Over 100 years of protection since 1905
Ansell’s history began about two generations after Charles Goodyear discovered rubber in 1844. Eric Ansell was working for Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company in 1905 and was called upon to help dismantle the plant’s condom making machine. Ansell saw an opportunity and made the most of it. He set up the machine in a small rented house and the rest, as they say... is history.
From its inception, Ansell’s business experienced steady growth. In 1919, Ansell began manufacturing toy balloons, and in 1925, the manufacture of surgical, household and work gloves. During the twenties his two sons, Lloyd and Harvey, joined his expanding business, and went on to jointly run the company for more than forty years.
The 1950's brought more innovations in production techniques, a diversification of household glove lines, and the company’s expansion into overseas markets. Harvey and Lloyd perfected a largely automated machine that produced 450 gloves an hour, making the slow process of manually dipping and drying of the gloves virtually obsolete.
The way gloves were sold also changed in the 1950's. Retail patterns were beginning to shift from individual retailers to chain stores, and within chain stores, the concept of marketing at point-of-sale became crucial. Products were now displayed openly for customers, which meant advertising needed to be geared to convince the customer to choose Ansell over the competition. Immediately, Ansell brought on board an entire department of packaging designers and salespeople to make the most of this trend.
In 1960, Brian Ansell, son of Lloyd, travelled extensively in order to investigate new markets for the company’s products. By the time he returned to Australia, he had appointed sales agents in Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy. 1960 was also the year that Ansell made its first acquisition, NuTex, their biggest Australian competitor.
The 1960's also brought the creation of the disposable surgical glove. Prior to this, surgical gloves were reused, and had to be strong enough to withstand repeated washings in an autoclave machine that blasted gloves with ultra-hot steam for sterilisation. The thickness of these gloves, however, caused surgeons' hands to become stiff and exhausted. Harvey knew that Ansell could do better, and set to work.
For 18 months he worked on a disposable surgeon’s glove that would be thinner in the fingers and palms, and thicker at the wrist and forearm, for safety from germs. He then had the gloves distributed free of charge to hospitals worldwide and then responded to any recommendation by making further improvements in their design. Within ten years the world health community had entirely switched to the disposable glove. In 1966, Harvey put Ansell innovation to work again, building a machine that would sterilise gloves via gamma rays as part of the packaging process, producing the world’s first prepackaged, sterilised surgical gloves.
At the end of the decade, Ansell had grown into a highly profitable company and became a prime target for takeover bids. In 1969 it was bought by Dunlop Australia (Formerly Pacific Dunlop - now Ansell Limited).
Ansell became a truly global company during this decade. The international Ansell sales team racked up record orders (on their first visit to Korea, Ansell received an order for a million gloves), and distribution was pushed to its very limit. There was plenty of demand for gloves and condoms, but Ansell was stymied time and time again by serious delays in shipping products from Australia. Pacific Dunlop encouraged Ansell to build a manufacturing plant in Southeast Asia, close to where latex was harvested, and in 1975 Ansell opened a plant in Melaka, Malaysia. The 1970's was a decade of superlative growth: in 1974 sales were $12.2 million; by 1979 that figure had risen to $28.6 million.
Ansell welcomed more and more companies into the family in this decade. New factories were built in Sri Lanka and Thailand, and the company continued to grow primarily through acquisitions. The company was also pressed by the need to manufacture gloves and condoms closer to the countries in which they were sold, and acquired Akwell in Alabama in 1981. With this purchase, Ansell became the largest medical glove manufacturer in the world and a major supplier of condoms.
Amidst this feverish growth, Ansell still continued to invent and produce better latex products. When the world health community began regularly wearing gloves during patient exams, Ansell created a less costly ambidextrous healthcare glove made specifically for exams and lab procedures.
The company continued with a string of strategic acquisitions throughout the 1980's. They purchased Pacific Polymers in Oregon in 1983, Apair Gloves in the UK in 1984, and plants in Mexico, Germany, France, Malaysia, and the United States in 1986. In 1989 the company purchased Edmont, which increased the size of the company by 50%. That same year, Ansell finally had to face the insurmountable problem of sending materials to Australia for manufacturing and ship them back out to the world; they decided to close all plant operations in Australia.
The nineties was another decade of acquisition for Ansell, as the company added CPP, Labortoire Degan, Perry, and Golden Needles Knitting into its corporate family. In 1997 Ansell moved their headquarters to Red Bank, New Jersey to be close to its many operations.
In the eighties and nineties, Ansell began spending more energy on improving condom design and marketing. Among recent innovations are their "foolproof" packaging design aimed to ensure condoms are used properly, and its leadership in promoting safe sex through creative advertising campaigns.
Another innovation in the past decade has been Ansell’s creation of health consulting services. The use of latex gloves in all medical care, ranging from dental exams and lab tests to surgery, has fostered the need to purchase many lines of gloves in various quantities. Ansell now offers management services that help healthcare administrators improve their efficiency in the areas of purchasing and use.
Ansell is also working hard at addressing the issue of latex allergy. In 1992 Ansell established AnsellCares, a program engaged in research into latex sensitivity and the education of the wider medical community on this matter. Ansell provides educational grants and produces videos, newsletters and educational programs on managing latex allergy. Additionally, Ansell's own scientific research team is devoted to eliminating allergens from natural latex products and developing safe alternatives to latex in all of the company’s product lines.
Today Ansell’s business is focused around three main divisions, each division services a unique and different market, but the core focus of Healthcare barrier protection is prevalent across all divisions:
For Healthcare professionals, Ansell Professional Healthcare is a trusted and familiar source for synthetic and natural latex surgical and examination gloves worldwide under the umbrella Ansell brand names such as Gammex®,Gammex PF HydraSoft®, DermaPrene Ultra® ,Encore®,and Micro-Touch®. Ansell offers a complete solution to health professionals with innovative accelerator technology that reduces the risk of Type IV reactions and can improve the comfort and productivity of healthcare workers. Ansell leading the way.
Ansell Occupational Healthcare is the world's largest manufacturer of protective gloves and clothing. Our products are on the job around the world, helping protect workers in almost every industry, from aerospace and automotive to food processing and semiconductor manufacturing.
Our group brings together several highly specialised businesses. The former Edmont Division is the recognised leader in industrial synthetic work gloves, known around the world for brands like HyFlex®,Sol-Vex®, Hycron®, and Nitrilite®. Golden Needles is the leader in automated knitting technology, famous for cut-resistant gloves using rugged materials such as Kevlar®, Spectra®, and stainless steel wire. The former CPP operation specialises in aprons, sleeves, and a wide variety of chemical- and weather-resistant apparel featuring advanced materials like Nomex® and Gore-Tex®.
The critical environment market segment includes semiconductor, electronics and other high-technology manufacturers where the product focus is both to protect the worker from the manufacturing process, as well as to protect the manufactured product from contamination.
We also offer a full line of gloves developed for the food-processing and food-service industry market segment. This includes the packing, processing, preparation and serving of various food products.
Our products are widely used within the automotive and durable-goods industry where the focus is to protect the worker from cuts, bruises, chemicals, temperature extremes and other occupational hazards encountered in the work environment.
We currently have multiple condom lines in the Consumer Healthcare division that are sold around the world. We continue to add new products to provide expanding options to our customers. In addition, we use innovative marketing, merchandising, and packaging to further differentiate our products from the competition. We manufacture and market condoms in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colours, flavours and textures.