Giant 3M buys Mercury Online

The 30-person firm will continue its digital signage work in Winslow.

As measures of business success go, you could do worse than be bought out by a Fortune 500 company.

Bainbridge Island’s Mercury Online Solutions now holds that distinction, as the company is being acquired by St. Paul, Minn.-based giant 3M.

Terms of the deal, which was announced by 3M on Monday, were not disclosed.

“It’s just a really good fit,” 3M spokeswoman Donna Fleming said of the acquisition. “It accelerates our entry into what we see as a rapidly expanding marketplace.”

Mercury Online develops hardware and software for large-scale digital signage networks and interactive kiosks.

Its growth has been explosive, from sales of $677,000 in 2001 to more than $16 million in 2004, the Puget Sound Business Journal has reported.

“The industry has outgrown its founders,” John Eisenhauer, Mercury president and CEO, said in a statement. “3M’s global reach will drive a dramatic evolution within the industry based on synergies in our skills, processes, values and vision.”

3M ranked No. 105 on Fortune’s 2004 list of the nation’s strongest businesses, after reporting $18.23 billion in revenues the previous year.

3M brands include Scotch, Post-it, Scotchgard, Thinsulate and Scotch-Brite, among others.

While perhaps best known for manufacturing adhesive tape, the firm’s global business reach now extends into the spheres of display and graphics, electronics and telecommunications, and security and protection services.

The trend toward in-store digital signage networks “is accelerated by the desire to improve shopping experiences and promotional messaging nearer to the product shelf where decisions are made,” 3M said.

Mercury will continue to operate at its Ericksen Avenue location, as a business unit of 3M’s commercial graphics division, Fleming said.

The 30 or so employees will be retained.

“We believe it will (become) ‘Mercury Online, a 3M Com­pa­ny,’ but we haven’t firmed that up yet,” said Dana Gosney, Mercury Online’s chief operating officer.

“Our mission will remain the same,” he said. “3M’s intention is to enhance this market and to use what we already know how to do to make it a much bigger market than it is today.”

The acquisition will be completed in August.

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