Colgate-Palmolive Company is an American 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.
In Milwaukee, 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 Kansas 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.
In June 2007, phony Colgate toothpaste imported from China 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 mis-spellings 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.
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 Brooklyn's Pratt Institute, 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 Garden 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.
Colgate-Palmolive is one of the companies responsible for hazardous waste at the Chemsol federal Superfund site in Piscataway, New Jersey. Their involvement in this site has 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 of 2008 which was the first of its kind in the U.S.
Colgate now markets a broadly diversified mix of products in the United States 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.