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Ecolab Inc.
FormerlyEconomics Laboratory
S&P 500 Component
IndustryChemicals, Service, Water Management, Food Safety, Infection Prevention
Founded1923 (1923)
FounderMerritt J. Osborn
Key people
Christophe Beck.
RevenueIncrease US$14.9 billion (2019)[1]
Increase US$2.0 billion (2019)[1]
Increase US$1.558 billion (2019)[1]
Total assetsIncrease US$20.869 billion (2019)[1]
Total equityIncrease US$8.685 billion (2019)[1]
Number of employees
~50,000 (June 2020)
Footnotes / references

Ecolab Inc., headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, is an American corporation that develops and offers services, technology and systems that specialize in water treatment, purification, cleaning and hygiene in a wide variety of applications. It helps organizations both private market as well as public treat their water, not only for drinking directly, but also for use in food, healthcare, hospitality related safety and industry.[3] It was founded as Economics Laboratory in 1923 by Merritt J. Osborn, and renamed "Ecolab" in 1986.[4][5]

Ecolab product


Early years: 1923 - 1950s[edit]

Merritt J. "M.J." Osborn founded Economics Laboratory in 1923 with the tagline "Saving time, lightening labor and reducing costs to those we serve." The company's original product was Absorbit, a product designed to quickly clean carpets in hotel rooms. This was soon followed by Soilax, a dishwasher soap.

During the 1930s, the company expanded throughout the United States and sales reached US$5.4 million by the end of 1940s. It acquired the Magnus Company in the early 1950s, which gave the company access to Magnus's industrial specialty businesses - including pulp and paper, metalworking, transportation, and petrochemical processing.[4]

Transition to a public corporation and expansion: 1950s - 1986[edit]

In the 1950s, international expansion of Economics Laboratory started with the establishment of its first overseas subsidiary in Sweden in 1956. It became a publicly traded corporation in 1957[4] and continued to expand during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1979, it acquired Apollo Technologies, but in 1983 the acquired Apollo subsidiary was shut down. In 1984, Ecolab acquired pest elimination leader Lystads, Inc., of Grand Forks, North Dakota.[6]

Ecolab Inc.: 1986 - 2000[edit]

In 1986, the company changed its name from Economics Laboratory to Ecolab Inc. and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

In 1987, the company formed a textile care division.

In 1987, Ecolab purchased the lawncare servicer provider ChemLawn for US$376 million. It sold the acquisition in 1992 to ServiceMaster for US$103 million as it couldn't turn ChemLawn into a profitable business.[4]

Ecolab and the German fast-moving consumer goods firm Henkel KGaA formed a 50:50 European joint venture called 'Henkel-Ecolab' in 1991 to expand into European and Russian markets.[7] In 2001, it bought out its partner Henkel's 50% stake. Henkel continued to hold a 29.5% stake in Ecolab until their sale in 2008.[7]

Ecolab continued to acquire companies in the 1990s, including Kay Chemical (1993), Australia-based Gibson Chemical Industries Ltd (1997), and GCS Service Inc (1998).[citation needed]

Ecolab Inc.: 2000 - Present[edit]

In the mid-2000s, strategic acquisitions continued, and Ecolab diversified its portfolio of customer offerings by venturing into the food safety management business as well as a healthcare business unit.[citation needed]

In 2004, Douglas M. Baker, Jr. was named chief executive officer. In 2006, he also was named chairman of Ecolab's board of directors.[8]

In 2005, the company opened a new global research, development, and engineering center in Eagan, Minnesota.[9]

In 2006, Ecolab won the Black Pearl Award for Corporate Excellence in Food Safety and Quality, presented by the International Association of Food Protection (IAFP).[10]

In 2007, Ecolab acquired Microtek Medical Holdings, Inc., expanding its infection prevention expertise and offerings to hospitals and other healthcare facilities.[11]

In 2008, Henkel sold all of the 73 million shares, nearly a 29.5% stake it held in Ecolab, ending the two-decade-long partnership.[12][13][14] The same year, Ecolab established Zurich as its Europe, the Middle East and Africa headquarters.[9]

In July 2011, Ecolab announced a merger with Nalco Holding Company, Inc., an industrial water technology firm. In December 2011, Nalco, later renamed Nalco Water, became a wholly owned subsidiary of Ecolab after Ecolab completed the US$5.4 billion acquisition.[15][16][17][18]

In May 2012, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, through his investment vehicles Cascade Investment and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation increased his stake of 10.8% in Ecolab to 25%.[19][20][21]

In August 2012, Ecolab opened its Taicang, China, manufacturing plant. The facility, one of the company's largest, helped expand Ecolab's presence in Greater China and was the company's first plant to recycle 100% of its wastewater.

In October 2012, Ecolab entered an agreement to acquire Champion Technologies, a global specialty chemical company.[22] The $2.2 billion transaction closed in April 2013.[23]

In November 2014, Ecolab, working with TruCost, launched the Water Risk Monetizer. It provides an online, no-cost financial modeling tool to assess and monetize the risk of water scarcity.[citation needed]

Ecolab's headquarters in Saint Paul, Minnesota[24]

In November 2015, for $40.5 million, Ecolab acquired the U.S. operations of Swisher Hygiene, which provides hygiene and sanitizing solutions for the foodservice, hospitality, retail and healthcare markets.[25][26]

In June 2016, Ecolab announced plans to acquire Laboratoires Anios, a leading European manufacturer and marketer of hygiene and disinfection products for the healthcare, food service, and food and beverage markets. Based in Lille, France, Anios served customers in 85 countries and had 2015 sales of approximately US$245 million. The US$800 million transaction closed on February 1, 2017.[27][28]

In July 2016, Ecolab made a minority investment in Aquatech International, LLC of an undisclosed amount.[29][30]

In August 2016, the company opened a Latin America regional headquarters in Miramar, Florida.[31]

In October 2016, Ecolab acquired the assets of UltraClenz, a developer of electronic hand hygiene compliance monitoring systems and dispensers.[32]

In October 2020, Christophe Beck was named the next CEO of Ecolab, effective January 1, 2021.[33]


Ecolab employs approximately 50,000 people, and operates in more than 170 countries. It is organized in the following geographical divisions:[citation needed]

  • North America (based in St. Paul, Minnesota)
  • Europe (based in Zurich, Switzerland)
  • Middle East and Africa, including South Africa (based in Dubai, UAE)
  • Asia Pacific (based in Singapore)
  • Greater China (based in Shanghai)
  • Latin America (based in Miramar, Florida)

Products and services[edit]

Ecolab helps organizations treat their water, not only for drinking directly, but also for use in food, healthcare, hospitality and industry.[34][35]

The company's food safety services provide consulting to restaurants, hospitals, food retailers and food & beverage manufacturing facilities. It is also a supplier of chemistries used by beef and poultry processors to reduce pathogens, such as E. coli and salmonella in uncooked beef and poultry.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Ecolab Inc. 2019 Annual Report (Form 10-K)". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. February 2020.
  2. ^ "2014 Annual Report: 10-K". Ecolab. 28 February 2014. Archived from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  3. ^ "Ecolab". Fortune. Retrieved 2018-11-24.
  4. ^ a b c d " | Ecolab". Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  5. ^ "stake in Ecolab could get bigger". Reuters. 7 May 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  6. ^ "Ecolab Expands". PCT Magazine. Retrieved 2018-07-10.
  7. ^ a b "Ecolab Closes on European Acquisition". 30 November 2001. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  8. ^ "Douglas M. Baker, Jr". The Global Leader in Water, Hygiene and Infection Prevention | Ecolab. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  9. ^ a b "Ecolab timeline" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 June 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Black Pearl Award". International Association for Food Protection. Retrieved 2018-07-10.
  11. ^ "Ecolab Introduces Clearly Soft and ZephAir". Retrieved 2018-07-10.
  12. ^ "Henkel Directors to Resign from Ecolab Board". Reuters. July 2008. Archived from the original on July 31, 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  13. ^ "Henkel Completes Ecolab Divestment". Retrieved 25 July 2012.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Henkel announces successful public offering of its shares in Ecolab". November 2008. Archived from the original on 24 May 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  15. ^ "Ecolab Agrees To Buy Nalco For $5.4 Billion To Add Water-Treatment Service". July 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  16. ^ "Ecolab Closes on Merger With Nalco". 9 December 2003. Archived from the original on 29 January 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
  17. ^ "Ecolab merger to build on Nalco's legacy". December 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  18. ^ "SEC filing: NALCO Holding Company". December 2011. Archived from the original on 4 December 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  19. ^ "Bill Gates Gets OK to Up Stake in Ecolab to 25%". 8 May 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  20. ^ "Bill Gates' stake in Ecolab could get bigger". 7 May 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  21. ^ "Reuters company profile - Ecolab". Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  22. ^ "Ecolab Agrees to Acquire Champion Technologies for $2.2 Billion".
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-07-19. Retrieved 2017-01-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ Black, Sam. "Ecolab closes on $47M deal to move HQ to Travelers tower". Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2015-12-04.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ "Swsh_10q.HTM".
  27. ^ "Ecolab tables bid for Laboratoires Anios". Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  28. ^ "Ecolab Closes on Purchase of Anios". ecolab-closes-on-purchase-of-anios. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  29. ^ "Ecolab Makes Equity Investment in Aquatech International". Archived from the original on 2016-08-25. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  30. ^ "Ecolab makes Equity Investment in Aquatech International". Ecolab. Archived from the original on 2016-07-28. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  31. ^ "Ecolab opens Latin America Regional Headquarters in Miramar Florida". ecolab-opens-latin-america-regional-headquarters-in-miramar-florida. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  32. ^ "Ecolab Inc.: Ecolab Acquires Assets of Ultraclenz". The Wall Street Transcript. 2016-10-03. Retrieved 2020-07-09.
  33. ^ "Christophe Beck".
  34. ^ Archived 2009-06-16 at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ Ecolab company profile Archived 2008-06-24 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]