Country of origin: Ireland
Year came to U.S.: 1819
Business: Procter & Gamble (1837)
Headquarters: Cincinnati, OH
2018 revenue: $66.8 billion
U.S. employment: 23,213
Ranked 45 in the 2019 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 stepfather, 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.