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  • Improving Australian lives for 70 years.

    September 03, 2021

    Improving Australian lives since 1951

    Humble beginnings of 3M in Minnesota

    Our humble beginnings began in Minnesota in June of 1902. One hundred and nineteen years later, 3Mers are still improving the lives of those around the world; developing the technology and products that advance companies, enhance homes, and provide solutions to some of life’s challenges. In 2021, 3M celebrates 70 proud years of operation in Australia.

    3Mers with a jumbo roll of cellulose tape, 1958
    Above: 3Mers with a jumbo roll of cellulose tape, 1958

    Our Australian story began on September 7th, 1951, in two small barn-like buildings on the outskirts of Lidcombe, NSW. The site was modest, with no telephones or amenities on-site. This site was used as a small office and warehouse for the marketing of finished goods, which were mostly imported from established plants located in other countries. The team – just three people and one lone office assistant, were grateful for the company of the Alsatian who resided at the neighbouring factory.

    Later in 1953, 3M Australia moved to a site in St. Mary’s NSW where manufacturing commenced in early 1954. Tapes and abrasive conversion were the first products manufactured in Australia. The St. Mary’s plant showcased the very latest equipment available of its kind in the world, leaving overseas visitors impressed with the excellent set up of the production areas and high standard of cleanliness.

    Varieties of Scotch® Brand tapes were manufactured on a large scale in Australia and coated abrasives were manufactured and converted for use in many industries. Other products converted and packaged at the St. Marys site included Underseal, Scotchlite™ reflective materials, Sasheen™ ribbons, the Secretary copying machine, and the most popular Thermo-Fax™ brand copying products. 3M Australia also marketed several aids to the Graphic Arts and electrical industries.

    A 3Mer packaging coated abrasives at the St Mary's manufacturing facility, 1984
    Above: A 3Mer packaging coated abrasives at the St Marys manufacturing facility, 1984

    3M Australia grows from coast to coast.

    By 1958, 3M had invested approximately one million Australian pounds into the St. Mary’s site and planned to spend another 148,000 Australian pounds on additional equipment – 90% of which would be built in Australia. Through the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, 3M Australia’s footprint grew. Growth in manufacturing and converting led to the creation of more jobs and allowed for innovation and product inventions to occur right here at home.

    Administrative and sales locations were established in all states and territories of Australia. While St. Marys continued manufacturing 3M products, the head office was moved to Wentworth Avenue in Sydney in the early 1960s and remained there throughout the later part of the 60s until a brand-new purpose built site was constructed in Pymble, NSW in 1968.

    Construction of the unique, curved Pymble Head Office building in 1968
    Above: Construction of the unique, curved Pymble Head Office building in 1968

    “Turn at the 3M building”

    Construction of the new and unusual curved building in Pymble, NSW, lasted through the later part of the 60’s. Located along a busy intersection where the Pacific Highway and Ryde Road meet, the building became so well-known due to its quirky shape, that many motorists used the site as a landmark to provide directions. It was not uncommon to hear the phrase, “turn at the 3M building,” directing motorists to their destinations. Many of those who regularly used this intersection near the 3M Pymble site still recall using the building as a landmark to provide directions.

    In 2011, 3M Australia relocated from Pymble to North Ryde, and remains in this location to this day.

    A 3Mer packaging Scotch® Brand tapes in St Marys, NSW Australia
    Above: A 3Mer packaging Scotch® Brand tapes in St Marys, NSW Australia

    Continuing support of Australian customers and communities.

    Today, 3M Australia operates across all states in Australia, with locations in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Perth and provides support to customers with a dedicated, nationwide sales team. 3M Australia offers training for customers and skilled trades students in Blacktown as well as personal safety product training for customers in Adelaide, Perth, and Brisbane.

    Our two Australian manufacturing sites located in Blacktown (NSW) and Guilford (NSW) manufacture a wide range of filtration products and personal protective equipment as well as the conversion of adhesive tapes and retroreflective decal products.

    Seventy years on, our Australian team of over 600 employees continue to improve Australian lives with science.

    3M Australia Head Office, North Ryde NSW
    Above: 3M Australia Head Office, North Ryde NSW