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)