Careers at Ecolab


Ecolab’s mission is to provide and protect what is vital: clean water, safe food, abundant energy, and healthy environments.

Business segments

Ecolab is a provider of water, hygiene, and energy technologies and services.  The firm operates three reportable business segments:

  • Global Industrial - Consists of the Water, Food & Beverage, Paper, and Textile Care operating units. It provides water treatment and process applications, and cleaning and sanitizing solutions.
  • Global Institutional - Consists of the Institutional, Specialty, and Healthcare operating units. It provides specialized cleaning and sanitizing products.
  • Global Energy - Operates primarily under the Nalco Champion name and consists of the Energy operating unit. It serves the process chemicals and water treatment needs of the global petroleum and petrochemical industries in upstream and downstream applications.


Merritt J. Osborn, feeling tired of his job as a salesman, decided to start his own business. In 1923 he founded Economics Laboratory, a manufacturer of specialty chemicals. Its first offering was a rug cleaner for hotels. Its first successful product, however, was a chemical detergent for mechanical dishwashers, called Soilax. In 1928 it entered the equipment market with a product dispenser.

In the 1930s Economics Laboratory began expanding internationally. By the end of the decade annual sales reached $500,000, which was topped at the end of the 1940s when it generated $5.4 million. In the 1950s it diversified by adding consumer detergents to its portfolio, as well as institutional cleaning specialties for food processors, dairies, and restaurants.

That decade it also purchased Magnus Company, enabling it to gain entry into the industrial specialty market. Magnus sold cleaning and specialty formulas to a wide variety of industries, including paper and pulp, transportation, metalworking, and petrochemical processing. Economics Laboratory also began expanding globally by opening its first foreign subsidiary in Sweden in 1956.

Having grown significantly, the company became a public corporation in 1957. In the 1960s its earnings increased by at least 16% every year. Its household dishwasher detergents were by far its most popular product. In the 1970s it tried to enhance its offerings by introducing service packages – for example, on-premise laundry services for hotels and cleaning services for the food industry.

The company developed and emphasized the service aspect of its offerings over the next few years. It felt it served as an important point of differentiation. It acquired many firms in order to expand the breadth of these services. In 1986 it changed its name to the shorter Ecolab. In 2011 it announced a merger with Nalco Holding Company, which became a wholly-owned subsidiary.

Business model of Ecolab

Customer Segments

Ecolab has a niche market business model, with a specialized customer segment. The company targets its offerings at firms in the foodservice, food processing, hospitality, healthcare, industrial, and oil and gas markets.

Value Proposition

Ecolab offers two primary value propositions: performance and brand/status.

The company has demonstrated strong performance through tangible results. Specific examples of positive outcomes for clients include the following:

  • Ecolab helped an operator in South Texas by designing a treatment program that decreased oil carryover, resulting in a 3,550% return on investment with $55,000 in annual increased oil sales
  • Ecolab helped a major refinery complex in the Middle East improve bio-fouling control, resulting in $4 million in annual savings and potential reduced maintenance costs of $0.5 million annually
  • Ecolab helped a customer implement a paraffin inhibitor to extend production time, resulting in savings of $4,000 per month and total savings of $20,000 in five months

The company has established a strong brand due to its success. It serves customers in over 1.3 million locations in over 171 countries (including 90 outside of the U.S.). It has 47,000 employees and generates $13.5 billion in annual sales. Lastly, it has won many honors, including the following:

  • Recognition as one of the World’s Most Admired Companies by Fortune
  • Ranking as #13 out of 500 on Newsweek’s Green Rankings list
  • Recognition as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere ten years in a row
  • Recognition as one of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens by Corporate Responsibility magazine
  • Recognition as one of the Best Companies for Leaders by Chief Executive magazine


Ecolab’s main channel is its direct sales team. It also sells its products through independent third-party distributors. The company promotes its offeringS through its website, social media pages, and participation in conferences.

Customer Relationships

Ecolab’s customer relationship is primarily of a personal assistance nature. It has its 25,000 field associates partner with clients in order to provide on-the-ground consultation and service at their facilities. That said, there is a self-service component.

The company’s website features a “Document Library” section with useful resources including articles, reports, case studies, and brochures. The site also has a “Resources” section with news, webinars, and expert-authored articles.

Key Activities

Ecolab’s business model entails designing, developing, and manufacturing its products for customers.

Key Partners

Ecolab’s key partners are the suppliers that provide it with the over 10,000 raw materials it needs to manufacture its products, as well as other components. These items include the following:

  • Inorganic chemicals, including alkalis, acids, biocides, phosphonates, phosphorous materials, silicates, and salts
  • Organic chemicals, including acids, alcohols, amines, fatty acids, surfactants, solvents, monomers, and polymers
  • Plastic films and parts to manufacture medical devices that serve the surgical and infection prevention markets
  • Packaging materials for its manufactured products
  • Components for its specialized cleaning equipment and systems

Ecolab also maintains several consolidated and non-consolidated joint ventures with various businesses in order to to achieve quicker operational scale, meet local ownership requirements,  expand its ability to provide customers a more fully integrated offering, and provide other benefits.

Key Resources

Ecolab’s main resources are its human resources, who include the engineers and scientists that design, develop, and/or manufacture its solutions; the water, healthcare, food safety, and public health experts who provide valuable insight; and the customer service personnel who provide support.

It also maintains important physical resources in the form of manufacturing plants and 19 global technology centers. Lastly, it places a high priority on intellectual property, with 6,300 patents.

Cost Structure

Ecolab has a value-driven structure, aiming to provide a premium proposition through significant personal service and frequent service enhancements. Its biggest cost driver is cost of sales, a variable expense. Other major drivers are in the areas of sales/marketing and administration, both fixed costs.

Revenue Streams

Ecolab has one revenue stream: revenues it generates from sales of its products to customers.

Our team

Doug Baker,
Chairman and CEO

info: He earned a Bachelor’s degree in English at College of the Holy Cross. He previously served as President of Ecolab, and also held key roles in marketing, sales, and management. He also held various marketing and general management roles at P&G.

Tom Handley,
President and Chief Operating Officer

info: He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics at Claremont-McKenna College and an MBA at the University of Chicago. He previously served as EVP and President of Global Food & Beverage and Asia Pacific Latin America at Ecolab.

Larry Berger,
EVP and Chief Technical Officer

info: He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Chemistry at SUNY and graduate degrees in Materials Science and Engineering at Cornell University. He previously served as Chief Technology Officer of DuPont Nonwovens.

Stewart McCutcheon,
EVP and Chief Information Officer

info: He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Carolina. He previously served as Chief Information Officer and Chief Productivity Officer at Nalco Holding Company and as CEO of Ascis.