Sales: $392 million
Key personnel: Carey Jaros, president and chief executive officer; Joe Kanfer, venturer; Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, executive chair; Mark Lerner, senior advisor and president emeritus
Major products: Purell Surface Disinfectants and Sanitizers, Purell Hand Sanitizers and Hand Sanitizing Wipes, Purell Brand Healthy Soap and Purell Smartlink Solutions, Gojo and Provon hygiene products
New products: Purell Surface Disinfecting and Sanitizing Wipes
Comments: During the COVID-19 pandemic Gojo’s Purell is the go-to hand sanitizer for many consumers. Prior to the pandemic, observers said Purell controlled 25% of the US hand sanitizer market—a market share that is surely growing in 2020.
Gojo Industries continues its tradition of combining leaders from inside the Kanfer family and beyond with the announcement of Carey Jaros as the 73-year-old family enterprise’s new president and chief executive officer; she stepped into the role Jan. 1, 2020, at which time Mark Lerner became senior advisor and president emeritus. In this new role, Lerner will sponsor key enterprise project teams, working as an advisor, coach, and mentor to Gojo leadership team members. He will also continue to serve on the board.
It’s been an interesting year so far for this leading cleaning brand. The maker of Purell hand sanitizer faced two class-action lawsuits in March accusing it of “misleading claims” that it can prevent “99.9 percent of illness-causing germs.”
The most recent lawsuit, filed by four people on March 13 in federal court for the Northeastern District of Ohio, comes as retailers scrambled to keep hand sanitizer in stock amid a coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 300,000 people around the world. A separate class-action lawsuit was filed in 2020 in the same federal court by different plaintiffs.
In January, the US Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to the maker of Purell warning Gojo against making unsubstantiated claims about the effectiveness of its products. The FDA cited several advertising campaigns suggesting that Purell could prevent the flu, ebola, norovirus and other potentially deadly diseases.
Still, the company stepped up to pitch in to stop the spread of COVID-19. In May, Gojo and supplier Lubrizol, also based in northeast Ohio, joined together to donate more than 16,000 liters, or the equivalent of nearly 65,000 8 oz. bottles of Purell Hand Sanitizer, to local hospitals. This announcement came at a time that Ohio hospitals were preparing for an influx of patients.
Gojo and Lubrizol worked with the CEOs of each hospital system in Cuyahoga, Summit and Wayne Counties to provide a 1-liter bottle of hand sanitizer to every patient room, for the months of April and May.
At press time, it was reported that Gojo continues expanding its capacity to meet exponential increases in demand for Purell sanitizer, soap, wipes, and surface spray, as more and more businesses and institutions reopen with a sharp focus on cleanliness and hygiene. By running its facilities 24/7, working with its existing suppliers to dramatically increase raw materials and component supplies, and by implementing creative partnerships with other companies that have directed bottles and caps its way, the company is producing more than two times the amount of product pre-pandemic.
Gojo recently signed a lease agreement for a facility in Navarre, OH, which will be used for storage and distribution. More recently, Gojo announced the purchase of a 325,000-square-foot facility in Maple Heights, OH, where it will manufacture Purell Surface Spray. Purell Surface Spray was launched in 2016 and has won numerous awards for its unparalleled combination of being no-rinse on food contact surfaces with lowest possible toxicity (Category IV), while effectively killing bacteria, mold, mildew, fungi, and dozens of viruses, including Influenza and Norovirus. It is listed on the EPA’s List N: Products with Emerging Viral Pathogens and Human Coronavirus claims for use against SARS-CoV-2. Demand for the product has been infinite since the pandemic began.
These two new facilities bring the company’s Ohio manufacturing facilities to four, including those in Cuyahoga Falls and Wooster. Gojo headquarters is in Akron, OH, and the company also has several manufacturing facilities in France. Gojo employs more than 2,500 around the world and is expecting to add at least 200 jobs with these two additional facilities.