On the road in Kentucky

I rolled into Louisville, the largest city in Kentucky with a population of about 300,000, around dark. I was sweaty, tired and I stunk. Walking into the Hyatt Regency to inquire about a room, I literally ran into the General Manager in the hallway. I told him about my project and showed him letters from other Hyatt hotels which had agreed to give me complimentary accommodations on an "if space is available" basis. Well, I lucked out and got a free room. Far and away, my biggest expense has been accommodations and the complimentary rooms really help out.


Louisville sits on one side of the Ohio River and if you're on the other side, you're in Indiana. Well, when I was on the Indiana side, I could see Louisville's downtown skyline and the Humana Building stuck out like a sore thumb. It's a magnificent looking building but, it looks so out of place. Chicago? yes, New York? yes, Seattle? yes, Louisville? no. The 27-story, 588,400-square foot structure was designed by Michael Graves and completed in 1985 at a cost of $60 million. The covered outdoor area right outside the main entrance (called a loggia), has tall columns which go up to forty feet which makes for a very tall ceiling. As you walk into the building, the name "Humana" is embedded above the entry. I met with Kathryn Knotts, Public Affairs Manager, who told me they hadn't received my postcard. Over 1000 employees work in the company-owned, museum-like building with marble and granite seemingly everywhere. The fitness center is one of the nicest I've seen with five indoor racquetball courts, squash, Ping-Pong, half-court indoor basketball court, Nautilus equipment and aerobics. I wasn't able to see the CEO's office or the boardroom but, was told the CEO's office is on the sixth floor because, "he doesn't want to be above everybody." The company has four corporate aircraft. Humana, a healthcare company, allows smoking in the building. The CEO doesn't smoke but, the president does. A booklet is given out to those who want a self-guided tour of the first and second floors. Near the information desk in the main rotunda are two Roman marble statues, sculpted approximately 1900 years ago. One is entitled, "Roman Statue of the Goddess Fortuna" and the other, "Roman Statue of a Goddess." Knotts scored 6 points on my 1-10 scale.

Capital Holding Corporation

Capital Holding Corporation, an insurance holding company, is located downtown in a building known as the "Commonwealth Building" (which is home to Capital Holding's largest subsidiary, Commonwealth Life Insurance Company). Built in 1922, and added onto in 1955, Capital Holdings has been headquartered in the 22-story building since 1968. I met with Margo Barnes, Vice Corporate Communications, who informed me the company sold the building and has a lease-back arrangement. The area around the building is undergoing restorations and renovations with the street out front being made into a pedestrian mall walkway. About 1400 employees work in the building. There's a cafeteria, no executive dining rooms (which is unusual for insurance companies), no corporate art collection, one leased aircraft, no recreational facilities and senior officers get reserved parking. Barnes scored 8 points.

Union Station, a designated historical landmark, is magnificent. Built in 1889, the train station was restored and renovated in 1980 and now serves as administrative headquarters for Louisville's transit authority. The stained glass windows and stained glass atrium skylight are marvelously beautiful.

Brown-Forman Company

Brown-Forman Corporation, is a producer and marketer of a wide range of such well-known consumer goods such as Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, Early Times Old Style Kentucky Whiskey, Southern Comfort, Lenox china, and Hartmann's luggage. Headquarters is about a mile west of downtown Louisville in a company-owned, 5-story, Georgian-Colonial style building. Across the street is a big complex of buildings, the tallest being twelve stories and housing a distillery. Atop the biggest building is a giant bottle of Early Times (it's about the size of a water tower). I met with Jack Smart, Director of Corporate Communications. About 1000 people work in headquarters, which includes the people at the distillery. The first building was built in 1924 and the rest was built in stages. The Georgian-Colonial structure looks like it was built in the late 1960's. I never got past the lobby area. On display in the lobby area of the headquarters building is the first official White House China service by Lenox. Smoking is allowed anywhere, there are no recreational facilities and getting a reserved parking spot is dependent on your job grade. Next door to Brown-Forman is a huge Phillip Morris cigarette manufacturing plant. Smart scored 7 points on my 1-10 scale.

Dairymen, Inc.

Dairymen, Inc., is a regional milk marketing co-operative owned and operated by about 6400 member dairy farmers in sixteen eastern and southeastern states. Sales were $987 million in 1986. Headquarters is a plain-looking, four-story office building about fifteen miles from downtown Louisville close to a freeway. A small sign out near the street says, "Dairymen, Inc." I met with John Vogel, Manager Employee Publications, who gave me a warm reception. Built in 1978, the company-owned, 50,000-square foot structure sits on a 4-acre site. Muzak was playing throughout the building. Also located throughout the building are various antique milk containers, creamers, bottles and paraphernalia used in dairy farming. I did get to see the CEO's office and was told the Board of Directors holds its board meetings at the local Hyatt Regency because headquarters doesn't have a boardroom. About 150 employees work at headquarters, with the CEO getting the only reserved parking spot. There's no cafeteria but, there is a snack bar area. One of the perks of working at headquarters; the milk and chocolate milk in the snack bar area is free. I asked Vogel if I could try some of the chocolate milk and wouldn't you know it--all that was left was regular milk. There's a volleyball court behind the building and the company has one corporate aircraft. Vogel scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.

I left Louisville and headed east to Lexington passing through Frankfort, a city of 25,000 and the state capital of Kentucky. I spent Saturday night in downtown Lexington, (population 200,000) and the place was hopping because thousands of runners were participating in a 10-K run which STARTED in the evening.

Leaving Lexington early in the morning for Cincinnati (85 miles north), I rode by dozens of beautiful horse farms. Personally, I can take or leave horse racing but, after seeing some of the sumptuous spreads, I know there are big bucks involved. Besides taking pictures of various horse farms, I also got pictures of several pig farms and tobacco farms.