The J.R. Watkins Company History 1868
Watkins was founded by Joseph R. Watkins in 1868 in Plainview, Minnesota. That’s 139 years ago! In 1868, the Civil War had just ended and was a recent memory to everyone at the time. Andrew Johnson was President of the United States taking over from Abraham Lincoln who was recently assassinated. “J. R. Watkins Medical Company”, (the original name) is still inscribed on the face of Watkins headquarters building, a constant reminder of Watkins roots in the health and nutrition fields. Medicinal products were the company’s specialty — liniments, salves and other home remedies.
The still famous Red Liniment was his first product, Watkins had grown from a one-man operation to one of the largest direct selling companies in the world today. J.R. began the tradition of selling all natural products, traveling around the countryside, delivering his liniment door to door from the rear of his horse drawn wagon.Innovative concepts such as the “trial mark” and offering a money back guarantee made Watkins a pioneer in the direct selling industry. J. R. had a special “Trial Mark” molded into the bottle. He would leave the bottle with the customer upon payment and if the product had not been used past the mark by his next visit, the customer could get a full refund of their purchase price.
Watkins moved 25 miles south in 1885, to Winona, Minnesota, a booming logging town on the banks of the Mississippi River. Pictured is the first factory. Watkins corporate headquarters has been located in this beautiful office building near the banks of the Mississippi River since 1911. At the time of his death in 1911, J. R. Watkins had more than 2,500 people selling his liniment door-to-door. This is the first recorded network marketing endeavor.
By 1920 the product line reached 100 selections. One of the most colorful offerings is Egyptian Bouquet Talcum Powder. In 1922 Herb tablets (vitamins) were introduced; Watkins was well ahead of its time in realizing the benefits of vitamins. These “vitamins” supported the Watkins tradition of natural products, which continues today in the form of cutting-edge dietary supplements. By 1928 Watkins received the Gold Medal honors at the Paris International Exposition for vanilla, black pepper, cinnamon and other ground spices; the award sealed the company’s reputation for providing high-quality gourmet ingredients. Today an entire line of Organic Spices fill the product category. Things were taking off and by 1940 Watkins offered over 200 products and 10,000 sales associates covered the US & Canada.
During the war in 1942, ninety percent of Watkins production capacity is dedicated to the WWII allied effort. Products included Pure Dried Whole Eggs, Dessert Powder, Gelatin Desserts, Lemon Juice Powder, Orange Beverage Base Powder, Louse Powder, and Insecticide Powder for Body Crawling Insects.
1955 Watkins first major national advertising campaign captures the imagination of a new generation of consumers. The ads appeared in magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens, the Saturday Evening Post, Ebony, Ladies Home Journal, Reader’s Digest, McCall’s, and Look. Watkins ads appear in the 60’s live on NBC’s “Today” show hosted by Dave Garroway.
In 1978 ownership of the 110-year-old industry leading and innovative company is transferred from the Watkins family to Minneapolis entrepreneur Irwin Jacobs and his family and a new era begins. Nearly twenty years later in 1997 Mark Jacobs, son of the CEO Irwin, was named president. Mark’s extensive Network Marketing background helped to refine and expand this legendary product line. Completing the journey from Liniment to Linimax and the return to home remedy/natural wellness products, Watkins Today is recognized as the benchmark that all others are compared to.
Over 139 years later, Watkins still offers Red Liniment as well as 350 products to make you feel better, live longer and preserve the well-being of our planet. Today, instead of the Watkins Man making horse and buggy deliveries, Watkins products are handled by more than 80,000 Independent Associates throughout the United States and Canada, with orders processed using state-of-the-art technology and promptly shipped for delivery direct to your home or business. J. R.’s Watkins Red Liniment launched a company that has created careers for hundreds of thousands of Watkins men and women over the years.
Now we come to the point of this small history lesson.
I hope you’ve made it this far!
Do you remember how wonderful your Grandmother’s cooking was? The traditional home-cooked meals by our ancestors were almost always cooked with Watkins Products, almost exclusively! That and a pinch of love is what made those old-time traditional home-cooked meals so delicious and wonderful! Our Watkins products are what almost everyone used up until the 1950’s and 60’s. When people think fondly back at all those wonderful meals, Mom’s lemon cakes, Grandma’s wonderful cookies or Auntie Mame’s amazing pot roast – they are thinking fondly of how wonderful Watkins products are and discover how easy it is to continue the family tradition of Excellence!
If you’ve never used Watkins products, you will be amazed at how special Watkins Products really are once you use them! Why do you think so many great people are involved with Watkins? Not just the wonderful income opportunity and the great products – but also the great family values and traditions that are synonymous with Watkins.
Watkins Products are being rediscovered by the buying public and we need more associates to help serve these new customers and create new ones! Join the Watkins family and be part of a century old tradition which has redefined itself into a high-tech, 21st century business opportunity for you.
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"Testimonials are based on personal experiences, and we cannot guarantee these same results for everyone." "These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. In Canada, this information is provided for educational purposes only. No claims are being made for any product."