Procter & Gamble, Incorporated

Location: Burlington Street, Hamilton, Ontario

William ProcterJames GambleIn 1913, the Procter & Gamble Manufacturing Company (based in Cincinnati) purchased seven acres of land and two acres of water on the south side of Burlington Street between Depew and Ottawa Streets in Hamilton. This event marked the beginning of Procter & Gamble's operations outside of the United States. The following year construction started on their Hamilton plant, which cost $1 million and consisted of seven buildings: the Crisco building, the boiler house, the gas plant, the soap building, the hardening plant, the kettle and glycerin house, and the machine shop. In 1915 the plant was officially opened, employing 75 workers who made six different products. Two years later the factory office building was constructed and profit sharing was introduced for the employees. Along with profit sharing came the "Dividend Day." Held twice a year, this day was essentially a party for P&G employees and their families. In the summer it would involve a company picnic, and in the winter it consisted of a vaudeville show and a dance.

Sod Turning Ceremony Circa 1913With the onset of the 1920's came a reorganization of the Hamilton plant. Most notably, seasonal production was eliminated permitting greater job security for employees. Seasonal layoffs became a thing of the past as workers were guaranteed 48 weeks employment for each year. In 1924, all the Hamilton land accumulated by the Procter & Gamble Manufacturing Company was turned over to the Procter & Gamble Company of Canada (P&G), marking their partial independence from the American parent company. In the following years, P&G constructed several additions to their plant including an edible products building (for the manufacture of shortening) and a separate deodorizer department. By 1928 P&G owned all the remaining property north of Burlington Street between Depew and Ottawa Streets and employment had reached 200. 1932 marked P&G's adoption of the five-day work week, making them the first Canadian company to do so. Further land was purchased in 1936 boosting the total property owned by P&G to 32 acres. In 1938 the factory office building was extended and three years later the first warehouse building was constructed.

A Soap Wrapping MachineIt was apparent that P&G's Hamilton plant was prospering since in 1944 the first of six major expansion plans was started. Costing $4.9 million and lasting four years this project included the construction of: another soap building, a synthetic detergents tower (allowing for the production of dish detergent), and a refinery building. Furthermore, the warehouse was expanded, the machine shop and control laboratory were enlarged, and the boiler house received a high pressure 900 pound steam boiler. By the end of the first expansion project employment had grown to 494. The second expansion project commenced in 1948 and coincided with the start of production of Tide in the synthetic detergent tower. This new project cost $2,714,000 and was completed in 1950. Its purpose was to turn production into a continuous process, thereby increasing efficiency as well as output. To that effect, the continuous soap making hydrolizer and the continuous hardening machine (hydrogenator) were built in 1949. Moreover, additional packing lines and a refinery kettle were constructed. With the completion of the second expansion project came the introduction of the third. Expansion plan no. 3 was considerably smaller (in terms of money) than the other plans and consisted mainly of installing new edible processing equipment. Also in 1950, the first P&G open house was held at the Hamilton plant for employees and their families. By this time employment had reached 600 and over twenty different products were being manufactured.

The Plant Circa 1930In 1952, expansion plan no. 4 was set into motion, costing $2,716,000. It included the construction of a second standard granules tower, as well as the introduction of centrifuges, which made continuous refining of edible oils possible. Another advancement that year was the conversion of the gas plant from A.C. to D.C. current. The following year expansion no. 5 was carried out, focusing on the installation of specialized equipment to handle animal fats and vegetable oils separately. The final major expansion plan was initiated in 1954 and cost $1.6 million. Upon its completion, edible oil product capacity was increased by 25%, involving 46 individual equipment changes and two building additions.

By 1956 P&G employed 700 people in Hamilton and made 55 products there. This led to its reputation as the most complex plant in the P&G organization. Though not the largest, the Hamilton plant turned out more brands in more sizes than any other plant. It was during 1956 that the research and development building was erected, permitting the invention of new products as well as the improvement of old ones. In 1957 Barsalou soap was discontinued but thanks to the R&D building (which underwent a $750,000 expansion), two new products were introduced: Dash (a low suds detergent), and Comet (a household cleanser). In the following years several new buildings were constructed, such as: an industrial relations building, a soap building, a warehouse, and a mechanical department. In 1964 P&G purchased land from its neighbour Shell Oil, increasing its property to 38 acres. It was around this time that employment at P&G in Hamilton reached its peak at just under 1,000.

The Controversial Logo1984 brought on a new set of developments starting with a $10 million expansion and equipment overhaul. The subsequent year saw P&G beginning to remove its traditional moon-and-stars logo from its products due to the persistence of a rumour linking the logo (and consequently the company behind it) with Satanism. P&G eventually dispelled these rumours in 1991, when a court ordered two people working for a rival company to stop spreading the rumours (and ordered them to pay P&G $75,000 as well). In 1990 P&G invested $5 million in new equipment and training to make possible the production of Lava heavy-duty hard soap. The Hamilton plant became the exclusive producer of Lava for the entire United States market. Despite this important position, employment at the plant was declining. Layoffs had dropped the number of workers to 700. That number was reduced to 460 in 1993, coinciding with the announcement by P&G's American parent company that it would close 30 plants worldwide. The following year the Hamilton workers discovered that their plant was spared, however only 375 of them were left to operate it.

1995 marked the completion of a $10 million renovation program, which produced a new cafeteria and a fitness room at the plant, among other things. Additionally, production was simplified as more than 20 brands were dropped so that bar and liquid soaps could be focused on. In 1998 the cutback trend continued and only 220 employees remained. By the end of the year, they were let go, as the Hamilton plant announced its closure. On October 10, 1999 the plant was demolished, although the warehouse remained open as a distribution center.

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