Ecolab’s Journey Since 1923

What would Founder M.J. Osborn think of Ecolab today? Its size and success would please him, its talented people would amaze him and its technologies would take his breath away. But some things would not surprise him, because he set them in motion. The fundamentals M.J. put in place – continuous innovation coupled with expert customer service – are still the foundation of Ecolab’s success. 
Ecolab Timeline

A decade-by-decade look at major events in Ecolab history.

By the Numbers

How has Ecolab grown? See how company sales, number of employees and number of patents have trended over the years. 

MJ close up
CEOS Through the Years

Seven CEOs have served Ecolab since the company's founding. Learn about the company’s top leaders: M.J. Osborn, E.B. Osborn, Fred Lanners, Pierson “Sandy” Grieve, Al Schuman, Doug Baker and Christophe Beck.

Building Global Reach

Ecolab began its expansion beyond the U.S. in the early 1950s, often moving into new geographies to serve hospitality and other customers as they pushed across borders and oceans. After all, it was part of the promise: Ecolab would be there, no matter where service was needed. Learn more about the company’s journey from St. Paul, Minnesota, to global reach.


Acquisitions have played a big part in Ecolab’s growth, bringing new capabilities and building presence in markets around the world. Divestitures have shaped the company too. See timelines for key acquisitions and divestitures.

A History of Innovation

Ecolab’s spirit of innovation traces back to its very first days, when founder M.J. Osborn mixed a few ingredients to make a rug cleaning compound, and seeing a need for a better soap for the new mechanical dishwashers, developed Soilax™, the company’s first successful product. Learn more about key innovations that followed over the years.


From the beginning, the focus was on “getting the job done.” To make sure the company’s products actually did the job, M.J. Osborn, and later his son E.B., made on-site service provided by trained representatives integral to the company’s offering. Explore how Ecolab’s commitment to expert customer service took shape. 

Sustainability and Citizenship

Ecolab began demonstrating environmental stewardship and “giving back” to communities decades ago, recognizing the importance of fulfilling its social responsibility. Read about milestones in the company’s environmental and community citizenship efforts and how the legacy of generosity set by Ida Koran, the company’s first employee, has continued. 

Our Future

Ecolab’s vision is to be a global leader in four areas – fresh water, safe food, abundant energy and healthy environments. All are critical to fulfilling Ecolab’s purpose: to make the world cleaner, safer and healthier, protecting people and vital resources.