Discover the story behind the creation of WD-40 and its famous yellow and blue aerosol! We give you the details of the creation of WD-40 from its birth in 1953 until today.

1953: the creation of WD-40

Let’s go back to the beginning of the aerosol and understand how it appeared.

Creation of WD-40

The Multi-Use Product isn’t English (we don’t teach you anything so far) but American! And yes, our little blue and yellow aerosol was born in the United States under the Californian sun of San Diego! More precisely, it was created in the laboratories of the Rocket Chemical Company by the three founding employees of the company in 1953: Norman B. Larsen, Gordon Dawson and John B. Gregory. This year he will celebrate his 65th birthday: our little blue and yellow boy is younger!

History: the creation of WD-40

What purpose then for this product?

This may seem unlikely to you, but the Multi-Use Product was not intended to become multifunctional as its name suggests today but was on the contrary intended for a very particular function: to protect aerospace missiles from rust and corrosion.

Rocket Chemical Company employees responded to a call for tenders from aerospace company Convair (dissolved in 1996) to protect the exterior of its missiles. After 40 laboratory tests, the 3 employees found the perfect formula: the waterproof formula was born. They will give it the name WD-40, for Water Displacement – 40th try! His name is therefore not so far-fetched as that but on the contrary rather logical and understandable.

History: the creation of WD-40

What next after the creation of WD-40?

The product was so successful with Convair employees that they stole the product from their lunch boxes and took it home to solve their everyday problems.

It is by this observation that in 1958, the product was packaged in aerosol format to be sold in the first stores of San Diego.

The product is then only known locally. It was in the 1960s that the evolution of the brand and the product was felt…

The first aerosols appear in stores

In 1958, 5 years after the creation of WD-40, the product appeared on the first store shelves in San Diego – the city where the product was born. Two years later, in 1960, the company saw its workforce double from 3 employees to 7!

At that time, these 7 employees sold an average of 45 WD-40 boxes a day, from the trunk of their car to sports and hardware stores. An unusual way of doing business, but one that paid off with perseverance on the part of the team!

The rise of a star

In September 1961, Hurricane Carla hit the Gulf Coast of the United States including the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Millions of people have been affected by the damage caused by this natural disaster.

Rocket Chemical Company employees then went to work all weekend to provide entire WD-40 trucks to help residents repair their flood-affected vehicles and other equipment. The WD-40 is then known at the national level and thus begins its expansion!

In 1968, kits containing WD-40 were sent to soldiers in Vietnam to prevent moisture damage to firearms and help keep them in good condition.

In 1969, John S. Barry was appointed President and CEO of the company and renamed the Rocket Chemical Company by the name of its then only existing product: WD-40. Four years later, in 1973, WD-40 Company, Inc. went public and was listed on the OTC market. The share price increased by 61% on the first trading day.

Since then, WD-40 has grown rapidly and has become virtually a household name, used in many consumer and industrial markets such as automotive, construction, sporting goods, aviation, hardware, construction and agriculture.

The history of the product has been enriched by numerous user feedback, revealing unusual and sometimes very improbable uses!