Leaving Pittsburgh, I head northwest to Akron, Ohio, home to six companies on my list, yet, only having a population of 240,000.
Sunday, I stay in a Holiday Inn in downtown Akron, almost across the street from the headquarters of Ohio Edison. I knew I found the headquarters because the outside of the building said, "Ohio Edison Building." I guesstimate the orangish-looking headquarters building to be about 20-stories tall, with a similar looking office building next door, separated by an enclosed mall area. On the road in Akron and Cleveland
Firestone Tire and Rubber
About 1-1/2 miles from downtown Akron on Firestone Parkway, lies the 5-story headquarters of Firestone Tire and Rubber. The building isn't tall so much as it is long, about three blocks long. I wouldn't have any problem finding the place at night because there's a huge neon sign atop the structure that says, "Firestone." Atop the building near the main entrance stands a giant four-sided clock (which by the way, has the correct time), and the U.S. flag is flying on a flagpole atop the clock. Sign out front announces I'm at the "World Headquarters." I met with James Strandberg, Manager, Public Relations. The company-owned complex was built in 1910 and about 1800 employees work in the complex, with about 250 in the headquarters building. Reserved parking is allocated according to length of service; the longer you work there, the closer you get to park to the building. There are 1700 parking spaces. Recreation-wise, there's a basketball court, weightlifting and jogging. Headquarters is located in an industrial part of town. Strandberg scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Goodyear Tire and Rubber
Not too far from Firestone and about 2-1/2 miles from downtown Akron is Goodyear Tire and Rubber. Lots of similarities between the headquarters of Firestone & Goodyear: both have neon signs atop their buildings, both have giant four-sided clocks and both have short (in height), but long headquarters buildings. Goodyear's headquarters was originally a tire plant and the seven-story building seems to stretch for blocks. Over 3500 employees work in the city, with 1300 working at corporate headquarters. I talked with P.F. "Doc" Pingree, Public Relations Manager, Tire Division. Pingree wasn't sure when the headquarters building was built (it looks about fifteen years old) but, Goodyear has owned the property since 1898. The building has 1,235,000-square feet. The CEO's office and boardroom were off limits to me. Across the street stands another company building which houses among other things; a gymnasium, basketball court, indoor jogging track and a 32-lane bowling alley. Goodyear has an employee park nearby with tennis courts, etc. The main lobby/reception area is equipped with several pay phones for visitors to use and what really stuck out were the over 70 phone directories from various cities around the country. Why? According to Pingree, Goodyear was just trying to be accommodating to the business traveler. There's a barbershop on the premises and the company has four corporate aircraft. Pingree scored 7 points on my 1-10 scale.
About ten miles east of downtown Akron is the corporate headquarters of Roadway Services, a holding company whose primary subsidiaries are trucking companies. Received a warm and enthusiastic welcome from everybody I came into contact with. Paul Heinzerling, Director-General Office Services, gave me an extensive tour. The original 72,000-square foot corporate headquarters building built in 1962, had received an 186,000-square foot addition in 1986. Over 1000 employees work in the three-story, company-owned structure. The new addition includes a cafeteria, an 84-seat auditorium and two atriums-each illuminated by a skylight. I envisioned Roadway's headquarters to be a warehouse-type building but was way off base as I had been with Consolidated Freightway's in San Francisco. Behind the parking lot is a road leading to one of Roadway's freight terminals. I had no trouble finding the place because there is a big orange and blue "R" on the front of the building, which is the logo for Roadway Express-the company's largest trucking subsidiary. There are no corporate aircraft and no corporate art collection. Why is Roadway headquartered in Akron? The company got its start transporting locally made tires to various carmakers. I was given a Roadway cap. Heinzerling scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
GenCorp's corporate headquarters is located in Fairlawn, about ten miles northwest of downtown Akron and one of Akron's more affluent suburbs. Almost across the street from GenCorp is Summit Mall, Akron's biggest shopping complex with over 100 stores. The 3-story, company-owned headquarters building was built in 1980 and was pretty easy to find because of the freestanding sign out front with the company's logo on it. I met with C. Carl Dangel, Director, Governmental & Community Affairs. As Dangel was taking me into meet Mr. Heckel, the President, there was a "brownout" or power failure. It was a hot, muggy day and evidently the heavy use of electricity in the area caused the power loss. It was kind of funny being introduced to Heckel in his office and not being able to see his face because it was so dark. I was shown the boardroom but couldn't see a thing because it was pitch black. Cleveland-Hopkins Airport lies 32 miles away and Akron-Canton Airport is 24 miles away. Dangel scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
B.F. Goodrich is the only building in a new corporate park about twelve miles from Akron. From far away, the 3-story, red brick building looks like a pagoda because the roof comes to a point in several places. Outside the front entrance flies the U.S., State of Ohio and company flags. The 60,000-square foot structure sitting on six acres is leased. There are no recreational facilities for the 160 employees but, there's a cafeteria. I met with Rob Jewell, Manager, Corporate Public Relations. If I were allowed only one word to describe Jewell, that word would be "dull." The headquarters overlooks the 37-acre Crystal Lake. Jewell scored 6 points on my 1-10 scale.
Leaving Akron, I headed up the road to Cleveland, a distance of only about thirty miles. I checked into a motel near the suburb of Pepper Pike just as the rain started pouring. Cleveland was a big stop for me, with thirteen companies to visit and as I sat in my room plotting the location of the companies on a map, I realized I was right across a freeway from one of them; Leaseway Transportation.
Leaseway Transportation is about ten miles from downtown Cleveland on a 12-acre site in two buildings. The tallest building is three stories with 100,000-square feet and the other has 40,000. The company-owned, plain-looking buildings were built in 1978 and about 300 employees work in the buildings. I talked with Roger Brown, Vice President, Corporate Real Estate. Brown scored 8 points on my 1-10 scale.
Parker-Hannifan is one of those companies which, if you asked 100 people what business they were in, only one out of one hundred know. Parker-Hannifan, a producer of motion-control systems and components for the industrial, aviation, space, marine and automotive markets, is headquartered in a huge, brownish-red brick building which was constructed in 1919 to house the Chandler Motor Car Company. In 1935 Parker-Hannifan bought the building. Parker-Hannifan is about fifteen miles east of downtown Cleveland in a not-too-nice area of suburban Euclid. The place was easy to spot because of the big water tower painted a bright yellow with the name, "Parker" in black letters. You have to pass a gate with a guard to get on the premises which might have something to do with the fact the area looks like the kind of place you wouldn't go for a noontime walk unless you were with a crowd. I met with Devere Hogan, Director, Public Relations, who had only been with the company for several months and thus, didn't know the answers to many of my questions. The four-story converted automobile assembly facility is very loooong. How long? How about 900 feet. Which to put it another way; it's longer than three football fields. Over 900 people work in the building and there's a cafeteria and an executive dining room. There're no recreational facilities except, if you were to count taking a hike from one end of the building to the other a form of recreation. Logan scored 8 points on my 1-10 scale.
Cole National Corporation
Cole National Corporation is a privately held company with about a $1 billion in revenues. The company leases space in a 6-story office building adjacent to Pepper Pike, one of the 70 most affluent suburbs in the United States. Nothing fancy about the corporate offices at all. I talked to Jo Merrill, Assistant to the Chairman. Was able to see the office of Joseph Cole, the Chairman, which was pretty ordinary except for a large number of photographs of him with various national politicians. Cole's son, Jeffrey Cole, is the CEO. About 150 employees work on the two floors the company leases. Does Cole have the top floor? Nope. They lease about 20,000-square feet on the second and fourth floors. Until I went through the brochure Merrill gave me, I had no idea what kind of business Cole National was in. How about if I told you the company started in 1944 with one key shop and is now the largest single duplicator of keys in the United States! From that one key store, Cole National has evolved into a specialty retailer with six operating companies comprising over 1800 retail outlets. Besides the Cole Key Corporation, there's: Child World, Inc.(a toy store chain), Cole Vision Corporation, (the largest dispenser of contact lenses in the country), Cole Eyeworks and Eyelab, Inc., (a chain of eyewear stores), French Oven, Inc., (a chain of baker/cafes) and finally, Things Remembered, Inc., (a gift store chain). Merrill scored 8 points on my 1-10 scale.
First National Supermarkets
Of the 13 companies I was visiting in Cleveland, only six were located in the downtown area. First National Supermarkets is a privately held supermarket chain with sales of over $1 billion dollars. Headquarters is a windowless, 2-story, reddish-brown brick structure located in an industrial part of Maple Heights, a suburb about seven miles southeast of downtown Cleveland. The lobby area contains about 60 chairs, which I'm finding is pretty normal for supermarkets because of all of the salesmen and vendors. Betty Rickelman, who says she was a consumer specialist, came out to the lobby area and talked with me for a few minutes. About 130 people work in the company-owned building that has been headquarters for the last ten years. Very plain headquarters. I told Rickelman I've been to the headquarters of quite a few supermarket chains and hers was the first where the receptionist had to buzz open a door to let employees go from the lobby area to the offices. Rickelman told me about six years ago, the President of the company was kidnapped for ransom and killed. I guess that would explain why the building looks like a fortress, doesn't have windows and, I wasn't allowed past the lobby. My visit must have lasted a whole three minutes. Rickelman scored 6 points on my 1-10 scale.
It was about 4:45 p.m. when I rode up to the four-story headquarters building of Centerior Energy, an electric power company whose two main subsidiaries are: Toledo Edison Company and Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company. I no sooner opened the lobby door than the security guard said, "You're Paul Wolsfeld aren't you?" How did he know? Well, Stephen Lorton, Director, Public Affairs, was the man who ended up with my trickled-down postcard and, as he looked out his fourth floor window, he saw me riding up on my bicycle and relayed a message down to the security guard. Lorton apologized for his office being a mess but, the company had just moved into the building a few days earlier. Most of the 500 employees in the 260,000-square foot building had gone home and Lorton's desk looked like he was trying to do a hundred things at once but, made me feel like a VIP which I found to be unheard of in my various visits to utility companies. Centerior Energy owns the building which had been built in 1977 and sits on a 37-acre site. Downtown is twelve miles away and so is the airport (in different directions). The corporate art collection is a mish-mash of works of local artists. The 500 employees have no problem finding a parking spot because there are almost 1500 parking spots and nobody gets reserved parking spots. Everyone (including management), eats in the 550-seat cafeteria. Lorton scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Going through a busy street intersection I spotted a sparrow in the middle of the road walking around in a circle. It was a really strange sight to see this bird walking around like it was drunk. I got off my bike and approached the bird and found it to be missing one of its eyes. It looked like someone or something had reached in and grabbed the bird's eye out of its socket! I picked the bird up and put him amongst some bushes along the road. Sometimes I find myself getting tunnel vision about my quest to visit the various corporations and it takes a little incident such as the encounter with the sparrow to remind me how fragile life is and how lucky I am to be able to be riding a bike around the country when there are many, many people who can't see, walk or talk. After checking into my hotel room, I called home and was told to call Clare Ansberry, the Wall Street Journal reporter who interviewed me in Pittsburgh. I gave her a call and found out she wanted to fly into Cleveland tomorrow and spend a day following me around. I agreed to let her follow me.
American Greetings is located about four miles from downtown next to railroad tracks, at the end of a short dead-end street called, "American Road." A good-sized sign out near the street says, "American Greetings, World Headquarters." Looks to be corporate offices with some kind of a big manufacturing plant connected to the rear of the offices. Out front near the main entrance to the building were several bird feeders. The main reception area is manned by two security guards/receptionists. After talking with several different people, I was told no one could talk to me because the public relations man was sick and was working only half days. To me that was a lame excuse. This is a billion-dollar corporation and I was supposed to believe there is only one person in the whole organization that could talk to me? Doesn't he have any assistants? What if, for instance, he was sick in bed and one of the company's factories blew up does that mean since he's sick there's no one else in the company who could talk to the media or public? I was disappointed they didn't show some flexibility. What a sour greeting from American Greetings.
AmeriTrust, a regional bank holding company, is headquartered in a 29-story building known as the "Tower." Built in 1971, the $30 million dollar structure has 427,000-square feet. I met with Monica Martines, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Communications and Public Relations, and then with her boss, Bruce Akers, Vice President, Corporate Communications and Public Relations. The murals on the sidewalls of the rotunda dome (built 1908) in the adjacent main office bank were done by Francis Millet, a famous muralist that even I had heard of. I was shown the company's antique piggy bank collection and the huge vault. Akers and Martines each scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
National City Corporation
National City Corporation, a bank holding company, is headquartered in a 35-story building built in 1980 at a cost of $60 million dollars. Even though the initials of National City are atop the structure, the bank only leases space in the building. The owner is JMB. There's an annex building, several plaza areas along with the 35-story structure, with the whole complex being known as "National City Center." Total square footage in the Center complex is 786,000-square feet. National City occupies the four floors of the Annex building and floors 2 through 13, 17, 34 and 35 of the main building. About 1400 employees work in the complex. There's quite an extensive company art collection, which is limited to Ohio artists, which includes former Clevelander Roy Lichtenstein. There's a gallery called the "Atrium Gallery" in which exhibits are changed monthly. Here's an interesting tidbit; National City has the largest vault between New York and Chicago, (9600-square feet). I met with David Talbott, Vice President and Director of Public Relations.
It was kind of funny when Talbott was giving me a tour of the 35th floor (executive floor) because Ansberry (the Wall Street Journal reporter), was walking behind us quietly taking notes and hadn't identified herself to Talbott (he had never asked). Finally, Talbott stops, turns around, and asks who she is. She nonchalantly identifies herself as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. We continue our tour and at one point, Talbott excused himself for a moment and after returning, we continued our walk ending up in the office of William Robertson, Vice Chairman. Ansberry and I sat down in Robertson's office and talked for about ten minutes as various other executives "just happened" to stop by. After we left the building, I mentioned to Ansberry she should accompany me on the rest of my trip and she asked, "Why?" I told her because it was no accident that Robertson wanted to chat with me or that other executives "just happened" by. I asked her if she remembered Talbott leaving us for a moment during our tour (after he had found out who she was). I would bet the farm he passed the word (which with him being head of the PR department, I guess he should have), that a WSJ reporter was in the building. Ansberry was skeptical but I knew better. Anyway, Talbott scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Eaton Corporation is a company that manufactures over 5000 products in a wide range of industries, including automotive components, truck powertrain components, controls and electrical equipment and defense systems. Eaton leases ten floors in a 28-story building built in 1984 and known as "Eaton Center." I met with Renold Romain, Manager, Media Relations. About 400 employees work in the building, with the Chairman having a great view of Lake Erie from his office. Romain scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
The tallest, most impressive-looking building in downtown Cleveland is the beautiful, 45-story Standard Oil headquarters building. Built in 1985, the $200 million dollar company-owned, multi-tiered office tower has more than 1.9 million-square feet of office/retail space. The main facade is a rose-colored granite called "Sunset Red" which to me, is what adds to the building's splendor. Connected to the office tower is an 8-story atrium, which, besides having an indoor esplanade garden, houses retail shops. We, (myself and Clare Ansberry, the WSJ reporter) were met by Judy Morgan, Tenant & Community Affairs Coordinator. Morgan is in charge of giving tours of the building and proceeded to lead us on one. About 2500 employees work in the building, which does have other tenants. The interior marble is Italian and called "Brecchia Pernice" and is the same marble used in New York City's Trump Tower. The cafeteria is huge, seating 700 and, there are several formal dining areas. The fitness center on the fourth floor is one of the nicest I've seen with a slew of various weight machines, cross-country ski machines, and rowers. There's quite an extensive corporate art collection with over 800 original pieces of contemporary art composed primarily by artists from Cleveland and elsewhere from Ohio before 1945. Near one entrance is a sculpture by Richard Lippold called, "Primal Energy" and at another entrance is a sculpture by George Rickey called, "Etoile." On our tour, we were met by Anthony Kozlowski, Public Affairs, who went with us up to the 40th floor to see the boardroom and CEO's office. We almost had a disaster in the CEO's office. The CEO wasn't in his office and his secretary wasn't at her desk so, Morgan started to walk us into his office when. Morgan remembered about the "invisible beam." If we had walked through the CEO's door without the "beam" being deactivated, I guess it would have caused a ruckus. The CEO has a spectacular view! Morgan mentioned the building has a sound-masking system called, "White Noise", which along with the work station panels absorbs the background noises. Actually, quite a few of the companies I've visited have had "White Noise." The company has four corporate aircraft. I almost removed Standard Oil from my original list of companies to visit because it was more than 50% owned by a foreign company (British Petroleum) and I again, almost removed Standard Oil from my list of companies to visit after it was announced British Petroleum was making a tender offer for the remaining shares. Morgan scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
I spent two nights in downtown Cleveland at the Stouffer Tower City Plaza Hotel, which is located in the 708-foot high Terminal Tower building. My room (suite), which was given to me at a discounted rate, was just about longer than a football field and the ceilings must have been thirty feet high.
Sherwin-Williams, the paint company, is located on the 18th floor of a massive Art Deco building which looked like it was built in the 1920's or 1930's. Up above the main entrance were the names, "LTV Steel", "Guild Hall", and "Midland." A secretary (whose name I didn't catch) came out to the small reception area and talked to me for a few minutes. I was amazed to find out Sherwin-Williams owns the massive building but, is not the major tenant. Most of my questions weren't answered and she made me feel like I should be thankful she talked to me at all. She did take me down the hall to look in the boardroom but, the CEO's office was off limits.
Ernst & Whinney
I went back to the National City Center complex and up to the 20th floor to visit Ernst & Whinney, one of the "Big Eight" accounting firms. The receptionist told me nobody was in who could talk to me and to come back next week. On the wall in the reception area is a big map of the United States showing the locations of various Ernst & Whinney offices and, there's a large portrait of somebody but, no name. I figured it must be either Mr. Ernst or Mr. Whinney, (if there was or are two people by that name).
From the guard gate, you can't even see the headquarters building of TRW because it's set way back from the road behind trees. The headquarters site of TRW sits on 137 acres of rolling, wooded terrain with six acres of ponds. Making my way along the weaving road to the headquarters building I thought I was on the grounds of a country club or park because of the meandering streams, beautiful grounds and hundreds of trees. Mr. Senger, Director, Community Affairs, met me in the lobby area and apologized for the runaround received on an earlier visit. Several days earlier I had showed up at the guard gate and Senger refused to see me because the postcard I sent to the CEO had yet to trickle down to his office. The headquarters building was built in 1985 and if you were up in an airplane looking down, you would see a four-story structure shaped like an "X". How did TRW end up on this piece of property located about fifteen miles from downtown Cleveland and next door to Pepper Pike, one of the 70 most affluent suburbs in the country? Well, it seems the site at one time was a private estate and several developers wanted to divide the property up and build condominiums when, the city of Cleveland gave TRW a call and asked if they would be interested in the site. Ever wonder what TRW stands for? The letters stand for the three founders: Charles Thompson, Simon Ramo, and Dean Wooldridge. The company-owned complex has 750,000 square feet with 450 employees. Didn't see any parking lots because everyone parks underground in a two-level facility, which can accommodate 600 cars. There's a cafeteria that seats 300, and six formal dining areas that can seat 8 to 36 people. Do the six formal dining rooms have names? Yep. They're named after fellows who have been chairmen of the company. I noticed extensive security. There's an almost 3-mile jogging trail along with weightlifting and aerobics facilities. There's quite an extensive art collection but my favorite piece is the sculpture on the lawn as you drive in the main entrance. According to Senger, there was a big steel beam left over from the construction of the headquarters and rather than the beam being tossed, it was painted gold and left on the lawn. Smoking is allowed anywhere in the building. I did get to see the boardroom but, Senger only walked me by the area where the CEO's office is located (the third floor). Why is the CEO's office on the 3rd floor and not the 4th (top floor)? Senger wasn't sure. Senger scored 8 points on my 1-10 scale.
What do I think of Cleveland? Not a bad place at all. I rode around Pepper Pike, one of the 70 most affluent suburbs and wasn't impressed with the area. The homes were nice (a lot of colonial-style) but, pretty boring with little vegetation. My favorite part of Cleveland was Shaker Heights, located pretty close to Pepper Pike but, it's got huge Tudor-style homes with lots of lush vegetation. Shaker Heights looks to be the place where the "old money" Clevelanders live. Checked out Cleveland Municipal Stadium on the Lake Erie waterfront and was disappointed in the city not realizing a potential bonanza in sprucing up the lake front area. Cleveland is a one-newspaper city with the Cleveland Plain-Dealer definitely being the worst big-city newspaper I've come across. Many of the companies visited told me that in addition to subscribing to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, they subscribe to the Akron Beacon-Journal because of poor coverage by the Plain-Dealer.
On the road in Toledo
Early Friday morning, I took the Amtrak train to Toledo, about 110 miles west of Cleveland. By mid-morning I was in downtown Toledo, a city of about 350,000, located on the Maumee River.
Owens-Corning Fiberglas's main reception area is on the 13th floor (how lucky can you get?), of a downtown, 28-story building called, "Fiberglas Tower." I hope you noticed the difference in spelling between fiberglass and Owen-Corning Fiberglas. I met with Jules Vinnedge, Manager, Corporate Relations. The Fiberglas Tower was built in 1968 and the company leases space in the roughly 200,000-square foot structure. There's no cafeteria but, vending machines. Vinnedge's business card was unusual in that it was made out of a type of plastic the company produces. Vinnedge scored 8 points on my 1-10 scale.
Boy, was I surprised by the gorgeous headquarters of Dana Corporation, a manufacturer of automotive parts, industrial components and systems. Dana is located about five miles west of downtown Toledo and right across the street from Inverness Country Club, a very prestigious golf course that has hosted the U.S. Open several times. If one didn't know better, one would think you were entering an exclusive country club because of the white wrought iron fence surrounding the 84-acre site. Set way back from the road is the impressive looking 2-story, Georgian colonial-style headquarters building. The orangish-red brick structure with the white trim, has a very stately elegance about it. I met with Don Decker, Director of Public Relations. The lobby area is furnished in 19th century antiques and is very formal. Lots of oil paintings, with paintings of ships being favored. Seventy-two management people with a staff of 125, work in the building. Outside the front of the building stands a helipad. There are no restrictions on smoking and the CEO Gerald Mitchell smokes cigars. The company-owned headquarters was built in 1971. Also housed on the property is Dana's North American Operations and Dana University, a company training facility. Even though there are no recreational facilities, from what I understand, people cross-country ski on the property. There's one elevator in the building. I did get to see the boardroom but, wasn't allowed to see the CEO's office because he was in. I was however, taken to the office next to the CEO's so I could get an idea of the view he had; which is a view of the beautiful, well-kept grounds. Visitors get a useful Toledo area map that shows the locations of various Dana facilities, accommodations and places of interest. Dana has its own gas pumps from which it sells gas to employees at cost. The plush, private little room off of the lobby area which Dana supplied to visitors for making phone calls, was very impressive. Many companies I've visited stick a pay phone in a corner somewhere (if any phone at all), and you have the noise, no place to set your briefcase or notes down and little privacy. Decker scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Trinova (formerly Libby-Owens-Ford), a maker of industrial heavy equipment, is located about 20 miles south of downtown Toledo in the suburb of Maumee. I met with Warren Bimblick, Director-Investor Relations. Trinova has leased 80,000-square feet of space in a two-story building located in a wooded office park, since 1986. I was told, however, that Trinova would be moving to new headquarters in 1989. There's no cafeteria for the 90 employees but, there are several vending machines. Bimblick made a point of showing the tables in the vending area and how they didn't have a Formica surface finish but, a finish made by one of Trinova's companies. Bimblick scored 9 points on my 1-10 scale.
I spent Friday night in a brand-new Radisson Hotel in downtown Toledo. The hotel, which had been open only a couple of days, was still putting the finishing touches in my room when I checked in. Toledo has a pretty nice downtown area. On the riverfront is a new shopping complex called, "Portside" and on that Friday night, (as on many Friday nights during the summer), a band was playing near the downtown riverfront area. There must have been at least 20,000 people lining the banks of the river and in various boats listening to the concert.
About three miles west of downtown Toledo is the beautiful, tree-lined suburb of Ottawa Hills. The Village of Ottawa Hills is the correct name because in Ohio, all municipal corporations having populations of 5000 or more are called cities and those with a population under 5000 are called villages. At one time, Ottawa Hills had quite a few mansion/estate type homes but, over the years the estates were sold and subdivided. About a mile from Ottawa Hills is Dana Corporation.