In 1953, a fledgling company called Rocket Chemical Company and its staff of three set out to create a line of rust-prevention solvents and degreasers for use in the aerospace industry. Working in a small lab in San Diego, California, it took them 40 attempts to get the water displacing formula worked out. But they must have been really good, because the original secret formula for WD-40® -which stands for Water Displacement perfected on the 40th try—is still in use today.
A few years following WD-40®'s first industrial use, Rocket Chemical Company founder Norm Larsen experimented with putting WD-40® into aerosol cans, reasoning that consumers might find a use for the product at home as some of the employees had. The product made its first appearance on store shelves in San Diego in 1958.
In 1960 the company nearly doubled in size, growing to seven people, who sold an average of 45 cases per day from the trunk of their cars to hardware and sporting goods stores in the San Diego area.
In 1961 the first full truckload order for WD-40® was filled when employees came in on a Saturday to produce additional concentrate to meet the disaster needs of the victims of Hurricane Carla along the U.S. Gulf coast. WD-40® was used to recondition flood and rain damaged vehicles and equipment.
In 1969 the company was renamed after its only product,
In 1973, WD-40 Company, Inc., went public and was listed Over-The-Counter. The stock price increased by 61% on the first day of listing.
Since that time, WD-40® has grown by leaps and bounds, and is now virtually a household name, used in numerous consumer and industrial markets such as automotive, manufacturing, sporting goods, aviation, hardware and home improvement, construction, and farming.
In 1993, WD-40® was found to be in 4 out of 5 American households (it seems everyone has a can or two) and was used by 81 percent of professionals at work. Sales had grown to more than one million cans each week.
In 2005, as a commitment to offering consumers the easiest, most convenient way to get the job done, WD-40 Company introduced the WD-40® Smart Straw®, which features a permanently attached straw. The Smart Straw® can solved the number one complaint about WD-40® products: losing the little red straw.
In 2008, WD-40 Company listened to its consumers and converted its most popular-sizeWD-40® cans to WD-40® Smart Straw cans. The official list of 2000+ Uses for WD-40®grew for the first time, thanks to the help of WD-40® Fan Club members.
In 2009, WD-40 Company introduced WD-40® Trigger Pro® – a non-aerosol product with the same WD-40® formula – to better meet the needs of its industrial consumers.
In 2011, WD-40 Company introduced WD-40® Specialist® – a new line of best-in-class specialty products under the WD-40® brand geared toward trade professionals.
In 2011, The WD-40®/SEMA Cares Mustang rolled off the auction block at the 40th annual Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Show and Auction on Jan. 22 in Scottsdale, Ariz., raising more than $200,000 to benefit Childhelp® and The Victory Junction Gang® Camp children’s charities.
In 2011, WD-40 Company designed four limited edition cans that honor the men and women who serve or have served in uniform, and donated 10 cents of each can purchased to charities. A total of $300,000 was donated to Armed Services YMCA, Veterans Medical Research Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project.
In 2012, For the second year in a row, legendary hot rod designer, Chip Foose, has partnered with WD-40 Company to design limited edition, collectible Smart Straw® cans, featuring his distinctive vehicle sketches.
In 2012, WD-40 Company founded WD-40® BIKE Company, a subsidiary business unit, and launched WD-40® BIKE under the WD-40® brand, offering a product line focused exclusively on cycling-specific maintenance needs.
In 2013, Chip Foose and WD-40 Company partner again to help children in need. TheWD-40®/SEMA Cares Foose 1953 Ford F100 sold for $170,000 at the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Show and Auction on Jan. 19 in Scottsdale, Ariz., with all proceeds benefiting Childhelp® and The Victory Junction Gang® Camp children’s charities.
By mid-2013, the WD-40 Company celebrated its 60th Anniversary and the WD-40®Specialist®product line had grown to eight products.
In 2015, WD-40 Company introduced WD-40 EZ-REACH™. With an attached 8" flexible straw that bends and keeps its shape, it can reach the unreachable - tight plumbing spaces, behind engine blocks, hard-to-reach hinges, rollers, and more.
Later in 2016, four new high-performance greases join the WD-40 Specialist family. Their advanced, industrial-strength technology handles specific high-temperature, pressure and moisture challenges, while allowing them to be interchanged on the job without consequences from cross-contamination.