On the road in Indianapolis, Indiana 6/25/92

Indian Energy

As I'm shaking hands with Lawrence Ferger, CEO, of Indiana Energy in his first floor office I notice he's wearing a name tag with his name on it and I immediately ask why. In 1988 the headquarters building was gutted and rebuilt. During construction, employees were housed in a variety of buildings around Indianapolis. When everyone returned to the new headquarters in 1990, Ferger decided name tags would be a good way for new and old employees to get acquainted. Though two years have past, every Monday ALL employees wear name tags. I tell Ferger this is the second time I've seen name tags. Nalco, a chemical company in Naperville, Illinois is the other company. At Nalco, management decided to move the corporate offices into the same campus-like complex housing the company's research facility. In order for management and the people in research to get to know each other, the CEO mandated EVERYONE wear a name tag EVERYDAY.

Indiana Energy's (1991 revenues $390 million) headquarters is a company-owned, 4-story, 94,000 square foot structure about two miles from downtown Indianapolis. Though the building is new, the facade on the front is from the original building built in 1946. About 225 people work in the place, with parking spots assigned by a lottery. How does the lottery work? Everybody's name is put into a hat (including the CEO's) and names are drawn to see who gets what parking spot. For more information: IEI

Citizens Gas & Coke Utility

A few blocks down the street from Indiana Energy is the 3-story, company-owned headquarters of Citizens Gas & Coke Utility. Donald Lindemann, CEO, comes down to the lobby to greet me and check out the bike. About 400 employees work in the 124,000 square foot building. Lindemann likes to duck hunt with his dogs and in his office I count eight pictures of him with the dogs.

Citizens Gas & Coke Utility is a unique entity established and maintained as a public charitable trust for the benefit of the inhabitants of Marion County, Indiana. The company has no private owners or stockholders. Revenues in 1991--$265 million.

IPALCO Enterprises

IPALCO Enterprises (1991 revenues $648 million) is the 3rd utility in Indianapolis I'm visiting. Headquarters is a boring company-owned, 10-story building in downtown. James Evans, Director-Corporate Communications, has only a few minutes to talk because its been a zoo around the offices all week. Last week a violent storm passed through the Indianapolis area and as a result, thousands were and still are without power. About 600 employees work in the building, which was built around 1945 and added on to in 1970. For more information: IPL

INB Financial Corporation and Merchants National Corporation

Both banks on my list to visit have been taken over by out of state banks. INB Financial Corporation (1991 assets $6.5 billion) by NBD (Detroit, Michigan) and Merchants National Corporation by National City Corporation (Cleveland, Ohio).

Talking with David Givens, President of INB, I ask if the merger is finalized because I've had this happen: I visit a company, find out it's being taken over or merged and, several months later I read in the newspaper where the deal fell through. Givens laughs and said all the kinks have been worked out. Headquartered in a 36-story structure, I ask Givens if there's any special reason the executive offices are on the 5th floor. He says it's to be close to the corporate banking group on the fourth floor.

Talking with Otto Frenzel III, CEO of Merchants National Corporation (1991 net income $5.9 million, assets $5.8 billion) in his 4th floor office I ask him why he's on the fourth floor of a downtown 16-story office/hotel complex and he says there's no particular reason. His great-grandfather founded the company. The back of his business card is in Japanese. Why? Under a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense, the corporation's lead bank, Merchants National Bank & Trust Company of Indianapolis, provides retail banking services to military personnel through 166 military banking facilities in countries such as Germany, The Philippine Islands, Greece, The Netherlands, Iceland, Republic of Korea and the Republic of Panama. On one wall in Frenzel's office is a huge marlin he caught down in Mexico.

 

Melvin Simon & Associates

Located in the same downtown office building as Merchants National is privately-held Melvin Simon & Associates, the big shopping center developer/operator. The main reception area is on the 15th floor of the 16-story building. I was told they hadn't received my introduction material (sent about two weeks in advance of my arrival) and nobody would be able to talk with me. It seem fishy because all the other companies I've visited in Indianapolis received the material. As I've mentioned before, privately-held companies use the ploy of not having received my advance material as an excuse not to talk to me. In the lobby is a brochure on the company that includes a listing of the various malls/shopping centers around the country the company owns and operates. I counted over 160.

 

Mayflower Group

Privately-held Mayflower Group, is the holding company for Mayflower Transit-the fourth largest van line in the country. Corporate offices are on a 200-acre site in suburban Carmel, about 20 miles north of downtown Indianapolis. Mayflower does more business with the U.S. Government than any other van line and, is the largest mover of trade show exhibits. The company-owned site consists of seven buildings, with the largest being the 2-story, 200,000 square foot headquarters building. Ronald Diehm, Manager-Facilities and Administrative Services, answers questions and gives me the deluxe tour. About 850 employees work on the site.

The 13,000 square foot fleet training center is impressive. Van operators practice on computerized simulators and, drive real tractor-trailers around the grounds-including an area where the road is hosed with water to enable the drivers to practice in real-life situations. Several 2-story apartments have been built to practice packing, moving and unpacking belongs from one apartment to another.

Mayflower is one of the largest school bus operators in the country. Mike Smith, CEO, has a corner office on the second floor-which includes a working fireplace.

Anacomp

Anacomp, with 1991 revenues of $635 million is the world's only integrated provider of micrographics systems, services and supplies. Micrographics is the conversion of information to microfilm or microfiche. Anacomp also is big in the direct transfer of computer generated data onto microfilm or microfiche. Anacomp leases two and a half floors in a 6-story office building in Carmel. About 100 people work in the offices. Company has one corporate aircraft: a Lear jet. Louis Ferrero, CEO, doesn't have a computer in his corner office but, his secretary says he has one in the Atlanta office.

Bindley Western Industries

Bindley Western Industries is the fifth largest wholesale distributor of pharmaceuticals, health products and beauty aids in the United States. Sales in 1991 were $2.4 billion. Headquarters is a plain-looking, one-story warehouse-type building about 12 miles north of downtown Indianapolis. Once you open the glass doors to enter the offices, the receptionist has to buzz you through the next set of glass doors. Boy, for a $2 billion dollar company-the lobby is virtually non-existent and the decor is spartan. William Bindley, CEO, Chairman and founder, isn't in but, Sue Goebel, Assistant to the Chairman, answers questions and shows me around. About 110 people work in the building, which includes a warehouse distribution in the back. Total number of employees throughout the company is only 550. Company has one corporate aircraft; a Lear jet

Bindley's office has quite a few interesting items. There're quite a few pictures of him skiing. He serves as chairman of the finance committee of the national governing body of the U.S. Ski Team. His first floor office, which is not a corner office and has a view of the street, contains among many other items; 5 (real) plants, a computer and a basketball signed by the Indiana Pacers of the old ABA (he owned the team).

Central Newspapers

Central Newspapers, which owns the two daily Indianapolis newspapers as well as the Arizona Republic in Phoenix, is headquartered on the 12th floor of a 28-story building in downtown Indianapolis. Dropping by around lunchtime, I was told to come back because everybody was out to lunch. Well, I never got to check back because I had to leave town early. Why? Because Kiwanis International is having their international convention in town (over 20,000 of them) and a room is not to be had anywhere! Central Newspapers is the one with the Dan Qualye family connection.

Arvin Industries

About 40 miles south of Indianapolis in Columbus, Indiana (population 25,000) is the spiffy headquarters of Arvin Industries (1991 revenues $1.6 billion). The automotive parts supplier is headquartered about two miles from downtown in a beautifully restored school building built in 1896. The 3-story orangish-brick structure with a bell tower/cupola had been vacant since 1974. In 1988, Arvin started restoration and when finished around the end of 1989, about 50 employees moved into the 40,000 square foot structure. What's so special about the place? Maybe it's the wood floors or intricate detailing on the cherry wood railings and banisters. James Baker, CEO, wanted everything to be authentic, which explains why an original blackboard is on the wall in his office. Baker is a horseshoe enthusiast and has a picture of him and George Bush tossing 'shoes.

Separating this building and it's automotive headquarters division building a block away is a company-owned park. In the park is a Seward Johnson sculpture, commissioned by Arvin. One of Arvin's first products was a tire pump. The sculpture is of a man pumping up a car tire on a Ford Model-T. A small boy sits in the car playing with the steering wheel while his father pumps the tire. The man is a sculpture and so is the boy and pump but, the car is real. I'm a BIG Seward Johnson fan and I've seen his works all over the country. His works are so realistic it's unbelievable! Matter of fact, I wrote to his office in Washington D.C. a few years back and mentioned how much I enjoyed his works. I received a book that lists where most of his works are located. For more information: ARV

Hillenbrand Industries

Leaving Columbus and riding about 40 miles east, I arrive in Batesville, Indiana (population 4,500) and home to Hillenbrand Industries (1991 revenues $1.2 billion). The diversified company is into many things: luggage (American Tourister), burial caskets (Batesville Casket), security locks (Medeco Security Locks), hospital beds (Hill-Rom) and funeral planning (Forecorp) to name a few. Corporate offices are in a one-story building across the street from a golf course. August Hillenbrand, CEO, isn't in but, his secretary answers questions and gives me a tour of the place. About 85 employees work in the building, which is about 15 years old. The nearest commercial airport is Cincinnati Airport (50 miles away) which might be why the company has six Citation 3 aircraft.

August Hillenbrand is the grandson of John A. Hillenbrand, who founded the company back in 1906. August's office, which has a view of the golf course across the street, has quite a few bronze sculptures by Daro Flood. A one wall hangs a plaque with the following words:

1. The customer is always right.

2. If the customer is ever wrong reread rule #1.