This excerpt taken from the VLG 10-K filed Sep 28, 2006.
Competition is almost always on a regional market basis and, for packaged gases, is based primarily on customer loyalty, service and, to a lesser extent, price. Customer loyalty can be lessened when businesses are acquired. Most regional markets have between three and six competitors, the majority of whom are small independent companies, with one or two competitors having a significantly higher market share than the others. We compete in many markets throughout West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota and South Dakota. We believe that we enjoy a strong position in most of the markets that we serve.
As stated above under Our Industry, while we compete with the distribution subsidiaries of the major industrial gas producers, we do not believe that the production of industrial gas provides these producers with a significant competitive advantage. In most cases, the cost for base gases represents a relatively minor component of the total cost in comparison to the packaging, selling and distribution expenses.