Carlson was the first entrepreneur to develop a loyalty program for the grocery chain through the issuance of Gold Bond 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. Carlson expanded his offerings by purchasing the Radisson Hotel in Minnesota and building it into a national chain. He also acquired TGI Fridays and hundreds of other hospitality businesses. When he stepped down from the CEO role, Carlson Companies had grown to 100 companies generating over $11 billion in revenues.