How can we help? Contact Ecolab IR | Email Alerts

Milestones in Ecolab History

Key Milestones


2005 – Ecolab Innovation Gains a New Home

Ecolab opens a new Global Research, Development & Engineering Center in Eagan, Minn. The 400,000-square-foot facility provides cutting-edge technology to develop innovative solutions for customers around the world. Continued on next page In 1992, Ecolab defines its fundamental business strategy, Circle the Customer — Circle the Globe.

2006 – Honored as Food Safety Leader

Ecolab wins the 2006 Black Pearl Award for Corporate Excellence in Food Safety and Quality. Presented by the International Association of Food Protection (IAFP), the award recognizes efforts in advancing food safety and quality through consumer programs, employee relations, educational activities, adherence to standards and support of the goals and objectives of IAFP.

2007 – Healthcare Growth Accelerates

Ecolab expands its infection prevention expertise with the purchase of Microtek Medical Holdings Inc. The Alpharetta, Ga.-based manufacturer and marketer of infection prevention products for healthcare and acute care facilities specializes in infection barrier equipment drapes, patient drapes, fluid control products and operating room cleanup systems.

2008 – Apex™ Launched

Ecolab’s U.S. Institutional business launches Apex, a new warewashing platform consisting of advanced product and dispensing technology along with dishmachine performance metrics that provide a major advance in delivering the best results at the lowest total cost and environmental impact.

2010 – DryExx® GS Launched

Ecolab's Food & Beverage North America business launches DryExx®, a dry conveyor lubricant formulated for glass packaging on stainless steel or mixed conveyors used in the beverage, brewery and food processing industries. The product can reduce water use in conveyor lines by as much as 97 percent and also helps enhance workplace safety.

2011 – Ecolab Merges with Nalco

Ecolab merges with Nalco to become the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services. With this addition of expertise, Ecolab is able to serve customers more comprehensively.

2013 – Ecolab Acquires Champion Technologies

Ecolab acquires privately held Champion Technologies, strengthening Ecolab's position in the fast-growing upstream energy services market.


1991 – Joint Venture in Europe

Ecolab forms a strategic alliance with Henkel KGaA, a major chemical company based in Germany, to better position both companies for a united European market. The Henkel-Ecolab joint venture sets up headquarters in Düsseldorf, Germany. Combined European sales exceed $750 million.

1992 – New Growth Strategy Unveiled

Ecolab defines its fundamental business strategy, Circle the Customer — Circle the Globe. The strategy's intent: to more broadly serve customers by offering an increasing range of cleaning and sanitizing products to serve the foodservice, hospitality, healthcare and food and beverage markets. Circle the Customer — Circle the Globe provides the map for future growth, business investment and success.

1994 – New Business Units Launched

Ecolab acquires Kay Chemical Company, a leading cleaning product supplier to the quick service (fast food) market. Based in Greensboro, N.C., Kay gives Ecolab a long-sought position in the quick service cleaning and sanitizing market and creates a sixth business for Ecolab. A seventh business unit, Water Care Services, is added through multiple acquisitions.

2001 – Worldwide Operations

A new era in Ecolab history begins when Ecolab purchases the remaining 50 percent share of Henkel-Ecolab. This move officially creates one Ecolab in Europe and throughout the world.

2002 – Focus on Food Safety Expands

Strategic acquisitions continue to expand, diversify and strengthen Ecolab’s portfolio of customer offerings. Ecolab launches EcoSure® Food Safety Management, a business that evaluates food safety procedures in foodservice and hospitality facilities across the U.S.

2004 – Healthcare Established

Ecolab establishes its Healthcare business unit, separating it out from other operations, in order to provide better focus on and resources for this important core growth area.

Milestones in Ecolab History (continued)


1961 – Revolutionary CIP Technology

EL acquires Klenzade and its pioneering Clean-in-Place (CIP) technology for the dairy industry. CIP eliminates the need to break down and hand wash dairy pipes and valves. When paired with EL’s rinses and cleaning solutions, the CIP system allows dairy plant operators to clean miles of pipes with the push of a button.

1970 – International Growth

International sales exceed $30 million in 40 world markets. EL establishes a European satellite headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, to guide efforts in 15 countries. In 1977, area headquarters are set up in Latin America and Hawaii. By the end of the decade, EL conducts business in more than 50 countries.

1981 – Solid Power® Introduced

EL introduces Solid Power®, a patented state-of-the-art warewashing detergent capsule that delivers unprecedented control, safety and cost-savings to customers. Sales soar and within two years of its introduction, Solid Power is the top-selling institutional warewashing detergent in the U.S.

1984 – Building the Portfolio

EL acquires the first of a series of regional pest service firms that create a national Pest Elimination business, pioneering the concept of pest elimination for the $2 billion U.S. commercial pest market.

1986 – Ecolab Inc. on the NYSE

In December, Economics Laboratory Inc. changes its name to Ecolab Inc., providing a simple and unifying worldwide identification. That month, Ecolab is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, enhancing the company’s standing in the investment community and heightening investor interest.

1987 – Consumer Sale

Ecolab sells its consumer products business, which markets household products including dishwasher detergents Electrosol and Finish, Jet Dry and Lime Away. Ecolab then acquires ChemLawn, a provider of residential lawn care services. The business is sold in 1992 to enable Ecolab to focus completely on its commercial product and service businesses. Continued on next page In 1986, Economics Laboratory Inc. changed its name to Ecolab Inc., providing a unifying world identification.

Milestones in Ecolab History (continued)


1923 – Economics Laboratory Founded

Merritt J. Osborn develops a new product, Absorbit®, which cleans carpets on the spot and eliminates the need for hotels to shut down to be cleaned. He calls his company Economics Laboratory (EL), reflecting its mission to save customers time, labor and money with “economic” solutions developed through “laboratory” research.

1924 – A Warewashing Pioneer

M.J. Osborn incorporates the company and acquires a non-sudsing cleaning compound from a chemistry student. He soon discovers that it works much better than ordinary soap in the mechanical dishwashers that restaurants are starting to use. Called Soilax®, this product sets the stage for EL’s warewashing expertise.

1928 – Total Systems Approach

EL introduces its first product dispenser, setting the stage for a “total systems” approach to cleaning and sanitation, which includes technologically advanced equipment, as well as superior products.

1935 – Service Tradition Begins

M.J. Osborn’s son, E.B., serving the company as sales manager, turns its sales people into dishwashing consultants who not only sell EL products, but also repair and maintain customers’ dishwashers, train kitchen employees, analyze dish-handling procedures and recommend ways to minimize breakage. They are on call 24 hours a day.

1955 – International Expansion

By 1955, there is enough business in Canada to form a sales territory and to contract with a Canadian manufacturer to handle production. In 1956, the first European subsidiary, Soilax® A.B. Sweden, forms, opening the door for expansion in Europe. The formation of Soilax® de Mexico follows in 1958, triggering a rapid expansion in the Western Hemisphere.

1957 – EL Goes Public

M.J. and E.B. Osborn decide to turn their family-owned business into a publicly held company. At the time, associates control at least 25 percent of the company’s common stock. Continued on next page From the beginning, our company has focused on saving customers time, labor and money.

Milestones in Ecolab History (continued)

Contact IR Team

How can we help?
Contact Ecolab IR