On the road in Gothenburg, Sweden
From the Norwegian west coast I make my way across and back down to Oslo then, proceed south 150 miles to Gothenburg, Sweden (population 500,000).
I'm four miles from downtown Gothenburg and it's not hard to see SKF's headquarters two miles farther out because the 15-story building really sticks out. Getting on the grounds requires dealing with SKF security guards and I'm told my bike isn't allowed on the premises. I find covered bike racks across the street in a big company parking lot but it doesn't help me at all because it's raining outside and idiot motorcyclists have commandeered the covered spots for their cycles.
Berith Liden, receptionist, greets me in the two-story high lobby with a complimentary key chain containing a ball bearing at the end of it. Makes sense seeing as how SKF is the world's largest manufacturer of bearings. In 1907, the company's first year, a total of 2,200 bearing were made. Now, 227,000 PER HOUR are made.
Entering the building I noticed a bronze bust of someone on the front grounds. Turns out that's Sven Wingquist, who founded the company back in 1907 as Svenska Kullagerfabriken (the Swedish Ball Bearing Factory)-later abbreviated to SKF.
The lobby area contains an aquarium and a large (12 foot x 12 foot) world map on the wall with each factory site marked by a bearing. SKF, with 90 factories, employs 41,000 people in 130 countries. Excluding China, one out of five rolling bearings in the world is made by SKF.
While waiting in the lobby I start to notice more and more subtle company signs. For instance the wall clock, the black dot below each number on the clock is a bearing. Also there's the 12 inch by 12 inch brownish concrete panels lining the lobby walls. At first glance the panels look to have bumpy vertical lines. A closer inspection reveals the bumpy lines to be bearings! In a screening room off the lobby I sit on one of 15 sofas and watch a 10-minute background film on the company.
When greeted by Ake Svanberg, Information Chief, in the lobby it looks like he's handing me his business card. Nope, though it's the size of a business card it reads: "Welcome to SKF. While you were signing in, SKF delivered another 4,634 bearings to customers in some 130 countries".
Built in 1964, the company-owned headquarters building is home to 300 employees. Because it was raining I never made my customary ride around the site before walking in. Turns out I should have. Directly behind headquarters lies a 100-acre company complex containing a slew of buildings and a factory with over 3,000 employees. Matter of fact, this is the site of the company's first plant back in 1907.
Going up to the 15th floor to check out the boardroom I get a good view of the surrounding area and can better see the large number of mostly brick buildings comprising the complex. A small river runs alongside the property. Svanberg says it's the third best salmon river in the country. Boy, that's definitely something for the PR people at SKF to crow about. One would think with all the manufacturing facilities in this area the river would be heavily polluted. Oh, and there's nothing special about the boardroom except another ball bearing clock but, I do note the stuffed kiwi bird in a display case outside the room.
I receive all kinds of goodies from SKF including a compass who's backside reads "Always the right bearing--SKF", a T-shirt and a clear plastic rain poncho with SKF's initials on it.
Oh yeah, remember the security guards who seem to enjoy banishing me to the rainy parking lot? I end up walking my bike past them to the front door because my picture is taken for the company's employee newsletter.
Here's a piece of trivia: SKF founded, then sold off Volvo, now Sweden's largest company. Revenues in 1994 were SEK 33.4 billion, profit 1.8 billion. (For more information: SKFA)
I'm very familiar with this company due to their tractor-trailer trucks traversing many of the same roads I travel. Bilspedition, one of the largest transport and logistics companies in Europe, leases three floors in an eight-story mixed-use building several miles from downtown Gothenburg.
Eva Sanevall, Executive Secretary to CEO Hakan Larsson, says the company has leased space here for 20 years. The inside of the building sure looks a lot better than the rundown outside.
On the sixth floor, where the executives hang their hats, there's the obligatory scale model Bilspedition tractor-trailer in a display case (it's a foot high) and, two triangle-shaped aquariums in the waiting area. SKF had an aquarium and now two here. What gives? Seems there's a company in town (Akvarieleasing AB) which specializes in leasing aquariums to companies AND taking care of the maintenance. Waiting to meet with someone on this floor isn't a problem due to the 30 to 40 different trade and business magazines lying around. Magazines include Global Finance, Container Management, Corporate Computing and, Trafik.
The 300 employees here meet in rooms named after islands off the coast of Sweden. Nothing worth noting in CEO Larsson's sixth-floor office.
Revenues in 1994 were SEK 16 billion, loss for the year SEK 237 million. (For more information: BILSA)
Stena Line AB
Founded in 1962, Stena Line lays claim to being the world's largest ferry company for international ferry traffic. Corporate offices are on the top three floors of an eight-story building located a block away from the downtown waterfront.
My meeting with Mats Kling, Vice President-Communications and Public Affairs, is a real unpleasant experience. It's not because he's not a nice guy but, his smoking just about gags me. What choice did I have? I walk into his office and after shaking hands he invites me to have a seat. He then closes the door in his small office, walks behind his desk, grabs a cigarette and sits down ready to light it. Almost as an afterthought he says, "Do you mind if I smoke?". I answer, "Yes I do but go ahead". He then lights up. What could I have said? I mean, here I am fortunate enough to have Kling meet with me without an appointment and judging from his body language my telling him not to light up would have put a damper on his enthusiasm in talking to me.
Corporate offices have been here for three years. Previously Stena was headquartered a block away on the waterfront where one of their huge (2,000 capacity) passenger ferries docks. Matter of fact, from the current offices there's a great straight out view of the various Stena ships passing by. The fleet consists of 32 ferries with more than half of the company's 1994 revenue of SEK 9.4 billion coming from it's Irish Sea and English Channel operations. (For more information: SLABB)
What a lousy morning to be set off on a bike. It's drizzling and windy with very thick fog making it difficult to see more than 20 feet in front of me. I'm riding out to visit Volvo and it requires crossing the Gota alv River via a bridge who's height and span is comparable to the Golden Gate Bridge. I enjoy riding over bridges but, when it's windy--steering my heavily loaded bike becomes difficult.
Volvo, Sweden's largest company with over SEK 155 billion in revenues, lies about 7 miles south of downtown Gothenburg. Finding the head office building requires passing dozens of other Volvo facilities in the area but, I have no clue as to how big these buildings are because I can't see a darn thing! During a three mile stretch I pass signs directing visitors to Volvo Data, Volvo Buss, Volvo Administraivt, Publikationsforrad, Volvohallen among others. I finally stop at a building for directions and am given a map. Jeez, over 20 buildings are numbered and I learn the one marked "huvudkontor" means head office.
I still can't see more than 20 feet in front of me but, the road keeps winding up and up. Then poof, the circular driveway leading up to the front doors of "huvudkontor" seems to appear out of nowhere.
The atrium reception area, manned by one receptionist, is elegant with a definite Scandinavian look to it as I sit on one of two black leather sofas waiting to meet with Lisette Schulman. Two men in business suits sit across from me and ask if that's my Bloomberg emblazoned bike out front. "Yes, it is", I answer. Always pushing my sponsor I follow with, "Are you familiar with Bloomberg?" They look at each other, smile and answer "Mike used to work at our company". Hmmm, looks like I'm sitting across from a couple of fellows from Salomon Brothers Inc.
Going past the reception area requires the receptionist to buzz you through the glass doors. Near the doors is a good-looking grandfather clock with intricate wood carvings on the outside. The receptionist lets me open up the clock's door and I find it was built by Johan Nyberg back in 1764.
When Schulman hands me her business card I ask about the title on the card. "What exactly does "Corporate Communications Support" mean? Turns out she's CEO Soren Gyll's speechwriter. Been doing it for 13 years.
After telling Schulman of riding in the fog and not being able to see a thing she shows me an aerial view of the surrounding area on a CLEAR day. Wow!, the Volvo plants and various building facilities I passed in the fog are HUGE. Also, headquarters sits on the top of a rise and commands a great view.
Coming in the front entrance it looks to be a one-story building but, it's actually a three-story facility with the lower two floors built into the side of the hill. Completed in the mid-1970's, architects of the 125,000 square foot structure were Romaldo Giurgola and Owe Svard.
There's an open courtyard in the middle of the building which you can see from the reception area. So, what's the company put there? Sculptures? Exotic flowers and trees? Tables and chairs? Nope, there's a bright red Volvo truck. Not a puny pick-up but, the their largest truck--the monster-size FH16 Globetrotter semi-truck. Though the Globetrotter takes center stage, there's the new Volvo 940 station wagon off to one side and the new Volvo 850 sedan on the other.
I get an extensive tour of the place and it's a beaut. White is the dominant color throughout. There's even a white piano in the cafeteria for the 150 employees-though I later see a black piano in another part of the building.
The boardroom is definitely unusual and I don't think I like it. Boardrooms for big companies like this should ooze with power. This doesn't. Maybe it's the white pure wool carpeting or white walls or white pure wool curtains. Maybe it's the 10 foot tall by 60 foot long, light-colored tapestry of trees on the wall by L. Jirlon. It runs almost the length of the room. Maybe it's the long solid birch table with inlaid light oxhide which seats 32. No, it's definitely the chairs. Designed by Finland's Alvar Aalto from Artek, the webbing on the top and bottom makes the chairs look like beach chairs-too casual looking.
CEO Gyll's corner office with it's modern furnishings says Scandinavian all the way. Besides his regular desk, Gyll also has a roll-top. There's a fireplace and I spot his computer. The view? I still can't see a darn thing due to the fog but, normally he can look down and pretty much survey his kingdom from here.
Before leaving I make a request. I ask Schulman to take me down to the basement parking lot so I can check out the executive's cars. She agrees after getting clearance from the puzzled security guard sitting in a room monitoring various security cameras. Well, I check one end of the lot then, the other. Must be 60 cars down here and nary a one is anything but a Volvo. (For more information: VOLVA)
Celsius Industries Corporation
With sales of over SEK 15 billion, Celsius Industries's two main businesses are the defense industry and information technology. The company primarily builds military aircraft, submarines and electronic systems (used mostly by the military).
Headquarters sits across the river from downtown in a waterfront area getting a facelift. Formerly a shipyard, it's being redeveloped into a mixed-use area of apartments, offices, hotels and retail stores. Built in the 1940's, Celsius occupies two and a half floors in the four-story brick building.
I catch Lennart Jonsson, Vice President-Corporate Communications, as he's returning from lunch. Though he never received the advance material, he's very accommodating in answering questions and showing me around. Actually, there's not much too see. Thirty-eight employees occupy the space. Though CEO Olof Lund keeps an office here, he spends most of the time working out of the Stockholm office. I mentioned previously about the lack of family pictures found in CEO's work areas. Though he's hardly ever here, Lund has several family pictures on his desk, along with a computer.
Walking the halls, I count a half-dozen glass display cases filled with scale models of ships the company has built over the years. What I find most interesting is what used to go on next door to this place. Now filled with new apartments, it was formerly a natural outdoor amphitheater where groups like the Rolling Stones and Madonna performed. The various acts used to use Celsius's offices for changing costumes between songs. (For more information: CELSB)
Catena AB and ESAB AB
Dropping in to visit ESAB, which manufactures electrical welding equipment, doesn't take long. Offices are about a mile down the road from Celsius Industries in what looks to be a former plant site. My contact person is John Forrell from corporate communications. Eva Herveus, Forrell's secretary, says he's not in today. It doesn't matter. While waiting in the lobby I thumb through an information brochure on ESAB and find out the company was recently bought by Charter Plc, a London-based company which is already on my list to visit.
Catena AB's roots date back to 1967 when Volvo started AB Volvator to set up Volvo car dealership's. When the company was listed in 1984, Volvo reduced its holding to less than 50% and the company's name was changed to AB Catena. (Volvo still owns 36% of the company).
Catena accounts for 40% of the Volvo automobile retail trade in Sweden and owns three of the largest Volvo dealers in the world.
Revenues in 1994 were SEK 16 billion, profit SEK 69 million.
The company leases space in a five-story atrium building fronting the river. Gerd Franson, secretary to CEO Mats Jansson, steps out to the reception area and informs me Jansson received the advance material but, "we aren't interested in participating". Franson then goes on to say, "You have to admit we have a beautiful office". I pipe up with, "I wouldn't know because you haven't shown me anything". Boy, that snappy line proves a winner as Franson takes me on a whirlwind tour of the executive offices on the fourth floor. The verdict: the place is not worth mentioning except for the new red Volvo station wagon and an antique Volvo truck on display in the first floor lobby. (For more information: CATEA and ESAC)
Heading 150 miles southeast of Gothenburg brings me to Vaxjo, a town of 30,000 people, and home to SODRA.
SODRA is a forest co-op owned by more than 30,000 forest owners in Southern Sweden. Together, the members own half the total private forest area in SODRA's area of operation. SODRA is Europe's largest producer of market pulp. Revenues in 1994 were SEK 6.3 billion, profit SEK 708 million.
Corporate offices sit beside a heavily wooded lake several miles from downtown Vaxjo. The five-story, company-owned building was built in 1968 and houses 160 employees. The company occupies 80% of the place with the remainder rented to outside tenants.
Birgitta Carlzon, secretary to CEO Bo Hedstrom, proves a great tour guide and hostess. The lobby area contains quite a few display cases filled with colorful works of glass because the area around Vaxjo is renowned for its glassmaking. Lining several walls in the lobby are 10 feet by 8 feet, ceramic tile murals. Two of the murals each have a big pine cone displayed on them and another has a lumberjack.
Nothing fancy about CEO Hedstrom's fourth floor corner office. Don't see any personal or family photos.
The long octagon-shaped boardroom table with green leather inlay seats 30. In the hole in the center of the table stands a three foot in diameter cancer off a tree. I never knew trees could develop cancer but, this brown growth is probably bigger than three human heads. There's also seven colorful pieces of ornamental glass scattered about the room.
The 100-seat auditorium on the fifth floor is nice. For some reason I wasn't expecting to find a piano outside the cafeteria or learn they have a tennis court. For more information: SSKO)
Leaving Vaxjo I head to Kalmar on the east coast of Sweden. I then follow the southern coastline several hundred miles to the coastal town of Trelleborg. Along the way I go through gorgeous countrysides, pristine beaches and fertile farmlands. This area, known as Sweden's bread basket, seems to grow everything from sugar beets, corn, strawberries and wheat to apples and potatoes.
The town of Trelleborg (population 15,000) is home to Trelleborg AB, which began 90 years as a maker of BICYCLE TIRES. Now, the company is into a variety of business: mining, metal processing, distribution and rubber products. I'm sad to report the company no longer manufactures bicycle tires.
Anders Antonsson, Editor-in-chief of the company's employee newsletter, fields questions and walks me around.
It wasn't hard finding this place in downtown Trelleborg because behind and around the four-story brick building built in the 1940's there's a big rubber products factory. Above the reception area are five clocks showing the times in different parts of the world: Los Angeles/New York/Trelleborg/Kuala Lumpur/Sydney. A third of the company's 1994 revenue of SEK 19 billion comes from mining yet, I don't see the almost mandatory rock or mineral collection on display.
I knew there had to be rocks somewhere and sure enough, CEO Kjell Nilsson has 15 ore rocks in his second floor office. No family pictures, five real plants, three real bananas, map of the world, a computer and, a framed picture on a wall behind his desk of gold bars. Not just any gold bars but, gold bars mined by Trelleborg. (For more information: TRELB)
On the road in Malmo
Headquarters for Skane-Gripen rest right smack in the middle of downtown Malmo overlooking the city's biggest square. There's an international horse show in town and the square has been turned into a fenced-in horse jumping exhibition area complete with bleachers for hundreds of spectators.
Offices are on the top floor of the five-story turn-of-the-century building. Being the former home of a bank explains the hard-to-open heavy metal front doors. The reception area features a bowl of fruit (bananas, apples, pears and grapes) set out for visitors. Hmmm, so many companies in Sweden have fresh fruit for their visitors I'm beginning to wonder if it's some sort of unwritten rule of etiquette in corporate Sweden.
Tomas Svensson, Director of Corporate Communications, gives me a warm welcome and deluxe tour. Since 1993 Skane-Gripen has occupied the top floor here and the connecting top floor of the building next door. It's a small headquarters staff of only 10 people.
Though there's no cafeteria but, I make a request to see the small employee kitchen area. Why? The company's four main business areas are roofing, automation (fastening systems), flooring and KITCHENS-more specifically the well-known Poggenpohl kitchen. Sure enough, everything in the spiffy-looking kitchen has Poggenpohl's name stamped on it.
Revenues in 1994 were SEK 5.1 billion, profit SEK 255 million. Malmo, with a population of over 200,000 is Sweden's third largest city. Malmo is located in an area of Sweden called Skane, hence the first part of the company's name. "Gripen" is a hawk-like mythical creature with a crown. Besides doing time as the company's logo, the mean-looking gripen doubles as the main attraction on the city of Malmo's historic coat of arms.
CEO Jan Segerberg seems pleased to hear I think his middle office with a straight-out view of the square is functional and no-frills. His L-shaped desk has piles of papers on it.
The tree-shaped boardroom has a fireplace, six plants and an oakwood floor. Svensson is quick to point out the boardroom floor was manufactured by one of its subsidiaries. (For more information: GRIPA)
I'm about four miles from downtown Malmo and I'm looking for Euroc's headquarters. Euroc, with 1994 revenues of SEK 13.3 billion, profit SEK 726 million, manufacturers mineral-based building materials. I can see a tall cement plant operation off in the distance. I'm thinking to myself, aw jeez this will be a boring visit because they're located next to one of their ugly cement plants. It gets even worse as I turn into Euroc's long driveway: on the left side of the road is a humongous limestone quarry. The thing is HUGE!! The pit must be several miles in diameter and hundreds of feet deep. Continuing down the driveway I finally come face to face with Euroc's headquarters and boy is it a surprise. With its columns, the front of the two-story concrete-clad structure reminds me of Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.
Madelaine Skattum, Public Affairs, hands me a company book published on the place and I wasn't too far off in my Caesar's Palace assessment. Built in 1982, Stem Samuelson was the architect and the building's described as "Roman Medieval" and "Japanese". The lobby area features a Japanese-style reflection pond who's bottom is lined with small rocks. There's also a glass case containing a scale model of a futuristic-looking city called "Euroc City". What's this?", I ask, pointing to the glass case. Seems somewhere in the not-to-distance future there's going to be a bridge built across the water from Copenhagen, Denmark to Malmo. It's currently a 40-minute ferry ride across. Anyway, when and if the proposed bridge gets built it'll have it's Malmo starting point right at Euroc's old limestone quarry. The company plans to create a lake from the quarry (which is several miles from the water) and build "Euroc City" around it.
The 80 employees who work here have use of an indoor swimming pool, saunas, solarium, weight room and Ping-Pong tables in the basement. Employees eat lunch in the cafeteria overlooking the quarry hole.
CEO Sven Ohlsson's first floor corner office, with a large television and VCR, is all windows and has a view similar to what employees see in the cafeteria: the quarry pit.
Nothing special about the boardroom except for the 26 light brown leather swivel chairs.
Revenues in 1994 were SEK 13.3 billion, profit SEK 726 million. Named was changed 20 years ago from Skanska Cementaktiebolaget.
Besides the executives having their offices facing Japanese-style open courtyards, the most striking and unusual item is "The Serpent Staircase" by Carl Fredrik Reutersward. The handrail used in making your way up the spiral staircase connecting the two floors is no ordinary handrail but, a long continuous, tubular-shaped piece of shiny black wood. So what's the big deal? Upon reaching the top of the stairs you quickly take your hand off the railing because you come face to face with a very real-looking curled-up cobra-like snake poised to strike! That sleek railing you've been holding onto is the serpent's body and tail! (For more information: EUROA)
Svedala Industri AB and Sydkraft AB
Neither Svedala Industri, a manufacturer of equipment and systems for the construction and mining industries nor Sydkraft, a utility company, are receptive to a visitor who's traveled a great distance.
Svedala Industri occupies space in an office building near downtown Malmo. Though the receptionists are most helpful-even telling me to help myself to a large bowl containing over 30 bananas, that's where the helpfulness ends. Kerstin Wangesten, secretary to CEO Thomas Older, isn't interested in finding someone to meet with me. Revenues in 1994 were SEK 10.5 billion, profit SEK 426 million.
At Sydkraft, Stieg Claesson, Vice President-Information, answers my questions sitting in the main lobby of the nine-story, company-owned red brick several miles from downtown Malmo. Built in 1961, it's home to 500 employees. There's a fitness center and solarium but I can't see them just as I can't see the CEO's office or boardroom because "they're closed to visitors". Revenues in 1994 were SEK 12 billion, profit SEK 2.1 billion. (For more information: SYDA and SVDA)
On the road in Lund, Sweden
If I had to name my two favorite cities in Sweden, it would be easy: Uppsala and Lund. Uppsala, with a population of 100,000, lies about 70 miles north of Stockholm and is a vibrant, history-packed area with a major university, Scandinavia's largest cathedral and an impressive castle. Lund, only 12 miles northeast of Malmo, is home to Lund University-Sweden's largest. When in session the town's population is 85,000 otherwise it's 35,000. You go two miles in any direction from downtown Lund and you're in rural farmland.
Besides boasting it's home to Sweden's biggest university, idyllic Lund can also lay claim to being home to Tetra Laval, Sweden's largest privately-held company.
With 1994 revenues totaling $9 billion in US dollars, Tetra Laval specializes in packaging systems for liquid foodstuffs (primarily milk and juice) and processing and packaging equipment to the convenience food industry. Why is Tetra Laval the overwhelming world leader in the packaging of liquid foodstuffs? Credit Ruben Rausing, who founded the company known then as Tetra Pak and, was the one who developed this new way of packaging in 1951. Tetra Pak acquired Alpha-Laval, an industrial group in 1991 and changed it's name to Tetra-Laval.
Tetra Laval's offices lies several miles from downtown Lund alongside the freeway road connecting Lund with Malmo. It's a pretty weird site and sight. I mean here's this new (1991) five-story glass office structure next to the freeway and on the opposite side of the building lies a big complex of brick buildings including a large packaging plant built in 1956. Directly behind Tetra Laval's offices farming goes on with rows and rows of planted sugar beets and cabbage coming within several feet of Tetra Laval's backside.
Else Andersson-Lehn, Information Manager-Tetra Pak, gets an "A" for flexibility. Nobody here is familiar with what I'm doing because for some unexplained reason they never received my advance material sent six weeks earlier to the CEO. With no advance preparation or warning Andersson-Lehn agrees to meet with me and ends up being very accommodating. The only drawback involves my having to go to her office located in one of those brick structures and asking questions about a building I'm not in. Visiting her in the Tetra Pak building however proves fruitful. Passing the lobby area there's a wooden Rube Goldberg-type contraption in a large glass case. "What's this?" I ask. "That's Ruben Rausing's original prototype (1946) for the packing machine".
This year the company celebrated what would have been founder Ruben Rausing's 100th birthday on June 17. So what did the company do? All 46,000 Tetra Laval employees received a watch with the company's name on the front and Rausing's name inscribed on the back. The street outside Andersson-Lehn's building is named Ruben Rausingsgatan, after the company founder who died in 1983.
The 100 employees in the head office have several choices where to eat lunch because they have the luxury of walking next door and frequenting the two cafeterias and the self-service restaurant in the plant and research complex. Every Friday employees get free fruit in the cafeteria.
Recreation perks includes an outdoor tennis court, handball, saunas, weight room and solarium. Before leaving Andersson-Lehn, I ask if she can call over to the corporate offices to see if it's possible to check out the boardroom and CEO's office. The verdict: no problem.
Entering the headquarters building I come across a first: a cannon guarding the lobby. The 24-pounder (that's the size balls it shoots) was recovered from the Man-O-War ship Kronan which went down off the Swedish coast back in 1676 during a battle with a Dutch and Danish fleet. Salvaging operations for the ship are still going on and Tetra-Laval has donated funding.
Friendly and beautiful receptionist Anna Andersson says a new arrangement of fresh flowers arrive on her desk every Monday. An aquarium filled with fishes graces the lobby but Andersson hasn't an inkling as to the inhabitants lineage. Though there's not the usual bowl of fruit in the lobby there's something comparable: a vending machine which spits out free cartons of fruit juices to guests. Of course I need not have to tell you who manufacturers the cartons they come in.
The boardroom, located on the top floor, is V-shaped and contains seven plants, a bronze bust of founder Ruben Rausing and a painting of a Swedish farm scene in 1904. Nothing to report about CEO Lars Hallde's modest office down the hall. Hallde does however, display a picture of his wife.
The nearest airport is a half hour drive away (Malmo's) but, the company has a helipad on the grounds and it can whisk you away across the water to Copenhagen, Denmark's airport in five minutes.
Several miles north of Lund near the university, dozens of companies have built research facilities, including quite a few medical and pharmaceutical companies who evidently want to take advantage of the work going on at the university. It's in this area I find Gambro's two-story headquarters.
Gambro, with 1994 revenues of SEK 9.8 billion, profit SEK 690 million, develops, manufactures and markets products in four business areas: renal care, cardiovascular surgery, blood component technology and intensive care and anaesthesia.
The red brick building has the dated 1960's look to it but before entering I have to check in with a security guard manning a booth. The guard refuses to call up Birgitta Fritsch, secretary to CEO Berthold Lindqvist, to find out who my contact person is because "she'll bite my head off". The guard says I have to have an appointment. I tell him that's what I'm trying to do: find out who my contact person is so I can make an appointment with that person. The guard relents and I call Fritsch. The phone conversation with Fritsch is a very unpleasant experience. "All three people in the information department are on vacation", informs Fritsch and, "if they were here, they don't have time to visit with visitors for only a few minutes-they have many things to do". Boy, after she got done with me I felt about as important as a flea on an ant.
I do however, get to say I was in the building. I ask the security guard for an annual report and he calls up the reception area. I'm ordered to walk in the front door, retrieve a report from the receptionist and to "not ask further questions or wander anywhere else in the building". (For more information: GAMBB)
I have two reasons for riding 50 miles north of Malmo to the coastal city of Helsingborg (population 80,000). One is to visit Aritmos AB and the other, to catch a ferry for the 20 minute ride over to Denmark.
Visiting Aritmos's fourth floor office in a building built directly above the bus terminal turns out to be for naught. In December of 1994 Aritmos, which owns footwear names Puma, Etonic and Tretorn as well as the largest manufacturer of bicycles in Denmark, Sweden and Norway was bought by Proventus, a Swedish investment company based in Stockholm. Then, in February 1995 Proventus itself was acquired by Weil Invest, a privately-held company. So, who ended up with the advance material I sent? Turns out they forwarded it to the head office of the bicycle division in Stockholm because "it seemed right up their alley".