Jason Gonzalez, foreground, tested dishwashing detergent for the proper concentration. Behind him was another Ecolab trainee, Mike Wheat.

Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

Doug Baker, CEO of Ecolab.


Ecolab and Pentair make Forbes' list of world's most innovative companies

  • Article by: Dee DePass
  • Star Tribune
  • August 20, 2013 - 8:24 PM


Minnesota dynamos Ecolab and Pentair both made Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most innovative companies, officials announced online this week. (The magazine officially hits newsstands Sept. 2.)

It was Pentair’s first time making the list and follows last year’s merger with Tyco’s Flow Controls business. The new Pentair Ltd. — a pump, valves and filtration giant — is technically based in Switzerland but is managed out of Golden Valley. It placed 96th on the Forbes list.

“This recognition reflects the outcome of rigorous Pentair processes that drive innovation in technology, market approach, talent development and manufacturing,” said Phil Rolchigo, technology vice president for the $7.7 billion Pentair.

St. Paul-based Ecolab Inc., which makes sanitizing and cleaning chemicals, water filtration and oil treatment products, ranked 33 out of 100 on Forbes’ list.

Ecolab placed well ahead of Anheuser-Busch, Google, Mondelez International (formerly Kraft Foods), and even Apple. Those well-known behemoths ranked a respective 45th, 47th, 52nd and 79th most innovative firms.

Ecolab, which made the Forbes list in 2011 and 2012 along with General Mills, was proud to place again. “Innovation is the cornerstone of our success and vital to achieving our purpose of making the world cleaner, safer and healthier,” said Doug Baker, CEO of the cleaning-chemicals giant that recently acquired Nalco and Champion Technology to become a firm with $12 billion in annual revenues.

In evaluating the standing of various large companies, Forbes examined business growth, future cash flow projections from existing businesses and current market capitalization. The end formula provided an “innovation premium” figure that determined each company’s ranking, Forbes officials explained.

To qualify for this year’s list, companies needed seven years of financial data, a certain amount of research and development spending, and at least $10 billion in market capitalization. Banks, energy and mining firms were not eligible for the list.

The top four companies to land on Forbes’ list are all U.S.-based and include cloud-computing firm, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, software firm VMware and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.

The makeup, perfume and skin care giant Estée Lauder Co., which owns the Blaine-based hair and skin-products firm Aveda, placed 15th on Forbes list.


Dee DePass • 612-673-7725

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