Ecolab Company History Timeline

1923
Ecolab was founded by Merritt J. Osborn in 1923 and is headquartered in St Paul, MN.
M.J. called his product Absorbit and, in 1923, he formed a company and called it Economics Laboratory.
1924
1924 M.J. Osborn incorporates the company and acquires a non-sudsing cleaning compound from a University of Minnesota chemistry student, Leonard H. Englund.
1926
1926 EL receives its first patent for Floroscene, a concentration indicator for Soilax.
1928
Economics Laboratory entered the equipment sector in 1928 with the introduction of its first product dispenser this marked the beginning of the company's 'systems' approach to meeting its customers' needs.
1928 E.B. Osborn, one of M.J. s two sons, joins EL after graduating from Dartmouth College.
1929
1929 Wall Street crash begins the Great Depression.
1931
1931 Doctor John Doc Wilson becomes EL s first scientist launches research department.
1932
1932 Product demonstrations become standard part of sales.
1933
1933 Satin Wax for floors is introduced, as the company broadens its product portfolio.
1934
1934 EL returns to profitability after two years in the red.
1934 E.B. Osborn is named national sales manager, with a sales force of 34.
1935
1935 E.B. Osborn turns EL sales people into dishwashing consultants.
1936
1936 EL enters the consumer market with Soilax, packaged for home use and sold through wholesale and retail groceries.
1936 EL profits reach 760.
1937
1937 EL sales force covers 35 United States cities.
1937 EL pays first dividend 1 per share.
1942
1942 Sales exceed 1 million.
1944
1944 New factory opens in Chicago.
1946
1946 EL introduces its first electronic dispenser for commercial dishwashing machines.
1946 E.B. Osborn produces EL s first sales film, Dishwashing Dividends, part of the company s innovative approach to sales.
1948
1948 EL introduces Glass Magic for use in mechanical, brush-type glass-washing machines.
1948 Future president Fred T. Lanners, Jr., joins EL as research chemist.
1949
1949 EL introduces Electrasol dishwashing detergent for the consumer market celebrates 25th anniversary.
1950
1950 Company holds nearly 230 patents.
1951
1951 M.J. Osborn is elected chairman of the board.
1951 Dairy division is established.
1952
1952 Dip-It stain remover is introduced.
1953
1953 International operations begin the Institutional division, serving the hospitality and lodging industry, begins selling in Canada and Hawaii.
1953 Finish , a chlorinated dishwashing detergent, is introduced to the consumer market.
1953 EL opens its third plant, in Santa Clara, California.
1954
1954 EL introduces the first rinse injector system for automatic dishwashing as well as RinseDry . 1954 EL sponsors TV s The Garry Moore Show.
1954 EL s sales, advertising and executive offices move to New York City.
1955
1955 EL completes Flying Saucers and Spotlight on Breakage, films to aid the sales force.
1956
1956 Soilax AB, a fully owned subsidiary, is formed in Stockholm, Sweden.
1957
The company grew large enough by 1957 to become a public corporation.
1957 Industrial division is established to market cleaning and sanitation products to customers in the industrial sector.
1957 Al Schuman, a future CEO, joins EL as a junior salesman in New York City.
1958
1958 Consumer division introduces Liquid Soilax . 1958 EL opens new plant in Dallas, Texas.
1958 Employee Stock Purchase Plan is adopted.
1958 EL expands into Mexico.
1959
1959 EL plant opens in San Jose, California Santa Clara plant is sold.
1960
1960 Founder M.J. Osborn dies at age 81.
1961
1961 EL acquires Beloit, Wisconsin-based Klenzade and its clean-in-place CIP technology.
1962
1962 Plant and headquarters are built for International division in Toronto, Canada.
1963
1963 Construction begins on EL s first European production plant, in Stockholm, Sweden.
1964
1964 EL acquires Magnus Chemical Company, Inc., a leader in aviation, marine, pulp and paper, petrochemical and industrial cleaning provides entry to the industrial specialty market and leads to formation of an industrial division.
1964 The Merritt J. Osborn Research Development Center opens in Mendota Heights, Minnesota.
1964 Solid Jet-Dry is introduced provides benefit of rinse additives to consumers whose automatic dishwashers do not have a built-in rinse injector.
1965
1965 Score , a new liquid commercial cleaner combining chlorine and high-strength alkali and polyphosphates, is developed and launched as institutional customers indicate preference for liquid over powder detergents.
1967
1967 EL opens new plant in Woodbridge, New Jersey.
1967 First employee Ida Koran dies.
1970
1970 International sales exceed 30 million across 40 countries.
1970 Corporate and Public Affairs department is established in response to new laws on consumerism, pollution and human and civil rights.
1970 The rapid pace of innovation is reflected in the more than 2,200 patents held globally over the history of the company, up from just 700 10 years earlier.
1971
1971 EL reduces the use of phosphates in its detergents, a development that helps the company address environmental concerns and offer products to meet increasingly strict environmental regulations.
1972
1972 E.B. Osborn is elected chairman Fred Lanners is named president.
1972 Company acquires Star Filter Company, leading maker of coffee pot filters for home use, and Raburn Products, maker of dishmachine racks and dishroom carts.
1973
1973 E. B. Osborn is elected chairman and CEO EL celebrates 50th anniversary.
1973 EL acquires Maritec Companies and forms the Magnus Maritec International, Inc., subsidiary, based in Palisades Park, New Jersey.
1974
1974 EL acquires Fraser Laundry Systems of Memphis, Tennessee, an institutional laundry business.
1974 EL completes plant in Joliet, Illinois its largest to date.
1975
1975 EL opens first satellite research center, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
1975 EL ranks 500th on the annual list of Fortune 500 companies.
1977
1977 International division establishes area headquarters in Latin America and Hawaii.
1978
In 1978 the company underwent a number of changes as the profit margin dipped to ten percent.
E. B. Osborn, son of the founder Merritt J. Osborn, ended his long tenure as chief executive officer in 1978 so that Lanners, the first nonfamily member to achieve such high executive status, could assume the new title.
1979
1979 Apollo Technologies is acquired.
1979 Company surpasses 400 million in sales conducts business in more than 50 countries.
1980
1980 EL acquires Apollo Technologies for 71.3 million and forms the industrial group.
1980 The cumulative number of patents held globally over Ecolab history grows to more than 4,000.
1981
1981 Solid Power , a patented solid detergent capsule for institutional customers, is introduced.
1982
1982 Richard C. Ashley is named CEO but soon after is killed in a car accident.
1982 Fred Lanners retires as CEO. 1982 Richard C. Ashley is elected CEO. The first senior leader to be recruited from outside EL, he is tragically killed in a car accident soon after his appointment and before beginning to lead the company.
1983
1983 Pierson M. 'Sandy' Grieve is named CEO Apollo subsidiary is shut down.
1983 The Consumer division introduces Scrub Free , a heavy-duty bathroom cleaner that becomes the company s most successful new product introduction ever.
1984
1984 EL acquires pest elimination leader Lystads, Inc., of Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Beginning in 1984, the trust also sponsored scholarships for the children of employees.
1986
In 1986, the company changed its name from Economics Laboratory to Ecolab Inc.
1986 The first Ecolab pin for all employees is introduced.
1986 Institutional division headquarters, located in New York City for more than three decades, relocate to St Paul, a move designed to consolidate Ecolab s corporate offices under one roof and build a more cohesive organization.
1986 Magnus industrial operations are sold.
1987
In 1987, Ecolab purchased the lawncare servicer provider, ChemLawn for US 376 million.
1989
1989 Douglas M. Baker, Jr., future chairman and CEO, joins Ecolab as a senior marketing manager in the Institutional Division.
1991
With the sale, Ecolab had to take a 263 million writeoff against 1991 earnings.
Ecolab and the German fast-moving consumer goods firm Henkel KGaA formed a 50 50 European joint venture called 'Henkel-Ecolab' in mid-1991 to expand into European Russian markets.
1992
1992 Al Schuman is elected president and chief operating officer.
1994
By 1994, 22 percent of Ecolab's net sales originated outside the United States.
1994 The company begins presenting the Ecolab Pin to each new employee hired, a symbol of membership on the team.
The 1994 purchase of Kay Chemicals, a company in North Carolina, expanded its restaurant services.
1995
1995 CEO Sandy Grieve retires.
1995 A Water Care Services division is formed following several acquisitions to provide water treatment programs to institutional and industrial customers.
1996
In February 1996 Ecolab purchased Huntington Laboratories, Inc. of Huntington, Indiana, a supplier of janitorial products to the healthcare and education markets.
Michael E. Shannon--who had served as vice chairman and chief financial officer--became chairman of the board at the beginning of 1996.
A maker and marketer of cleaning and sanitizing products for the Australian and New Zealand institutional, healthcare, and industrial markets, Gibson had fiscal 1996 sales of 122 million.
1997
1997 GeoSystem 9000, the third-generation of institutional solid detergents, is introduced.
1997 Ecolab acquires Melbourne, Australia-based Gibson Chemical Industries Ltd., supplier of cleaning and sanitizing products to the Australian and New Zealand institutional, healthcare and industrial markets.
1998
1998 Ecolab celebrates 75 years in business.
1998 Ecolab acquires Danbury, Connecticut-based GCS Service, Inc., gaining entry into the commercial kitchen equipment repair business.
1999
1999 Sales exceed 2 billion.
1999 Ecolab acquires Blue Coral Systems, a subsidiary of the Pennzoil-Quaker State Company, further building market share in the commercial car wash segment.
2001
2001 Ecolab purchases the remaining 50 percent share of Henkel-Ecolab, officially creating one Ecolab in Europe and throughout the world.
2002
2002 Ecolab launches EcoSure food safety management, providing audits of food safety procedures in foodservice and hospitality facilities across the United States.
2004
2004 A Healthcare business unit is created to enable greater focus on this important growth market.
2005
In 2005, it opened a new global research, development and engineering center in Eagan, Minnesota.
2006
2006 Al Schuman resigns as chairman of the board and is named chairman emeritus, an honorary position.
2006 Ecolab wins the Black Pearl Award for Corporate Excellence in Food Safety and Quality, presented by the International Association of Food Protection IAFP .
2007
2007 Ecolab acquires Microtek Medical Holdings, Inc., expanding its infection prevention expertise and offerings to hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
2007 Ecolab is included in Ethispheres first World s Most Ethical Companies list, which recognizes companies who exemplify transparency, integrity, ethics and compliance in their business practices.
2008
In 2008, Henkel sold all of the 73 million shares, i.e. nearly 29.5 stake it held in Ecolab, ending the two decade long partnership.
2008 Ecolab launches Apex , a new warewashing platform that adds dishmachine performance metrics to its advanced product and dispensing technology.
2010
2010 and on Bold acquisitions enable big growth and greater impact on clean water, safe food, abundant energy and healthy environments, the company s four areas of strategic focus.
2010 Ecolab launches DryExx , a dry lubricant for glass packaging conveyors in the beverage, brewery and food processing industries.
2010 Ongoing investment in innovation is reflected in the more than 17,600 patents the company has held across its history.
2011
In July 2011, Ecolab announced a merger with Nalco Holding Company, Inc. and in December 2011, Nalco became a wholly owned subsidiary of Ecolab Inc., after it completed its US 5.4 billion acquisition.
2012
In October 2012, Ecolab entered an agreement to acquire Champion Technologies.
2012 Tom Handley, a nine-year Ecolab veteran, is elected president and chief operating officer.
2012 Major research, development and engineering centers around the world are consolidated to foster collaboration and leverage the company s scientific and technical expertise.
2013
That purchase closed in April 2013.
2013 Ecolab sells its Vehicle Care business to Zep Inc. for 120 million.
2014
2014 New manufacturing plant opens on Jurong Island, Singapore, to serve Nalco Champion s energy customers in Asia Pacific.
2014 Solid chemistry is used with 3D TRASAR Technology for the first time.
2015
2015 Ecolab acquires the United States operations of Swisher Hygiene, expanding the Institutional division s customer base and service coverage in the United States.
2015 Ecolab introduces the next generation of 3D TRASAR Technology for Cooling Water.
2015 Fortune magazine names Ecolab to its list of companies that are changing the world, a nod to organizations that are doing well by doing good, and to its list of fastest-growing companies to watch.
2016
In July 2016, Ecolab made a minority investment in Aquatech International, LLC of an undisclosed amount.
2016 Ecolab acquires UltraClenz, a developer of electronic hand hygiene compliance monitoring systems and dispensers.
2017
2017 Ecolab acquires Abednego Environmental Services, adding offerings that help automotive customers recycle water, reduce energy use and reduce waste.
2017 The company holds nearly 8,500 active patents.
By 2017, it employed 38,000 workers in over 170 countries, served customers in more than 1.3 million locations, and reported annual sales of 13 billion.
2019
More than 13 million donated through the Ecolab Foundation, corporate giving and volunteer hours in 2019.
Founded
1923
Company Founded
Headquarters
Saint Paul, MN
Company Headquarter
Founders
Merritt Osborn
Company Founders

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