James Gamble


Country of origin: Ireland

Year came to U.S.: 1819

Business: Procter & Gamble (1837)

Headquarters: Cincinnati, OH

2019 revenue: $67.7 billion

Worldwide employment: 97,000

Ranked 50 in the 2020 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 soap maker. He married Elizabeth Norris, whose sister married William Procter, a candle maker. 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 The 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 5 billion of the world’s 7 billion people.

Updated July 2020