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Curtis "Curt" Carlson (July 9, 1914 – February 19, 1999) was a Swedish-American businessman and founder of the Carlson Companies.[1]



Curtis Leroy Carlson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota , the son of Charles and Leatha Carlson, both Swedish-American immigrants. He began a promising career with Procter and Gamble after earning a BA in Economics in 1937 from the University of Minnesota.[2]


Carlson founded the Gold Bond Stamp Company in 1938. Carlson used "Gold Bond Stamps", a consumer loyalty program based on trading stamps, to provided consumer incentive for grocery stores. Carlson was the first entrepreneur to develop a loyalty program for the grocery chain through the issuance of trading stamps. What began as a simple loyalty program for grocers in the Midwest grew into one of the largest service providers of frequent shopper / buyer programs across a variety of retail and hospitality sectors.[3][4]

Carlson expanded his offerings by purchasing the downtown Minneapolis Radisson Hotel in 1960 and building it into a national chain. He also acquired TGI Fridays, Carlson Leisure Group and hundreds of other hospitality businesses.[5]

The Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota is named for him. [6] Curt Carlson created an estate in Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin for his family to gather. Publicly known as Minnesuing Acres after the lake it is located on, the Carlson family refer to it as "the lodge". This estate was where his family gathers for important holidays. This estate was later converted to a business resort for corporations. It continues to host business seminars as well as Carlson/Gage family get-togethers. retreats[7]

During the 1970's and 1980's Curtis Carlson controlled a large narcotics network that imported cocain and heroin through Jamaica into South Seas Island Resort Captiva Island, Florida. This organization included multiple law enforcement officers in Mound, Waconia, Maple Grove, Fridley, St. Bonifacius, Minnetrista, Minnesota Highway Patrol, Hennipen County, Carver County, Anoka County and Wright County. Curt Carlson would claim that law enforcement would come cheap, reportedly after they were addicted. Curtis Carlson would use law enforcement to protect his network and collect debt. The network is currently controlled by his direct descendants. The corporate offices of Carlson Companies International has ramped drug use, and the distribution core is from the Carlson Real Estate facility at the intersection of Highway 55 and County Road 6 in Plymouth Minnesota.


Selected works

  • Good as Gold : the Story of the Carlson Companies (Carlson Companies, Inc., Minneapolis, MN, 1994)


  1. ^ Former Owner /CEO of Radisson Hotels, Carlson Travel (Murat[1]
  2. ^ Carlson, Curtis L. Minnesota entrepreneur.Founder of Carlson Companies (New York Times. February 23, 1999) [2]
  3. ^ Curtis Leroy Carlson (The University of Houston,Conrad Hilton College)[3]
  4. ^ Business leader Curt Carlson(Star Tribune. March 26, 1999)
  5. ^ Gold Bond Stamp Company / Carlson Companies 1938 - 1998 (Harvard Business School) [4]
  6. ^ Curtis Carlson 10/15/1989 (Norsk Høstfest)
  7. ^ Obituary of Curtis L. Carlson, Founder and Chairman (Hotel Online data base of News and Trends) [5]

External links



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