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Colgate-Palmolive Company ( ) is an Americanmarker diversified multinational corporation focused on the production, distribution and provision of household, health care and personal products, such as soaps, detergents, and oral hygiene products (including toothpaste and toothbrushes). Under its "Hill's" brand, it is also a manufacturer of veterinary products. The company's corporate offices are on Park Avenue in New York Citymarker.


In 1806, William Colgate, himself a soap and candle maker, opened up a starch, soap, and candle factory on Dutch Street in New York Citymarker under the name of "William Colgate & Company". In the 1840s, the firm began selling individual bars in uniform weights. In 1857, William Colgate died and the company was reorganized as "Colgate & Company" under the management of Samuel Colgate, his son. In 1872, Colgate introduced Cashmere Bouquet, a perfumed soap. In 1873, the firm introduced its first toothpaste, an aromatic toothpaste sold in jars. His company sold the first toothpaste in a tube, Colgate Ribbon Dental Cream, in 1896. By 1908 they initiated mass selling of toothpaste in tubes. His other son, James Boorman Colgate, was a primary trustee of Colgate Universitymarker (formerly Madison University).

In Milwaukeemarker, Wisconsin, the "B.J. Johnson Company" was making a soap entirely of palm and olive oil, the formula of which was developed by B.J. Johnson in 1898. The soap was popular enough to rename their company after it - "Palmolive". At the turn of the century Palmolive, which contained both palm and olive oils, was the world's best-selling soap, and extensive advertising included The Palmolive Hour, a weekly radio concert program which began in 1927. A Kansasmarker-based soap manufacturer known as the "Peet Brothers" merged with Palmolive to become Palmolive-Peet. In 1928, Palmolive-Peet bought the Colgate Company to create the Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Company. In 1953 "Peet" was dropped from the title, leaving only "Colgate-Palmolive Company", the current name.

Colgate-Palmolive has long been in fierce competition with Procter & Gamble, the world's largest soap and detergent maker. P&G introduced its Tide laundry detergent shortly after World War II, and thousands of consumers turned from Colgate's soaps to the new product. Colgate lost its number one place in the toothpaste market when P&G started putting fluoride in its toothpaste. In the beginning of television, "Colgate-Palmolive" wished to compete with Procter & Gamble as a sponsor of soap operas. Although the company sponsored many shows in part, they were most famous for being the full sponsor of the serial The Doctors.

George Henry Lesch was president, CEO, and chairman of the board of Colgate-Palmolive in the 1960s and 1970s, and during that time transformed it into a modern company with major restructuring.

In 2005, Colgate sold the under-performing brands Fab, Dynamo, Arctic Power, ABC, Cold Power and Fresh Start, as well as the license of the Ajax brand for laundry detergents in the U.S, Canada and Puerto Rico, to Phoenix Brands, LLC as part of their plan to focus on their higher margin oral, personal, and pet care products.

In 2006, Colgate-Palmolive announced the intended acquisition of Tom's of Maine, a leading maker of natural toothpaste, for US $100M. Tom's of Maine was founded by Tom Chappell in 1970.

Today, Colgate has numerous subsidiary organisations spanning 200 countries, but it is publicly listed in only two, the United Statesmarker and Indiamarker.

In June 2007, counterfeit Colgate toothpaste imported from Chinamarker was found to be contaminated with diethylene glycol, and several people in eastern U.S. reported experiencing headaches and pain after using the product. The tainted products can be identified by the claim to be manufactured in South Africa by Colgate-Palmolive South Africa LTD, they are 5oz/100ml tubes (a size which Colgate does not sell in the United States) and the tubes/packaging contain numerous misspellings on their labels. Colgate-Palmolive claims that they do not import their products from South Africa into the United States or Canada and that DEG is never and was never used in any of their products anywhere in the world. The counterfeit products were found in smaller "mom and pop" stores, dollar stores and discount stores in at least four states.

Educational and community involvement

In 1890, Madison University in New York State was re-named Colgate Universitymarker in honor of the Colgate family following decades of financial support and involvement.

Also, for the past 34 years the Colgate-Palmolive Company has sponsored a non-profit track meet open to women of all ages. This event is called the Colgate Women's Games. The Colgate Women's Games is the nation's largest amateur track series open to all girls from elementary school through college. Held at Brooklynmarker's Pratt Institutemarker, competitors participate in preliminary meets and semi-finals over five weekends throughout January. Finalists compete for trophies and educational grants-in-aid from Colgate-Palmolive Company at New York City's Madison Square Gardenmarker in February. The goal is to provide an athletic competition that helps the participating young girls and women develop a strong sense of personal achievement, self-esteem, instill the importance of education and provide a training ground for those who might not otherwise participate in an organized sport.

Environmental record

The Ethical Consumer Research Association once recommended that its readers do not buy Colgate because of its use of animal testing, though this is no longer the case. The Ethical Consumer Association has also urged a boycott on many other products, including all products from the country of Canada. has rated Colgate a 5.5 out of a possible 20. However, the company has made important steps and according to PETA "in March 1999, Colgate-Palmolive established a moratorium on animal testing for adult personal care products (this includes deodorants, shampoos, fragrances, and shaving creams)."

Colgate-Palmolive, as a successor to The Mennen Company, is one of about 300 companies held potentially responsible for hazardous waste at the Chemsol federal Superfund site in Piscatawaymarker, New Jerseymarker. Their involvement in this site may have contributed to the contamination of an estimated of soil with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), PCBs, and lead off-site. A proposed $23 million agreement with the government and state of New Jersey would require Colgate-Palmolive and the other involved companies to pay for the cleanup of this hazardous waste that is contaminating the soil as well as the groundwater. On a positive note, the company completed a LEED Silver certified manufacturing plant in Morristown, TN in March 2008 which was the first of its kind in the U.S.

Corporate governance

Current members of the board of directors of Colgate-Palmolive are: John T. Cahill, Jill Conway, Ellen Hancock, David W. Johnson, Richard Kogan, Delano Lewis, J. Pedro Reinhard, and Stephen I Sadove.

Chief Executive Reuben Mark retired July 1, 2007. Ian M. Cook, President and CEO, replaced him.

Employment diversity

Colgate-Palmolive was named one of the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" in 2004 by Working Mothers magazine


Liquid soap Palmolive
Colgate now markets a broadly diversified mix of products in the United Statesmarker and other countries. Major product areas include household and personal care products, food products, health care and industrial supplies, and sports and leisure time equipment.


In the U.S., the company operates approximately 60 properties of which 15 are owned. Major U.S. manufacturing and warehousing facilities used by the Oral, Personal and Home Care segment of Colgate-Palmolive are located in Morristown, New Jersey; Morristown, Tennessee; and Cambridge, Ohio. The Pet Nutrition segment has major facilities in Bowling Green, Kentucky; Topeka, Kansas; Commerce, California; and Richmond, Indiana. The primary research center for Oral, Personal and Home Care products is located in Piscataway, New Jersey and the primary research center for Pet Nutrition products is located in Topeka, Kansas.

Overseas, the company operates approximately 280 properties of which 76 are owned in over 70 countries. Major overseas facilities used by the Oral, Personal and Home Care segment are located in Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, France, Italy, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, Thailand, Venezuela and elsewhere throughout the world.

Colgate Palmolive has closed or is in the process of phasing out production at certain facilities under a restructuring program initiated in 2004 and has built new state-of-the-art plants to produce toothpaste in the U.S. and Poland.


The iconic hand on the Palmolive dishwashing soap label belongs to Elizabeth Barbour. The image is a highly illustrated photograph taken in 1985 when the Colgate-Palmolive Company updated the image and hired Barbour who was a hand model with the Ford Agency in New York Citymarker.


  1. {{cite web |url={2C4F8D20-474F-4A56-9037-3618ABF01B9C} |title=Settlement Clears Way for Continued Funding of New Jersey Superfund Cleanup |accessdate=2009-02-25 |publisher=Market Watch}}

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