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IW 50 Best: Ecolab Expands U.S. Textile Care Business

Company purchases Dober Chemical's commercial laundry business.

Cleaning and sanitation products manufacturer Ecolab Inc. plans to expand its textile care business with the purchase of Dober Chemical Corp.'s commercial laundry division. Privately-held Dober reported that the division's sales reached $37 million in 2009, according to Ecolab.

The acquisition will add technology in data management and wastewater solutions that will strengthen its textile business offerings, said President and CEO Douglas Baker when announcing the deal on Sept. 9.

"We expect this transaction to enhance our returns on our existing investment in textile care and create opportunities for new business development in the market," Baker said.

The 2010 IW 50 Best Manufacturer did not release any more details on the transaction. Ecolab's Textile Care division provides products, systems and services for large commercial laundry operations. Products include chemical and dispensing systems for textile rental and industrial laundries. The division complements Ecolab's institutional division, which caters to on-premise laundry facilities, according to the company.

Textile Care sales rose 3% in the second quarter, according to an earnings call transcript. New program launches and sales increases from existing customers offset challenging industry conditions, said Michael Monahan, vice president, external relations. The company expects textile-care sales to remain flat in the third quarter amid difficult industry conditions.

Overall second-quarter sales rose 5% over the year-earlier period to $1.5 billion. The gains were attributed to strong growth in the Asia Pacific and Latin America regions and cost-cutting actions during the period. Net income rose 30% to $129 million, with earnings per share up 32% to 54 cents.

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