A Jersey story: J&J head Duato eager to detail global company’s commitment to state — and desire to increase it

CEO: ‘I think it's important for us to be more present in New Jersey and be more connected with New Jersey’

Johnson & Johnson spent nearly $3 billion with New Jersey companies — including approximately $700 million with minority-owned businesses — just in 2022.

J&J employs more than 14,000 in the state — and has more than 4,000 residents participating in potentially life-changing clinical trials.

J&J estimates it has an overall economic impact of $10 billion in New Jersey — and has proudly called New Brunswick its home since its founding 138 years ago.

Perhaps the only thing J&J doesn’t do well in New Jersey is tell its Jersey story. CEO Joaquin Duato has been working to change that.

While J&J has long been a force in the state (its continual efforts to help New Brunswick go a long way in making the city be as dynamic as it is today), the company has been more likely to do things privately.

Duato, who assumed the role of CEO in January 2022 and chairman in January 2023, is pushing to be a bit more public, seeking opportunities to tell the New Jersey community more about the company.

Last week, his 30-minute fireside chat served as the highlight of the ReNew Jersey Business Summit & Expo, which drew approximately 900 top business executives and elected officials, including Gov. Phil Murphy.

“Sometimes I feel that New Jersey doesn’t know Johnson & Johnson as much as it should,” he said.

Duato said J&J’s presence has been clear since three brothers started the company in 1886.

“New Brunswick was the first site of Johnson & Johnson when we started, and we have never moved,” he said. “There’s a deep commitment of Johnson & Johnson to the state. It says in our credo that we (are) committed to the communities where we work.”

That commitment was never more evident than last summer, when J&J split into two companies, creating Kenvue for its well-known consumer products while J&J remains the largest health care and medical technology company in the world.

Kenvue, a Fortune 500 company from its first day, announced it would be based in Summit, which it selected over out-of-state options. Duato said keeping the connection to the state was important to employees at both companies.

Detailing the difference between the two companies is important, too.

Kenvue oversees well-known products such as Band-Aids, Listerine, Tylenol, Neutrogena and others.

J&J now concentrates on its innovations and research as a medical technology and life science business. Duato said J&J is the largest orthopedic company in the world.

“If you have an implant, a joint, a hip, a shoulder, a knee, most likely it’s a Johnson & Johnson product,” he told the audience.

The company is a global leader in a variety of areas, everything from surgical sutures to contact lenses, he said.

J&J also is a leader in products for cardiovascular disease, atrial fibrillation and strokes, making it the second-largest pharmaceutical company in the world, Duato said.

All of this helps the company be a leader in the state’s economy. Duato said numerous companies have come to New Jersey just to be closer to J&J. Duato not only welcomes such connections, he also encouraged those in the state to reach out and create more. He said it follows the company’s credo of working with the communities it serves.

“We want to be good partners,” he said.

That partnership extends to the company’s internal workforce, too.

Duato boasted that J&J looks to local universities for its workforce, starting with Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

It’s all part of a company that is firmly rooted in the state, he said.

“We want to play for the home team,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to be more present in New Jersey and be more connected with New Jersey. It’s important for us and I want to make sure that we are a driving force in New Jersey.”