Ecolab Acquires Dober Chemical’s Commercial Laundry Division

Bruce Beggs |

Updated 9/10/2010 — 4 p.m. CT with additional details and comments
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Ecolab Inc., a leader in cleaning, sanitizing, food safety and infection prevention products and services, has purchased the Commercial Laundry Division of Dober Chemical Corp., Woodridge, Ill., Ecolab announced Thursday.
The acquisition includes Dober’s wash-floor chemistry and wastewater treatment formulas and Ultrax dispensing businesses as well as an exclusive partnership to market and provide key components of its Spindle monitoring software.
Terms of the deal were not released. Dober’s commercial laundry business had 2009 sales of approximately $37 million, according to Ecolab.
Speaking exclusively with American Laundry News by phone today, Brian Henke, vice president and general manager, Ecolab Textile Care North America, described the forthcoming transition.
Fifty-six people from Dober’s Commercial Laundry Division, including its entire U.S. service team, are joining Ecolab, Henke says. They will continue to serve their customers in their respective regions of the country; no one will be moving to Ecolab’s headquarters or other locations.
“We plan on being seamless with the customer base as well through the transition period, which we think is going to take as much as 12 months to do it in the proper manner,” he says. “We have a strong service force on both the Ecolab side and the Dober side, and they have very strong relationships with their customers. They’re embedded and indispensable for many of those customers.”
Ecolab plans no immediate changes in relationships as far as servicing, contract status, product pricing/usage, etc., Henke says. “We’re going to take it slow and do it right to make sure that they are happy and they understand the value of what we’re trying to build here from an organization perspective.”
Through this agreement, Spindle Technologies, a division of Dober, forms a strategic alliance with Ecolab in an exclusive licensing agreement for its ChemWatch Software technology and the OPTRAX Utility Module. Ecolab’s exclusive representation includes the local version of the software as well as the web services component, Dober says.
“Ecolab and Spindle’s core strengths will provide the commercial laundry marketplace with a unique strategic alliance that will take laundry operations innovation to a new level,” says John Dobrez, president of Dober Chemical Corp. “As part of this agreement, both parties have already laid out the framework for the next wave of innovation to result from this strategic alliance. We believe this will result in enhanced customer benefits from our combined companies.”
Spindle will retain its independence with respect to its product offerings associated with the “Direct Labor” real-time monitoring software in the commercial laundry marketplace, Dober says.
Henke says the deal is not about Ecolab gaining market share. “That wasn’t the goal of this acquisition. … If we wanted market share and a customer base, there are larger competitors in the marketplace. We felt this was the best one that fit Ecolab’s core value proposition and fit in where we see we might be able to improve our offering going forward.”
Dober customers should contact their current representative if they have any questions about the acquisition or its impact on them, Henke says.

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.


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