Such growth could not be ignored. Now that 3M was publicly traded, investment bankers took to recommending it as a buy, business magazines sent reporters to write about it, and other companies tried to figure out how 3M continued to excel. McKnight's immediate successor as president, Richard Carlton, encapsulated the company's special path to prosperity with the phrase: "we'll make any damn thing we can make money on." Yet the 3M method involved a great deal more than simply making and selling. Its metier had been, and continues to be, finding uninhabited markets and then filling them relentlessly with high-quality products. Therefore, research and development received money that most companies spent elsewhere--most companies still did not have such departments by the early 1950s--and the pursuit for ideas was intense.
Carlton kept the company focused on product research (today, 3M rewards its scientists with Carlton Awards), which led to another innovation in the 1950s, the first dry-printing photocopy process, ThermoFax. 3M breezed through the 1950s in impressive fashion, with 1959 marking the company's 20th consecutive year of increased sales. Yet, for all its growth and diversity, 3M continued to produce strong profits from its established products. In a way, this was almost to be expected, given 3M's penchant for being in "uninhabited" markets. As noted by John Pitblado, 3M's president of U.S. Operations, "almost everything depends on a coated abrasive during some phase of its manufacture. Your eyeglasses, wrist watches, the printed circuit that's in a TV set, knitting needles ... all require sandpaper."
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