Retiring to Alabama


Many people who've contributed to our nation's culture have chosen to retire along Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Two such people are responsible for developing some of America’s most iconic products, and they're still making contributions.

Leon Royer and Norm Franz retired from 3M and Proctor and Gamble respectively. They didn't have cushy corporate jobs, but you see their work every time you go shopping.

Royer was the director of the team that developed the Post-It note for 3M. He says the idea wasn't well received by company execs.

“I said our best bet is this little note that we can stick onto paper, and we'll put it in pads and we'll sell it as a pad, in essence that's what I said,” Royer said. “Well I didn't get a lot of standing ovation at that time.”

In fact Post-Its almost didn't happen. The adhesive was actually a lab accident, but with his belief in the product, Royer was given a 30-test sale in Boise, Idaho.

“So if we don't do it in 30 days, we'll kill the project,” he said. “It was that fragile. I think that's the important thing to understand here.”

Fortunately for Royer, who told his team he would walk off the job if the test didn't work, Post-It's were a hit.

During this same time, Norm Franz was busy designing many of the products and containers you see every day. This plastic bottle of sunny delight? That's his.

“I designed new single serving packages so it could be sold in cluster packs in grocery stores, so mothers would buy them for their children,” Franz said.

And mothers would also be buying another product he helped develop, and be glad he did. But Pampers was another product that almost didn't make it.

“The original test market failed,” said Franz. “And the reason it failed was because they cost 10 cents apiece, and in Indianapolis women weren't willing to pay that.”

So Franz and his team were told to get the cost to a nickel apiece. They did, and Pampers were a hit.

He also designed machines that put Pringles chips into their iconic cans.

Between them, Royer and Franz, while working for different companies, have worked on developing dozens of products, that resulted in millions in earnings for their companies and thousands of jobs all over the world.

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