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News

Little-known facts about 3M

3M Europe : 08 April, 2002  (Company News)
The following is a collection of such facts, statistics and anecdotes about 3M – some of which may be unknown to many 3M employees and even the most ardent followers of the company.


  • Scotch Tape got its name when a St Paul automobile painter, annoyed that an early prototype of masking tape only had adhesive along its outer edges, proclaimed, “Take this tape back to those Scotch bosses of yours and tell them to put more adhesive on it!” The name - like the improved tape it inspired - stuck.


  • 3M was founded in 1902 to mine Crystal Bay corundum, an ideal substitute for a mineral used by furniture makers. It wasn’t until 1907 that 3M’s founders learned that their corundum wasn’t corundum at all, but a useless low-grade mineral.


  • William L McKnight, a longtime president and chairman of the board of 3M, joined the company in 1907 as assistant bookkeeper when the headmaster of Duluth Business University recommended him, despite having completed just five months of the six-month course.


  • 3M was the first company to use office voicemail, when it became available, in 1980.


  • US astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the moon wearing space boots with soles made of synthetic material from 3M. The company’s tapes, plastics, sealers, adhesives and ceramics have been part of spacecraft construction, as well as protective clothing for astronauts.


  • Scotch Audiotape brought a Christmas message of peace from US President Dwight Eisenhower transmitted from a satellite orbiting earth.


  • 3M employee Lew Lehr refused to give up when his superiors insisted that he discontinue efforts to market 3M surgical drapes in the 1940s. The product eventually became a best seller for 3M and was the first health care innovation in a now $3 billion market centre. Lehr later became chairman of the board and CEO of the company.


  • In 1984, 3M was the first American-based company in the modern era to establish a wholly owned subsidiary in mainland China.


  • 3M developed the first refastenable diaper (nappy) tapes in 1985.


  • In 1985, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave 3M a Scientific Engineering Award for magnetic film that greatly enhances audio capabilities of movie sound tracks.


  • 3M invented the first artificial playing surface used at athletic facilities, known as Tartan Turf and Tartan Track.


  • Michael Johnson won a gold medal in the 2000 Olympics 400m sprint wearing shoes made from 24-carat gold Scotchlite brand reflective fabric developed by 3M.


  • 3M is the leading provider of signage materials around the world for both traffic safety and commercial messages.


  • 3M was one of the first American companies to establish a global presence. By 1992, 3M’s international operations contributed more than 50% of the company’s revenues. That figure grew to 53% of the company’s revenues in 2001.


  • 3M’s worldwide environmental initiatives have yielded an 88% reduction in volatile organic air emissions from 1990 levels and cut manufacturing releases into water by 82%.


  • Current 3M chairman of the board and CEO, W. James McNerney, Jr., is the first outsider to lead the company.



 


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