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Minnesota — Forbes 500 Companies

A Photo Tour Of Forbes 500 Company
HQ Buildings And Locations In Minnesota

Introduction I happened to see the Fortune 500 list sorted by home state, and found it interesting that Minnesota was home to 18 Fortune 500 companies. After reviewing the list, I realized that some familiar names were missing. It turns out that the Fortune 500 list only covers public companies, plus it has a few other filters. I found that Forbes Magazine publishes an annual list of the top privately held US-based companies.

In order to make the Forbes list, a company has to be based in the United States, and be largely privately held or very closely held. In addition, any public parts of a given company are subtracted off of the criteria for ranking. Finally, a floor of $1.0-billion in revenue is placed. That means that the list actually contains only about 340 companies, of which, 12 are located in Minnesota.

Also see my photo tours of the Minnesota Fortune 500 (largest public US companies), and the rest of the Minnesota Fortune 1000 (those that rank 501 to 1000).

Note—click on each photo to see the full size image.

Cargill Cargill Rank In MN: 1, Rank In Forbes 500: 1.

Location: 15407 McGinty Road West, Minnetonka. Near I-394/I-494 in western suburbs.

Cargill is the 500 pound gorilla of private companies. There is Cargill, and then there is everyone else. Its $66-billion in revenue puts Cargill at 16 if it was on the Fortune 500 list (smaller than Home Depot but bigger than Bank Of America), and the 46th largest company in the world (same size as Sony).

Schwan Foods Schwan Food Rank In MN: 2, Rank In Forbes 500: 62.

Location: 115 West College, Marshall. 156 miles west-south-west of Minneapolis.

Schwans is a market leader in frozen foods. They are unique in that they sell direct to the customer in delivery trucks that go all over the US. They also sell to retailers and institutions. Most of us know the Red Baron Pizza and Freschetta Pizza brands. Schwans is probably best known for their line of premium ice creams. It all started in 1952 with one guy and one truck.

Carlson Companies Carlson Companies Rank In MN: 3, Rank In Forbes 500: 82.

Location: 701 Carlson Parkway, Minnetonka. Near I-394/I-494 interchange.

The Carlson Companies are big into travel, restaurant, and hotel business with such brands as Radisson. The company has a signature head quarters in the western suburbs that shine like gold in the sunlight. Many folks think that Curt Carlson built these buildings as a monument to himself before he passed on. All I can say is that if I was building a monument to myself, that is pretty much what it would look like. The grounds on the site were originally configured for four such towers, but only two have been built to date.

Andersen Company Andersen Company Rank In MN: 4, Rank In Forbes 500: 103.

Location: 100 Fourth Ave North, Bayport, MN. I-94 east of Saint Paul, north on MN-95.

The Andersen Window factory in Bayport has 2.8-million square feet under roof covering more than 65 acres of land. They make more than 6-million windows every year. An excellent tour of the factory was presented by Bob Vila on the PBS TV show "This Old House" a number of years ago. Andersen picked the Bayport location since it had easy access to logs that were sent to market by floating them down the Saint Croix River.

Petters Group Petters Group Petters Group Worldwide Rank In MN: 5, Rank In Forbes 500: 127.

Location: 4900 Baker Road, Minnetonka. I-494 and MN-7 interchange.

Tom Petters started off selling odd lots of merchandise, eventually as a chain of Petters stores across the Midwest. The company made a big move when Petters teamed up with Ted Diekel teamed up to restart Fingerhut after it was shut down by Federated Stores. Fingerhut has been a huge success. Petters has leveraged that success to purchase several national brands such as Sunbeam and Polaroid. If Petters continues to move at this pace, there is no limit to what they can accomplish.

Update—disaster struck the Petters Group in late 2008 when it was revealed that the company was one huge Ponzi Scheme that left investors holding the bag for $10-billion in losses. Tom Petters has since traded in his silk suit for orange jail coveralls.

Rosens Diversified Rosen's Diversified Rank In MN: 6, Rank In Forbes 500: 154.

Location: 1120 Lake Ave, Fairmont. I-35W south, I-35 south, I-90 west, MN-15 south, west on Main Street, Main St turns into Lake Ave.

Rosen's Diversified is a company that I never heard of located in a town that I never heard of. It turns out that the two Rosen brothers returned from WWII and started a cattle business. They incrementally grew the business by branching off into cattle supplies, feed, and drugs, then moved wide to supply other agribusiness niches. The reason we don't know the name Rosen is that they do not use it in any of their brand names. Some 60 years after WWII, the Rosens have built themselves a small empire.

Taylor Company Taylor Company Rank In MN: 7, Rank In Forbes 500: 195.

Location: 1725 Roe Crest Drive, North Mankato. US-169 south, US-14 west, exit Lor Ray Drive south, west on Commerce Dr, south on Roe Crest.

We know Glen Taylor as the owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team, but few people know how Taylor made his fortune. While working at a print shop, he convinced the owner to sell him the print shop on payments over time. Once the shop was paid for, Taylor expanded rapidly across all areas of printing and across the globe. Taylor virtually owns the business of printing wedding invitations.

Michael Foods Michael Foods Rank In MN: 8, Rank In Forbes 500: 237.

Location: 301 Carlson Parkway, Minnetonka. Near I-394/I-494 interchange.

As its name suggests, Michael Foods is a food processor. But while other companies this size grew by adding a zillion products, Michael Foods grew by dominating a few lines of business. For example, Michael Foods is the largest supplier of processed eggs in the world. Crystal Farms dairy products are a staple in grocery stores across the US, especially in the cheese cooler.

Holiday Companies Holiday Companies Rank In MN: 9, Rank In Forbes 500: 242.

Location: 4867 American Blvd West, Bloomington. I-494 west, south on France Ave, west on American Blvd.

Holiday has been a company that has been looking for focus over the years, and from the looks of the company today, they have found it. Holiday once tried mini-mart grocery stores, large format stores, department stores, and the first 24 hour superstores in the twin cities. Those concepts never really panned out. But what has worked is the gas station teamed with a high end convenience store. Gone are the days when Holiday carried car parts and consumer electronics. What works today is catering to the traveler and service workers—snacks, beverages, and quick on-the-go meals.

Musicland Group Musicland Group Rank In MN: 10, Rank In Forbes 500: 261.

Location: 10400 Yellow Circle Drive, Minnetonka. West on MN-62, near Shady Oak Road exit.

The Musicland Group has been through the corporate equivalent of hell over the past few years. The music business took a major downturn in the mid-90's as people rebelled against corporate music that was lacking in creativity. Musicland suffered greatly. Nearly out of cash, they were forced to sell out to Best Buy. After Best Buy ran them through the ringer, they were sold off to a vulture capital group. In 2006, the company was forced into Chapter 11. This will finally allow the company to get rid of lagging stores and cancel leases on stores that have long been closed. Can they turn it around? Only time will tell.

Genmar Holdings Genmar Holdings Rank In MN: 11, Rank In Forbes 500: 292.

Location: 2900 IDS Center, 80 South Eight Street, Minneapolis. Downtown Minneapolis.

Genmar is another large company that I never heard of. It turns out that they own about a dozen major manufactures of boats. The company was put together by Irwin Jacobs of the Jacobs Trading Company. Jacobs is one of those rare people who can both see the big picture and make it happen. While he has a reputation for having everything he touches turn into gold, I'd assume that his touch involves a lot of hard work.

Genmar has perhaps the best headquarters location in the twin cities. They are on the 29th floor of the IDS Center, which once was the executive floor when IDS occupied that building. If you are going to have a signature address, 2900 IDS Center is about as good as it gets.

Mortenson M.A. Mortenson Rank In MN: 12, Rank In Forbes 500: 299.

Location: 700 Meadow Lane North, Minneapolis. MN-55 west of downtown Minneapolis just east of MN-100.

Mortenson is a quiet company that you never hear too much about. They don't make a big splash, nor do they seem to cause trouble. But looking at their project list on their web site is like looking at a who's who in spectacular building projects. From downtown skyscrapers to wind energy farms, Mortenson is on the cutting edge of the building and construction industry.

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