On the road in Pittsburgh

Mellon Bank Corporation

Walking into One Mellon Bank Center I stop at the building directory to find out where the reception area for Mellon Bank ($36 billion in assets) is located. I don't see one listed so I ask the two guards behind the counter and they direct me up to the 47th floor of the 53-story tower. Up on the 47th floor one has to pass muster with the guard in order to get into the reception area. For some reason the jerk of a guard doesn't like the looks of me and I'm refused permission to enter and/or even speak to the receptionist.

It's back down in the main lobby, where I spend 20 minutes using the guards phones before finding out Thomas Butch, Vice President-Corporate Communications, is my contact person.

Though it's called One Mellon Center, as I've found with many banks (or as they now like to call themselves "diversified financial services" companies), Mellon only leases space, occupying about 70% of the 1.5 million square foot structure.

It's up to the 47th floor we go for a look at the boardroom and CEO Frank Cahouet's office. Coming off the elevator there's that twit of a security guard again so I make sure to give him an extra big smile.

The boardroom contains oil paintings of past CEO's, with the Mellon clan occupying the first few. The oval-shaped boardroom table is nice but the ugly gold-colored chairs the directors sit in definitely need to go.

CEO Cahouet's corner office has a great view of where the three rivers come together near downtown Pittsburgh. I note the bonsai plant, the bowling pin and kachina doll. A miniature set of golf clubs and miniature tandem bike sit atop a desk. Shades of Star Trek!, on a shelf sits a Captain Kirk doll. What's with the doll and the inscription on it which reads "boldly going where no CEO has gone before" I ask. Seems a group of analysts honored Cahouet with it after meeting with them.

PPG Industries, Inc.

PPG Place, nicknamed the "glass palace", is probably one of the most famous office complexes in the country. A 40-story reflective glass tower, surrounded by four 6-story glass buildings as well as a 14-story glass building occupies a 5.5 acre site in downtown Pittsburgh. What makes the complex so distinctive is the thicket of 231 spires crowning the buildings, with the largest being 82 feet tall.

What better way to let people know PPG Industries (1993 revenues $5.8 billion, net income $22 million) is one of the world's largest producer of continuous-strand fiber glass and float glass?

John Ruch, Supervisor-Media Relations, says the company owns PPG Place (costing $200 million to build in 1984) and occupies floors 3-13 and 31-40 in the big tower. Almost a million square feet of reflective silver Solarban 550 Twindow insulating glass units (a PPG product of course) sheaths the complex.

PPG stand for Pittsburgh Paint and Glass.

Integra Financial Corporation

Four years ago Integra Financial Corporation didn't exist. Through mergers with Pennbancorp and Union National, then Landmark Savings and Equimark, it's now one of the country's top fifty bank holding companies with over $13.5 billion in assets.

I meet with William Eiler, Public Relations Manager, in one of the company's four undistinguishable buildings they own in downtown Pittsburgh.

Bow tie wearing CEO William Roemer doesn't hang his hat in any of the company-owned structures. Roemer's office is on the 6th floor of one of the glass buildings in PPG Place. I tell Roemer his office isn't very big or fancy and he seems to like hearing that. Roemer's an avid skier and golfer, which explains the pictures of him doing just that.

PNC Bank Corp.

I tell Brian Goerke, Vice President-Market Public Relations, I was expecting nicer digs at PNC Bank, the 10th largest banking institution in the country. But then again, maybe this is why earnings for PNC in 1993 were $725 million, with assets of $62.1 billion.

This company-owned, dreary-looking, 30-story tower built in the 1960's needs to be updated, renovated or spruced up.

A painting by Louis Hunt called "Highland Cattle" showing cattle grazing, is the center point of the small reception area.

I can't see the CEO's office or boardroom because meetings are going on.

USX Corporation

Pittsburgh has two signature office buildings; the 40-story reflective glass PPG Tower with it's distinctive church spires atop and, the massive 64-story, triangular-shaped USX Tower. How big is this 2.9 million square foot structure? Each floor is 41,000 square feet-approximately one acre per floor. The 18 exposed supporting steel columns-standing 3 feet from the building wall lets you know this structure is a monument to steel.

The top two floors house the mechanical doings of the building, the 62nd floor the Top-of-the-Triangle restaurant and, since there's no reception area upon entering the building I decide to go up to the 61st floor, which houses the executives.

I've been visiting companies for a long time and have encountered all types of secured doors leading into executive offices. My least favorite involves standing on the other side of a door speaking into a speaker box-not knowing who you're talking to while the person on the other side gets to check you out via a security camera. I also hate being separated by a glass door and having to talk into a box while the person you're conversing with sits in plain view on the other side of the glass. I'm commenting on security doors because this is a first for me: stepping off the elevator on the 61st floor there's no speaker box, no buttons, no phones, no cameras in sight-just a big thick wall where doors should be leading into offices. Hmm, what's a guy to do? All of a sudden the wall parts open and I'm standing face to face with two not-very-friendly security guards that shoo me away.

I'm now on the 7th floor talking with Don Herring, Manager-Public Affairs, who ended up with my advance material and has a could-care-less attitude about answering my questions. About 600 USX employees occupy 10 floors. My request to see the CEO's office and boardroom is met by a flat out "no".

H.J. Heinz Company

H.J. Heinz Company occupies floors 59 and 60 in the 64-story USX Tower. I visited this processed food products company six years ago and had a fun visit. Heinz ketchup, Weight Watchers, Ore-Ida, StarKist and 9 Lives are all part of H.J. Heinz Company, 1993 revenues $7.1 billion, net income $396 million.

Gail Stull, Media Specialist, says about 350 employees work on the two floors. I can't see CEO Anthony O'Reilly's office because he's busy but, it's no problem because I saw it six years ago.

The oval-shaped boardroom table is made of marble and I count five real plants in the room but, nary a packet of ketchup or Weight-Watcher bar in sight. I don't leave empty-hand though because Stull gives me a couple of pins with miniature green pickles attached. Hmmm, makes me wonder to what future event could I or would I stick these on my shirt and go out in public.

Aluminum Company of America

Visiting the world's largest producer of aluminum six years ago I was told to get lost. Visiting three years ago I was told the same thing. Am I going to strike out again visiting Aluminum Company of America?

The 450,000 square foot, aluminum-clad, thirty-something story headquarters has a 1960's look to it. The two guards in the lobby let me use a phone to track down my contact person. Thumbing through a company newsletter lying next to the phone I read this building is for sale and plans are in the works for a new, 5-story, 250,000 square foot headquarters to be built on a two acre site about a half mile away from the downtown hub. When will this happen? The article says when "Alcoa's financial condition improves". Revenues in 1993 were $9 billion, net income $5 million.

Well, my visit is again briefer than brief. I ask Al Posti, who's head of corporate communications, if he'd have 10 minutes to talk with me sometime over the next three days. Posti bluntly and coldly replies "we go by priority" and "you're not high priority". Boy, this guy sure knows how to make someone feel special.