From the everyday consumer to scientists in the laboratory, we all rely on accurate information to make critical decisions. Waters Corporation is the world's leading specialty measurement company focused on improving human health and well-being through the application of high-value analytical technologies and industry leading scientific expertise.
Our decisions and actions are guided by two simple words – Deliver Benefit. Our founder, Jim Waters, coined these words to encapsulate the idea that we should positively impact our customers, employees, shareholders and society at every opportunity.
Driven by that ethos for over sixty years, Waters has continually pioneered chromatography, mass spectrometry and thermal analysis innovations. Whether it’s discovering new pharmaceuticals, assuring the safety of the world’s food and water supplies, or ensuring the integrity of a chemical entity in production, we are constantly working with our thousands of customers to change the world.
With a global workforce of more than 7,400 employees, Waters operates in 35 countries, including 14 manufacturing facilities and with products available in more than 100 countries. Our diverse organization is well-positioned to Deliver Benefit through innovations that enhance human health and well-being.
Jim Waters was born Oct. 7, 1925 in Nebraska. A career opportunity for his father relocated the family to Framingham, Massachusetts where Jim would later launch his namesake company Waters Associates in 1958 in the basement of the Framingham Police Department.
With five employees, his plan was to build scientific instruments. The company’s big breakthrough came in 1965, when Waters licensed a refractometer from Dow Chemical for analyzing plastics. Jim built an instrument around the refractometer and “sales took off like a rocket after that,” Waters later said.
Perhaps Jim’s biggest triumph for the company came in 1972, by solving a problem for Harvard Professor and Quincy, Mass. native Robert Woodward who was working on the synthesis of vitamin B12 and who had already won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1965 for being the first to synthesize chlorophyll. At Woodward’s request, Waters accompanied a team to Woodward’s lab with a liquid chromatograph and solved the problem in the span of a few weeks.
The first Waters liquid chromatograph, and ones those that followed, now help drive pharmaceutical drug discovery, development, and manufacturing throughout the world. Along the way Jim redefined separations science, which crossed the boundaries of physics, chemistry, mathematics, and engineering. Through his revolutionary work, he first advanced the field of gel permeation chromatography, which led to liquid chromatography and the dramatic growth of the global analytical technologies industry.
His tenure as President of Waters Associates lasted until 1979, when Millipore Corporation purchased the company. The company remained a division of Millipore, until Millipore split it off in a management-led buyout. It became public again during an initial public offering in 1995.
As a firm believer in the power of education, Jim Waters strongly identified with the principles he learned about systems thinking as an important life skill. Jim and his wife Faith, a former teacher, recognized the value of systems thinking to empower students to create successful lives for themselves and contribute to the world in important, positive ways. What began as a special project through the Waters Foundation* more than 30 years ago grew to become the Waters Center for Systems Thinking*, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to delivering benefits through systems thinking to school districts, organizations and communities around the world.
A benefactor and trustee of Northeastern University, in 1984 Jim and his wife Faith endowed the James L. Waters Chair in Analytical Chemistry within the Barnett Institute at Northeastern University and which is now held by Professor John Engen. At a ceremony in 2019, the University acknowledged Jim with a Pioneer Award for his continued service toward furthering the university’s mission of developing young scientists and contributing to the advancement of STEM education and careers.
In his honor, Waters Corporation established the Jim Waters Society in 2017 to recognize employees for scientific achievement. The technology Jim developed continues to catalyze innovation across the life, materials and food sciences, and today is contributing to fast-evolving work on COVID-19 through the members of the Jim Waters Society and our Innovation Response Team.
Jim was best known for his signature mission and mantra to “Deliver Benefit” in all he would do. Today, the ethos of Deliver Benefit is core to our culture at Waters. It drives us to solve our customers’ toughest problems. Jim was truly a remarkable man with an entrepreneurial spirit who built Waters from humble beginnings and nurtured it to become the global company we are today.
*Not affiliated with Waters Corporation
Waters Associates opens in Framingham, MA
GPC100 Liquid Chromatograph Launch
Collaboration with Nobel Prize winner to synthesize Vitamin B12
Waters builds headquarters in Milford, MA
Waters opens Chemical Synthesis Facility in Taunton, MA
Merger with Millipore; global expansion
Waters opens Manufacturing facility in Wexford, Ireland
ACQUITY UPLC Launch
Waters opens Mass Spectrometry facility in Wilmslow, UK
Waters invests $215 million for new precision chemistry manufacturing facility in Taunton, MA
The International Food and Water Research Centre (IFWRC) opens in Singapore
ACQUITY Premier Launch