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Origin Of Top Businesses: Procter & Gamble – They Owe It All to Their Father-in-Law

This section of our site is called “Origins Of Top Businesses.

It features interesting facts about the early years of well-known businesses.

These facts are given to you for fun and inspiration.

Fun because the way that many top businesses started out is really surprising.

Inspiring because it will help you as a business owner see that if they can do it, so can you.

Now for today’s facts about Procter and Gamble:

Procter & Gamble Original Partnership Agreement (Front) Source:

Procter & Gamble Original Partnership Agreement (Back) Source:

  • Candlemaker William Procter (originally from United Kingdom) and soapmaker James Gamble (originally from Ireland) both came to the U.S. and decided to live in Cincinnati.
  • The reason that they met was because they both married sisters: Olivia and Elizabeth Norris.
  • Believe it or not, but it was their father-in-law’s idea for them to start the company. Alexander Norris pointed out to his two brand-new son-in-laws that they were competing for the same raw materials. So he told them that instead of competing they should become business partners. They liked the idea!
  • On October 31, 1837, William and James signed a partnership agreement and each pledged $3,596.47 to start a soap and candle business together which they called the Procter & Gamble Company. (See images above)
  • The business began during The Great Depression.
  • Because Cincinnati was a meat packing center at the time, they had access to plenty of fat for soap and candle making.
  • The first Procter & Gamble president was the Procter’s oldest son William A. Procter.
  • But it was Gamble’s eldest son, James N. Gamble, who is credited with inventing Ivory Soap. The invention of Ivory Soap was NOT an accident as many people believe. Company archivist Ed Rider found  a notebook entry from 1863 in which Gamble wrote: “I made floating soap today. I think we’ll make all of our stock that way.”
  • James Gamble also founded the first laboratory in P&G history.
  • It was the Procter’s son, Harley T. Procter, who was the company’s first Advertising and Sales Manager. He is the person who actually named Ivory Soap. (In 1961, he was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame because of he developed techniques and methods that have today become standard practice in modern advertising.
  • In 2016, the Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG) reported April – June 2016 quarter net sales of $16.1 billion

Source:,, (PDF),, and

About Scott Aughtmon (1872 Articles)
I’m author of the book 51 Content Marketing Hacks. I am also a regular contributor to and I am the person behind the popular infographic 21 Types of Content We Crave. I’m a business strategist, consultant, content creation specialist, and speaker. I’ve been studying effective marketing and business methods (both online and offline) since 1999. ===> If you would like to see ways that we could work together, then please click here to learn more.