SC Johnson & Son is one of the world's leading manufacturers of chemical-based household care products, including cleaners Pledge and Mr Muscle, air freshener Glade, and pest control products Raid, Off and Baygon. It has steadily expanded its portfolio through acquisitions, including most recently Sara Lee's shoecare brand Kiwi. The group is deservedly proud of its family heritage. Sam Johnson inherited his grandfather's company in the 1950s and built it into a multi-billion-dollar business. Still entirely private, it is now run by the fifth generation of family members. Separately, the Johnson family also own a financial services business in their home state of Wisconsin as well as a collection of sailing, scuba diving and camping brands.
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Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Sep 2017: Privately owned cleaning products giant SC Johnson signed off on a rare acquisition with a deal to add environmentally friendly specialists Ecover and Method to its portfolio for an undisclosed sum. "Method and Ecover have a strong tradition of innovation and delivering on consumers' needs," said SC Johnson chairman-CEO Fisk Johnson. "They are a great complement to SC Johnson's trusted lineup of iconic brands."
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Oct 2015: Household cleaning group SC Johnson raided PepsiCo once again to appoint Frito-Lay chief Ann Mukherjee as its chief marketing officer. SC Johnson COO Salman Amin was also previously a top marketer at PepsiCo.
Adbrands Weekly Update 2nd Jul 2015: Omnicom's growing hold on SC Johnson's business was strengthened by the appointment of Tracy Locke as the household care company's shopper marketing agency, taking over from WPP's Geometry Global.
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st May 2015: The first of the year's mega-media reviews came to an end with the appointment of PHD to handle global consolidated media for SC Johnson. It had already been tasked with planning earlier in the year, and now takes over buying from Maxus.
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Mar 2015: Unilever sold off a collection of home care products in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Baltics to rival SC Johnson. The portfolio, trading as HomeBrands, includes Biolit insecticides, Diffusil repellents, Lynn household cleaners and Citresin air fresheners. The deal supplements SC Johnson's existing homecare range, which includes Glade, Mr Muscle, Raid and OFF.
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Free for all users | see full profile for current activities: Samuel Curtis Johnson purchased the parquet flooring business of the Racine Hardware Company in 1886. He was in his mid 50s by that time, having already dabbled in several different careers including as a railway developer and a stationery salesman. Although the main business of Racine Hardware was to install wooden floors for customers, but Johnson realised that there was a lucrative sideline to be made from maintaining them as well. As a result he developed his own blend of wood polish to preserve the boards. Johnson's Prepared Wax was marketed in its own right for the first time in 1888, supported by a national advertising campaign. Sam was joined in the business by his son Herbert at the beginning of the new century and the firm was incorporated as SC Johnson & Son in 1906.
Sales of the floor wax grew rapidly in the early years of the new century, and Johnson established sales offices in the UK (1914), Australia (1917) and Canada (1920). New household cleaning products were added and by the end of the 1920s, the company was generating revenues of over $5m annually. Herbert died in 1928, splitting ownership of the business between son Herbert Jr, who took over the running of the firm, and daughter Henrietta (later Henrietta Johnson Louis). They used part of the company's booming revenues to fund the design and development by architect Frank Lloyd Wright of a new headquarters building, later described as the most important piece of 20th century architecture in the US.
The most important new stage in the company's growth came in the 1950s, after the arrival of Herbert Jr's own son, also named Samuel Curtis Johnson. He oversaw the introduction in 1956 of a new water-based insecticide, Raid. This became a massively successful new brand for the company, and was followed by insect repellent OFF! a year later. During the 1960s, aerosol-based Pledge furniture polish and Glade air fresheners were also big sellers for the company. In 1965, Sam Johnson became president.
The company's growth slowed slightly in the 1970s and 1980s. Johnson experimented with other lines, including paint and garden chemicals, channelled through Johnson Diversified, a separate division set up for this purpose. Many of these new lines proved unsuccessful, but in 1980 the group began to manufacture and market a range of recreational and outdoors products including tents, fishing equipment and diving gear. In 1987 this business was spun off and separately floated as Johnson Worldwide Associates, although the family retained a controlling stake in the business.
In 1993 SC Johnson acquired household cleaner group Drackett, makers of Drano drain cleaner, Vanish and Windex window cleaner; then paid $1.2bn for DowBrands, including Saran Wrap plastic film and Ziploc bags. To appease regulators it sold several smaller brands on to Reckitt & Colman. In 1999, the group's skincare business, led by Aveeno moisturising cream, was sold to Johnson & Johnson (no relation!). The same year the industrial and professional services divisions were separately spun-off as privately owned SC Johnson Commercial Markets, and merged with Unilever's Diversey subsidiary in 2001. In early 2000, Johnson Worldwide Associates changed its name to Johnson Outdoor, more accurately describing the nature of its products. The group acquired Japan's market-leading drain cleaner Pipe Unish in late 2001. Sam Johnson died in 2004, aged 76. See full profile for current activities
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