Fascinating Facts You Never Learned in School
In 1953, a fledgling company called Rocket Chemical Company and its staff of three set out to create a line of rust-prevention solvents and degreasers for use in the aerospace industry, in a small lab in San Diego, California.
It took them 40 attempts to get the water displacing formula worked out. But they must have been really good, because the original secret formula for WD-40®—which stands for Water Displacement perfected on the 40th try—is still in use today.
Convair, an aerospace contractor, first used WD-40 to protect the outer skin of the Atlas Missile from rust and corrosion. The product actually worked so well that several employees snuck some WD-40 cans out of the plant to use at home.
A few years following WD-40's first industrial use, Rocket Chemical Company founder Norm Larsen experimented with putting WD-40 into aerosol cans, reasoning that consumers might find a use for the product at home as some of the employees had. The product made its first appearance on store shelves in San Diego in 1958.
In 1960 the company nearly doubled in size, growing to seven people, who sold an average of 45 cases per day from the trunk of their cars to hardware and sporting goods stores in the San Diego area.
In 1961 the first full truckload order for WD-40 was filled when employees came in on a Saturday to produce additional concentrate to meet the disaster needs of the victims of Hurricane Carla along the U.S. Gulf coast. WD-40 was used to recondition flood and rain damaged vehicles and equipment.
In 1969 the company was renamed after its only product, WD-40.
WD-40 Company, Inc., went public in 1973 and was listed Over-The-Counter. The stock price increased by 61% on the first day of listing.
Since that time, WD-40 has grown by leaps and bounds, and is now virtually a household name, used in numerous consumer and industrial markets such as automotive, manufacturing, sporting goods, aviation, hardware and home improvement, construction, and farming.
In 1983, WD-40 Company sales reached $50.2 million. Many companies attempted to introduce imitation products, going so far as to copy the distinctive blue, yellow and red colors of the WD-40 can.
In 1993, WD-40 Company celebrated its 40th anniversary by breaking the $100 million sales mark. That year the company was also listed among the Top Ten Most Profitable companies on the NASDAQ exchange. Not bad for a company with only one product!
WD-40 was found to be in 4 out of 5 American households (it seems everyone has a can or two) and was used by 81 percent of professionals at work. Sales had grown to more than one million cans each week.
The most interesting piece of WD-40's history is the uses for the product, now numbering in the thousands. The uses include everything from silencing squeaky hinges and removing road tar from automobiles to protecting tools from rust and removing adhesive labels. But they get a lot crazier than that.
OVER THE YEARS...
Over the years, thousands of WD-40 users have written testimonial letters to the company sharing their often unique, if sometimes just plain weird, uses for the product—many of which are shared in other parts of this Web site. Some of the most interesting stories include the bus driver in Asia who used WD-40 to remove a python snake which had coiled itself around the undercarriage of his bus. Or when police officers used WD-40 to remove a naked burglar trapped in an air conditioning vent.
Very few brands will ever match the popularity of WD-40. In fact, the variety and uniqueness of uses for WD-40 proved so popular that The WD-40 Book, featuring many user testimonials and the wacky humor of the Duct Tape Guys, was published in 1997. But WD-40's literary legend doesn't end there. The familiar blue and yellow can has been featured in other books ranging from The Big Damn Book of Sheer Manliness (General Publishing 1997), Polish Your Furniture With Panty Hose (Hyperion 1995), WD-40 for the Soul: The Guide to Fixing Everything (TV Books 1999), and Talking Dirty With the Queen of Clean.
However, WD-40 was starting to get a bit lonely as the only product, so in 1995, WD-40 Company acquired the 100-year-old brand 3-IN-ONE® Oil from Reckitt & Coleman. 3-IN-ONE, with its precise applicator spout, made a wonderful match for WD-40.
In 1999, WD-40 Company added to its fortress of brands when it acquired Lava®, from Block Drug Company. Lava is the most famous brand of heavy-duty hand cleaner in the U.S. More important however is that people who use Lava are many of the same consumer and industrial users as WD-40 Company's other multi-purpose products. There are many more who will now have an opportunity to try Lava.
Also in 1999, WD-40 Company added to its 3-IN-ONE product line a new delivery system, the Telescoping Spout . Reminiscent of an old-time oilcan, the plastic bottle comes with a five-inch extendable spout designed to get at hard-to-reach places. The 3-IN-ONE Telescoping Spout has won numerous awards since its launch.
In 2000, WD-40 Company acquired Solvol®, the leading heavy-duty hand cleaner brand in Australia.
In 2001, WD-40 Company added Global Household Brands to our fortress of brands. The addition of X-14®, 2000 Flushes®, and Carpet Fresh® to our line-up, makes WD-40 Company a leader in household cleaning and maintenance products.
In 2002, WD-40 Company acquired Heartland Corporation, complementing its line of household products with Spot Shot® carpet stain remover. Spot Shot proprietary formulation has rendered into a high level of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
In addition to the Global Household Brands, no vac® was added to the company portfolio as another innovative product that has been developed to solve everyday house and car odors with foam carpet deodorizer.
In 2003, the 3-IN-ONE Professional line was born, with four great, hard-working products that cover every job's lubrication needs. Also in 2003, the new WD-40 Big Blast can was introduced, featuring a wide-area spray nozzle that delivers WD-40 quickly and efficiently over large areas.
In 2004, WD-40 Company acquired 1001®, the leading brand of carpet cleaning products in the United Kingdom. It also expanded its 3-IN-ONE Professional line with the introduction of a heavy-duty cleaner degreaser, an engine starter and a high-performance lubricant. Also in 2004, the 2000 Flushes line introduced the new Spring Meadow Clip-On and
Spring Meadow Clip-On with Bleach, the only clip-ons that last up to four months.
In 2005, as a commitment to offering consumers the easiest, most convenient way to get the job done, WD-40 Company introduced the WD-40 Smart Straw®, which features a permanently attached straw. The Smart Straw can solved the number one complaint about WD-40 products: losing the little red straw. The 3-IN-ONE Professional line also expanded with the introduction of a dry lube to help lubricate and protect all types of surfaces without leaving an oily residue behind. To continue serving the loyal customers who rely on WD-40 Company’s family of trusted household brands, the Spot Shot Instant Carpet Stain Remover was released in a convenient trigger spray bottle.
In 2006, WD-40 Company introduced the WD-40 No-Mess Pen® to provide millions of WD-40 users a portable, precision-application delivery system of the famous multi-purpose problem solver. The WD-40 Fan Club also reached an astonishing 100,000 members — a tribute to WD-40’s fanatical fan base around the globe.
In 2007, X-14 positioned itself as The Bathroom Expert® by redesigning its entire line of bathroom cleaning products to meet consumers’ quick-cleaning and deep-cleaning needs. Also in 2007, the 3-IN-ONE Professional line expanded with the addition of a garage door lube, specifically designed for the maintenance of both residential and commercial garage door systems.
In 2008, WD-40 Company listened to its consumers and converted its most popular-size WD-40 cans to WD-40 Smart Straw cans. The official list
of 2,000 uses for WD-40 also grew for the first time, thanks to the help of WD-40 Fan Club members, and WD-40 Company launched new corporate and brand Web sites to provide relevant resources and information about the company and its family of brands. Spot Shot introduced two new trigger products - Spot Shot Instant Carpet Stain and Odor Eliminator and Spot Shot Pet - to provide consumers with environmentally friendly products that eliminate stains and neutralize odors.
In 2009, WD-40 Company introduced WD-40 Trigger Pro® - a non-aerosol product with the same WD-40 formula - for its industrial consumers.
Also in 2009, building on over 50 years of experience in the lubrication category, WD-40 Company launched the BLUE WORKS® brand. BLUE WORKS is a line of specialty maintenance products designed exclusively for industrial users, with formulas that surpass industry standard testing.
In 2011, capitalizing on insights from the BLUE WORKS brand launch, WD-40 Company introduced WD-40® Specialist® – a line of best-in-class specialty products under the WD-40 brand geared toward trade professionals. The initial product line included a Water Resistant Silicone Lubricant, Protective White Lithium Grease, and Rust Release Penetrant Spray, containing Blu Torch™ Technology, a proprietary blend of synthetic additives.
In 2012, WD-40 Company founded WD-40 BIKE Company, a subsidiary business unit focused exclusively on cycling-specific maintenance products, and launched WD-40® BIKE. This high-performance maintenance product line offers a range of products including wet and dry chain lubricants, a heavy-duty degreaser, a foaming bike wash, and a frame protectant.
By mid-2013, the WD-40 Company celebrated its 60th Anniversary and the WD-40 Specialist product line had grown to eight products. Five additional products were added including, Rust Remover Soak, Long-Term Corrosion Inhibitor, Dirt & Dust Resistant Dry Lube, Machine & Engine Degreaser, and Electrical Contact Cleaner Spray. With the success of WD-40 Specialist, WD-40 Company decided to discontinue production of the BLUE WORKS brand, taking advantage of key learnings and applying them to new opportunities envisioned for the WD-40 Specialist product line.
A TRULY GLOBAL COMPANY
Since the early days of the space race, when workers sneaked WD-40 out of the shop, WD-40 Company has grown to more than 350 employees worldwide with annual sales of more than $350 million.
WD-40 Company’s Corporate Brand Support Centre, Research and Development Center and its Latin America office are all located in the United States. Outside the United States, WD-40 Company has wholly owned subsidiaries in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and China, as well as several offices throughout Europe and Asia. Believe it or not, WD-40 Company products are now sold in more than 176 countries around the world!
More to come...
(If you liked this, be sure to check out the WD-40 Virtual Tour. If you really liked it, join the WD-40 Fan Club to share your stories, photos and videos; learn tricks of the trade from professionals; earn rewards for WD-40 Schwag, sign up for weekly eTips; and more!).)