PODCAST: Our 150th birthday party in Minneapolis
Cadwallader Washburn built his first flour mill in 1866 on the banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.
On Friday night, thousands of General Mills employees and their families gathered in that same area where Washburn and his first group of employees once worked. We celebrated how far the company has come in 150 years and where we’re headed in the future.
All year long, our employees around the world are attending 150th anniversary events in their locations.
The Minneapolis party on June 17 offered a symbolic return trip to the company’s roots in the city’s historic milling district.
“Standing here today, we understand that we have so much to celebrate,” said Ken Powell, chairman and CEO. “Because we understand how very fortunate we are to still be here and to be a leading global food company, with our roots and values so squarely grounded in this community.”
Employees at our Minneapolis party couldn’t help but feel the pull of the company’s past as they walked with their families, colleagues and community guests through the Mill City Museum (which includes the ruins of the Washburn A Mill, built in 1880), gazed up at Washburn-Crosby Elevator No. 1 and the iconic Gold Medal Flour signs on top of it, and looked across the Mississippi River at the Stone Arch Bridge and the Pillsbury A Mill on the other side.
History hung in the air as we ate together, listened to live music and toured the museum. The event also had a feeling of family, that Washburn – and his Pillsbury competitors – instilled early on with their employees, and became central to our company culture for 150 years.
“I think my great-grandfather would be very proud of the evolution of this company,” said John Crosby, great-grandson of the John Crosby who partnered with Washburn in the 1870s to grow their flour milling business (his grandfather also served on the company’s board for more than 63 years).
We also talked with Ford Bell at our party, a great-grandson of James Stroud Bell, who succeeded John Crosby as Washburn-Crosby president (and a grandson of James Ford Bell, who brought several milling companies together to form General Mills in 1928).
“It’s great to be here to celebrate 150 years of this amazing company,” said Bell. “It’s a credit to our community to have General Mills here.”
Employees we talked with at the party enjoyed the chance to be on the riverfront, and said they were fortunate to be at the company for such an historic anniversary.
“Being associated with a company that’s 150 years old is just something to be super proud of,” said Courtney Schroeder, an associate marketing manager.
The event ended with a fitting nightcap – an impressive fireworks display that we arranged as a thank-you to the city of Minneapolis and all who have touched the growth and success of General Mills over the years.
Many of our employees joined riverfront visitors on the Stone Arch Bridge to watch the fireworks. We also saw people crowding nearby streets, as well as balconies and rooftops on both sides of the Mississippi.
For our “A Taste of General Mills” podcast this month, we take you to our party. You’ll hear from employees, company leaders and John Crosby and Ford Bell.
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SHOW NOTES – Episode 10: June 20, 2016
Video: Fireworks from @StoneArchFestMN on Twitter (:16)
Video: Fireworks from @GeneralMills on Periscope (17:00)
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