Our Club President, John Stephens, built his 30-year career at The 3M Company turning around failing businesses to yield multi-million dollar profits.
 

 MEMBER CAPITAL: JOHN STEPHENS

By Ann Warman

Our Club President, John Stephens, built his 30-year career at The 3M Company turning around failing businesses to yield multi-million dollar profits. He says with great humbleness that his successes were spontaneous, referring to himself as an "Accidental 3Mer." Yet, talk with him a moment and you'll find wisdom in his friendly demeanor and a ton of take-away.
 
Raised in a small Detroit suburb during the 1960s, he says he grew-up "Leave-it-to-Beaver" style in a strong worker's community with solid schooling. After earning his BSBA in Marketing from Wayne State in Detroit, he worked at a small ad agency and later was recruited to the Advertising and Public Relations Directorship at the Bank Marketing Association (BMA) Chicago.
 
He married Peggy in 1976, and they welcomed a daughter in 1982 and a son in 1984.
 
The end of Regulation Q brought the demise of BMA, putting John back into the job market. He took a position at Media Networks, a business that sold inserts to Time and Newsweek. Unbeknownst to him, The 3M Company was in the process of buying this business, and thus, he became the "Accidental 3Mer."
 
An early assignment was to make the failing "scratch and sniff" advertising business profitable and then sell it off. If successful, he would be putting himself out of a job at a time when his two kids were in college. He took his charge with John Stephens can-do and handily went beyond all expectations, converting a crumbling asset into a multi-million-dollar enterprise and then locating the buyer. He earned reputation, admiration, and accolades, yet he was out of work at age 50.
 
Undaunted, he earned his MBA from the University of St Thomas while applying for positions. He won offers inside and out of 3M, but he chose to stay a 3Mer, rising to Business Development Manager, responsible for the whole business Profit and Loss. His work took him and his family on extensive international travels, with a 4-year assignment in Singapore.

John retired from 3M in 2009 and moved with Peggy to Bainbridge Island.
 
About Rotary, John says, "It's one of the best things that's happened to me. I wanted to do something meaningful for my local community and through Rotary, now I do."