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The Warsaw Voice » National Voice » June 29, 2012
America in Poland
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Culture of Innovation
June 29, 2012   
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Xavier Douellou, managing director of 3M in Poland, talks to Ewa Hancock.

The 3M company is one of the largest U.S. corporations specialized in technological innovation. What are some of your company’s most innovative ideas?
In spite of its more than 100-year history, 3M remains one of the world’s most innovative companies. Our strength is our natural curiosity, thanks to which one idea leads to working on another one. We listen attentively to customer needs and we try to make our products and innovative solutions respond to specific expectations, both for the market as a whole and for individual customers. 3M engineers avoid hackneyed solutions, inspire each other, and exchange experiences. We use more than 45 technology platforms in our everyday work. Every year, we invest between 6 and 7 percent of our annual revenue in research and development. This is twice more than the average U.S. companies. We also register around 500 patents every year. In 2011 alone, we assigned $1.57 billion for research and registered 514 new patents.

Thanks to this culture of innovation, we are able to offer products from many widely disparate fields, such as medical, telecommunications, personal safety and home care. The company’s portfolio currently includes more than 55,000 groundbreaking products.

3M’s innovations go beyond the yellow Post-it® notes. As early as in the 1920s, our scientists developed the world’s first water-resistant sandpaper and invented a masking tape, the first of many Scotch® adhesive tapes. Throughout the next decades of the 20th century, 3M specialists worked on many more innovations, such as Scotchlite™ retroreflective film, magnetic tape for sound recording, videotape, Scotch-Brite™ cleaning pads, or transflective films improving the image quality of electronic displays. We also kept on developing the market of medical and dental products, energy management, office supplies, etc. In the Polish market, there are more than 1,000 3M products available. Our products have changed the face of contemporary Poland. Scotchlite™ retroflective tapes and films and the City Information Systems in Warsaw and ŁódĽ have improved road safety in Poland. 3M’s personal safety technologies, such as respiratory masks, ear plugs and welding helmets have increased workplace safety in Poland. Our industrial tapes and adhesives have replaced screws and nails at workshops, and the Nexcare and Viscoplast adhesive bandages, as well as the Prima cleaning cloths can be found in every Polish household. Currently, we are working on even more innovations, thanks to which 3M will be able to meet the needs of renewable energy industry customers, for example. Our products created especially for this market include an adhesive for infusion lamination.

As a result of all this, statistically, a consumer encounters as many as seventeen 3M products a day.

What is the history of 3M in Poland?
Last year, 3M’s Polish office celebrated its 20th anniversary. 3M Poland was established in 1991, but the brand itself arrived in Poland many years before. The U.S. company’s first products appeared here in the mid-1960s, privately imported by dentists from abroad. In 1979, the first official 3M office was opened, selling products for the mining industry, the power industry, and telecommunications. Today, 3M has four manufacturing facilities in Poland: two in Wrocław, one in Skomielna near Rabka, and one in Janinów. The company is headquartered in Kajetany near Warsaw. 3M Poland employs 1,600 people. Last year, we opened two new plants that manufacture products for the aerospace industry and the automotive industry in Wrocław. According to 3M’s strategy, Poland is to become a key market that will supply 70 percent of the products exported to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

3M has for many years pursued environmentally-friendly policies. Can you tell us more about these?
3M makes every effort to keep its technologies environmentally friendly and makes them consume less energy or water. Since 1975, we have been globally implementing the pioneering program 3P—Pollution Prevention Pays—which aims to stop waste generation and take action to prevent pollution. In 2011 alone, the company reduced the amount of waste and CO2 emissions by 174.6 tons and 19.6 tons respectively. 3M Poland also cares about raising environmental awareness among its employees through the periodic environmental program Green Days. As a result of such a business approach, we were granted the title of sustainable Growth Leader by Forbes last year and were included on the List of Socially Responsible Companies published by Dziennik Gazeta Prawna in April this year.
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