Ecolab is a worldwide corporation with over 48,000 staff and $13 billion USD revenue in 2016.
It maintains direct operations in nearly 70 countries but has a presence in another 100 regions throughout the world.
The company has broad business interests. It is one of the world’s leading suppliers of cleaning, sanitizing, and maintenance products and services for the hospitality, food, and healthcare industries. Over 50% of its sales come from outside of the US.
In the US, it remains among the biggest names in pest control, servicing clients through its Pest Elimination operating division.
Ecolab regularly receives awards for its approach to business. Recent awards have included:
- World's Most Ethical Companies
- Dow Jones Sustainability Indices
- Newsweek Green Rankings
Merritt J. Osborn, the founder of the company, was an entrepreneur who had tried his hand at various ventures. He started the Evaporato Company in 1923 based on the development and sales of a carpet cleaner called Evaporato. In 1924, the company’s name was changed to Economics Laboratory and the product was rebranded as Absorbit.
Economics Laboratory continued to focus on the cleaning industry through the next decades. As the company grew it provided a wider range of services, including specialty cleaning products for restaurants and food processing companies. To keep abreast of its competitors, it became involved in chemical research.
Expansion started in the 1950s with a subsidiary in Sweden. By 1957, Economics Laboratory was large enough to go public. The company continued to expand through strategic acquisitions. Soon it was second only to Proctor and Gamble in the sale of domestic dishwasher detergents. However, that prominence decreased in the late 1970s and mid-1980s. This and changes in the market for cleaning products badly affected revenues.
To overcome the risks posed by the shifting markets, the company began to diversify its interests. In 1984, it acquired two pest control companies, Lystad Inc and ICE Inc.
In 1986, Economics Laboratory changed its name, this time settling on its present-day iteration of Ecolab.
Among other notable acquisitions in the pest control industry, in 2004 Ecolab took over Nigiko, a French company. Since then, Ecolab has become well-known in commercial pest control. It services many large and small corporations, including those in the food preparation, healthcare, and hotel industries.