Ecolab (ECL) develops and markets premium products and services for the hospitality, foodservice, healthcare and industrial markets.
Ecolab is best known as a service company. It's salesman can help you solve your problems in a variety of areas. His expertise is free, supported by the branded chemicals he supplies to solve your problems.
Ecolab has had a close relationship with Henkel, the Procter & Gamble of Germany. For a while they participated in a jv in Europe called Henkel-Ecolab, supplying Ecolab style services in Europe. Eventually Ecolab bought out Henkel's interest and the jv became Ecolab Deutschland. For details of the Henkel relationship search the Ecolab website for several articles. At one time, Henkel personnel were directors of Ecolab. (Henkel now participates in the US consumer market as the owner of Dial, selling Purex, Brillo and related consumer brands.)
In 2011, Ecolabs announced the acquisition of Nalco, best known as a water company. Like Ecolab they too are famous for their highly skilled sales force, but treating industrial applications such as boiler water. These companies should be a good fit. Nalco was once an independent industry leader, but they were acquired by Credit Suez, merged with Calgon, stripped of oil services operations, and then spun off as a free standing company again.
In 2012, Ecolab announced the acquisition of Champion Technologies, a supplier of "a suite of chemicals used in operating oil and natural gas wells."
An article in the October 15, 2012 issue of the Wall Street Journal reports that Bill Gates and his Cascade Investment LLC are authorized to own up to 25% of Ecolab stock. Their current holdings are reported at abt 11%.