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History of 3M New Zealand

At 3M we are proud of our New Zealand history and of our unwavering commitment to our customers and the community in which we operate. Our links are global, but our foundation is distinctly Kiwi having grown from adversity, and continually moved with the times and the ever-changing business environment. Our success thrives on the sharing of ideas, skills and technologies, both inside and outside our company to solve problems for our customers.

3M began doing business in New Zealand through a local agent in 1953 and in 1956 officially opened a branch office of 3M Australia Pty Ltd in downtown Auckland. There were only four employees in those early days, operating a business based on sales of imported finished rolls of Scotch brand tapes and Thermo-Fax brand copying machines.

Severe import restrictions imposed by the government late in 1957 led to a decision that shaped 3M’s future operations in this country. The restrictions necessitated the need to establish a local manufacturing operation which was established the following year. 3M’s premises moved from the original office in downtown Auckland to a small leased building in the Penrose industrial area.

Wairau Valley office, 1962Within five years (1962) there was sufficient confidence in the growth potential of 3M’s business in New Zealand to justify the purchase of an 11 acre site in the Wairau Valley on Auckland’s North Shore. The new building included office, manufacturing and warehouse facilities, and enabled manufacturing activities to expand into tape coating and abrasive disc production. By 1967 employee headcount had risen to 80, and 3M’s growth and strength in the New Zealand market was reflected in the fact 3M New Zealand Ltd became a fully autonomous subsidiary that same year.

Over the next few decades the organisation continued to grow with further building expansion, employment, acquisitions, and the growing sales of a highly diversified range of 3M products. By 1988 3M also had established new leased sales offices were established in Wellington and Christchurch.

With changing international markets, increasing costs of raw materials and a heavy global focus on environmental sustainability, 3M New Zealand announced operational changes in 2007. 3M New Zealand moved the Foil Tape manufacturing facility to another 3M subsidiary, ensuring increased efficiencies, reducing 3M’s global footprint by moving manufacturing operations closer to suppliers and customers.

Apollo Drive officeThe change resulted in 3M relocating its head office facilities to its current site in Rosedale on Auckland’s North Shore. The new, purpose-built, environmentally-friendly facility has a Green Star Rating of four, and was designed and built with the needs of both 3M employees and customers in mind. The new building includes a state-of-the-art Innovation Centre, which is a visually exciting display of the products and technologies 3M is renowned, and provides an ideal facility for customers and suppliers to collaborate with 3M to become more successful. Many 3M products were used in the construction of the building ensuring the building itself is testament to the products we develop, and our commitment to environmental sustainability.

The building was completed in 2009, and was officially opened by Hon, Murray McCully, MP for East Coast Bays in September of that year.

3M New Zealand milestones

1953 - 3M starts business in New Zealand through a local agent in Auckland City
1956 - 3M opens a branch office of 3M Australia Pty Ltd in downtown Auckland
1962 - 3M purchases an 11 acre site in Wairau Valley, North Shore
1967 - Production expands into tape coating and abrasive disc making
1973 - 3M New Zealand becomes a fully autonomous subsidiary
1988 - Wellington and Christchurch sales branches opened
2007 - Announcement of plans to move manufacturing operations closer to suppliers and customers. Plans are put in place to source a new head office location
Feb 2009 - 3M New Zealand & Australia form an ANZ region with shared resources
July 2009 - 3M New Zealand’s new, purpose-built Green Star rated building is completed
Sept 2009 - 3M New Zealand’s new building is officially opened by Hon. Murray McCully, MP for East Coast Bays

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