Sunday, April 26, 2009

Minnesota Minning and Manufacturing No More

In 1902 in the little north shore town of Two Harbors Minnesota, five businessmen began what they thought was a venture to mine a local mineral deposit to be an abrasive on grinding-wheels. However the mineral deposit was found to be of little value (not corundum) and they moved to Duluth were they focused on producing sandpaper products.

This company was called Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing. Since then this little risky venture has blossomed into a multinational powerhouse with manufacturing, distribution and research facilities located worldwide.

Its headquarters once located in Saint Paul, is now in Maplewood Minnesota. I drive by the old large multi-building complex at least twice a month. It is still held in high esteem to work there.

Its been there my whole lifetime, so far.
They too have had some difficult times.

Sales of many of 3M's products have slowed during the last quarter, and its profits are reflecting that.

In France a company executive was held by striking workers at a factory expected to be closed.

Here in Minnesota we have been forcing them to chase phantom menaces on land used generations ago.

The executives have made clear the difficulty working in Minnesota with its high tax burden on the company and its employees.

3M announced some time back they would not be building on their aging Saint Paul campus.

And long before that they stopped referring to 3M as "Minnesota Minning and Manufacturing".

THE STATE is not friendly to anything having to do with "companies" or "minning" or "manufacturing". Today unlike times gone by, Minnesota is not "industry" friendly.

Nope, now its just 3M, period. Sad.

3M is selling its Saint Paul Campus to the Saint Paul Port Authority. It was the old headquarters before the move to Maplewood in the 60's. It will be leveled and the Port Authority will set it up for light industry and office space.

They, like other companies (and 3M is not just another company), are announcing layoffs and early retirements and buyouts for employees.

This will ripple throughout Minnesota. 3M is generous and always has been. They've built public buildings, symphonies, theaters, educations, hospitals.... the list of positives is very long.

3M has been a pillar of our society for over a hundred years.

However to me it seem that the McKnight Principle;

"As our business grows, it becomes increasingly necessary to delegate responsibility and to encourage men and women to exercise their initiative. This requires considerable tolerance. Those men and women, to whom we delegate authority and responsibility, if they are good people, are going to want to do their jobs in their own way.
"Mistakes will be made. But if a person is essentially right, the mistakes he or she makes are not as serious in the long run as the mistakes management will make if it undertakes to tell those in authority exactly how they must do their jobs.
"Management that is destructively critical when mistakes are made kills initiative. And it's essential that we have many people with initiative if we are to continue to grow."

....does not mesh well with THE STATES principle of centralized command and control.

3M appears to be leaving my beloved State of Minnesota.

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