Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE: CL) is a U.S. 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 1806, William Colgate, himself a soap and candle maker, opened up a starch, soap, and candle factory on Dutch Street in New York City 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.
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. 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.
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 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 States and India.
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 the 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, Colgate University was re-named in honor of the Colgate family following decades of financial support and involvement.
Also, for the past 3.3 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.
The Ethical Consumer Research Association has recommended that its readers do not buy Colgate because of its use of animal testing. The Ethical Consumer Association has also urged a boycott on many other products, including all products from the country of Canada. www.ethiscore.org has rated Colgate a 5.5 out of a possible 20. 
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 18,500 cubic yards of soil with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polychlorinated biphenyl (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. 
Current members of the board of directors of Colgate-Palmolive are: John T. Cahill, Jill Conway, Ronald E. Ferguson, Ellen Hancock, David W. Johnson, Richard Kogan, Delano Lewis, Reuben Mark, Elizabeth Monrad, and Howard Wentz.
Chief Executive Rueben Mark will retire July 1, 2007. Ian Cook, President and CEO, will replace him.
Colgate-Palmolive was named one of the "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" in 2004 by Working Mothers magazine.
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.
- Colgate (toothpaste)
- Crystal White Octagon
- Dynamo (detergent)
- Elmex (toothpaste)
- Fresh Start (detergent)
- Gard Shampoo (Germany)
- Hill's Science Diet
- Hill's Prescription Diet
- Irish Spring
- Meridol (toothpaste)
- Murphy Oil Soap
- Palmolive (soap)
- Speed Stick
- Tom's of Maine
Colgate has since become synonymous with toothpaste – a fact that is a blessing and a curse. In many countries the brand has become a generic, with people walking into shops and asking for "Colgate" when they actually mean toothpaste. This has prompted numerous local toothpastes to come up with copycat artwork on their packs, especially in India. Consequently, the legal department of Colgate-Palmolive (India) Ltd. has been involved in multiple litigations. [See links below.]
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 City.
- It is a common fun-fact that the word colgate translates to "hang yourself" in varieties of Spanish that use voseo (for example in Rioplatense Spanish).
- ^ http://www.colgate.com/app/Colgate/US/Corp/History/1806.cvsp
- ^ http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=alerts_recalls&id=5399483
- ^ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19214360/
- ^ EthicalConsumer magazine's online shopping guide. (URL accessed June 25, 2007).
- ^ Knowmore.org. (URL accessed June 25, 2007).