Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Face of Minnesota Business Has Been Changing in Ways We Haven't Noticed

Did you ever play that game in which you have a pile of various objects of all shapes and colors -- a fork, a watch, candy, cookies, a box, scraps of paper, pens, books, etc. -- and everyone leaves the room as the point person removes one object. Everyone returns and tries to be first to identify what was taken away. It can be pretty tricky.

So it was that that game came to mind when I saw this list of Minnesota business transactions listing (primarily) companies whose headquarters have left the state over the past two decades. There is so much happening in the world that, like the pile of miscellaneous objects, many things can disappear and go undetected. Unless you are paying really close attention, you won't see it and might not even miss it.

What's surprising to me isn't that there have been companies moving and mergers happening, it's that many of these companies have been stalwart Minnesota standbys. Check out this list.

1998--Norwest Bank merged with Wells Fargo and moved its headquarters to San Francisco.

1999--Honeywell merged with Allied Signal and moved its headquarters to Morristown, New Jersey.

2001--Pillsbury was acquired by General Mills.

2004--International Multifoods was acquired by J.M. Smucker, Orrville, Ohio.

2008--Northwest Airlines merged with Delta Headquarters and moved its headquarters to Atlanta.

2009--Travellers moved to New York City.

2010--PepsiAmericas was acquired by PepsiCo, Purchase, New York.

2011--Alliant Techsystems moved its headquarters to Arlington, Virginia.

2011--Lawson Software was acquired by Golden Gate Capital, San Francisco, California.

2012--Pentair moved its headquarters to London, U.K.

2013--Nash Finch was acquired by Spartan Stores, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

2015--Medtronic moved its headquarters to Dublin, Ireland.

2017--Arctic Cat was acquired by Textron, Providence, Rhode Island.

2017--St. Jude Medical was acquired by Abbott, Chicago, Illinois.

2017--G&K Services was acquired by Cintas Corporation, Cincinnati, Ohio.

2017--Valspar Corporation was acquired by Sherwin-Williams, Cleveland, Ohio.

I highlighted the Valspar story because of the Cleveland, Ohio connection. My dad's favorite pro golfer was Arnold Palmer, who after serving in the Coast Guard on the Great Lakes with Jack Sherwin. Around that same time my father was a chemist for Sherwin-Williams when I was growing up. He was tagged to work for the the much larger Air Products and we moved away from Cleveland the year I turned 12.

Years later, when I was painting apartments in the Twin Cities, my father visited us when I flew out to call on "the Valspar account." The colorful Valspar building made an impression as you drove by on Highway 35. I don't know what it will mean for the company, or the landmark building, but it will be different.

An Aside: On one occasion we were doing some work at an apartment complex in the Loring Park district and I had a black door to paint. We picked up a top-of-the-line Sherwin Williams white paint and I did that job in one coat of white on black. It was quite astonishing. By way of contrast, on another occasion I had picked up a government contract to paint apartments near Lincoln and University in St. Paul, and because our prices were based on the room, not the hour, it proved disastrous because we had to use the government supplied paint. This paint was so runny and thin I believe milk would have covered better. After three coats of "white" on white the walls were still dirty. I called my dad, who was a chemist who specialized in the development of latex paints. He knew exactly what was happening. The "cheap" paint (junk) was cheap because they skimped on a key ingredient that enables coverage: titanium white. The expensive paint had more of this important ingredient, hence it's ability to do the job it did in one coat.

As for the government-owned apartments, I took no pay for that first day's work and ended the relationship. I guess if you're paid by the hour you don't care if you have to paint the wall two times or eight times.

Back to the List
The big surprise for me was seeing Medtronic on this list. The company has always been showcased as a Minnesota success story, hasn't it? And Honeywell, too, I thought. Hmmmm.

* * * *
O.K., so what's missing?
And what will be taken next?

SOURCE: Thinking Minnesota, Issue 10, Winter 2018

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