It Begins in Cincinnati

It Begins in Cincinnati

by Danny Summers

The year is 1837 and it was a time of economic hardships in the country. Two brothers-in-law, one a candle maker and the other a soap maker, were inspired by their father-in-law to bring their two crafts together into one business.

We take things like candles and soap for granted these days. But back in the 1800s, candles were essential for light, and the availability of hygiene products was extremely limited.

Candlemaker William Procter, born in England, and soap maker James Gamble, born in Ireland, both emigrated to the US from the United Kingdom. They initially settled in Cincinnati, and met when they married sisters Olivia and Elizabeth Norris. Alexander Norris, their father-in-law, persuaded them to become business partners, and in 1837 a little startup company was born...Procter & Gamble.

The beginnings may have seemed slow but they were making progress as their products gained acceptance. Despite rumors of impending civil war, they built a new plant to sustain their growing business. By 1850, sales reached one million dollars. By this point, approximately eighty employees worked for Procter & Gamble. During the Civil War, the company won contracts to supply the Union army with soap and candles. In addition to the increased profits experienced during the war, the military contracts introduced soldiers from all over the country to Procter & Gamble products. Once the war was over and the men returned home, they continued to purchase the company's products.

Here's a timeline of growth over the next few decades:

1879 - By this time Gamble’s son, James, has used his chemistry knowledge to create a cheaper equivalent of more expensive soaps. This leads to the Ivory Soap brand, which William Proctor's son Harley named after reading a passage from the Bible—“out of ivory palaces.” [Psalm 45:8]

1882 - Son Harley Procter maneuvers to spend more on advertising, marketing the soap across the nation through newspapers.

1887 - P&G initiates one of the first profit-sharing deals. This gave employees a piece of the pie, and quelled frustration among workers.

1890 - The soap business grows into a diverse product lineup of more than 30 different soaps. The company incorporates as a means to increase cash for growth.

The company began to diversify its products as well and in 1911, began producing Crisco, a shortening made of vegetable oils rather than animal fats. In the early 1900s, Procter & Gamble also became known for its research laboratories, where scientists worked to create new products. Company leadership also pioneered in the area of market research, investigating consumer needs and product appeal.

In the early twentieth century, Procter & Gamble continued to grow. The company began to build factories in other locations in the United States, because the demand for products had outgrown the capacity of the Cincinnati facilities. The first was 1915 in Canada, making Crisco and Ivory Soap in Canada.

As radio became more popular in the 1920s and 1930s, the company sponsored a number of radio programs and became one of the largest advertisers. As a result, these shows often became commonly known as "soap operas."

It would be an amazing experience if we could see William Procter's and James Gamble's reaction if they were with us here today and see what their small company has become. The idea their father-in-law had 186 years ago, was certainly one of great magnitude and change for countless people, both employees and the millions of people who have enjoyed the benefits of products they created. Take a quick look at the brands they have today HERE and then think of those you have around your home or office.

Today, Proctor & Gamble, a global company, still has it's world-wide headquarters in Cincinnati. It's located just 4 blocks east from our Fall Event 2023 Hotel, the Hilton Cinncinnati Netherland Plaza. The headquarter address is: 1 Procter and Gamble Plz, Cincinnati, OH 45202. Today, they are reporting over 106,000 employees and total sales of over $80 billion. If you want to dive into their P&L stuff (like Tim Quebedeaux will) check it out HERE.

Several things come to mind as I read more about William Procter and James Gamble's story...

First... Be sure to consider suggestions from your father-in-law as important advice.

Second, developing a creative environment can lead to unique products and services that lead to amazing growth and success.

And third, sometimes what may seem like the simplest ideas, can lead to BIG THINGS!

It Begins in Cincinnati... has great meaning for an amazing group of businesses and brands such as Proctor & Gamble, and others we will explore more in the coming weeks.

It Begins in Cincinnati... also describes what we will experience at The Fall Event 2023... an amazing group of businesses and professionals coming together to connect and spark ideas that can lead to BIG THINGS!

It's time to Register for The Fall Event 2023!

Our registration is now open and you can reserve your room(s) at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza! Just follow this link to get started.

Attending The Fall Event 2023 can lead to BIG THINGS for you, your team and your Center!

Mark your calendar for September 25-28... you'll be busy and out of town!


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Thanks for sharing!

Danny Summers
[email protected]
Tel: 678-909-7770
Cell: 678-761-7145

REMEMBER: Your interaction (by phone and email) with Group Service Providers such as Tim Quebedeaux, Sid Raisch, John Kennedy, Jean Seawright, and of course Danny Summers are included in your retainer!

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