He succeeds Thomas von Krannichfeldt, who will retire on December 1.
Vruggink, 46, joined Praxair in 2001 and is currently area director for Praxair's U.S. southern region for industrial gases. Prior to joining Praxair, Vruggink had served in a wide range of engineering and management assignments for Conoco and DuPont, beginning in 1980. He holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.
"Bob has a strong background in sales, marketing, engineering, operations and financial management in the chemical industry which will be a great asset in his new position," said Dennis Reilley, chairman and chief executive officer.
Praxair Surface Technologies is a leading worldwide supplier of coating services, thermal spray consumables, equipment, and other surface-enhancing materials to customers in aircraft, printing, plastics, primary metals and textiles industries. The company also provides engine and airframe component repair services for both commercial and military aircraft. Total annual sales revenue in 2002 was $394 million.