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About 3M

Loath to be stuck on one thing, 3M makes everything from tape to high-tech security gear. The diversified company makes products through five operating segments: Industrial; Safety and Graphics; Electronics and Energy; Health Care; and Consumer. Well-known brands include Post-it notes, Scotch tapes, Scotchgard fabric protectors, Scotch-Brite scouring pads, and Filtrete home air filters. 3M sells products directly to users and through numerous wholesalers, retailers, distributors, and dealers worldwide.


The company operates five business segments: Industrial; Safety and Graphics; Electronics and Energy; Health Care; and Consumer.

The Industrial segment brings in around 35% of revenue and serves a broad range of markets, such as automotive original equipment manufacturing and aftermarket, electronics, appliance, paper and printing, packaging, food and beverage, and construction. Products include vinyl, polyester, foil, and specialty industrial tapes and adhesives.

The Safety and Graphics segment (around 20% of revenue) includes architectural, building and commercial services, commercial graphics, industrial minerals, personal safety, and traffic safety and security (including border and civil security). Major products offerings include architectural surface and lighting solutions; personal protection products; traffic safety and security products; commercial graphics sheeting and systems.

The Health Care segment (around 20%) serves medical clinics and hospitals, pharmaceuticals, dental and orthodontic practitioners, health information systems, food manufacturing and testing, and others. Its products and services include medical and surgical supplies, skin health and infection prevention products, inhalation and transdermal drug delivery systems, and oral care products and food safety products.

The Electronics and Energy segment (more than 15%) includes communication, electrical, electronics materials, electronics, infrastructure protection, optical systems, renewable energy, and 3M Touch Systems. Its products include electrical, telecommunications, renewable energy, and infrastructure protection goods and services.

The Consumer segment (around 15%) includes consumer retail, office retail, home improvement, drug and pharmacy retail, building maintenance and other markets. Major consumer products include Scotch® brand products; construction and home improvement products include surface-preparation and wood-finishing materials and filters for furnaces and air conditioners; home care products include Scotch-Brite pads and sponges.

Geographic Reach

3M has more than 80 manufacturing plants in about 30 US states and operates +120 manufacturing and converting facilities in about 35 other countries across the Asia/Pacific region; Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); Latin America; and elsewhere in North America. Overall, 3M has operations in more than 70 countries.

3M generates around 40% of its revenue from the US; 30% from the Asia/Pacific region; some 20% from EMEA; and 10% from other Americas (Latin America and Canada).

Sales and Marketing

3M sells its products globally though a wide range of distribution channels, including directly to users and through numerous wholesalers, retailers, jobbers, distributors, sales reps, and dealers.

Industries served include automotive, commercial solutions, communications, consumer, design & construction, electronics, energy, health care, manufacturing, mining, oil & gas, safety, and transportation.

The company spends around $400 million on average in advertising each year.

Financial Performance

3M's revenue has been on solid footing for a decade, with somewhat lackluster growth. Earnings grew from $25.2 billion in 2008 to over $30 billion by 2016. In the same timeframe, company profits trended upwards, increasing from $3.5 billion in 2008 to $4.9 billion in 2017.

In 2017, 3M posted $31.6 billion in revenue, the highest ten years. The $1.5 billion increase since last year came from all the major segments. Three in particular— Industrial; Safety and Graphics; and Health Care— grew close to 5% year-over-year, while revenues from Electronics and Energy sector shot up above 10%. Higher organic sales of 3M various tech products boosted earnings.

Net income in 2017 was $4.8 billion, a slight decrease from the $5 billion profit reported for 2016. A combination of two factors explain the dip. First, operating expenses increased by some $950 million, an increase the company attributed to strategic investment, as well as higher pension benefit expenses. A $680 million increase in income tax provisions also reduced the 2017 coffers.

Cash holdings increased from $2.3 billion to $3 billion. Operating activities provided $6.2 billion in cash. Cash flow from investing activities used up more than $3 billion, mostly in acquisition costs as well as purchase of securities and investments. Financing activities, which saw a flurry of activity, utilized a further $2.6 billion.


3M's growth strategy is based on acquisitions, divestitures, and significant R&D efforts.

The company conducts acquisitions and divestitures at what can be described as a frenzied rate. The approach is intended to get 3M's revenue moving at a faster pace. To focus on high-growth operations, 3M has reduced its exposure to the consumer and electronics markets over the last several years, selling off around 15 businesses.

Meanwhile, the company has also pursued strategic but costly acquisitions. The company has pumped up its presence in firefighter breathing apparatus, heath care product disinfectant and protection, and filtration membranes. It is also working jointly with ON Semiconductor to improve communication between vehicles and roadway infrastructure by building new capabilities for image sensing technology. 3M is likely to spend $20 billion on acquisitions by 2020.

3M has been equally busy on the divestitures front, offloading any company that performs poorly in its ever-evolving portfolio. In February 2018, 3M sold several personal safety product offerings primarily focused on noise, environmental, and heat stress monitoring for $20 million.

The year before, 3M sold most of its Communications Markets Division to Corning Inc. for about $900 million. Earlier that year, it also sold its safety prescription eyewear business to HOYA Vision Care for $45 million.

As a technology-driven company, 3M continues to make research and development a top priority, investing heavily in new product development efforts, which explains its top rank among the most innovative companies in the world. In 2017, the company invested almost $420 million in future growth opportunities. It also continues to see emerging markets like China and other developing countries as promising avenues for growth.

Mergers and Acquisitions

In 2017, 3M announced a $2 billion acquisition of Scott Safety from Johnson Controls. The US based company manufactures safety and protection devices like self-contained breathing apparatus systems, gas and flame detection instruments.

3M also purchased Elution Technologies, a Vermont-based manufacturer of allergen test kits to boost its Health Care business segment. The announcement came in September 2017,

In September of the year before, the company acquired Semfinder, a leading developer of precision software that enables efficient coding of medical procedures in multiple languages. The Swiss acquisition enables the company to accelerate the availability of its 3M 360 encompass system in countries adopting electronic medical records.


3M Center, 224-1W-02
Saint Paul, MN 55144
Phone: 1 (978) 659-9000


Employer Type: Unknown
Chairman; Chairman Of The Board; Chief Executive Officer: James Cogan
Owner: Michelle Morrison
Chief Technology Officer: Gary Walsh
2015 Employees (All Locations): 845

Other Locations

Methuen, MA
Westborough, MA