3M made $32.8 billion in total sales in 2018 and ranks number 95 in the Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue. As of 2018[update], the company has approximately 93,500 employees, and has operations in more than 70 countries.
Five businessmen founded 3M as a mining venture in Two Harbors, Minnesota, in 1902. The goal was to mine corundum, but this failed because the mine's mineral holdings were anorthosite, which had no commercial value. Co-founder John Dwan solicited funds in exchange for stock and Edgar Ober and Lucius Ordway took over the company in 1905. The company moved to Duluth and began researching and producing sandpaper products.William L. McKnight, later a key executive, joined the company in 1907, and A. G. Bush joined in 1909. 3M finally became financially stable in 1916 and was able to pay dividends.
The company moved to St. Paul in 1910, where it remained for 52 years before outgrowing the campus and moving to its current headquarters at 3M Center in Maplewood, Minnesota in 1962.
The founders' original plan was to sell the mineral corundum to manufacturers in the East for making grinding wheels. After selling one load, on June 13, 1902, the five went to the Two Harbors office of company secretary John Dwan, which was on the shore of Lake Superior and is now part of the 3M National Museum, and signed papers making Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing a corporation. In reality, however, Dwan and his associates were not selling what they thought; they were really selling the worthless mineral anorthosite.[additional citation(s) needed]
In 1951, DuPont started purchasing PFOA from then-Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company for use in the manufacturing of teflon, a product that brought DuPont a billion-dollar-a-year profit by the 1990s. DuPont referred to PFOA as C8.
In the late 1950s, 3M produced the first asthma inhaler, but the company did not enter the pharmaceutical industry per se until the mid-1960s with the acquisition of Riker Laboratories, moving it from California to Minnesota. 3M retained the name Riker Laboratories for the subsidiary until at least 1985. In the mid-1990s, 3M Pharmaceuticals, as the division came to be called, produced the first CFC-free asthma inhaler in response to adoption of the Montreal Protocol by the United States. In the 1980s and 1990s, the company spent fifteen years developing a topical cream delivery technology which led in 1997 to health authority approval and marketing of a symptomatic treatment for genital herpes, Aldara. After four decades, 3M divested its pharmaceutical unit through three deals in 2006, netting more than US$2 billion. At the time, 3M Pharmaceuticals comprised about twenty percent of 3M's health care business and employed just over a thousand people.
3M traffic signals installed in Shelton, Washington. Standing off-axis from the intended viewing area, these signals are invisible to adjacent lanes of traffic in daylight. (A faint glow is visible at night.)
The same two signals above, taken in the signal's intended viewing area (a single lane of northbound traffic). Special light-diffusing optics and a colored fresnel lens create the indication.
3M Mincom was involved in some of the first digital audio recordings of the late 1970s to see commercial release when a prototype machine was brought to the Sound 80 studios in Minneapolis. After drawing on the experience of that prototype recorder, 3M later introduced in 1979 a commercially available digital audio recording system called the "3M Digital Audio Mastering System",
3M launched "Press 'n Peel" in stores in four cities in 1977, but results were disappointing. A year later 3M instead issued free samples directly to consumers in Boise, Idaho, with 94 percent of those who tried them indicating they would buy the product. The product was sold as "Post-its" in 1979 when the rollout introduction began, and was sold across the United States from April 6, 1980. The following year they were launched in Canada and Europe.
On September 8, 2008, 3M announced an agreement to acquire Meguiar's, a car-care products company that was family-owned for over a century.
On August 30, 2010, 3M announced that they had acquired Cogent Systems for $943 million.
On October 13, 2010, 3M completed acquisition of Arizant Inc. In December 2011, 3M completed the acquisition of the Winterthur Technology Group, a bonded abrasives company.
On January 3, 2012, it was announced that the Office and Consumer Products Division of Avery Dennison was being bought by 3M for $550 million. The transaction was canceled by 3M in September 2012 amid antitrust concerns.
In March 2017, it was announced that 3M was purchasing Johnson Control International Plc's safety gear business, Scott Safety, for $2 billion.
In 2017, 3M had net sales for the year of $31.657 billion, up from $30.109 billion the year before. In 2018, it was reported that the company would pay $850 million to end the Minnesota water pollution case concerning perfluorochemicals.
On May 25, 2018, Michael F. Roman was appointed CEO by the board of directors. As of August 2018, 3M India Ltd. was the only listed 3M Company subsidiary.
On December 19, 2018, 3M announced it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the technology business of M*Modal, for a total enterprise value of $1.0 billion.
In October 2019, 3M completed the purchase of Acelity and its KCI subsidiaries worldwide for $6.7 billion, including assumption of debt and other adjustments.
3M's Pollution Prevention Pays (3P) program was established in 1975. The program initially focused on pollution reduction at the plant level and was expanded to promote recycling and reduce waste across all divisions in 1989. By the early 1990s, approximately 2,500 3P projects decreased the company's total global pollutant generation by 50 percent and saved 3M $500-600 million by eliminating the production of waste requiring subsequent treatment.
During the 1990s and 2000s, 3M reduced releases of toxic pollutants by 99 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 72 percent. The company earned the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star Award each year the honor was presented, as of 2012.
In response to PFC contamination of the Mississippi River and surrounding area, 3M stated the area will be "cleaned through a combination of groundwater pump-out wells and soil sediment excavation". The restoration plan was based on an analysis of the company property and surrounding lands. The on-site water treatment facility that handled the plant's post-production water was not capable of removing the PFCs, which were released into the nearby Mississippi River. The clean-up cost estimate was $50 to $56 million, funded from a $147 million environmental reserve set aside in 2006.
In 2008, 3M created the Renewable Energy Division within 3M's Industrial and Transportation Business to focus on Energy Generation and Energy Management.
In late 2010, the state of Minnesota sued 3M for $5 billion in punitive damages, claiming they released PFCs--classified a toxic chemical by the EPA--into local waterways. A settlement for $850 million was reached in February 2018, although in 2019, 3M, along with the Chemours Company and DuPont, appeared before lawmakers to deny responsibility, with company Senior VP of Corporate Affairs Denise Rutherford arguing that the chemicals pose no human health threats at current levels and have no victims.
3M facility in St. Paul, Minnesota
3M's general offices, corporate research laboratories, and some division laboratories in the US are in St. Paul, Minnesota. In the United States, 3M operates 80 manufacturing facilities in 29 states, and 125 manufacturing and converting facilities in 37 countries outside the US (in 2017).
In March 2016, 3M completed a 400,000-square-foot (37,000 m2) research-and-development building that cost $150 million on its Maplewood campus. Seven hundred scientists from various divisions occupy the building. They were previously scattered across the campus. 3M hopes concentrating its research and development in this manner will improve collaboration. 3M received $9.6 million in local tax increment financing and relief from state sales taxes in order to assist with development of the building.
Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, UK factory producing respirators for workers safety, using laser technology. It has 370 employees and recently there was an investment of £4.5 million ($7 million).
3M's CEOs have included: Cross (1966-1970), Heltzer (1970-1975), Herzog (1975-1979), Lehr (1979-1986), Jacobson (1986-1991), DeSimone (1991-2001), McNerney (2001-2005), Robert S. Morrison (2005, interim), Buckley (2005-2012), Thulin (2012-2018), and Roman (2018-present).
3M's presidents have included: Edgar B. Ober (1905-1929), McKnight (1929-1949), Richard P. Carlton (1949-1953),Herbert P. Buetow (1953-1963), Cross (1963-1966), Heltzer (1966-1970), and Herzog (1970-1975). In the late 1970s, the position was separated into roles for U.S. and international operations. The position overseeing domestic operations was first held by Lehr, followed by John Pitblado from 1979 to 1981, then Jacobson from 1984 to 1991. James A. Thwaits led international operations starting in 1979. Buckley and Thulin were president during 2005-2012, and 2012-2018, respectively.
V. Huck, Brand of the tartan: the 3M story, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1955. Early history of 3M and challenges, includes employee profiles.
C. Rimington, From Minnesota mining and manufacturing to 3M Australia Pty Ltd (3M Australia: the Story of an Innovative Company), Sid Harta Publishers, 2013. Recollections from 3M Australia employees in context of broader organisational history.
^"3M Says Reputation Is Still Strong One". The New York Times. May 14, 1975. Retrieved 2019. Mr. Herzog was elected chairman at a board meeting after the stockholder session, succeeding Harry Heltzer. Mr. Herzog will continue as president and chief executive officer.
^ abSchmitt, Eric (February 11, 1986). "Business People; 2 Top 3M Posts Go to Domestic Head". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019. The Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company announced yesterday that Allen F. Jacobson, president of the concern's domestic operations, had been named chairman and chief executive, effective March 1.
^ abDash, Eric (December 8, 2005). "3M Finds Chief Without Reaching for a Star". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019. And yesterday, 3M named George W. Buckley, the low-profile leader of the Brunswick Corporation, as its new chairman and chief executive.
^ abJensen, Michael C. (March 9, 1975). "How 3M Got Tangled Up in Politics". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019. Bert S. Cross, who was chairman and chief executive of 3M from 1966 to 1970, and a board member thereafter, will not seek re-election to the board where he serves as chairman of the finance committee.
^Byrne, Harlan S. (July 3, 2000). "A Changed Giant". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2019. The patient approach may have originated with W. L. McKnight, a legendary CEO who joined the company in 1907 and became president in 1929.