The GOJO Story: Making Life Better

The GOJO story began in 1946 with two people, founders Goldie and Jerry Lippman, and their ingenuity, inventiveness and compassion for others. Today, their solid foundation continues to evolve into new ways to make life better for people around the world through skin health and hygiene solutions.

"Everything I know, I learned from someone else."

                         - Jerry Lippman on the importance of lifelong learning

The Spirit of Discovery Begins 
The Invention of GOJO 
Early Dispenser Innovation
Establishing Distributor Relationships
GOJO SANITARY SEALED™ Technology
Expansion into New Markets and Countries
The Invention of PURELL®
Evidence-Based Outcome Studies
The Spirit of Discovery Continues

The Spirit of Discovery Begins
Goldie Lippman worked at a rubber factory during World War II. After a hard day’s work, it was nearly impossible for her and her co-workers to remove the graphite, tar and carbon black from their hands. They used chemicals like benzene to remove the soils, but it was unsafe and irritated their skin. It was this workplace problem that set Jerry Lippman on a quest to find a safer, gentler solution.

The Invention of GOJO®
Jerry learned about a heavy-duty hand cleaner that removed difficult soils, and started selling it to Goldie's co-workers. They liked the hand cleaner, but not the fact that it required washing twice: once with the cleaner, then with soap and water. In search of a simpler solution, Jerry collaborated with Professor Clarence Cook from Kent State University. Together, they invented a hand cleaner that cut through the tough soils, safely removed them from hands and rinsed off easily.

Jerry and Goldie first sought the name "GoGo" for their new innovation. In addition to being Goldie's nickname, they thought "Make dirt go with GoGo" would be a memorable slogan. However, because the name was already taken by another business, they settled on their second choice, GOJO, with the "G" and "J" standing for Goldie and Jerry.

Early Dispenser Innovation
After the war, Jerry and Goldie turned their full attention to marketing GOJO Hand Cleaner. Jerry mixed and bottled it at night and sold it from the back of his car each day. Goldie managed purchasing and accounting for the growing business. With a natural instinct to listen to customers, Jerry soon learned that garage owners thought that his product was too expensive to buy for workers. Observing workers as they washed, he discovered that they were using much more hand cleaner than was needed. That insight led Jerry to develop the first portion-control hand cleaner dispenser, for which GOJO was granted a patent in 1952.

Establishing Distributor Relationships
GOJO products were used in gas stations across America and sold through auto parts stores. Solid distributor relationships were established through GOJO "Missionary Men," sellers who would load up their cars and travel for as long as it took to sell everything they had, visiting distributors and teaching them how to best demonstrate and sell GOJO Hand Cleaner. Over the next two decades, the GOJO brand came to dominate the heavy-duty hand cleaner market.

GOJO SANITARY SEALED™ Technology
With a talent for marrying formulas and dispensing technology, GOJO introduced its first sanitary-refill washroom soap systems in 1983. The systems used portion-controlled, SANITARY SEALED refill cartridges, which were a more hygienic alternative to commonly used bar soaps and bulk soap dispensers. This new technology allowed GOJO to expand into the commercial hand cleaning business. GOJO earned a reputation for high quality washroom systems -- pleasant, gentle soap formulas and the industry's most reliable dispensing systems.

Expansion into New Markets and Countries
GOJO began to focus attention on specialized markets like healthcare and foodservice, where handwashing and skin care could have a significant impact on health and well-being. A complete line of products for healthcare was introduced under the PROVON® brand name. And grease-cutting, antibacterial soaps were developed specifically for foodservice operations. Geographic expansion soon followed, and GOJO added facilities in Europe, Japan and Latin America, where a complete line of products were sold.

The Invention of PURELL® Hand Sanitizer
An increasingly germ-conscious world brought new challenges to GOJO customers. Restaurant operators started to face legal action when foodborne illness cases were traced to hand-spread germs. At the same time, healthcare associated infections were identified as a significant risk in hospitals and long term care facilities. Concern grew over how to clean hands when soap and water were unavailable. Prompted by these risks, GOJO scientists revolutionalized hand hygiene by inventing a whole new approach to hand disinfection -- and PURELL Instant Hand Sanitizer was born.

The invention of PURELL Hand Sanitizer was a turning point for GOJO and for hand hygiene. Realizing the potential to bring well-being to people everywhere, GOJO launched PURELL Hand Sanitizer as a consumer product in the late 1990s. Hand hygiene was suddenly within reach wherever people happened to be. PURELL Hand Sanitizer soon became a household name -- and America's #1 hand sanitizer.

Evidence-Based Outcome Studies
While GOJO scientists realized the significant, positive correlation between hand hygiene and well-being, they sought ways to help others understand. This led to the development of a number of scientific outcome studies, conducted in actual work settings, to prove the impact of good hand hygiene practices. Studies in healthcare indicated a reduction in the spread of infection. Studies in schools, offices and military settings showed reductions in absenteeism. Studies in oil refineries demonstrated improved skin condition. Scientific outcome studies provided solid evidence of results achieved, and became an integral part of GOJO market-focused solutions.

It became clear that hand sanitizers could play a significant role in health and well-being. Experts like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and others acknowledged the value of alcohol-based hand sanitizing gels and included them in hand hygiene guidelines for healthcare, schools and other facilities. That, along with the success of PURELL in the consumer world, helped set a new standard, making both handwashing and hand sanitizing common practice in work and public settings.

The Spirit of Discovery Continues
GOJO continues to evolve the science of skin care with new forms of technology: 

  • Formulations that improve skin condition with regular use
  • Green-certified hand cleaners
  • New forms of product, like foam, gel and wipes
  • Dispensing options that include touch-free, counter-mount and wall-mount systems, freestanding hand hygiene stations and personal, wearable systems

They are all part of an ever-expanding portfolio of products and programs to meet the skin health and hygiene needs of a changing world.

While science and technology have evolved, reach has expanded and geographic boundaries have become limitless, GOJO continues to apply the exploratory spirit and concern for well-being that were the foundation of the company in 1946. We listen, learn and innovate to find new ways to make life better for people around the world.

View the GOJO Timeline

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