Heading out on the ski slopes? Chances are, you’ll be putting on gloves or a jacket lined with Thinsulate® insulation. Wrapping a gift? Bring on the Scotch® cellophane tape! If you’re prepping a wood surface, protecting the furniture from spills, or leaving someone a note on the fridge, chances are, you’re using one of this company’s 60,000 products. Officially known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Co., 3M (NYSE: MMM) has built an empire around turning adversity into a multi-billion enterprise that posted 2015 sales of US $30.27 Billion, and a ranking of #93 on the Fortune 500 list.
When the company opened its doors in 1902 on the North Shore of Lake Superior, its founders mistakenly thought they had found a location for a sought-after mineral known as corundum, which could be used as an abrasive in the new industrial economy. The problem, however, was that there was no corundum to be found along the shore, but rather a useless mineral known as anorthosite. While such costly mistakes might have doomed a lesser company, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing was undaunted and, after securing strong financial backing, eventually (in 2010) found a better source of the valuable abrasives it sought and moved its plant from nearby Duluth to St. Paul. The rest is the stuff of legends.
Under new leadership, 3M began to focus on new product innovation and a culture of innovation and collaboration that has made this company the leader it is today in such diverse fields as abrasives, home and automotive products, reflective coatings, healthcare, and renewable energy. In 2014, fueled by a culture that encouraged employees to spend one day per week on their own projects—to see what became of them—3M scientists and researchers earned the company its 100,000th patent.
Given this culture of invention and innovation, it’s no wonder that back in 2004, when 3M needed a company that could manage multiple communications systems in its 146 locations around the globe, it turned to another innovator: Continuant. Today, as it has for some 13 consecutive years, Continuant delivers both on-site and remote maintenance and support for all of 3M’s Avaya, Nortel, and Siemens systems, and continues to work with 3M during its transition to a cloud-based Cisco solution.