and I am proud to say that, a little more than halfway through this year, we’re at 76{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} growth.”
He’s unsurprised because he sees a broad market for medical gas — specifically, the business of designing, selling, servicing, installing, verifying, and inspecting medical-gas systems in locations ranging from hospitals and physician practices; bioscience firms to nursing homes, to name just a few.
“We don’t create a product; we sell a product through 46 states in the U.S.,” Wojcik told HCN. “We also do medical-gas pipeline inspections and verifications in those 46 states. Our core business is healthcare, but we are starting to cross over into places like universities and research laboratories.
“With 18 technicians currently working in the field, we’ve done work as far out as Indian reservations in Arizona and military hospitals in Montana,” said Wojcik, who was bidding a project in Puerto Rico the day he spoke to HCN. “We also want to expand to new markets, like the dental market and the veterinary market. We’re also looking at cruise ships and naval vessels,” both of which feature full medical facilities.
Six of those technicians work in the “nucleus” of Alliance’s territory, a rough triangle running from Maine to Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.
“We work with the majority of the hospitals in this region,” he said. “There’s a lot of construction right now, and we develop relationships with the engineers and hospitals in order to foster that type of work.
“We’re making the right moves right now,” he added, noting that the company has been in a hiring mode as well. “I can’t speculate on 76{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} growth next year, but what I can say is that the moves we are making — personnel, equipment, location — are all the right moves. It’s controlled growth, and it’s the right growth. We’re not going to do anything just to do it.”
Critical Service
Since launching Alliance Medical Gas in North Carolina almost 18 years ago — and then moving it back to his home state of Massachusetts in 2009 — Wojcik, a 23-year veteran in the field, has grown the company into a significant national player in medical gas.
It’s still not a well-known niche, he says, but it is a critical one, particularly in healthcare settings, where patients are surrounded by pipes that carry oxygen, nitrous oxide, and other gases to the bedside and procedural areas.
Wojcik said work in this sector varies, from simple procedures such as ‘cut and cap’ — where some medical-gas components have been eliminated, the inspecting company has to make sure the cap doesn’t leak, and there’s no contamination — to annual inspections of a healthcare system’s connections, which could take several days.
Alliance, like other companies in this sector, works on a contractual basis with plumbing engineers on a per-job basis, but in many instances, Alliance will be on 24-hour call for a client. That kind of service, Wojcik said, partly explains why his company is expanding more quickly than others.
“One of the items we provide better than most is 24-hour service, anytime, day or night,” he said. “We have staff available for the client, whether it’s midtown Manhattan at 6 in the morning or in the Midwest in the middle of the night. When they call, we’re there. That’s one of the things we have that very few people do.
 “The industry is growing,” he added, explaining that the need for medical gas in so many facilities beyond hospitals is growing the overall pie, “but I will say we are also taking market share from our competitors. The reason for it is our service technicians; we’re geared toward completing the project. When we do verification, if there is a potential issue that comes up, we will help the installers to get it done correctly. That doesn’t mean leaving and coming back; it means staying on site, getting it done. That creates tremendous relationships with our clients.”
Wojcik said it’s important for the company to serve the community as well, and Wojcik has contributed time and resources to Valley Gives, Human Resources Unlimited, the United Way, Habitat for Humanity, and other entities. “Also, as part of giving back to the community, we’re reaching out to a couple of organizations that provide surgeries to those who cannot afford it, through mobile surgery centers.”
Moving On Up
While growing his company, Wojcik has also become passionate about the City of Homes, and his new presence in one of the downtown office towers reflects that.
“Mayor Sarno and I had an impromptu meeting, and he expressed his interest in having small businesses in Springfield,” Wojcik said. “He convinced us that this is where we want to be. We could easily have moved to West Springfield, Agawam, or Westfield and had the same kind of growth, but because of that relationship and Paul Picknelly [who owns Monarch Place] reaching out to us, that’s why we’re here.”
He said he wants to be part of an economic-development revival downtown, one that Sarno has made a priority of his administration, whether or not the city lands a hoped-for $800 million resort casino development in the South End.
“We’re finding ourselves in a pattern that’s very unusual for Springfield — 76{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} growth is something to jump up and down about. It’s wonderful,” said Wojcik. “We have business leaders and community leaders in Springfield who are not only looking at a casino, but looking to foster small businesses, and that’s still where we are today.”
At this rate, though, Wojcik might be singing a different tune in a few years. And further expansion will probably be equally unsurprising, considering the care with which he and his staff have grown Alliance so far.
“We broke every aspect of the business down, from marketing to human resources to operations,” he said, “and collectively, as a team, we went through every single piece to make it better.”

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