Back in June of 2015, 3M made its biggest-ever deal when it purchased Capital Safety from investment firm KKR. Since then, 3M has continued to grow itself as a leader in the workplace safety sector, including recently purchasing Scott Safety and focusing on its global safety training offerings.

Analysts weren’t surprised when 3M acquired Capital Safety—and KKR wasn’t, either. 3M had been preparing for a move into the personal protective equipment (PPE) sector for quite some time.

“[3M CEO] Inge Thulin and I have been talking for awhile,” said KKR’s Head of Industrial Investments Pete Stavros. “We had dinner in New York, we agreed to do it fast, and that was it.

“It shows you he has a strategic mindset. He decided to fill out 3M’s line in safety products with a global leader,” Stavros added.

3M paid $2.5 billion for Capital Safety, which sells harnesses, lanyards, and other safety products for construction, mining, and other industrial sectors. It was the largest acquisition ever for 3M.

Continuing its trend of expansive growth in PPE, 3M went on to purchase Scott Safety for $2 billion this year. A manufacturer of safety equipment like self-contained breathing apparatus systems, respirators, and thermal imaging cameras, Scott Safety provides 3M with an even more solid portfolio in safety—and represents its second-largest acquisition in the space. 3M is now officially the largest US player in the PPE market.

Together, Scott Safety and Capital Safety are set to bring in over $1 billion for 3M this year.

But 3M is far from done. With a global PPE market estimated at over $38 billion in 2015, 3M is aiming even higher—taking their offerings outside the country to places like the construction industries of the Asian Pacific and the Middle East.

And it goes beyond just the equipment. 3M has a whole division whose focus is on training new customers in the use of their safety items.

“We don’t want to drop off our equipment with [customers] and just say, ‘Well, good luck,’” explained Don Garvey, a 3M personal safety division technical service specialist. “The end product is not the earplugs or safety goggles [or harnesses] we sell. It’s that people go home with all 10 fingers and toes.”

All in all, 3M has come a long way since its 2015 acquisition of Capital Safety. And the future of the company and its customers is only looking brighter—and safer.

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