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Colgate-Palmolive Company
IndustryConsumer goods
Founded1806; 215 years ago (1806)
FoundersWilliam Colgate (Colgate)
B.J. Johnson (Palmolive)
Headquarters300 Park Avenue
New York, NY, United States
Area served
Key people
Noel Wallace (Chairman, President & CEO)
RevenueIncrease US$15.693 billion (2019)
Decrease US$3.557 billion (2019)[1]
Decrease US$2.527 billion (2019)[1]
Total assetsIncrease US$15.034 billion (2019)[1]
Total equityIncrease US$558 million (2019)[1]
Number of employees
34,500 (2018)[2]

Colgate-Palmolive Company is an American multinational consumer products company headquartered on Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It specializes in the production, distribution and provision of household, health care, personal care and veterinary products.[3]


1922 advertisement for Palmolive soap

In 1806, devout Baptist English immigrant soap and candle maker William Colgate established a starch, soap, and candle factory on Dutch Street in New York City under the name William Colgate & Company. In 1833, he suffered a severe heart attack, stopping his business's sales; after a convalescence he continued with his business. In the 1840s, the company began selling individual cakes of soap in uniform weights. In 1857, Colgate died and the company was reorganized as Colgate & Company under the management of his devout Baptist son Samuel Colgate, who did not want to continue the business but thought it would be the right thing to do. In 1872, he introduced Cashmere Bouquet, a perfumed soap. In 1873, the company introduced its first Colgate Toothpaste, an aromatic toothpaste sold in jars.[4] In 1896, the company sold the first toothpaste in a tube, named Colgate Ribbon Dental Cream (invented by dentist Washington Sheffield). Also in 1896, Colgate hired Martin Ittner and under his direction founded one of the first applied research labs.[5] By 1908, they initiated mass sales of toothpaste in tubes. William Colgate's other son, James Boorman Colgate, was a primary trustee of Colgate University (formerly Madison University).

1915 magazine ad

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the B.J. Johnson Company was making a soap from palm oil and olive oil, the formula of which was developed by B.J. Johnson in 1898. The soap was popular enough to rename their company after it — Palmolive.[6] Around the start of the 20th century Palmolive was the world's best-selling soap. Extensive advertising included the radio programs The Palmolive Hour (1927-1931) and Palmolive Beauty Box Theater (1934-1937). A Kansas City, Kansas-based soap manufacturer known as Peet Brothers, who were originally from Wisconsin, merged with Palmolive to become Palmolive-Peet. In 1928, Palmolive-Peet acquired the Colgate Company to create the Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Company. In 1953, Peet was dropped from the name, leaving only Colgate-Palmolive Company, the current name.

Colgate-Palmolive has long been in competition with Procter & Gamble (P&G), the world's largest soap and detergent maker. P&G introduced its Tide laundry detergent shortly after World War II, and thousands of consumers turned from Colgate's soaps to the new product. Colgate lost its number one place in the toothpaste market when P&G added fluoride to its toothpaste (Colgate has since re-claimed the #1 sales position).[7] In the beginning of TV, Colgate-Palmolive wished to compete with P&G as a sponsor of soap operas and sponsored many soaps in full or in part including The Doctors.

George Henry Lesch, president, CEO, and chairman of the board of Colgate-Palmolive in the 1960s and 1970s, transformed the firm into a modern company with major restructuring.

In 2005, Colgate sold the under-performing brands Fab, Dynamo, Arctic Power, ABC, Cold Power and Fresh Start, as well as the license of the Ajax brand for laundry detergents in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico, to Phoenix Brands, LLC as part of its plan to focus on their higher margin oral, personal, and pet care products.[8][9]

In 2006, Colgate-Palmolive announced the intended acquisition of Tom's of Maine, a leading maker of natural toothpaste, for US $100 million.[10] Tom's of Maine was founded by Tom Chappell in 1970.

In 2020, Colgate-Palmolive acquired Hello Products LLC, one of the fastest-growing, premium oral care brands in the United States, for an undisclosed amount.[11]

Today, Colgate has numerous subsidiary organizations spanning 200 countries, but it is publicly listed in three, the United States, India and Pakistan.

On October 25, 2012, the company announced it would cut 2,310 workers, or 6% of its workforce, by the end of 2016 in a push to make the consumer products company more efficient.[12] The company ranked 184th on the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by revenue.[13] In 2021, the company ranked 15th on the list of Most Trusted Brands by Morning Consult.[14]

Educational and community involvement[edit]

In 1890, Madison University in New York State was renamed Colgate University in honor of the Colgate family following decades of financial support and involvement.[15]

The Colgate-Palmolive Company has sponsored a non-profit track meet open to women of all ages called the Colgate Women's Games.[16] The Colgate Women's Games is the nation's largest amateur track series open to all girls from elementary school through college. Held at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute, competitors participate in preliminary meets and semi-finals over five weekends throughout January. Finalists compete for trophies and educational grants-in-aid from Colgate-Palmolive Company at New York City's Madison Square Garden in February. For more than 20 years, the company supports the Starlight Children Foundation which is a non profit organization dedicated to help seriously ill children and their families. The mission is to help children to cope with pain, fear and isolation through entertainment, family activities and education.(2012)


In 2011, Colgate-Palmolive was one of the first companies recognized by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) under the new "working for regulatory change" category for companies that test on animals only when mandated by government regulations and are actively seeking alternatives to animal testing.[17] This relates to the corporation's decision to continue to participate in the profitable Chinese market, where some animal testing is still a regulatory requirement.[18] Other companies have chosen to decline entry to this market.[19]

In 2006, Colgate-Palmolive acquired an 84% stake in Tom's of Maine.[10][20] In 2011, the company chose to retain the use of the antibacterial agent triclosan in its market-leading Total toothpaste range, despite withdrawing it from several other product ranges, following concerns about triclosan's impact on health and the environment.[21]

Environmental record[edit]

In 2019, BreakFreeFromPlastic cited Colgate-Palmolive as one of the world's top ten plastic polluters.[22] Previously, Colgate-Palmolive had committed to 100% recyclability of plastics in packaging across all its product categories by 2025, but made no commitment to reducing the use of virgin plastic in packaging.[23]

Products of the Colgate-Palmolive company, specifically "Total" brand toothpaste contain triclosan.

Colgate-Palmolive, as a successor to The Mennen Company, is one of about 300 companies held potentially responsible for hazardous waste at the Chemsol federal Superfund site in Piscataway, New Jersey.[24] Their involvement in this site may have contributed to the contamination of an estimated 18,500 cubic yards (14,100 m3) of soil with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), PCBs, and lead off-site. A proposed $23 million agreement with the government and state of New Jersey would require Colgate-Palmolive and the other involved companies to pay for the cleanup of this hazardous waste that is contaminating the soil as well as the groundwater.[25]

Colgate-Palmolive received the 2012 Safe-in-Sound Excellence in Hearing Loss Prevention Award.[26]

Corporate governance[edit]

[27] Current members of the board of directors of Colgate-Palmolive are:

  • Noel Wallace
  • John P. Bilbrey
  • Lisa M. Edwards
  • C. Martin Harris
  • Martina Hund-Mejean
  • Kimberly A. Nelson
  • Lorrie M. Norrington
  • Michael B. Polk
  • John T. Cahill
  • Stephen Sadove

Employment diversity[edit]

Colgate-Palmolive was named one of the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" by Working Mother magazine.[28] The 2012 Human Rights Campaign "report card" on American businesses gave Colgate an A for its support of diversity in the workplace.


Colodent – toothpaste of Colgate-Palmolive in Poland

Colgate now markets a broadly diversified mix of products in the United States and other countries. Major product areas include household and personal care products, food products, health care and industrial supplies, and sports and leisure time equipment.

Discontinued products and former brands[edit]

  • Ajax Laundry Detergent (Ajax Cleanser still made by CP) [31]
  • Ad (detergent) [32]
  • Bambeanos[33]
  • Brisk (fluoride toothpaste) [34]
  • Burst (detergent)
  • Cue (fluoride toothpaste) [35][36]
  • Cashmere Bouquet (soap) [37]
  • Cherish (cinnamon flavored toothpaste)
Cherish toothpaste logo
  • Cold Power (detergent)* (known in Canada as Arctic Power, Australian and New Zealand rights sold to Henkel in May 2015)
  • Coleo (soap) [38]
  • Colgate Entrees[39][40][41][42]
  • Colgate Tooth Powder** [43][44] and Colgate Chlorophyll Tooth Powder [45]
  • Colgate Toothpaste with Chlorophyll** [46][47]
  • Dynamo (liquid detergent-no longer made by CP in the U.S.) [48]
  • Fab Detergent (no longer made by CP in the U.S.)
  • Fab One Shot (detergent)
  • Halo Shampoo [49]
  • Kolynos (toothpaste)**
  • Lustre-Creme Shampoo [50]
  • Octagon (soap) [51]
  • Palmolive Rapid Shave [52]
  • Colgate's Peter Pan Beauty Bar with Chlorophyll [53]
  • Soaky (bubble bath for kids) [54]
  • Super Suds (detergent) [55][56]
  • Swerl (liquid cleanser) [57]
  • Vel (dishwashing detergent) [58]


* While detergent brands continue to be manufactured and sold by Colgate in some countries, in the United States they have been sold to another company, Phoenix Brands in 2005.[59] Phoenix Brands would file for bankruptcy in May 2016[60] and the US rights have been assumed by Fab & Kind Company.[citation needed]

In May 2015, Colgate-Palmolive sold its Australian laundry detergents and pre-wash brands to Henkel for US$245 million (€220 million).[61] Colgate-Palmolive has divested its laundry detergents business in Colombia, which was in turn acquired by Unilever and some Asian countries, which was acquired by Procter & Gamble.[62]

** Still being made by Colgate-Palmolive internationally, but no longer available in the U.S.


In the U.S., the company operates approximately 60 properties, of which 14 are owned.[63] Major U.S. manufacturing and warehousing facilities used by the oral, personal and home care segment of Colgate-Palmolive were located in Morristown, New Jersey (previously the headquarters of the Mennen company prior to their 1991 buyout, and still HQ of the Mennen division) until 2014, when the plant shut down and moved operations to Hodges, South Carolina ; Morristown, Tennessee; and Cambridge, Ohio. The pet nutrition segment has major facilities in Bowling Green, Kentucky; Emporia, Kansas; Topeka, Kansas; and Richmond, Indiana. The primary research center for oral, personal and home care products is located in Piscataway, New Jersey and the primary research center for pet nutrition products is located in Topeka, Kansas.

Overseas, the company operates approximately 280 properties of which 80 are owned in over 70 countries.[63] Major overseas facilities used by the Oral, Personal and Home Care segment are located in Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, France, Guatemala, India, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, Thailand, Venezuela, Vietnam and elsewhere throughout the world.

Colgate-Palmolive has closed or is in the process of phasing out production at certain facilities under a restructuring program initiated in 2004 and has built new state-of-the-art plants to produce toothpaste in the U.S., Mexico and Poland.[64][65]

Colgate-Palmolive's chief manufacturing plant is located in Burlington, New Jersey, producing all of the fragrance and flavor oils for the company's facilities around the world.


The iconic hand on the Palmolive dishwashing soap label belongs to hand model Elizabeth Barbour. The image is an illustration of a photograph taken in 1985 when the Colgate-Palmolive Company updated the image, hiring Barbour, then with the Ford Agency in New York City.


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External links[edit]