Sales: $6.1 billion for industrial and institutional cleaning products. Corporate sales: $11.8 billion. Net income: $703 million.
Key Personnel: Douglas M. Baker Jr., chairman and chief executive officer; Thomas W. Handley, president and chief operating officer; Martha Goldberg Aronson, executive vice president and president, global healthcare; Christophe Beck, executive vice president and president, international regions; Darrell Brown, executive vice president, Asia Pacific; Michael A. Hickey, executive vice president and president, global institutional; Michael Johannsen, senior vice president, global textile care; Roberto D. Mendez, executive vice president and president, global services and specialty; James A. Miller, executive vice president and president, global corporate initiatives; Andreas Weillinghoff, executive vice president, Middle East and Africa; James H. White, executive vice president and president, Latin America; Jill Wyant, executive vice president and president, global food and beverage.
Major Products: Cleaning and sanitizing products and services for the industrial and institutional market.
New Products: Stealth Fusion Fly Light, Antimicrobial Fruit and Vegetable Treatment, Performance Industrial Laundry Program, Bio-based Hard Surface Cleaners.
Comments: Is Ecolab an industrial and institutional (I&I) cleaning product company or something else? The company has made several acquisitions in the past two years that move it closer to water treatment than to cleaning restaurant floors. Most recently, in April, Ecolab agreed to acquire AkzoNobel’s Purate business, which specializes in global antimicrobial water treatment technology. Purate had sales of $23 million in 2012 and provides a patented chlorine dioxide technology for use in a wide array of water treatment applications.
Of course, that deal has been dwarfed by the multi-billion dollar purchases of Nalco ($5.4 billion) and most recently, Champion Technologies ($2.1 billion). In April, Ecolab formed a new business unit called Nalco Champion, which is located in Sugar Land, TX. The move makes Ecolab the largest player in oil field water treatment—a business that is expected to grow as fracking operations expand in Canada, the US and around the world. Production of gas from shale using methods such as hydraulic fracturing has quadrupled during the past four years, according to the American Exploration & Production Council, a trade association of natural gas and oil companies.
Those acquisitions helped Ecolab’s 2012 sales soar 74%. Pro forma sales were up 5%.
While Ecolab looks under the earth’s surface for oil (and long-term growth), it hasn’t forgotten surface chemistry; i.e., the products and services that keep floors shiny, dishes clean and counters sanitized.
For example, last fall the company acquired Quimiproductos, a Mexico-based producer and supplier of cleaning, sanitizing and water treatment products and services to breweries and beverage companies. Nearly a year ago, Ecolab opened a manufacturing plant and distribution center in Taicang, China. It’s the company’s third largest in the world and can produce 150,000 tons of products annually.
Sales of US cleaning and sanitizing products rose 2% to nearly $3 billion and International cleaning and sanitizing sales rose 3% to $3.1 billion. Institutional accounts for 53% of sales, followed by food and beverage (17%), Kay (13%), healthcare (11%), textile care (3%) and vehicle care (2%). Institutional sales rose 4%, as Ecolab targeted new accounts and developed effective product programs at a time when lodging gains remained low and foodservice foot traffic was slow. Food and beverage sales rose 4% on gains in dairy, food and agri market. Kay’s sales increased 9% on a double-digit gain for food retail. Healthcare sales rose 9% led by increases within the patient temperature management business, environmental hygiene and infection barrier solutions.
Europe, Middle East and Africa accounts for 58% of international sales, followed by Asia Pacific (23%), Latin America (11%) and Canada (8%). Gains in the UK, Italy and Germany, as well as the Middle East provided a 3% lift to EMEA results. Sales in Asia Pacific increased 5%, driven by increases in China and emerging Asian countries. Sales in Latin America rose 18%, due to acquisitions and double-digit growth in Brazil, Chile and Mexico. Finally, sales in Canada were up 7% led by solid sales in food and beverage, and institutional.
Last year, the company consolidated its major R&D centers to foster collaboration and leverage the new Ecolab’s scale. Company executives insist they’ve built the biggest innovation pipeline in Ecolab’s history—one focused on formulation and water chemistry, antimicrobial science and automation and dispensing.
In new product news, last fall, Ecolab rolled out a new line of bio-based hard surface cleaners that deliver effective cleaning performance and are USDA BioPreferred and Green Seal certified. Designed for lodging, commercial and facility operations, Ecolab’s bio-based facility care solutions are made from plant-derived natural resources and designed to remove soils from hard surfaces safely and effectively. The full product line includes a Peroxide Multi-Surface Cleaner, Glass Cleaner, Acid Bathroom Cleaner and Neutral Bathroom Cleaner. According to Ecolab, in field tests the line has proven to be more effective than competing products. For example, the Acid Bathroom Cleaner has been proven to be 17% more effective at removing soils than the leading competitor products.
For the first quarter of 2013, sales rose 2% to nearly $2.9 billion and net income soared 221% to nearly $160 million. In commenting on the first quarter results, CEO Doug Baker noted that the global market remained mixed, with North America and Europe soft, while Asia and Latin America posted good gains.
Ecolab has expanded its research, development and engineering (RD&E) Center in Campinas, São Paulo. The expansion doubles the size of the RD&E facility to 1,300 square meters.
“Having RD&E teams in our major geographic markets helps ensure close interactions with our customers and value chain partners,” said Dr. Larry Berger, Ecolab executive vice president and chief technology officer. “Our goal is to develop industry-leading solutions to make the world cleaner, safer and healthier, to protect people and vital resources, and by doing this, help our customers optimize their operations.”
One of 19 Ecolab research centers around the world, the Campinas facility has several laboratories designed to meet the technological demands of the markets Ecolab serves, including a lab for the development of solutions to increase the efficiency and sustainability of oil and gas operations. The center also has facilities to research new industrial water applications for the pulp and paper, mining, sugar and brewing industries, and for the development of new cleaning and sanitizing, and food and beverage processing solutions.
“The expansion of the Campinas research center is part of Ecolab’s strategy to keep pace with the strong growth of our business in Brazil and throughout Latin America,” said Jim White, Ecolab senior vice president and president, Latin America region.
Ecolab’s recent merger with Nalco and the acquisition of Champion Technologies and two local companies have significantly increased the company’s footprint in Brazil, which now includes two manufacturing facilities.