April 9, 2008

A Trip to the 3M Labs!

Anyone who’s been around me for even a short bit of time, would probably notice my fondness for those sticky little note pads called, Post-its, manufactured by 3M.  In fact, the only thing I don’t like about Post-its is that I wasn’t the clever person who invented them!  I love that they come in so many sizes and colors, (although I favor the original pale yellow) and that their low-tack adhesive never leaves a mark on surfaces.  3M is actually one of our advertising partners and we thought it would be fun to visit their Innovation Center in St.Paul, Minnesota.  So, last week, I traveled there with a TV crew and taped our visit, which will air on my television show on May 12th.  As you can imagine, 3M is a creative and inspiring place to work and I left there with some very exciting new ideas of my own. 

The G5 is owned by 3M corporation. Our team flew to St. Paul, Minnesota on it for a long “day trip.”

Upon arrival, Vinnetta Scrivo fixed my hair and touched up my makeup, done earlier in the day, at my home at 7AM, by her sister, Eva Scrivo.

This was the "Welcome" sign at the 3M innovation center, where we taped part of my segment.

The CEO, George Buckley, and I are in the Innovation Center. He gave a brief history of this remarkable American company, started in 1902.

The Innovation Center looks out onto a big lake. Although being April, spring was still not much in evidence here.

In the Gallery of Innovation - I, Charles Koppelman, and Bob MacDonald recline to watch a very interesting 3 minute film about the company and its amazing technologies.

Lunch with the executives included a beautifully set table - my Macy's collection linens - Bison and Walleye.

Abrasives and sponges for the homemaker's use are another large part of 3M's “home” business. Here I learn about new innovations in the Scotch Brite line of cleaning scrubbers.

This is one of the many laboratories that develop, create, and invent new products.


Just a couple of the warning signs that are positioned throughout the buildings.


All kinds of tests and studies and mysterious experiments take place in giant rooms like these.


In one lab the effectiveness of Scotch Brite is tested, and tested, and retested.


This scale of hardness tells us which abrasive is safe to use on what surfaces.


Mark took me through the testing of different new Scotch Brite products - I was very impressed.


I was given an official lab coat with my name on it!


Our beautiful Wedgewood china (Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's)
was used to demonstrate the newest product - an abrasive safe to use on
fine china and glassware.


My segment producer, Becky, Bob MacDonald (Chief Marketing Officer), and I in the testing lab.


Liesl Menning, my assistant, and Vinetta, makeup artist,
demonstrating fur removal with a new 3M



Adhesives are fascinating - there are so many different technologies and options - from Scotch Tape to spray mounts to glues of every description. The entire history of the company's more than 55,000 products is highlighted in the Innovation Center - we went through just five of the technologies and I was hooked! Microreplication is something we don't think about, but every stop sign, road divider, and traffic signal uses some bit of this new technology. Non-woven materials - fabrics, abrasive sponges, bandages, surgical masks, etc. - are all part of this ever-growing field.I could not show you photos from this section, as it contained classified works in progress!

Here I am trying to persuade a product manager to change the color of the “blue tape” used by painters and floor refinishers - I think she was a bit peeved at me for such a suggestion.


I was asked to sign a lab t-shirt by Mark, Scotch Brite's scientist.


After a very long day we flew back to NYC - here's Vinnetta, napping soundly.


And here's Charles Koppelman who left 3M just as energized and excited as myself.


Liz Koman, SVP Broadcasting Ad Sales


Sally Preston, SVP Publisher/MSL


Tod Morehead, SVP Crafts Licensing