3M Global Headquarters - St. Paul, MN

3M History

Here, our history inspires your future.

More than a century ago, 3M started as a small-scale mining venture in Northern Minnesota, then named Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company. Now a global powerhouse, our products improve the daily lives of people around the world. 

But our success and longevity were not apparent from the start. We tried. We failed. We tried something new. Repeat cycle. Innovation and perseverance drove our founders, and it continues to drive 3Mers today. 


From Humble Beginnings to Fortune 500

When 3M began in 1902, our five founders had a simple goal: to mine for corundum, a mineral ideal for making sandpaper and grinding wheels. Turns out, what they thought was corundum was really another low-grade mineral called anorthosite.

Discovering the poor-quality mineral could have caused an early end to our fledgling company, but our founders persisted. Why? Because something more important was born that first year: the spirit of innovation and collaboration that forms the foundation of 3M today. So instead of calling it quits, we turned to different materials, applied them to other products, gained the trust of important investors and built up sales little by little.

Scientific, technical and marketing innovations produced success upon success over the years, eventually making 3M a constant name on the Fortune 500 list. Today, more than 60,000 3M products are used in homes, businesses, schools, hospitals and other industries. One third of our sales come from products invented within the past five years, thanks to innovations from the thousands of researchers and scientists we employ around the world.

With corporate operations in 70 countries and sales in 200, we are committed to creating the technology and products that advance every company, enhance every home and improve every life.

  • Click the dots to see how 3M has evolved from mining for rocks to rocking innovation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

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1902 – Humble Beginnings

Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company was founded by Dr. J. Danley Budd, Henry. S. Bryan, William A. McGonagle, John Dwan and Hermon W. Cable in Two Harbors, MN. 

1902 – Humble Beginnings

Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company was founded by Dr. J. Danley Budd, Henry. S. Bryan, William A. McGonagle, John Dwan and Hermon W. Cable in Two Harbors, MN. 

1907 – Leadership in the Making

Future 3M President and Chairman of the Board, William L. McKnight, joined Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. as an assistant bookkeeper, and would become to be best known for shaping the company’s culture of innovation and collaboration.

1907 – Leadership in the Making

Future 3M President and Chairman of the Board, William L. McKnight, joined Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. as an assistant bookkeeper, and would become to be best known for shaping the company’s culture of innovation and collaboration.

1910 – 3M Moves to St. Paul, MN

Major investor, Lucius Ordway, established the first plant in St. Paul, MN, leading to faster expansion of the company due to its more central location. 6 years later, a new headquarters office was established in St. Paul, MN.

1910 – 3M Moves to St. Paul, MN

Major investor, Lucius Ordway, established the first plant in St. Paul, MN, leading to faster expansion of the company due to its more central location. 6 years later, a new headquarters office was established in St. Paul, MN.

1914 – First 3M Exclusive

The 3M™ Three-M-ite™ Abrasive Cloth became 3M’s first exclusive product.

1914 – First 3M Exclusive

The 3M™ Three-M-ite™ Abrasive Cloth became 3M’s first exclusive product.

1925 – Masking Tape Invented

While testing abrasive samples at a body shop, Richard Drew, a 3M lab assistant, noted that painters were having trouble masking car parts. His idea led to the invention of the Scotch® brand tape product.

1925 – Masking Tape Invented

While testing abrasive samples at a body shop, Richard Drew, a 3M lab assistant, noted that painters were having trouble masking car parts. His idea led to the invention of the Scotch® brand tape product.

1937 – An Investment in Innovation

3M Vice President, Richard P. Carlton, established a Central Research Laboratory to pursue research in technologies with long-term potential leading to 3M breakthroughs, such as reflective materials used to improve highway signs and markings.

1937 – An Investment in Innovation

3M Vice President, Richard P. Carlton, established a Central Research Laboratory to pursue research in technologies with long-term potential leading to 3M breakthroughs, such as reflective materials used to improve highway signs and markings.

1946 – 3M Debuts on the NYSE

3M stock listed for the first time on the New York Stock Exchange.

1946 – 3M Debuts on the NYSE

3M stock listed for the first time on the New York Stock Exchange.

1951 – Going Global

3M established its International Division and new international companies were created in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom. 

1951 – Going Global

3M established its International Division and new international companies were created in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom. 

1960 – First Hypoallergenic Tape

3M Micropore™ Surgical Tape, the first hypoallergenic tape, was introduced and was a key to the success of 3M’s health care business. 

1960 – First Hypoallergenic Tape

3M Micropore™ Surgical Tape, the first hypoallergenic tape, was introduced and was a key to the success of 3M’s health care business. 

1962 – First in Maplewood, MN

The first office building was completed at the 3M Center in Maplewood, MN, establishing the company's new global headquarters, where it remains today.

1962 – First in Maplewood, MN

The first office building was completed at the 3M Center in Maplewood, MN, establishing the company's new global headquarters, where it remains today.

1969 – Venturing into Space

3M products are used by astronauts in the first moon landing, including 3M™ Fluorel™ Elastomer, a synthetic rubber used in the astronaut’s boots worn inside the space capsule.

1969 – Venturing into Space

3M products are used by astronauts in the first moon landing, including 3M™ Fluorel™ Elastomer, a synthetic rubber used in the astronaut’s boots worn inside the space capsule.

1975 – Eliminating Pollution
3M launched Pollution Prevention Pays, empowering employees to guide the company’s sustainability efforts. To date, the “3P” program has resulted in the elimination of more than a billion pounds of pollution and saved us billions in costs.
1975 – Eliminating Pollution
3M launched Pollution Prevention Pays, empowering employees to guide the company’s sustainability efforts. To date, the “3P” program has resulted in the elimination of more than a billion pounds of pollution and saved us billions in costs.
1979 – Helping Stay Toasty
3M™ Thinsulate™ Thermal Insulation introduced with more than 30 clothing manufacturers signing up right away to use this product.
1979 – Helping Stay Toasty
3M™ Thinsulate™ Thermal Insulation introduced with more than 30 clothing manufacturers signing up right away to use this product.
1980 – Something to Post About
3M introduced Post-it® Notes, creating a whole new category in the marketplace and changing people’s communication and organization behavior forever.

 

1980 – Something to Post About
3M introduced Post-it® Notes, creating a whole new category in the marketplace and changing people’s communication and organization behavior forever.

 

1990 – Privacy Please
3M™ Privacy Computer Filters were introduced, helping protect information displayed on monitors.
1990 – Privacy Please
3M™ Privacy Computer Filters were introduced, helping protect information displayed on monitors.
1997 – Gift Wrapping Made Easy
Scotch® Pop-Up Tape Strips and Dispensers were introduced, dispensing 2-inch, pre-cut pieces of tape from a hand band that allowed customers more of a hands-free wrapping experience.
1997 – Gift Wrapping Made Easy
Scotch® Pop-Up Tape Strips and Dispensers were introduced, dispensing 2-inch, pre-cut pieces of tape from a hand band that allowed customers more of a hands-free wrapping experience.
2002 – Centennial Name Change
As 3M employees celebrated 3M’s centennial anniversary, “3M Company” becomes the legal name for 3M—originally incorporated as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company.
2002 – Centennial Name Change
As 3M employees celebrated 3M’s centennial anniversary, “3M Company” becomes the legal name for 3M—originally incorporated as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company.
2004 – Milestone Sales
For the first time in 3M’s history, sales topped $20 billion in large part to new innovative products—Post-it® Super Sticky Notes, Scotch® Transparent Duct Tape, optical films for LCD televisions and a new family of Scotch-Brite® Cleaning Products.
2004 – Milestone Sales
For the first time in 3M’s history, sales topped $20 billion in large part to new innovative products—Post-it® Super Sticky Notes, Scotch® Transparent Duct Tape, optical films for LCD televisions and a new family of Scotch-Brite® Cleaning Products.
2013 – Billion Dollar Milestone
3M topped $30 billion in sales around the globe.
2013 – Billion Dollar Milestone
3M topped $30 billion in sales around the globe.
2014 – Perfecting the Patent
3M reached an innovation milestone with the issuance of its 100,000th patent. Each year about 3,000 patents are issued to 3M worldwide, with more than 500 granted in the U.S.
2014 – Perfecting the Patent
3M reached an innovation milestone with the issuance of its 100,000th patent. Each year about 3,000 patents are issued to 3M worldwide, with more than 500 granted in the U.S.
  • Click the dots to see how 3M has evolved from mining for rocks to rocking innovation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

     

     

1902 – Humble Beginnings

Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company was founded by Dr. J. Danley Budd, Henry. S. Bryan, William A. McGonagle, John Dwan and Hermon W. Cable in Two Harbors, MN. 

1902 – Humble Beginnings

Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company was founded by Dr. J. Danley Budd, Henry. S. Bryan, William A. McGonagle, John Dwan and Hermon W. Cable in Two Harbors, MN. 

1907 – Leadership in the Making

Future 3M President and Chairman of the Board, William L. McKnight, joined Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. as an assistant bookkeeper, and would become to be best known for shaping the company’s culture of innovation and collaboration.

1907 – Leadership in the Making

Future 3M President and Chairman of the Board, William L. McKnight, joined Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co. as an assistant bookkeeper, and would become to be best known for shaping the company’s culture of innovation and collaboration.

1925 – Masking Tape Invented

While testing abrasive samples at a body shop, Richard Drew, a 3M lab assistant, noted that painters were having trouble masking car parts. His idea led to the invention of the Scotch® brand tape product.

1925 – Masking Tape Invented

While testing abrasive samples at a body shop, Richard Drew, a 3M lab assistant, noted that painters were having trouble masking car parts. His idea led to the invention of the Scotch® brand tape product.

1937 – An Investment in Innovation

3M Vice President, Richard P. Carlton, established a Central Research Laboratory to pursue research in technologies with long-term potential leading to 3M breakthroughs, such as reflective materials used to improve highway signs and markings.

1937 – An Investment in Innovation

3M Vice President, Richard P. Carlton, established a Central Research Laboratory to pursue research in technologies with long-term potential leading to 3M breakthroughs, such as reflective materials used to improve highway signs and markings.

1951 – Going Global

3M established its International Division and new international companies were created in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom. 

1951 – Going Global

3M established its International Division and new international companies were created in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom. 

1960 – First Hypoallergenic Tape

3M Micropore™ Surgical Tape, the first hypoallergenic tape, was introduced and was a key to the success of 3M’s health care business. 

1960 – First Hypoallergenic Tape

3M Micropore™ Surgical Tape, the first hypoallergenic tape, was introduced and was a key to the success of 3M’s health care business. 

1975 – Eliminating Pollution
3M launched Pollution Prevention Pays, empowering employees to guide the company’s sustainability efforts. To date, the “3P” program has resulted in the elimination of more than a billion pounds of pollution and saved us billions in costs.
1975 – Eliminating Pollution
3M launched Pollution Prevention Pays, empowering employees to guide the company’s sustainability efforts. To date, the “3P” program has resulted in the elimination of more than a billion pounds of pollution and saved us billions in costs.
1980 – Something to Post About
3M introduced Post-it® Notes, creating a whole new category in the marketplace and changing people’s communication and organization behavior forever.

 

1980 – Something to Post About
3M introduced Post-it® Notes, creating a whole new category in the marketplace and changing people’s communication and organization behavior forever.

 

1990 – Privacy Please
3M™ Privacy Computer Filter were introduced, helping protect information displayed on monitors.
1990 – Privacy Please
3M™ Privacy Computer Filter were introduced, helping protect information displayed on monitors.
2014 – Perfecting the Patent
3M reached an innovation milestone with the issuance of its 100,000th patent. Each year about 3,000 patents are issued to 3M worldwide, with more than 500 granted in the U.S.
2014 – Perfecting the Patent
3M reached an innovation milestone with the issuance of its 100,000th patent. Each year about 3,000 patents are issued to 3M worldwide, with more than 500 granted in the U.S.
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