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Culligan International Company
IndustryWater Treatment Products & Service
HeadquartersRosemont, Illinois
Key people
Emmett J. Culligan, Culligan Man, Culligan Lady
ProductsWater, water softener, water filters, bottled water
OwnerCenterbridge Partners
Number of employees
Culligan dealer offices, Wixom, Michigan

Culligan Water is an American water treatment company headquartered in Rosemont, Illinois. Culligan Water specializes in water softeners, water filtration systems and bottled water for residential, commercial, and industrial consumers.

The company currently has over 600 dealers in the United States and Canada and sells its products in more than 90 countries. Its main competitors are a division of Veolia STI: Aquadem, and BWT in Europe.


Culligan was founded in 1936 by Emmett Culligan. With $50.00 in his pocket and with additional money financed by his brother, Dr. John M. Culligan, and his sister, Anna V. Culligan, Emmett Culligan set up the Culligan Zeolite Company with his brothers, Drs. John and Leo Culligan, as partners. They started the new business in Jack McLaughlin's Blacksmith Shop at Northbrook, Illinois. Emmett perforated the bottom of a coffee can and used greensand to make his own water filter. Upon running water through his device, he discovered that the filter also behaved as a water softener. By 1938, the first Culligan franchised dealership opened in Wheaton, Illinois, followed by another in Hagerstown, Maryland. As time went on his business grew. In 1945, Emmett dissolved the partnership with his brothers and a new company was incorporated. Emmett was President until 1950 when he became Chairman of the Board and Harold Werhane was made President. In 1962 the name was changed to Culligan, Incorporated. The Company now has its International Headquarters in Rosemont, Illinois. There are more than 1000 dealerships and business offices in 85 countries. For further information refer to the Company magazine, "Topics" of July, 1970. Later on, Beatrice Foods acquired the company.

In 1986, Beatrice Foods, newly acquired by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, spun off its specialty foods and non-food brands as E-II Holdings. E-II attempted to take over American Brands in 1988, but instead American Brands purchased E-II. American Brands went on to sell the majority of the E-II brands to Meshulam Riklis. Riklis soon left the company, and E-II filed for bankruptcy in 1992. After a takeover battle from Carl Icahn, E-II emerged from bankruptcy in 1993 under the name Astrum International. Culligan was spun off in 1995, and Astrum was renamed Samsonite.

Culligan was acquired by United States Filter in 1998; US Filter was acquired by Vivendi in 1999. Vivendi spun off its water business in 2000, and the resulting company, Veolia Environnement, sold Culligan to Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in 2003. In 2004, Entrepreneur Magazine named Culligan the number one franchise in its industry. Centerbridge Partners acquired Culligan in 2012.[1]

Advertising slogan[edit]

Culligan delivery truck with advertising slogan, Dundee, Michigan

Culligan is known for a television and radio advertisement featuring a housewife yelling out the slogan "Hey, Culligan Man!" in a raucous tone, in response to the announcer advising her to "Call your Culligan Man." The campaign was originally created in 1959 for radio by Dallas Williams Productions of Los Angeles. He played the straight man in those advertisements, and his wife Jean Hughes Williams provided the shouting voice.[2] Filmmaker Dan Bessie directed and animated the award-winning "Hey, Culligan Man!" soft water commercials for 15 years. Variations of "Hey, Culligan Man!" ads would continue to air for over three decades. A current version of the classic "Hey, Culligan Man!" slogan has a woman speaking in a strong, friendly tone.

In 2018, Culligan launched a re-branding campaign, as Culligan Water, during the Golden Globes with a television advertisement featuring Cary Elwes from The Princess Bride. As of January 7th, 2018, the slogan "Hey, Culligan Man!"[3] is now "Hey Culligan!" in an effort to avoid sexist stereotypes of the past, and present a gender neutral image.


  1. ^ "Centerbridge to buy Culligan in debt deal-sources".
  2. ^ "Voice of 'Hey, Culligan Man' Radio Ads Dies". 10 April 1985. Retrieved 25 July 2016 – via LA Times.
  3. ^ Channick, Robert. "Hey, Culligan! Water company dropping 'man' in pitch to millennial consumers". Retrieved 2019-02-06.

External links[edit]