Helping save lives in wartime preserves the future for Economics Laboratory (EL).
1942 Sales exceed $1 million.
1942 U.S. Army uses EL’s Lyndhurst, New Jersey, plant for war production. EL production moves to Brooklyn, New York.
1942 U.S. Army contracts with EL to produce MikroKlene™ germicidal rinse to combat dysentery. More than 30 million packages are delivered to Allied Forces during World War II for sterilizing troop mess kits. MikroKlene sales are credited with keeping the company going through four years of the war.
1942 E.B. Osborn is named vice president and general manager.
1944 New factory opens in Chicago.
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 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.
1948 EL invents rinse additive to speed dish drying.
1948 M.J. Osborn welcomes new employees with this message:
“What do we make? We all work together willingly to make nine of the world’s best cleaning products: SOILAX “A” and “B” for general cleaning; SUPER SOILAX and ELECTROSOL, for commercial and domestic dishwashing machines respectively; SOILAX “C,” also for mechanical dishwashing; TETROX for hand washing of glassware and dishes; PAN DANDY, a special de-greaser, wonderful for washing pots and pans; MIKRO-KLENE, a powder used in solution as a germicidal rinse for dishes and glassware; and GLASS MAGIC, a special product designed for use in mechanical brush-type glass-washing machines. Besides these, we produce special compounds for the U.S. Army and other government services… all of our products are aimed toward protecting the public health. And toward that end you are now working as one of us. This is a worthy – as well as profitable – enterprise. You can be proud to be associated with Economics Laboratory.”
1949 EL introduces Electrasol™ dishwashing detergent for the consumer market; celebrates 25th anniversary.
Acquiring new technologies, new markets and a new corporate headquarters.
1960 Founder M.J. Osborn dies at age 81.
1960 International division is created under the leadership of Fred T. Lanners, Jr., who would later become CEO.
1960 The company counts more than 700 patents held cumulatively over its history, a reflection of ongoing investment in innovation.
1961 EL acquires Beloit, Wisconsin-based Klenzade and its clean-in-place (CIP) technology. CIP eliminates dairy producers’ need to break down and hand wash their pipes and valves to clean them. Used with EL’s rinses and cleaning solutions, CIP allows dairy operators to clean miles of pipe with the push of a button.
1962 Plant and headquarters are built for International division in Toronto, Canada. International expansion continues in Japan, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
1963 Construction begins on EL’s first European production plant, in Stockholm, Sweden.
1963 Sales exceed $50 million.
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 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 EL opens new plant in Woodbridge, New Jersey.
1967 First employee Ida Koran dies. In her will, she creates The Ida C. Koran Foundation to provide assistance to EL employees during times of financial hardship and to provide scholarships to their children.
1968 Corporate offices move into the Osborn Building, a new 22-story corporate headquarters in downtown St. Paul.
1969 Sales exceed $100 million. Construction begins on EL’s first European production plant, in Stockholm, Sweden.
A changing of the guard – and bold expansion into international markets.
1970 International sales exceed $30 million across 40 countries. EL establishes European satellite headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, to guide efforts in 15 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 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 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 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. Maritec specializes in cleaning chemicals for the international shipping trade.
1974 EL acquires Fraser Laundry Systems of Memphis, Tennessee, an institutional laundry business. The purchase enables EL to meet the need for laundry services by hotels, restaurants and other institutional customers that are increasingly using no-iron, permanent press table linens, bed linens and uniforms.
1974 EL completes plant in Joliet, Illinois – its largest to date.
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 International division establishes area headquarters in Latin America and Hawaii.
1978 E.B. Osborn ends tenure as CEO; dies months later at age 71. Fred Lanners is named CEO.
1979 Eco-Line™ is launched to target the food distribution market.
1979 Company surpasses $400 million in sales; conducts business in more than 50 countries.
The Ecolab service pin is introduced in the Institutional division. Worn by field sales and service representatives and other employees, it symbolizes the company’s commitment to professional customer service.
An innovative approach to growth in Europe and acquisitions all around.
1990 Innovation continues to be a priority. Over its history, Ecolab has held more than 6,300 patents cumulatively, up from nearly 4,100 in 1980.
1991 Ecolab forms strategic alliance with Henkel KGaA, a major chemical company based in Germany, to better position both companies for a newly united European market. The Henkel-Ecolab joint venture, headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany, has sales of more than $750 million.
1992 ChemLawn is sold for $107 million to Service Master L.P. Ecolab takes a $275 million loss. The sale enables the company to focus on its commercial cleaning and sanitizing businesses.
1992 Al Schuman is elected president and chief operating officer.
1992 Ecolab defines its business strategy as “Circle the Customer – Circle the Globe.” The strategy aims to surround customers with a growing array of cleaning and sanitizing products to address a wide range of needs and to serve them in markets around the world. The strategy provides a roadmap for business investment and growth.
1994 The company begins presenting the Ecolab Pin to each new employee hired, a symbol of membership on the team.
1994 Ecolab acquires Kay Chemical, a leading cleaning products supplier to the quick-service restaurant market, one in which Ecolab has long sought a position.
1995 CEO Sandy Grieve retires. Al Schuman is elected president and chief executive officer. Mike Shannon, who serves as Ecolab’s chief financial officer, is elected chairman of the board.
1995 A Water Care Services division is formed following several acquisitions to provide water treatment programs to institutional and industrial customers.
1995 Klenzade is renamed the Ecolab Food & Beverage division.
1996 Acquisition of the Monarch division of H.B. Fuller Company increases size of Food & Beverage division.
1997 GeoSystem™ 9000, the third-generation of institutional solid detergents, is introduced.
1997 Ecolab acquires the Chemidyne marketing division of Chemidyne Corporation to further build its Food & Beverage division.
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. The acquisition provides a base for growth in the Asia-Pacific market.
1997 Ecolab acquires the specialty chemical business of Grace-Lee Products, Inc., a step toward building its presence as a provider of cleaning chemicals to the commercial car washing market.
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. The idea is to make the new division a national service company for commercial foodservice customers.
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.
Weathering economic recessions – and emerging as a stronger, more cohesive company.
2000 Ecolab's cumulative patent count is more than 12,000, nearly double the number in 1990. Of those, 95 are active; the others have expired, been sold, closed or abandoned.
2001 Ecolab purchases the remaining 50 percent share of Henkel-Ecolab, officially creating “one Ecolab” in Europe and throughout the world.
2002 Ecolab launches EcoSure™ food safety management, providing audits of food safety procedures in foodservice and hospitality facilities across the U.S.
2004 Al Schuman retires as CEO; Douglas M. Baker, Jr., who joined Ecolab in 1989, is elected to fill the role.
2004 A Healthcare business unit is created to enable greater focus on this important growth market.
2005 Ecolab opens a new Global Research, Development & Engineering Center in Eagan, Minnesota.
2006 Al Schuman resigns as chairman of the board and is named chairman emeritus, an honorary position. Doug Baker is elected chairman and continues as CEO.
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 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. Ecolab has been on the list every year since.
2008 Ecolab launches Apex™, a new warewashing platform that adds dishmachine performance metrics to its advanced product and dispensing technology. The performance metrics provide insights that help customers make adjustments and achieve the best cleaning results at the lowest total cost and environmental impact.
2009 Sales grow to $5.9 billion.
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. The product reduces water use on conveyor lines by as much as 97 percent, while also reducing the risk of employee slips and falls.
2010 Ongoing investment in innovation is reflected in the more than 17,600 patents the company has held across its history. Of those, more than 3,000 are active; the others have expired or been sold, closed or abandoned.
2011 Ecolab acquires Naperville, Illinois-based Nalco for $8 billion – its largest acquisition ever. The merger instantly transforms Ecolab into the global leader in water management in the industrial, institutional and energy sectors and positions it to serve more customers more with a more comprehensive portfolio of products. The acquisition includes an important innovation called 3D TRASAR Technology, which uses 24/7 automated sensing and monitoring to detect and automatically correct water quality problems in cooling towers and boilers.
2011 Ecolab strengthens its global healthcare offerings through acquisitions, including O.R. Solutions, Inc., a leading U.S. developer of surgical fluid warming and cooling systems and consumable custom sterile drapes, and Esoform, the largest independent Italian healthcare manufacturer.
2011 Forbes magazine names Ecolab one of the world’s most innovative companies.
2012 Tom Handley, a nine-year Ecolab veteran, is elected president and chief operating officer.
2012 A new manufacturing plant and distribution center opens in Taicang, China, the company’s largest facility in the Asia-Pacific region. The plant is designed for environmental sustainability, reducing energy and water consumption while minimizing waste production.
2012 Major research, development and engineering centers around the world are consolidated to foster collaboration and leverage the company’s scientific and technical expertise.
2012 Ecolab is named to the 2012 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) North America index, a highly regarded assessment of companies’ sustainability results.
2012 A new Ecolab pin is launched, blending design elements of both Ecolab and Nalco to represent a unified, focused and engaged organization.
2013 Ecolab purchases privately held Champion Technologies for $2.2 billion. The addition of the Houston-based global energy specialty products and services company strengthens the company’s position in the fast-growing upstream energy services market.
2013 Ecolab sells its Vehicle Care business to Zep Inc. for $120 million.
2013 A Nalco Champion business unit is established to focus on the global energy market.
2014 European Innovation Center opens in Monheim, Germany.
2014 New manufacturing plant opens on Jurong Island, Singapore, to serve Nalco Champion’s energy customers in Asia Pacific.
2014 Ecolab, working with TruCost, launches the Water Risk Monetizer. It provides an online, no-cost financial modeling tool enabling businesses to assess and monetize the risk of water scarcity to their operations.
2014 Solid chemistry is used with 3D TRASAR™ Technology for the first time. Compared with traditional liquid chemicals, “solids” offer safety and sustainability benefits, especially for hotel and other institutional customers who manage water treatment in their cooling towers. 3D TRASAR Technology, which automatically detects, determines and dispenses chemistry to maintain good water quality, was developed by Nalco for use in cooling towers prior to the 2011 Ecolab-Nalco merger.
2014 3D TRASAR™ for CIP, an innovation for dairies, breweries and soft food manufacturers who use clean-in-place (CIP) procedures to clean their pipes and tanks, is introduced. Building on technologies used in earlier 3D TRASAR Technology applications, it uses advanced sensors to monitor chemistry in CIP systems and provide visibility into cleaning, sanitizing and operational issues.
2014 Nalco Champion launches the RenewIQ™ line of oil field water reuse solutions to help energy companies reduce freshwater consumption and handling costs.
2015 Ecolab purchases a 17-story headquarters building in St Paul and begins moving corporate associates to the new building.
2015 Ecolab acquires the U.S. operations of Swisher Hygiene, expanding the Institutional division’s customer base and service coverage in the U.S.
2015 Ecolab acquires Ultra Fab Industries, providing customized solutions and specialized chemical injection systems for the oil and gas industry.
2015 Ecolab is named to the 2015 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) North America index. It was also named to the list in 2012.
2015 Ecolab introduces the next generation of 3D TRASAR™ Technology for Cooling Water. It enables customers to manage complex cooling systems more efficiently.
2015 Ecolab introduces the Syncra™ Hand Hygiene System, providing touch-free water and soap delivery at restaurant handwashing stations. It aims to help improve handwashing compliance and food safety.
2015 Ecolab launches Restora™, a laundry formulation that removes medical adhesives, such as those on heart monitoring pads. It enables healthcare laundries to reduce the need for linen replacement due to adhesive stains.
2015 Nalco Champion opens new headquarters in Sugar Land, Texas.
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 Ecolab acquires UltraClenz, a developer of electronic hand hygiene compliance monitoring systems and dispensers.
2016 Ecolab introduces Synergex™ Sanitizer and Disinfectant, an addition to the company’s antimicrobial solutions for dairy, food and beverage and brewery customers.
2016 Ecolab makes a minority equity investment in Aquatech International, a global leader in solutions that improve water quality and reduce net water usage.
2016 Ecolab is named to the 2016 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) North America index. It is the second consecutive year the company has been named to the index and its third listing since 2012.
2016 Sales grow to $13.2 billion.
2017 Ecolab acquires the Georgia-Pacific Paper chemicals business, adding capabilities to help improve machine efficiency, water and energy savings, product quality and profitability for pulp and paper customers.
2017 Ecolab acquires Laboratoires Anios, a leading European manufacturer of hygiene and disinfection products for the healthcare, food service and food and beverage processing industries.
2017 Ecolab acquires Arpal Group, a Selkirk, Scotland-based company that provides cleaning and sanitizing products and services in the U.K. and Middle East.
2017 Ecolab acquires Abednego Environmental Services, adding offerings that help automotive customers recycle water, reduce energy use and reduce waste.
2017 Ecolab is named to the Water A List by CDP, the nonprofit global environmental disclosure platform. It is one of 73 A List global companies recognized for efforts to manage water more sustainably.
2017 For the third consecutive year, Ecolab is named to the 2017 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) North America index.
2017 Ecolab is recognized by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service, as one of the most community-minded companies in the U.S.
2017 Ecolab sells its Equipment Care business to Audax Private Equity, a Boston, Mass.-based private equity firm.
2017 The company holds nearly 8,500 active patents. Over the years, the company has cumulatively tallied more than 23,000 patents, many of which have expired or been sold, closed or abandoned.
2018 Ecolab is recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices. Ecolab is one of 12 companies named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies every year since the list’s inception in 2007.