Harold Harris established Harris Welding Works in 1936. Now named Harris Industrial Gases to better reflect the company’s current direction, the four-generation, family-owned business currently boasts four locations and 44 employees between California and Nevada, with corporate headquarters, delivery fleet, accounting department, fill plant and steel warehouse located where the original welding shop stood, on Auburn Boulevard, in Citrus Heights, California.
Shareholders and employees alike will celebrate 85 years in business this July. The Harris family has retained ownership and management the entire time, attributing the continuous success to its “longstanding tradition of providing exceptional personal customer service to companies both large and small.”
Auburn Boulevard’s original two-lane road has transitioned to a busy, five-lane boulevard. Also gone are the original Harris Family homes, once sprinkled on the property adjacent to the welding shop. Now there are strip malls, office buildings, asphalt and cement surrounding the two-acre facility. The Harris family is extremely proud that “Grandpa Harold” had the wisdom to pass his business acumen on to his son, Kent, who shared it with the rest of the family, including five grandchildren who are also stockholders.
Harris Industrial Gases is now the largest independent provider of industrial gases and welding supplies in the Greater Sacramento Area and surrounding communities. It carries state-of-the-art welding equipment and top-of-the-line supplies, displayed in its retail showrooms, while also distributing industrial, medical and specialty gases to thousands of businesses throughout Northern California and Nevada.
President Kathleen Harris and her son, Aaron Haupt, who is Chief Operating Officer, are Harold’s only descendants still working in the business. Kathleen’s siblings are all active directors and shareholders, with family matriarch Norma Harris, seated as chairman of the board.
Harold ran the company until 1954, when he sold it to his son Kent and daughter-in-law Norma, who eventually incorporated with Kent at the helm until his untimely passing in1974. Norma then took over, with daughter Kathleen, now corporate president, working alongside.
“I’ve been coming in these doors since I was four years old,” Kathleen recalls. “Keeping my grandfather’s tradition of friendly service and knowing our customers by first name alive and well, we plan on being around another 85 years.”