There is no question that since Covid-19 emerged, most of society has gained a heightened awareness of proper hygienic protocols. The pandemic has shed an expanded light on cleanliness precautions as we look to protect ourselves and others.
As a new normal continues to be defined, many people keep hand sanitizer in their cars, wipe down the handles of carts in grocery stores, and continue to wear masks. Companies that pride themselves on manufacturing hygienic products that fight against germs have become more integral to everyday life than ever before. It takes a company that is oriented towards solving real customer problems to thrive in the competitive marketplace. GOJO Industries, the makers of PURELL, has a great foundation starting in the late 1940s that has led to decades of continuous success.
GOJO Industries was founded by the wife and husband team, Goldie and Jerry Lippman, during World War II in Akron, Ohio. At the time, Goldie was a supervisor in a rubber factory, manufacturing life rafts and rubber products for the war effort, where she and her co-workers discovered how difficult it was to remove the carbon black and graphite from their hands after a day’s work. The men who had worked in the rubber factories before the war had dipped their hands in chemicals like kerosene and benzene at the end of a shift, but these harsh chemicals took a toll on workers’ hands.
John Lerner, GOJO Chief Commercial Officer who has been with the company for twenty years, shared how Goldie’s experience in the factory led to the couple’s inspiration for their first product: “The year was 1946 and Goldie Lippman was working in a rubber factory in Akron, Ohio. She and the other women who had come into the factories while the men were at war did not like dipping their hands in kerosene or benzene at the end of a shift to remove stubborn grease and carbon black, Goldie would come home and tell Jerry, who at the time was a cookie salesman and not a chemist, so he went to Kent State University and literally wandered the halls of the science building until he found Professor Clarence Cook who knew about emulsification from his work getting lanolin oils out of wool for military uniforms during the war. Professor Cook helped Jerry develop the GOJO Original Crème Cleaner. Jerry sold it out of the back of his car in pickle jars he sourced from delis that had been on his cookie route, and Goldie kept the books. Goldie and Jerry listened to their customers and built their business from there.”
Initially, the customers of the GOJO Original Crème Cleaner were manufacturers and automotive companies. Over the past seven-plus decades, GOJO has expanded to markets including restaurants and foodservice, where it is critically important to kill illness-causing germs on hands and surfaces. The company’s Purpose, Saving Lives and Making Life Better Through Well-Being Solutions continues to drive GOJO today, especially as our world continues to battle an unprecedented pandemic.
“Goldie and Jerry co-founded GOJO on solving a critical human problem – getting dirty hands clean,” Lerner explained. “They would be in awe of the role our PURELL® products are serving today in helping people re-enter restaurants, office buildings and public places. Just as Goldie and Jerry were helping the auto mechanics clean their hands so they felt comfortable holding their loved one’s hands, today PURELL products are helping to reduce illness-causing germs for healthcare workers, restaurant workers, and the public. When you solve real human problems as a company, you can make a difference in the lives of so many,”
Goldie and Jerry continued to listen to their customers and upon hearing concerns that the GOJO Original Crème Cleanser was too expensive, they recognized that the expense was a result of workers using too much of the product, with some even scooping it out to take home. Never deterred and always the inventor, Jerry came up with the first-ever portion-control dispenser, for which he was granted a patent in 1952. “This is just one of the many ways Jerry and Goldie set the expectation for how their company would work moving forward. The company continues to listen to customers, create innovative ways to solve problems, and come up with an economically efficient solution,” shared Lerner. What started as a heavy-duty hand cleaning product expanded into a hygiene focus where wellness and saving lives are illuminated.
“We take multiple perspectives to look at our business,” Lerner said. “Our product is used in restaurants, hospitals, and retail locations, and it is important to recognize that a consumer could be in all of these environments regularly. This means we look at what our brand stands for throughout the multiple facets of customers’ lives. We want to ensure our brand, the products, and the science behind it coincide with our purpose and are consistent across all boards, so people trust PURELL.”
Recognizing that their line of products was meeting the hygienic needs of multiple environments, GOJO began serving many vertical markets and was able to turn out innovation towards touch-free dispensing (developed in the early 2000s), which has proved extremely valuable throughout the pandemic.
March of 2020 changed the world, but the purpose and vision of GOJO and PURELL products did not. The company is committed to “saving lives and making life better through well-being solutions.” The team strives to disrupt germ transmission and keep up with the demand for safe, effective, and good for you hand and surface hygiene products. “When Covid first started, we became a 24/7 operation, hired hundreds of people, expanded distribution, and found equitable ways to push products into the market to help society during a pandemic. With demand levels that had never been seen, the market soon became inundated with a number of companies that simply lacked the experience producing a quality hand sanitizer,“ Lerner noted.
Among the highlight of this year’s anniversary was a return to the normalcy of a key industry trade show. GOJO celebrated 75 years of growth, innovation, and long-standing relationships at this year’s International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) North America trade show in Las Vegas. “We were excited to spend time at ISSA celebrating and reflecting on the people, breakthroughs, and partnerships that have fueled our ambition to help the world experience greater health and wellness,” Lerner said. GOJO also showcased a significant number of its recent innovations at this year’s ISSA show, including its’ lineup of PURELL Surface Wipes.
GOJO expects that cleanliness and safety precautions across the marketplace will undoubtedly remain a priority and become the backbone of the new normal. As the company sets its’ sights on the next 75 years, GOJO’s mission is unwavering. “Our work is how we fulfill our Purpose of Saving Lives and Making Life Better Through Well-Being Solutions and help people gather, work, play, and travel confidently,” Lerner concluded.
To learn more about GOJO for foodservice, visit their website