AKRON, Ohio — Over 75 years ago in a basement in Akron, Jerry and Goldie Lippman started GOJO, a business with a mission to help keep hands clean and spaces sanitized.
“They started the business to solve an important human problem to get dirty hands of working individuals during the war clean,” said the company's executive chair, Marcella Kanfer Rolnick.
This month, GOJO, which makes Purell and other sanitizers, is celebrating its 76th anniversary and using March, Women’s History Month, as an opportunity to highlight the women who have helped get the company to this point. The company's executive chair, Marcella Kanfer Rolnick, said her first example of importance and benefit of women in leadership is her great-aunt Goldie, but she is far from the last.
“It’s really quite remarkable that Goldie and Jerry were equal co-founders back in the 1940s. They had complementary backgrounds and skills and competencies,” Kanfer Rolnick said.
Kanfer Rolnick said she started out on the factory floor, building soap dispensers at age 15. Now, she continues to take the leadership skills she has learned and even led the company though the coronavirus pandemic, something that put GOJO in the spotlight.
"Now, we are helping transition the world from a pandemic state to endemic, and we have made major investments in capacity so the world will never be out of Purell again. We have enough Purell that we can keep everyone healthy and safe in regular times and in crisis moments,” she said.
Kanfer Rolnick said women being at the core of GOJO’s success is something to shine a light on.
“It helps contribute to opening up people's minds and understanding just what they can do, young girls and young women who are thinking about their opportunities. I think it's an inspiration to see not only men as role models, but women as role models,” Kanfer Rolnick said.