The largest private company in Minnesota

Luay Rahil
Photo: Canva

Six Minnesota companies were among the 225 that made Forbes' annual America's Largest Private Companies list.

To qualify for a spot on the list, companies must

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

Based on the qualification above, 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 made Cargill one of the county's largest private companies and most profitable.

The story behind the brand

The early years: 1865–1929

In 1865, William Wallace Cargill created 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 bought his first flat grain house. However, he wasn't content. He wanted to follow the expansion of the railroad, building multi-level storage facilities with conveyor belts that made farmers' lives easier.

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

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

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

The expansion years: 1930–1950

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

The global domination years: 1950–1990.

When John MacMillan Jr. passed away in 1960, the family hired Erwin Kelm as the company's new CEO. He was the first CEO appointed outside the Cargill and MacMillan families.

In 1977, Whitney MacMillan became CEO of Cargill, and under his leadership, the company continued its global growth and dominance. He retired in 1995.

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

Have you used any of Cargill's products?

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