Minnesota’s Largest Private Company | Luay Rahil


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Six Minnesota companies were among the 225 that made Forbes’ annual list of America’s largest private companies.

To qualify for a place on the list, companies must

  1. Must be located in the United States.
  2. Must have revenues greater than $2 billion in the last fiscal year.
  3. Must pay income taxes and employ more than 100 employees.

Based on the above qualification, Cargill is the largest Minnesota-based company. It was founded in 1865, at the end of the Civil War, by William Wallace Cargill. His ambition, focus and determination have made Cargill one of the county’s largest private companies and one of the most profitable.

The story behind the brand

The early years: 1865-1929

In 1865, William Wallace Cargill established Cargill in Conver, Iowa, at the end of the McGregor & Western Railroad line. William Cargill was a genius man with a creative man.

In this small town, he buys his first flat grain house. However, he was not happy. He wanted to keep up with the expansion of the railroad, building multi-level warehouses with conveyor belts that made life easier for farmers.

In 1870, William Wallace Cargill moved the business across the state line to La Crosse, Wisconsin. He lived next door to a farmer named Don MacMillan. A few years later, Cargill’s eldest daughter married Don MacMillan’s son, John MacMillan.

When William Wallace Cargill died in 1909, John MacMillan Sr., his son-in-law, took over the management of the Cargill Elevator Company.

Under John MacMillan Sr. and his son John MacMillan Jr., the business expanded to Europe.

The years of expansion: 1930-1950

John MacMillan Sr., along with his son, expanded the business to include animal feed, lumber, coal, flour, and seeds. They also invested in water irrigation, land, railroads and farms.

The years of world domination: 1950-1990.

When John MacMillan Jr. died in 1960, the family hired Erwin Kelm as the company’s new CEO. He was the first CEO named outside of the Cargill and MacMillan families.

In 1977, Whitney MacMillan became CEO of Cargill, and under his leadership the company continued to grow and dominate globally. He retired in 1995.

In 2021, its revenue exceeded $134.4 billion and it had 155,000 employees.

Have you used Cargill products?

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