the World a Better Place, Anonymously: ECOLAB

by Lindy Regan

Ecolab was awarded seventh place on the Forbes Honor Roll of America’s Best Big Companies. It has been named one of the 50 best companies to sell for, one of the top 500 entry-level employers, and one of the world’s most ethical companies. For all that, chances are you might never have heard of Ecolab or know what they do.

But that’s all right, says Carlos Quiroa, Regional Manager of Ecolab’s pest elimination division, from his office in Raritan Center. “We are an unusual company because we don’t really advertise. You don’t see us anywhere, but we are everywhere.” This is certainly true in terms of geography, with Ecolab operations based in 171 countries on six continents. But Ecolab is also ubiquitous in terms of covering all the bases involved in fulfilling its mission to help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world for all people. Twelve global divisions develop and provide the technologies, processes, services, customer education, and oversight to produce clean water, safe food, abundant energy, and disease-free environments.

Ecolab’s pest elimination division plays an important part in that campaign. Carlos oversees ten districts serving about 11,000 commercial and municipal customers in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, New York City’s five boroughs and Westchester County. “We provide service for hotels, restaurant chains, food processing plants, hospitals, major retailers, office and government buildings, schools, airports, airplanes, you name it,” he explains. Hearing a short list of those customer names leaves no doubt that we are all affected positively and on a regular basis by Ecolab’s behind-the-scenes work.

Several factors set Ecolab far apart and ahead of others in the pest elimination field. Prevention plays a huge role in Ecolab’s approach. The company deploys its own proprietary products, such as exterior bait stations and the world’s most effective fly light, to keep unwanted creatures from gaining first entry. “We try to be as proactive as possible,” Carlos continues. “For each customer we identify where the problems are, where structural or sanitation issues could be conducive to pest activity. We provide very detailed reports with pictures and information about what’s needed for prevention. It’s a long process; our people do a really fine job.

“We have different programs for different customers, specific models for each segment that we know works for them. We provide training for housekeeping in hotels, hospitals and health care facilities; we have a prevention program for quick-service restaurants that differs from the one for full-service restaurants.” Ecolab’s Bed Bug Response kit equips emergency room and hospitality workers with the means to isolate those tiny terrors at first sight and prevent an infestation until the Ecolab service specialist arrives to manage full treatment. “We focus a lot on education because we are very conscious of the planet. We try to minimize the application of pesticides because they damage the environment.”

To that end, Ecolab has developed several highly effective, sustainable products for eliminating pests that have breached the preventive measures. Finito™ is one of the latest, an EPA-exempt solution so safe it can be used in food preparation areas and so effective it kills all manner of insects on contact.

“We take a lot of pride in what we do,” says Carlos. “It’s food safety. We don’t want anyone to get sick.” That simple statement crystallizes the Ecolab philosophy. From its global to its local operations, the bottom line at Ecolab is the human element, a genuine concern for the health and wellbeing of the individual and the community, beginning with its own. “I’ve never worked for a company like this,” Carlos still marvels after 13 years with Ecolab, starting in the field as a service specialist. “The benefits, you can’t imagine. The opportunities are endless: You can move from one division to another, to any country in the world. We’re one big family where no one works for anyone else here. Our only bosses are our customers.”

As head of this branch of that family, Carlos delivered gas, generators, food, water, and other supplies to the homes of Ecolab employees affected by hurricane Sandy. “Their neighbors couldn’t believe what they were seeing,” he laughs. “But this company really takes good care of the employees. It makes my decisions easy, when it comes to taking care of the people that actually go out there and make it happen. I always say that to get what you want in life you have to help others achieve what they want. This is why I really love to work for this company, because it allows me to do that. You don’t hear that much these days.”

Business Name:
Carlos Quiroa, Regional Manager
Business Type:
Pest Elimination Division of Global Leader in Water, Hygiene, Food Safety & Energy Technologies and Services
Customer Base:
Food Service, Food Processing, Hospitality, Healthcare Industries
Years in Business:
27 (pest elimination division); 90 (parent company)
Years at Raritan Center: 2
Number of Employees:
180 regional; 40,000 worldwide
27 Mayfield Avenue, Edison, NJ 08837
Distinguishing Characteristics:
Guaranteed services, with an emphasis on prevention, education, and sustainability
Interview Date:
May 2013
Insight Photography