Kimberly-Clark Corporation (NYSE: KMB)
|351 Phelps Dr.||Phone: 972-281-1200|
|Irving, TX||Fax: 972-281-1490|
|United States||Map This Company|
|http://www.kimberly-clark.com||Hoover's coverage by Sylvia Lambert|
John Kimberly, Charles Clark, Havilah Babcock, and Frank Shattuck founded Kimberly, Clark & Company in Neenah, Wisconsin, in 1872 to manufacture newsprint from rags. The company incorporated as Kimberly & Clark Company in 1880 and built a pulp and paper plant on the Fox River in 1889.
In 1914 the company developed cellu-cotton, a cotton substitute used by the US Army as surgical cotton during WWI. Army nurses used cellu-cotton pads as disposable sanitary napkins, and six years later the company introduced Kotex, the first disposable feminine hygiene product. Kleenex, the first throwaway handkerchief, followed in 1924. Kimberly & Clark joined with The New York Times Company in 1926 to build a newsprint mill (Spruce Falls Power and Paper) in Ontario, Canada. Two years later the company went public as Kimberly-Clark.
The firm expanded internationally during the 1950s, opening plants in Mexico, Germany, and the UK. It began operations in 17 more foreign locations in the 1960s.
CEO Guy Minard, who retired in 1971, sold the four mills that handled Kimberly-Clark's unprofitable coated-paper business and entered the paper towel and disposable diaper markets. Minard's successor, Darwin Smith, introduced Kimbies diapers in 1968, but they leaked and were withdrawn from the market. An improved version came out in 1976, followed by Huggies, a premium-priced diaper with elastic leg bands, two years later.
The company formed Midwest Express Airlines from its corporate flight department in 1984 (a business it exited in 1996). Smith moved Kimberly-Clark's headquarters from Neenah to Irving, Texas, the following year.
In 1991 Kimberly-Clark and The New York Times Company sold Spruce Falls Power and Paper. Smith retired as chairman in 1992 and was succeeded by Wayne Sanders, who was largely responsible for designing Huggies Pull-Ups (introduced in 1989). Kimberly-Clark entered a joint venture to make personal care products in Argentina in 1994 and also bought the feminine hygiene units of VP-Schickedanz (Germany) and Handan Comfort and Beauty Group (China).
In 1997 Kimberly-Clark sold its 50% stake in Canada's Scott Paper to forest products company Kruger and bought diaper operations in Spain and Portugal and disposable surgical face masks maker Tecnol Medical Products. A tissue price war in Europe bruised the company's bottom line that year and the company began massive job cuts. (By the end of 1999, nearly 4,000 jobs, mostly in the tissue-based businesses, had been axed.)
In part to focus on its health care business, which it entered in 1997, the company in 1999 sold some of its timber interests and its timber fleet to Cooper/T. Smith Corp. Augmenting its presence in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, in 1999 the company paid $365 million for the tissue business of Swiss-based Attisholz Holding. Adding to its lineup of medical products, the company bought Ballard Medical Products in 1999 for $744 million and examination glove maker Safeskin in 2000 for about $800 million.
Also in 2000 the company bought virtually all of Taiwan's S-K Corporation; the move made Kimberly-Clark one of the largest manufacturers of consumer packaged goods in Taiwan and set the stage for expanded distribution in the Asia/Pacific region. The company later purchased Taiwan Scott Paper Corporation for about $40 million and merged the two companies, forming Kimberly-Clark Taiwan. In 2001 Kimberly-Clark bought Italian diaper maker Linostar, and announced it was closing four Latin American manufacturing plants.
In 2002 Kimberly-Clark purchased paper-packaging rival Amcor's stake in their Kimberly-Clark Australia joint venture. Adding to its global consumer tissue business, in 2003 Kimberly-Clark acquired the Polish tissue-maker Klucze.
In early 2004 Chairman and CEO Thomas Falk began rolling out the global business plan the company had detailed in July 2003. The firm combined its North American and European groups for personal care and consumer tissue under North Atlantic groups and was working to ensure that Asian, Latin American, and Eastern European markets were covered, specifically in the areas of value-tiered diapers, light-end incontinence, and health care products.
Kimberly-Clark combined its North Atlantic Personal Care and Family Care businesses in 2005 to form a North Atlantic Consumer Products unit, which serves North America and Europe.
Its 2005 $16 million acquisition of Microcuff extended Kimberly-Clark's reach into medical devices and catheter technology. Adding to its medical business, Kimberly-Clark in late 2009 acquired Baylis Medical to boost its high-margin medical device business.