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Procter & Gamble Co., also known as P&G, is an American multinational
consumer goods company headquartered in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, United
States, founded by William Procter and James Gamble, both from the United
Kingdom. Its products include pet foods, cleaning agents, and personal care
products. Prior to the sale of Pringles to the Kellogg Company, its product line
included foods and beverages.2 In 2012, P&G recorded $83.68 billion in sales.
P&G remains a highly selective employer as less than 1% of all applicants are
William Procter, a candlemaker, and James Gamble, a soapmaker, both born in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, emigrated from England and Ireland respectively. They settled in Cincinnati initially and met when they married sisters, Olivia and Elizabeth Norris.4 Alexander Norris, their father-in-law, called a meeting in which he persuaded his new sons-in-law to become business partners. On October 31, 1837, as a result of the suggestion, Procter & Gamble was created.
In 1858ĘC1859, sales reached $1 million. By this point, approximately 80 employees worked for Procter & Gamble. During the American Civil War, the company won contracts to supply the Union Army with soap and candles. In addition to the increased profits experienced during the war, the military contracts introduced soldiers from all over the country to Procter & Gamble's products.
In the 1880s, Procter & Gamble began to market a new product, an inexpensive soap that floats in water. The company called the soap Ivory. William Arnett Procter, William Procter's grandson, began a profit-sharing program for the company's workforce in 1887. By giving the workers a stake in the company, he correctly assumed that they would be less likely to go on strike.
The company began to build factories in other locations in the United States because the demand for products had outgrown the capacity of the Cincinnati facilities. The company's leaders began to diversify its products as well and, in 1911, began producing Crisco, a shortening made of vegetable oils rather than animal fats. As radio became more popular in the 1920s and 1930s, the company sponsored a number of radio programs. As a result, these shows often became commonly known as "soap operas."
The company moved into other countries, both in terms of manufacturing and product sales, becoming an international corporation with its 1930 acquisition of the Thomas Hedley Co., based in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. After this acquisition, Procter & Gamble had their UK Headquarters at 'Hedley House' in Newcastle upon Tyne, until quite recently. Numerous new products and brand names were introduced over time, and Procter & Gamble began branching out into new areas. The company introduced Tide laundry detergent in 1946 and Prell shampoo in 1947. In 1955, Procter & Gamble began selling the first toothpaste to contain fluoride, known as Crest. Branching out once again in 1957, the company purchased Charmin Paper Mills and began manufacturing toilet paper and other paper products. Once again focusing on laundry, Procter & Gamble began making Downy fabric softener in 1960 and Bounce fabric softener sheets in 1972. One of the most revolutionary products to come out on the market was the company's Pampers, first test-marketed in 1961. Prior to this point disposable diapers were not popular, although Johnson & Johnson had developed a product called Chux. Babies always wore cloth diapers, which were leaky and labor-intensive to wash. Pampers provided a convenient alternative, albeit at the environmental cost of more waste requiring landfilling.
Procter & Gamble acquired a number of other companies that diversified its product line and significantly increased profits. These acquisitions included Folgers Coffee, Norwich Eaton Pharmaceuticals (the makers of Pepto-Bismol), Richardson-Vicks, Noxell (Noxzema), Shulton's Old Spice, Max Factor, and the Iams Company, among others. In 1994, the company made headlines for big losses resulting from leveraged positions in interest rate derivatives, and subsequently sued Bankers Trust for fraud; this placed their management in the unusual position of testifying in court that they had entered into transactions that they were not capable of understanding. In 1996, Procter & Gamble again made headlines when the Food and Drug Administration approved a new product developed by the company, Olestra. Also known by its brand name 'Olean', Olestra is a lower-calorie substitute for fat in cooking potato chips and other snacks. Download