James Gamble

P&G logo
Country of origin: Ireland

Year came to U.S.: 1819

Business: Procter & Gamble (1837)

Headquarters: Cincinnati, OH

2020 revenue: $71.0 billion

Worldwide employment: 99,000

Ranked 43 in the 2021 Fortune 500

  • Procter and Gamble were brothers-in-law married to a pair of sisters. They might never have met if fate had not intervened.

  • Today, the company they created serves nearly 70 percent of the world’s population.

Procter & Gamble is one of the world’s largest consumer packaged goods companies, and it all began as a storefront shop opened by two men: William Procter and James Gamble.

James Gamble’s father was a protestant minister in Ireland. In 1819, when Gamble was 16, the family came to the U.S. to start a new life. His father intended to preach in Illinois, but James became ill along the way. The family sought treatment in Cincinnati.

He made a full recovery and went on to become a soapmaker. He married Elizabeth Norris, whose sister married William Procter, a candlemaker. At the suggestion of their father-in-law, the two men went into business together in 1837 and Procter & Gamble (P&G) was born.

P&G pioneered several firsts:

  • Instituted a profit-sharing program that gave employees an ownership stake in the company. (1887)
  • Gamble’s son, James N. Gamble, helped create the first coordinated community campaign for charities. Known today as United Way, it is now the leading community-based fundraiser in the United States. (1915)
  • Became the first company to conduct data-based market research. (1924)
  • Created Crest toothpaste, a breakthrough in the use of fluoride to protect against tooth decay, the second most prevalent disease at the time. (1955)

Today, P&G serves nearly five billion of the world’s seven billion people.

Discover more immigrant founders of Fortune 500 companies in the research report New American Fortune 500 in 2021.

Updated July 2021