Made in Kentuckiana: 'Post-it' notes


by Kelsey Starks

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 18 at 12:18 PM

(WHAS11) -- They are more of a staple in offices than staples and they are made right here in Kentuckiana.

Carrie Bradshaw was famously broken up with on one, Derek and Meredith got married on one and Romy and Michelle said they invented them.  But in reality, Post-it notes are made at a 450,000 square foot 3M manufacturing plant in Cynthiana, Kentucky just north of Lexington.

“If you look on the back of the package, you’ll see Made in the USA,” Ann Getting, Plant Manager for 3M in Cynthiana said.  “You’ll know it was a 3M Cynthiana product.”

There’s only one other Post-it plant in the world and it’s in France, which supplies Europe.  Every other Post-it note in the world comes from Cynthiana, Kentucky.  It started as a fluke in 1968 when a research scientist working for 3M – a copy machine company then – came up with the famed sticky.

“It was low-tech.  He didn’t know what to do with it,” Getting said.  “He basically came up with a solution to a problem… we didn’t know what the problem was.”

Five years later, the company found a place to put that sticky…and it stuck.  Worldwide distribution began in 1980 and since then no one has quite been able to re-create it. 

“The adhesive has a unique chemistry,” Getting said.  “It’s spears and doesn’t leave behind anything.  It will adhere and when you take it off, it will adhere again.”

Just ten years ago, the company only made canary yellow but now they make hundreds of different colors and styles and hundreds of products including medical and dental products, parts of automobiles, abrasives and even cell phone parts.

“Most people will be within three yards of a 3M product nearly all of the time, day and night,” Getting said.  “And not even know it.”

Now 3M makes more than 1,000 Post-it products for more than 150 countries. The original color remains the best-seller and it was a fluke too–the scrap paper that scientist used to test the sticky for the first time just happened to be yellow. The product is all from happenstance, but their success is far from it.

“We’ve been successful because of the people in Kentucky,” Manufacturing Product Manager for 3M, Mario Diaz said.  “It’s been a successful facility for 3M.  Post-its could be made somewhere else, but not nearly as good as we do here in Kentucky.”

“That’s the secret of this plant…to change and adapt to meet customer needs. We keep improving so we have a future right here in Cynthiana.” Getty said.