3M to close its Wonewok corporate retreat near Park Rapids

According to the Minneapolis/St.Paul Business Journal, 3M’s Wonewok resort complex on Big Mantrap Lake is valued at nearly $15 million, based on Hubbard County property records.

Big Mantrap Lake is located 2 miles east of Emmaville, in the heart of Hubbard County. It has three inlets, draining from Mud, Bad Axe and Petit lakes.
Contributed/Rich Halvorsen

Update May 10, 2023: Janel Stewart, R.D. Offutt Farm office manager, dispelled a rumor that the Park Rapids potato company had purchased Wonewok. "We have not. That is a rumor," she said.

3M is putting its 680-acre conference center and corporate getaway up for sale.

“Wonewok has been an important part of 3M for many years by providing a Northwoods location for engaging customers and employees,” said Jesse Ward, general manager for 3M Wonewok Conference Center. “We appreciate the business partnerships we’ve had and are honored to have been able to support numerous efforts within the Park Rapids community.”

In response to additional questions from the Park Rapids Enterprise, 3M senior communications manager Jennifer Ehrlich replied, “3M is in the very early stages of beginning to market the property, and we don’t have additional details to share at this time.”

3M, a Minnesota-based Fortune 500 company, is a maker of adhesives, medical and home cleaning supplies, building materials and more.


Last week, the firm announced its intent to “take restructuring actions” to “make 3M stronger, leaner and more focused."

In an April 25 press release, 3M chairman and CEO Mike Roman said, “To strengthen 3M for the future, today we announced actions that will reduce costs at the corporate center, further simplify and strengthen our supply chain structure, and streamline our go-to-market business models, which will improve margins and cash flow. We will continue to prioritize investments in high-growth end markets where 3M science gives us a clear competitive advantage."

The reductions affected “all functions, businesses, and geographies” of the Minnesota-headquartered firm, resulting in 6,000 layoffs globally.

According to a May 3 article by Twin Cities Pioneer Press , 3M has advised state officials that it will lay off 1,100 employees from its Maplewood headquarters, including 500 out-of-state workers who operate remotely.

According to the Business Journal , 3M’s Wonewok resort complex on Big Mantrap Lake is valued at nearly $15 million, based on Hubbard County property records.

Local impact

The Business Journal reports the conference center had 40 people on staff to help guests plan activities, create special-order meals and provide customer service exclusive to each group visiting the resort.

Rich Halvorsen, president of the Big Mantrap Lake Association, said, “There is no doubt the impact of Wonewok is multi-faceted across the area. As stewards of Big Mantrap Lake, we have always most appreciated their positive influence to the quality of the lake area and to our loon nesting program. Obviously, we have no control of the future of the property, so our goal is to find every avenue that may protect the wilderness areas such that the owners have all the options available as they ultimately decide what to do.”

Park Rapids Airport Manager Scott Burlingame said the city airport is not impacted by Wonewok’s closing. 3M did not generate any revenue for the facility.


Private lake, trails

The Business Journal article describes the Wonewok property as having dozens of guest rooms located in several cottages. The resort has about six miles of undeveloped shoreline on Big Mantrap Lake. A private lake named Petit Lake is stocked with trout, and the center was staffed by fishing guides to help guests clean their catch.

The buildings are surrounded by undeveloped habitat that attracts a variety of wildlife, and about 20 miles of private, groomed trails for riding ATVs, snowmobiles and horses, according to the Business Journal.

The facility was created in 1929 by Fred Nachman, a Chicago businessman. Former 3M CEO Herbert Buetow authorized the purchase of Wonewok in 1955 to (create) a place away from the office to share ideas and to dream, the Business Journal reported.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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