3M was founded in 1902 in the Lake Superior town of Two Harbors, Minnesota, when five businessmen agreed to mine a mineral deposit for grinding-wheel abrasives. But the deposits proved to be of little value, and the new Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company moved to nearby Duluth in 1905 to focus on sandpaper products.
Years of struggle ensued until the company could master quality production. New investors were attracted to 3M and the company moved to St. Paul in 1910. Early technical and marketing innovations began to produce successes and, in 1916, the company paid its first dividend of 6 cents a share.
3M chose the UK for its first expansion outside America in 1929 distributing abrasives through a partnership with Durex Abrasives Ltd.
The UK subsidiary was formally established in 1951 and, whilst 3M products have been marketed in Ireland since the early 1950s, 3M Ireland was established in 1975.