Kutol was founded in Louisville, Kentucky in 1912 and originally sold powdered hand cleaner and a few other cleaning products. Soon after, the company relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio where it continued to operate as a manufacturer of cleaning products.
Cleo McVicker Buys Kutol
Cleo McVicker was born in Rowlesburg, West Virginia. He grew up on a farm with his three brothers before touring with a boxing promoter at the age of 16. After a short boxing career, he headed to Chicago where he began working with Precision Metal Workers, who at the time, owned Kutol.
Cleo saved Kutol from imminent failure when he was sent to liquidate the company but instead, turned it around and made it profitable. He then purchased the company from Precision Metal Workers and worked out a deal with Kroger to manufacture wallpaper cleaner, making Kutol the largest manufacturer of wallpaper cleaner in the world.
Bill Rhodenbaugh Joins Kutol
Upon returning from the Korean War, Bill Rhodenbaugh went looking for work. His brother-in-law, Joseph McVicker, had been working at his father Cleo’s company: Kutol. Joseph invited Bill to work there as well.
As a salesman, Bill helped Kutol expand their offering from wallpaper cleaner to powdered hand soaps and waterless cleaner for wood. This was the start of the Rhodenbaugh family’s involvement with Kutol that still exists today.
Joseph McVicker’s sister-in-law introduced Kutol’s wallpaper cleaner to her kindergarten class as a modeling clay. The product was well received, and Kutol’s defunct wallpaper cleaner was repurposed into the iconic Play-Doh. Kutol’s subsidiary Rainbow Crafts Inc. began producing and selling the product, which was eventually sold to General Mills. Today, Play-Doh remains a beloved toy for millions of children.
Liquid Soaps and Lotion
Under Bill Rhodenbaugh’s leadership, Kutol underwent a significant transformation, redirecting its efforts towards the production of liquid soaps and lotions. This strategic shift played a vital role in Kutol’s progress, as it led to the development of dispensers and other essential products that would serve as the cornerstone of the company’s offerings for many years ahead.
A New Start
A fire destroyed Kutol’s factory on Highland Avenue in Cincinnati. Forced to rebuild, the company constructed a larger, more advanced factory nearby, which enabled Kutol to expand its operations and develop new products. This marked a turning point for Kutol, as the company grew and established itself as a leading manufacturer in the skin care industry.
Kutol’s third generation took charge as Bill’s sons, Joe and Tom Rhodenbaugh, joined the company. Their arrival marked the beginning of a major overhaul with Kutol developing its own proprietary products including over-the-counter hand soaps, hand creams and lotions and dispensing systems. This era saw Kutol expand its presence from the Midwest to the national market.
Kutol’s Modern Product Line
Kutol’s modern product line was in full swing in the late 1990s. The company’s proprietary offerings were major drivers of Kutol’s growth, with sales increasing by 15% annually. From offering 10 products in 1970, Kutol expanded its portfolio to more than 30 commercial skin care products and formulas by the 1990s.
A New Home
A new chapter for Kutol was marked as the company moved to a new home: a 200,000+ sq. ft. facility in Sharonville, Ohio. With a focus on incorporating sustainable practices in the building’s construction, Kutol’s new facility received a LEED Silver certification, one of the only manufacturing facilities in the US to receive such a certification.
Kutol grew their facility with the unveiling of its state-of-the-art tech center in 2021. This represented a major leap forward in the company’s commitment to quality control. With expanded formula testing capacity, cutting-edge equipment and centralized quality departments, the tech center empowered Kutol to conduct more extensive quality assurance and quality control practices.
The Fourth Generation at Kutol
The fourth generation of Kutol began with the addition of Joe Rhodenbaugh’s son-in-law, Brandon Jones, who joined the company as a General Accounting Manager. Brandon worked his way up to become the VP of Sales and Marketing in 2019.
John Rhodenbaugh, Tom’s son, worked summers in the Kutol facility while in high school and was hired as a Process Improvement Manager in 2017. John is now VP of Operations.
Today, Kutol is renowned for its expertise in commercial skin care, producing high-quality hand soaps and sanitizers in the United States. The company is committed to being a sustainable and productive member of the community, and the world.