William Procter

 

Country of origin: England

Year came to U.S.: 1830

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.

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 candle maker and re-married Olivia Norris. Olivia’s sister was married to James Gamble, a soap maker. 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 5 billion of the world’s 7 billion people.

Updated July 2020