Greetings from 3M Tonawanda
3M is a global innovation company that never stops inventing. Over the years, we have worked to improve daily life for hundreds of millions of people all over the world. We have made driving at night easier, made buildings safer, and made consumer electronics lighter, less energy-intensive and less harmful to the environment. We even helped put a man on the moon.
Every day at 3M, one idea always leads to the next, igniting momentum to make progress possible around the world.
3M Tonawanda, New York
The Tonawanda plant is a cellulose sponge facility which manufactures the O-Cel-O™ and Scotch-Brite® brand sponges. It is the world’s largest sponge making facility. As part of 3M's Home Care Division, we focus on manufacturing products that help clean, protect, and enhance people’s homes and possessions. Our sponges and scrub sponges provide the consumer the best quality and value for their cleaning needs.
- Earn and maintain customer loyalty by providing superior quality and value in our products
- To be the world’s premier cellulose sponge manufacturer
- No broken promises to our community, customers and employees
- Provide exceptional customer service and value
- Remain a socially and environmentally responsible member of the community
- Foster operational innovation and continuous improvement
- Be a preferred employer who provides a safe, secure, and innovative work environment
3M Tonawanda Facts
- Plant Size: 275,000 square feet
- Site Property: 19 acres
- Number of Divisions: 3
- Home Care (98%)
- Commercial Care
- Automotive Aftermarket
- Number of Products: 431 SKUs
- Multiple Crewing Structure
History of 3M Tonawanda
In 1946 two chemical engineers and a chemist recognized an opportunity to make cellulose sponges after a sponge blight swept through the vast Nassau and Cuban sponge beds and WWII cut off the Mediterranean sponge supply from the US market.
The only remaining natural sponge bed in Tarpon Springs, Florida, was to be for industrial and military uses during the wartime era. Therefore, there was demand for manufactured cellulose sponge. So Jack Bitzer, Chester Hardt, and Gerald Murray left secure jobs in pursuit of an idea and started O-Cel-O sponge. O-Cel-O™ sponge started manufacturing in 1947 for the household market. In 1952 O-Cel-O™ was sold to General Mills for $3,400,000 in General Mills stock.
3M purchased the facility in 1990 and has invested heavily to continue to expand the operation and improve the manufacturing processes. In 1992, a new office building and distribution warehouse was built. Also in 1992, the first solvent recovery unit was installed to address environmental concerns. In 1994 a laminating unit was purchased to increase sponge scrubber manufacturing capacity. A decision was made in 2001 to consolidate 3M’s other sponge making facility in Prairie du Chein, Wisconsin, into the Tonawanda plant, bringing with it a different manufacturing method to produce sponge scrubbers.
Recent investments include the replacement of 50+ year old technology to handle manufacturing by-products, new wrapping machinery, and packaging automation. Investments in training all salary employees in Six Sigma methodology has resulted in transactional and operational efficiencies. 3M continues to make investments in equipment, research, new technologies, and marketing to ensure Tonawanda remains the world's largest cellulose sponge producing facility.
Historical and Sponge Facts:
- The name O-Cel-O is derived from the chemical components Oxygen – Cellulose – Oxygen.
- Sponge produced in Tonawanda is shipped throughout the world.
- Holes in cellulose sponge are made from dissolved salt crystals.
- Cellulose sponge can hold 10 times its weight in water.
O-Cel-O™ sponges are developed with 3M's unique StayFresh™ antimicrobial technology to resist bacterial odors. Antimicrobial StayFresh™ technology is integrated into every O-Cel-O™ sponge fiber not only to resist odors, but also resist staining causing by mildew. Relevant technologies in manufacturing sponge and sponge scrubbers:
- Process Design and Control
- Flexible Converting and Packaging
- Microbial Control
O-Cel-O™ Sponge and Sponge Scrubbers
- O-Cel-O Sponges
- O-Cel-O™ Heavy Duty Scrub Sponge
- O-Cel-O™ No Scratch Scrub Sponge
Scotch-Brite® Scrub Sponges
- Extra Heavy Duty Sponges
- Heavy Duty Sponges
- Delicate Duty Sponges
- Multi-Purpose Sponges
Buffalo Niagara has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, from a redeveloped waterfront and revitalized neighborhoods to a burgeoning craft beer scene and over $1 billion in new investment.
Between family fun, festivals and events to restaurants, nature, recreation and nightlife, there is plenty to choose from in Buffalo Niagara.
Tonawanda Is Located:
- ½ mile from the Niagara River near Lake Erie
- 3 miles from Buffalo
- 13 miles from Niagara Falls
- 400 miles from New York City
- 90 miles from Toronto, Canada
(*Information from the Visit Buffalo Niagara Tourist Page)
3M Tonawanda's community giving emphasis focuses on Higher Education, K-12 Education, Health/Human Services, the Arts, and the Environment.
We support Higher Education to help prepare students for success through initiatives that inspire innovation, excellence, and inclusiveness in teaching and learning with a focus on Science, Business, and Engineering.
We support K-12 Education to help prepare students for success through initiatives that inspire innovation, excellence, and inclusiveness in teaching and learning with a focus on Math, Science, and Economics.
By supporting Health and Human Services, we help foster strong, vital communities through youth and family initiatives.
We support the Arts to enhance the quality of cultural life in 3M communities.
By supporting Environmental goals, we help make immediate, meaningful contributions to the sustainability of the earth's ecosystems.
Recent Contributions have been made to the following organizations:
- Ken-Ton Meals on Wheels
- River Road Volunteer Fire Company
- Roswell Park Alliance Foundation
- Sabah Skating Association for the Blind and Handicapped, Inc.
- Town of Tonawanda Police Department Citizen Corps
- Town of Tonawanda Senior Center
- United Way
- Western New York Public Broadcasting Association
- YMCA Buffalo Niagara
- A Tonawanda employee was recognized with the prestigious 3M Community Volunteer Award.