Curtis Carlson, "The Ultra Entrepreneur," was born and raised in Minnesota. When, at the age of ten, his mother told him "If you want something, fine. Go out and earn the money to buy it," he got his first job delivering the old Minneapolis Journal. He became an entrepreneur when he recognized the profitability of managing additional paper routes. After earning a degree in Economics in 1937, he married Arleen Martin and began his career at Proctor and Gamble, selling soap to retail grocers. Carlson became the highest seller in his territory during his first year.
In the 1930s, Carlson had his first experience with trading stamps while shopping with his wife. The idea was that merchants gave out stamps when customer's purchased a certain amount of goods. Once they had collected a certain amount of stamps, the stamps could be redeemed for merchandise. He took the idea further, and started the Gold Bond Stamp Company. From 1938-1952, Gold Bond trading stamps worked their way through the marketplace. In the 1950s, trading stamps were starting to be phased out until one of the nation's largest food chains, Super Valu Food Stores, decided to offer Gold Bond Stamps in their stores. Gold Bond became a household name.
The success of Gold Bond Stamp Company allowed Carlson to diversify. He purchased fifty percent interest in the downtown Minneapolis Radisson Hotel in 1960. Two years later, he purchased the remaining shares, and began adding new hotels. Now, Carlson's companies include Carlson Hospitality Worldwide with Regent International Hotels and Resorts, Radisson Hotels Worldwide, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, and Country Inns & Suites by Carlson. Carlson Marketing Group is a worldwide marketing services company. Carlson's operations in the travel industry include Carlson Wagonlit Travel, A.T. Mays, Travel Agents International, Carlson Vacations, and Carlson Leisure. Added to these companies are Carlson Hospitality Worldwide Procurement Group, Carlson Real Estate, and the newest company Gold Points Plus.
Carlson received many special honors, including Minnesotan of the Year, 1976; Horatio Alger Award, 1979; Swedish American of the Year, 1981; Executive of the Year, 1982; University of Minnesota School of Management, renamed the Curtis L. Carlson School of Management, 1986; International Citizen of the Year, 1993; and Business Leader of the Year, 1994.
Carlson was initiated into Minneapolis Chapter DeMolay in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1930. He received the DeMolay Legion of Honor in 1972. In 1987, he became a 33rd Degree Mason. Carlson was inducted into the DeMolay Hall of Fame on June 16, 1995.
"The values of the DeMolay brotherhood are essential to building leadership skills, creating self-esteem, developing collaborative experiences, and instilling the sense of individual responsibility that is essential to a healthy republic."