William Procter

P&G logo

Country of origin: England

Year came to U.S.: 1830

Business: Procter & Gamble (1837)

Headquarters: Cincinnati, OH

2021 revenue: $76.1 billion

Worldwide employment: 101,000

Ranked 47 in the 2022 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.

William Procter came to New York City in 1830 after his London woolens shop was destroyed by fire and burglary. He and his wife, Martha, soon decided to travel west to the country’s new frontier but were forced to stop in Cincinnati when Martha became ill and ultimately died of cholera.

Procter stayed in Cincinnati making a living as a candlemaker and remarried Olivia Norris. Olivia’s sister was married to James Gamble, a soapmaker. At the suggestion of their father-in-law, the two men went into business together. In 1837, Procter & Gamble (P&G) was born as a storefront business in Cincinnati.

P&G pioneered several firsts:

  • Instituted a profit-sharing program that gave employees an ownership stake in the company. (1887)
  • 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. To discover other immigrant entrepreneurs whose companies have made it into the Fortune 500, explore the research report New American Fortune 500 in 2021.

Updated July 2022