I use to think I was hot stuff in geography but, evidently not because I never knew Philadelphia was located across the river from New Jersey. Crossing over the Delaware River into New Jersey was fun because I rode my bike over the mile and a half long Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which was built in 1926 at a cost of $29 million dollars. What really makes it fun crossing the bridge is the separate pathway pedestrians and bicyclists have ABOVE the motorized traffic.
I was originally planning to spend Sunday night in the Radisson Cherry Hills in New Jersey because it was a complimentary room but, found the place so old, dumpy, dark and depressing that I opt to take a chance at getting a room at the Hyatt Cherry Hill-even if it meant having to pay. From my constant traveling around the country, I've found a clean, brightly lit hotel room helps with my moods. If a room is dark, smelly and dumpy, it rubs off on me and I find myself getting the blahs. Fortunately, after showing the front desk manager several letters from other Hyatt Hotels which have accommodated me, I was given a complimentary room. Up until Cherry Hills, Radisson had been impressing me with their properties.
Cherry Hills, population 64,000 was home to two companies on my list or so I thought. Subaru of America was no problem to find because it was located only several blocks from my hotel so, first thing Monday morning I headed to Foz & Lazio Inc., a privately-held real estate company. The address I had for Fox & Lazio was 2101 E. State Highway 70. I went to the address and found a branch office of Fox & Lazio. A woman told me the corporate offices were in Haddonfield, a town of 12,000 several miles south of Cherry Hills so, off I went.
Fox & Lazio
Corporate headquarters for Fox & Lazio is in an orange, with white trim, 2-story Colonial-style building. There are probably a half dozen different doors leading into the building and I tried three doors before someone directed me to the main reception entrance, which isn't clearly marked. My postcard had been sent to the address in Cherry Hills and of course, no one there had forwarded it so, when Helen McCandless, secretary to the company president came down to the lobby to meet with me--she had no idea what I was doing. About 125 employees work in the company-owned building which McCandless guesstimate was built in the 1930's. Parking is on a first come, first served basis. Smoking is allowed anywhere and there's no cafeteria. I did get to see Mr. Fox's (President) office, which is very small and furnished in Early Colonial-style. Walking around, I did notice all the offices along with the reception area are small. The boardroom is basically a conference room. The building blends in with the town, which is steeped in colonial history. McCandless scored 5 points on my 1-10 scale.
Subaru of America
I backtracked to Cherry Hills and visited Subaru of America. I was in the process of locking my bike outside the entrance to the 6 or 7-story blue-glassed, white concrete headquarters when, a security guard told me I had to lock it up in the bike rack out in the middle of the parking lot. It was then that I realized most of the cars in the good-sized parking lot weren't Subarus.
After checking in with the receptionist, I ended up waiting in the lobby area for 30 minutes. A lady finally comes up to me and says the man who was going to see me would be tied up in meetings most of the day and would I come back tomorrow? I told the lady I was leaving town this afternoon and went on to explain how simple my questions were and maybe someone else would be available to talk. Nope. I told the lady one of my requests is to see the CEO's office and she said, "that's a shame, it's really nice". I left her one of my questionnaires and requested they send me an annual report. I did notice closed-circuit cameras in the parking lot and also "no smoking" signs in the lobby area. *NOTE I never did hear from the company.
When you cross over the Delaware River from Philadelphia to New Jersey via the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, you are in Camden, an ugly city of 85,000, which looks like it's ready to die. Probably the main reason it still exists is because Campbell Soup Company is headquartered there. Red signs saying, "Campbells" greets you as you enter a complex of old-looking orange buildings. As I was about to enter the building housing the main reception area, a security guard stationed outside the door asked me if I was with the United Way group. Evidently there was some type of meeting going on or about to go on because about 30 people were milling around the reception area and about 30 more (mostly women) followed me in as everyone had to sign-in at the receptionist desk. I explained to the receptionist the purpose of my visit and even though she was mobbed with people; she was very nice, friendly and helpful. I listened as she called up someone and told them to come down to the lobby to meet me. While waiting, the United Way group started towards their meeting room and one of the ladies, who was carrying a large box, asked the security guard if he could give her a hand with it and he said he wasn't allowed to leave his post so, I piped up and said I'd carry the box for her. As we started walking out the lobby area the security stopped me and said I didn't have clearance to leave the lobby. Hmmm. The lobby area isn't very big but, has a large collection of Campbell Soup paraphernalia such as old posters and advertisements. Frank Moore, Vice Chairman, Campbell Soup Fund, met with me in the lobby and said he was busy and could give me ten minutes. As I hurried through my questions, his answers were said in such a way as to let me know he had better things to be doing than talking with me. The first building in the company-owned complex was built in 1957 and the building housing the CEO's office was built in 1962. About 1,300 people work in the complex, with the tallest building being 5-stories. When I asked if I could see the CEO's office and boardroom, Moore said there was no way and "even I don't get to go up there". There's a cafeteria and an executive dining room. Smoking is restricted, there's a fitness center and, there's one corporate aircraft. After asking if the company had a corporate art collection, I was told to go to the building next door and see the Campbell Museum, which is open to the public. I did go next door and even though the museum isn't very big, there's an impressive collection of tureens, bowls and utensils made for food service dating from 500 BC to the present. The lady inside the museum shop wasn't very friendly and made me feel like an intruder. As I mentioned earlier, I always seem to get lousy receptions from consumer-oriented companies (see Coca-Cola, McDonalds). For the life of me I don't know how or why Moore, Vice Chairman of the Campbell Soup Fund, ended up being the one who met with me. Moore scored 3 points on my 1-10 scale.
Leaving Camden, I headed 50 miles north to Princeton, a spiffy place with a population of 12,000. Squibb, a health care company, is headquartered about 4 miles south of downtown Princeton on a beautifully landscaped 273-acre site. The company-owned complex is set way back from the main street and riding up to the main entrance building, you pass a 12-acre lake. I arrived around 4:30 p.m. and after explaining the purpose of my visit to the receptionist, she called up the public relation department and was told no one was available to see me. I had unlocked my bike and was just about to take off, when I realized the receptionist hadn't really tried to find out where my postcard had ended up and had called public relations because I told her that was where it usually ended up. I went back inside and asked the receptionist if I could use the phone to call up Mr. Furlaud's (CEO) secretary. Sure enough, the postcard had been sent to Joseph Stewart, Jr., Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs. I called up Stewart's office and he agreed to see me. While in Stewart's office, the phone rings and it's CEO Furlaud on the line so, Stewart asks me to step outside his office while he handles the call. Here it is 5:15 p.m. and it seems most people haven't gone home yet.
Built in 1972, corporate headquarters consists of three long white four story buildings, with the longest one overlooking the lake and the other two located directly behind the first building. Total square footage of the building is 450,000 square feet, with construction of additional space scheduled in the near future. Senior officers get reserved parking, there's a cafeteria (which allows employees to eat outside overlooking the gorgeous lake) and there's a formal restaurant where all the employees (even maintenance workers) can be waited on by waitresses. The company has a helipad but, owns no corporate aircraft. Newark Airport is 50 miles away. I did notice several security guards patrolling the grounds, which by the way includes 3 softball fields. Over 2,000 trees, 11,000 shrubs and 180,000 groundcover plants are scattered over the very well maintained grounds.
Headquarters includes an art gallery, which is not for company art but for outside art exhibits. When using the rest room to change from my shorts to long pants, I did check to make sure this health care company had disposable toilet seat covers and yep, they sure do. I did get to see the boardroom but not the CEO's office because he was still working. Here it is 6 p.m. and the head honcho is still at it, matter of fact, as we walked around I noticed a lot of "his troops" were still at it. Why is Squibb located in Princeton, New Jersey? According to Stewart, the company wanted to be located near a university and Rutgers, not Princeton was the first choice. Stewart scored 8 points on my 1-10 scale. *NOTE Stewart never followed through on sending me an annual report.
I spent the night in downtown Princeton, right across the street from Princeton University at the very comfortable and elegant Omni Nassau Inn. What a difference 50 miles makes! Camden was a dump and as I got closer to Princeton everything changed; from the vegetation growth to the people. Downtown Princeton and the university campus kind of mix together, which makes for a fun mixture of formal and informal shops and restaurants. Kind of reminds me of Ann Arbor and the adjacent University of Michigan.
Johnson & Johnson
Tuesday morning, September 29, 1987, found me leaving Princeton and heading to New Brunswick, about 16 miles north, to visit Johnson & Johnson. Headquarters wasn't hard to find because right smack in the middle of downtown New Brunswick (population 41,000) on a 12-acre site sits the 16-story white tower, adjacent to a zigzagging complex of 7 connecting 4-story white buildings, each with its own atrium.
As I locked my bike outside the main reception area, which is located in the Tower Building, I noticed a Henry Moore sculpture gracing the grounds near the front entrance. Entering the building I encountered a very indifferent, unfriendly receptionist who said I needed an appointment. After a little persistence on my part she made a phone call and was told someone would call her back. As I waited for someone to call back to the lobby, another woman had relieved the unfriendly receptionist and I asked her if it would be possible to use a rest room to change from my shorts into long pants and she replied, "there really isn't one close by". After telling her I didn't want to meet with someone wearing my shorts, she signed me in, gave me a visitor's badge and directions; "go down the long hallway, hang a right, go by the cafeteria and it's on your left". As I'm walking down the hall (about half-a-block long) you can't help but notice the quiet, church-like atmosphere and the no-nonsense look on the faces of people I passed. I made my way to the rest room (which by the way has no disposable toilet seat covers) then returned to the reception area. I no sooner returned when, the receptionist received a call wanting to know who "that guy was walking around the halls in his shorts". Jeez. Anyway, after waiting a few more minutes, Edwin Watson, Corporate Public Relations, came to the lobby and sat down with me for a few minutes. For some reason Watson seemed guarded and it felt like I was having to pry answers to my questions out of him.
About 1,000 employees work in the headquarters complex, which was designed by the well-known architect, I.M. Pei. There's a cafeteria, formal dining and a fitness center, which includes an indoor track. Senior management gets reserved parking and my request to see the CEO's office and boardroom was met by a "no way". I did mention to Watson how I carry one of their compact-size first aid kits on my bike and, mentioned my taking pictures of the various Seward Johnson sculptures (who is related to the Johnson & Johnson clan) I seem to come across in my travels around the country. I mentioned taking a picture of a Seward Johnson sculpture yesterday in downtown Princeton and Watson said I should have stopped by Seward Johnson's studio in Princeton because that's where he lives. Good grief, can you believe it! I had become a big fan of Seward Johnson and for all I know I probably passed his house or studio on my through Princeton!
Across the street from Johnson & Johnson is a Hyatt Hotel, who's building is painted the same white as Johnson & Johnson's. According to Watson, my guess was right; the company is part owner of the hotel. I told Watson about getting various hotels to extend complimentary rooms because of my doing a side project on the corporate traveler and mentioned how, before my meeting with him- I went across the street inquiring about a room for tonight and was told to check back later in the day. Toward the end of my talk with Watson, I found him being more open and less guarded, probably because he realized my questions weren't very probing. Watson scored 6 points on my 1-10 scale. *NOTE Besides an annual report, I received a fascinating book called, A COMPANY THAT CARES, a one hundred year illustrated history of Johnson & Johnson by Lawrence G. Foster. Did you know Johnson & Johnson was started in 1886 by THREE Johnson brothers? Why didn't they call the company Johnson, Johnson & Johnson?
Engelhard, a manufacturer of specialty chemicals and metallurgical products (gold, silver), is headquartered a few miles north of New Brunswick in the city of Edison (population 67,000). I rode up to the guard gate, explained the purpose of my visit to the guards and after they made a few calls; I was told the public relations director was at a business luncheon and everyone else in the public relations department was out of town. I was told to try coming back tomorrow. From the guard gate I could see a big square box-like, blue glassed building which had the name Englehard in large letters atop the side of it. I could also see other buildings in the complex which seem to be a mish-mash of architectural designs, giving the place more of the look of a small corporate park than a campus-type setting. About a block away, up on the hill I could see the Woodbridge Hilton and also about a block away, an Amtrak train making a stop which leads me to believe a lot of employees at Englehard commute to work by train.
Merck & Co.
About 5 miles up the road from Englehard is the headquarters of Merck & Co., a research and pharmaceutical company, which is located in Rahway, population 26,000. The security guard at the gate guarded entry called up public relations and was told everyone was out to lunch so, I waited. Employees walking onto the grounds show their identification cards to a machine which then, allows them entry through turnstiles. I took a bike ride around the outside perimeter and it's huge; with over 150 buildings on 200-acres. Most of the buildings are orange in color and the place definitely has the look of a college campus. After waiting over an hour, the security guard again called up public relations and was told by someone that I needed to call and make an appointment. Frustrated, I asked the guard if he could call up the CEO's secretary to find out where my postcard ended up. He said, "no way" and refused to let me use the phone so, I got on my bike and rode several blocks to another guarded gated entrance which had a pay phone out front. I got hold of the CEO's secretary and was told to call her back in 15 minutes. I waited, called her back and was told someone would be meeting with me shortly.
While waiting at the guard gate, I was told by the guards my bike wouldn't be allowed on the premises and that a van would be picking me up. Chrysler (Detroit, MI) is the only other company (so far) to ban my bike from the premises. Changing into long pants in the rest room, I noticed no disposable toilet seat covers but, the soap was Merck's own brand. After being picked up by a van, I was dropped off at a research laboratory lobby and was greeted by Eleanor Paradowski, Manager of Press Relations. My visit was short, with Paradowski showing little interest in what I was doing. Over 4,000 employees work at the corporate headquarters with, believe it or not, one (which I was told is huge) cafeteria. Vice Presidents on up get reserved parking spots and there's an executive dining room. The tallest building is 7-stories and there's a helipad on the company-owned grounds but, no corporate aircraft. Newark Airport is about 25 minutes away. There's a company smoking policy and was told it wasn't possible to see the CEO's office or boardroom. Matter of fact, my visit with Paradowski lasted all of five minutes in the lobby and I was sent on my way. Paradowski scored 6 points on my 1-10 scale. *NOTE I did receive in the mail an annual report and a brochure on the history of the company which, was founded by George Merck.
Connell Rice & Sugar Company
Leaving Rahway, I rode about 10 miles to Connell Rice & Sugar Company, in Westfield (population 30,000). I showed up at the 2-story, 35,000 square foot building around 4:45 p.m. and was given a warm reception by Robert Spalteholz, Vice President. What does Connell Rice & Sugar, a privately-held company with over $1 billion in revenues do? Connell is the world's largest non-governmental exporter of rice and the largest broker of refined sugar in the United States. Connell is an international supplier of canned goods, and exports a broad range of equipment and supplies manufactured in the United States and other countries to government and commercial enterprises around he world. Dairy equipment and supplies, commercial and industrial refrigeration, prefabricated steel buildings, generator sets and spare parts for construction and mining equipment are just a few of the products.
As we sat in a conference room talking, which I later found out was the boardroom, I asked Spalteholz why there was a whole wall filled with pictures of commercial aircraft, railroad locomotives, railroad cars, coal barges etc.... I was told the pictures were of equipment finance by Connell Finance company, a subsidiary. Since 1975 Connell has financed over $2.5 billion of equipment.
The company-owned headquarters building was built in 1969 and a small discreet sign near the street reads; Connell Rice and Sugar Co., Inc. About 150 employees work in the offices which are plainly furnished. There's no cafeteria, no recreational facilities, no corporate art collection, no corporate aircraft and the three top people get reserved parking. CEO Grover Connell occupies a big corner office but, shares it with two other men; one of who is his son. I met his son, who (jokingly) said the reason his father doesn't have his own office is because "we don't trust him". Why is the company located in Westfield? Because the CEO lives close by. I was most impressed with my reception, especially considering they're a privately-held company and it was almost 5 p.m. when I showed up. Spalteholz scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
It was 5:30 p.m. when I left Connell and, immediately found a pay phone to call up the Hyatt in New Brunswick to see if they had been able to secure a room. It was good news; they were holding a room for me as I made the one and a half hour trek back to the Hyatt. Exhausted, I walked into my room and was surprised to find a bottle of California wine and a fruit tray compliments of the general manager and, a grab bag of Johnson & Johnson goodies from Mr. Watson, the fellow I met with earlier in the day. The goodies from Johnson & Johnson included: a little bottle of baby lotion, Affinity shampoo, package of Sundown sunscreen, Tylenol extra strength caplets, Purpose dry skin cream, and a personal-size first aid kit. I wondered if, by Watson calling up to find out what room I was in, if he was instrumental in my getting a room?
It was a rainy Wednesday morning as I left New Brunswick via through Rutgers University campus and made my way to the Chubb Corporation in Warren, a town of 3,500. Headquarters sits on a beautiful 135-acre site next to Interstate 78. As I rode up to the guard gate, the guard came out and asked if I was Paul Wolsfeld, which at least let me know they had received my postcard and were expecting me. After drying off and changing into long pants, I was greeted by Warner Crockett, Assistant Vice President. Chubb, an insurance holding company primarily involved in property and casualty insurance, leases their headquarters. It was unusual because I've found insurance companies 9 times out of 10 own their buildings. Built in 1983, the good-looking 3-story, 535,000 square foot building was one of the first corporate headquarters to move into this heavily-wooded area and since then, corporate parks have started springing up in the area. Executives and employees with seniority get reserved parking spots. There are about 1,500 parking spaces for 1,800 employees. The corporate art collection is stationary and consists mostly of American crafts. I did get to walk by the Chairman's office but, the boardroom was off-limits due to a meeting going on. My talk with Crockett was a little on the uneasy side because he seemed somewhat guarded. There's a cafeteria, executive dining room, a fitness center, an impressive in-house library and, one corporate aircraft. Newark Airport is about 40 miles away. Being somewhat isolated from any nearby commercial activity explains the barber shop on the premises. Security is very extensive and I was given a tour of the control room, which is filled with monitors from the security cameras spread around the grounds. The rain made it impossible for me to take pictures, which was disappointing because the grounds and building are pretty impressive. Thomas Chubb founded Chubb back in 1882 and Percy Chubb, III is currently a director. Crockett scored 7 points on my 1-10 scale.
As I left Warren and made my way to Madison, I passed through Berkely Heights (population 13,000) and had a great sandwich and pastries from a bakery called, La Petite Patisserie. A couple blocks away I found a place which could fix my electric shaver. For the last week and a half, every town or city I went through I tried in vain to find a repair shop which could fix my malfunctioning shaver until, The Repair Shack took care of the problem. As I was looking around the store the owner noticed the T-shirt I was wearing which mentioned La Jolla, California and said that up until a few years ago, he had a similar store a few miles from La Jolla. We got to talking and sure enough, I remembered where his store used to be. He packed up and moved back to his native New Jersey because he couldn't make any money because "of all the deadbeats". I told him about the nice people and excellent pastries at La Petite Patisserie down the street and he said the people were only nice because they were new owners. Hmmm.
The T-shirts I was wearing on my trek were especially made-up (by me) for visiting corporate America. The front of the shirts have a small logo and the backside reads:
GREENMAIL CORPORATE ASSOCIATES
La Jolla, California
Another T-shirt of mine worn when visiting companies had a small logo on the front and, on the backside it advertised my news clipping service:
PREPPIE GADFLY SERVICE
La Jolla, California
News Media Brokerage
I found the most comments elicited about my T-shirts came when standing in elevators and the people standing behind would sometimes let out a chuckle.
Madison, New Jersey is an affluent town of 15,000, which is home to Scherling-Plough, a health care/pharmaceutical company. As if by magic, the rain let up as a road marker announced my late afternoon arrival into Madison. Corporate headquarters for Scherling-Plough is a beautiful 4-story building in a heavily-wooded 24 and a half acre site inside an executive office park known as, Giralda Farms. To get to Scherling-Plough's building I had to pass through gate-guarded entrance (manned by a security guard) to the corporate park. Giralda Farms use to be the home of multimillionaires Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge and, Prudential purchased the 384-acre estate in 1976 following her death.
I received a warm and enthusiastic welcome from Stephen Galpin, Jr., Manager, Public Information, Corporate Communications. The good-looking lobby area, which is highlighted by a 4-story atrium, includes some interesting art, the most unusual being George Segal's "Man Looking Through A Window", which really is a sculpture of a life-sized man looking through a window. New Jersey artists make up the bulk of the company's art collection. About 350 employees work in the brick and glass building which overlooks wooded, well-kept grounds. Though there aren't any recreational facilities, walking inside the perimeters of the corporate park is popular. As I was getting a look at Mr. Luciano's office (the CEO) his secretary was telling me about the herd of deer which occasionally will run across the property and no sooner did she utter those words, when about a dozen deer go bounding across the grounds. If I didn't know better I would have sworn it was a set-up. Vice-Presidents on up get reserved parking spots, there's a cafeteria, executive dining and, the company has two corporate aircraft. Why is the company headquartered in Madison? Because the company has plants and research facilities close by and because the CEO makes his home in Madison. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge loved trees and at one time, the estate had over 2,000. I was given a brochure put out by Scherling-Plough, which contains inside, a map pointing out and identifying the 35 species of trees found on their property. I really enjoyed my visit and was impressed by the people, building and grounds. Galpin scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale. *NOTE Going through the material sent to me, I was surprised to find out Scherling-Plough owned such well-known consumer names as: Dr. Scholls, Solarcaine, Maybelline, Coppertone, Feen-a-mint and Aspergum. Scherling Corporation and Plough, Inc. merged in 1971 and yes, there was a Mr. Scherling and a Mr. Plough.
As I was leaving Giralda Farms, the security guard at the gate stopped me and asked about my project. He ended up driving me around the grounds in his car, showing among other sights; the former horse stables, which have been converted to the leasing office. It's quite an impressive piece of property, with guidelines calling for building sites of at least 20 acres, with no more than 15% of the land occupied by buildings.
A couple miles down the road from Scherling-Plough in Morristown (population 16,500), I found the corporate headquarters of Allied-Signal. Actually, Allied-Signal's 151-acre headquarters site of rolling hills and landscaped lawns is in Morris Township, a few minutes from downtown Morristown. Riding my bike up a driveway to a security guard booth, I was greeted by several guards who without my having to identify myself, knew who I was. I guess not too many people ride up to their main gate on a bicycle loaded down with panniers. A sign visible from the street says, "Allied Signal, Corporate Headquarters". I was escorted to the main reception area and after signing in, was met by Michael Ascolese, Manager, Media Relations. I told Ascolese I had just left Scherling-Plough and had been duly impressed by Giralda Farms. He said he lived in Madison and frequently went running around the perimeter of Giralda Farms and asked if I saw any of the huge groundhogs which inhabit the grounds. I sure had. I remember seeing dozens of those huge, fat seemingly contented animals sunning themselves as the security guard drove me around the property.
Allied-Signal was a company I was familiar with because, until Signal Companies merged with Allied Corporation a few years earlier, Signal Companies was headquartered in my hometown of La Jolla, California. Anyway, Allied-Signal's headquarters site in the early 1900's use to be the summer estate of Otto Kahn, a prominent wealthy New Yorker. After his death in 1920, the estate was turned into a medical treatment center which, turned out to be less than successful. The property lay idle until Allied Chemical & Dye Corporation, a predecessor of Allied-Signal bought the estate in 1942 for $32,000.
There're quite a few buildings on the grounds, which has the look of a college campus. The company owns the land but, lease the buildings. The main reception area is in the Administration Building, which was completed in 1962. Ascolese didn't show much interest in my project and just seem to go through the motions. I did get to see Mr. Hennessy's office (CEO), which is a corner office with not much of a view, furnished very traditionally and included several model wooden ships. The company's boardroom is in New York City. About 2,100 employees work at the corporate offices. There's a Par-course on the grounds, 2 cafeterias along with a formal dining area called, Cafe Alcem and, officers on up get reserved parking spots. The company has no restrictions on smoking and Allied-Signal takes the lead in having the most corporate aircraft of any company visited so far, with 40. The company has a nice, informative brochure it gives out to visitors, which lists nearby accommodations, public transportation, directions and maps on how to get to and from corporate headquarters from various surrounding plants. Ascolese scored 6 points on my 1-10 scale.
Wednesday morning, October 1, 1987, I walked into the Morristown offices of Wesray Corporation. Wesray, is a privately-held company known for their LBO's and well-known co-founder William Simon. I was somewhat surprised to find their offices in a yellow 3-story building a few miles from downtown, which looks more like a big house than an office building. Visible from the street is a medium-size directory sign on the grass in front, lists the company's name, along with the other tenants in the building which includes a typing service business. You enter the offices from the parking lot side in the rear. The reception area is very small, with several fox hunting pictures lining the walls. I ended up talking with Thomas Giarratana, Chief Financial Officer in a room, which I later found out to be the Chairman's office. During the course of my talk with Giarratana, another man came in and sat down (I don't remember his name or told his title) and besides the two of them not saying or divulging much, they looked at me like I was a spy and they were FBI agents. The company has leased space in the building since 1981. There's no cafeteria and no recreational facilities for the 22 employees. The company has no corporate aircraft and no art collection. The boardroom is a conference room. Giarratana scored 5 points on my 1-10 scale.
Warner Lambert, a health care company, is located in Morris Plains (population 5,300). As you go down a road a sign greets you on the right, "Warner Lambert World Headquarters" and there's a big orange 3-story building. Across the street on the left is a huge complex which looks to be a company manufacturing plant or research facility. I entered the main reception lobby area and checked in with the Wackenhut security guard/receptionist. The guard called up public relations and was told no one would talk to me. Hmmm. I got the okay from the guard to use the lobby phone and called up the CEO's secretary, who told me I was suppose to talk to Ron Zier, Vice President, Public Affairs. I called up his office and was told by an unidentified woman, "No one could talk to you and frankly, we don't want to participate". Telling her I've been to 100's of companies and could count on my one hand the number of companies for one reason or another didn't seem to get a reaction from her. She was very cold and abrupt. As I was leaving the lobby area, I stopped and read the company's creed on the wall. I felt like taking out a pen and writing a line which read, "Treat people how, you yourself would want to be treated".
General Public Utilities
General Public Utilities is headquartered in a company-owned 3-story building located in an executive park-like area in Parsippany (population 7,500). Built in 1978, the building is set way-back from the street and is barely visible because of trees and hills. A sign near the entrance reads, "General Public Utilities". I met with Gary Plummer, Media Relations Manager, who gave me a tour of the building, which would be considered very plush by utility company standards. Approximately 300 employees work in the place, which has a cafeteria and no executive dining. Smoking is optional, there's no corporate art collection, officers and directors get reserved parking spots and the company has no corporate aircraft. The boardroom looked pretty typical and the CEO has a corner office on the top floor with a view of a pond. Plummer scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Armco, a producer of steel mill products, oilfield equipment and owns a good-sized insurance subsidiary, is headquartered a few blocks from General Public Utilities in a brand new 4-story building, which is part of an office complex. Other tenants were listed on the building directory as I went up to the reception area on the 4th floor. I was told by the receptionist that "everyone is out to lunch and no one has time to visit with you" It was suggested I come back tomorrow. As I thumbed through the annual report on the coffee table in the lobby, I noted the company had lost $200 million dollars last year and so I figured they wouldn't exactly be eager to see me. The lobby area did have a display of various objects such as; pieces of metal and bowls, which evidently were gifts received from countries they do business with. The new offices sure looked plush for a company coming off a lousy year.
Leaving Parsippany, I headed about 10 miles southeast to Livingston, population 30,000 and home to Foster-Wheeler, or so I thought. After making a series of wrong turns and detours, I spotted a sign which identified the big building up on a small hill as being the "General Offices" for Foster-Wheeler, a designer and manufacturer of construction and engineering equipment. As I rode up and locked my bike near the main entrance to the building, I noticed the good-sized parking lot was empty of cars and assumed it was because it was late in the day. When I attempted to enter the building I found the front doors locked, with a note taped to the door, which said to go around to the back. Hmm, must be renovating the front entrance I thought walking around to the back of the worn-out looking building. Walking into the back entrance, I had to step aside as several moving men were moving furnishings onto a truck. I asked the security guard where the main reception area is and after chuckling, he said, "Clinton, New Jersey". The company had moved to new quarters several weeks earlier in Clinton, which is about 20 miles from the Pennsylvania border. Well, needless to say did I feel like an idiot and was I mad. Why couldn't Foster-Wheeler have called or sent me a note about their move? Aw heck, my postcard probably got lost in the moving shuffle or, maybe that's the way they do business.
It was after 4 p.m. when I arrived at the corporate headquarters of Automatic Data Processing (ADP) in Roseland, a town of 5,000. ADP is the largest, independent company in the United States dedicated exclusively to providing computerized recordkeeping and information services. Headquarters is a 4-story, 132,000 square foot structure which sits on a company-owned 50-acre site, which is part of a corporate park known as Becker Farms. Yep, you guessed it, Becker Farms use to be farmland owned by a guy named Becker. I received a warm welcome from Edward Kanarkowski, a super nice guy who is Director of Corporate Communications. The grounds were kind of a mess because a building with 140,000 additional square feet was going up next door. Approximately 800 people work in the building which was built in 1983. The well-kept grounds are popular with joggers, has a Par-course and a softball field. The company's art collection consists of New Jersey artists, there's a cafeteria, no policy on smoking, no corporate aircraft, and the CEO's office and boardroom were pretty typical, with the later having pictures of the two founders. Kanarkowski scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
I spent the night in Fairfield (population 7,000) in the Sheraton Fairfield, which is adjacent to the corporate headquarters of Prime Motor Inns, which operates motor inns, restaurants and cocktail lounges around the country, along with owning the Howard Johnson Franchise System. Prime Motor Inns operates the Sheraton Fairfield and the reason I mention all of this is because how would you like to be the General Manager or an employee of the hotel knowing the big honchos of Corporate were next door and could drop in at anytime?
Friday morning found me riding to the outskirts of Wayne, (population 50,000) to visit Union Camp, a producer of forest products. The 5-story, 150,000 square foot building isn't visible from the street because it's set back on a 40-acre wooded site. A sign visible from the street reads, "Union Camp Corporate Headquarters". Built in 1969, the company-owned structure does have a 1960's look about it. Timothy McKenna, Assistant Director of Public Relations, gave me a hearty welcome. I got to see anything and everything. The fitness center contained something I hadn't seen before; a punching bag. The corporate art collection is stationary, with most of the art having a connection of some kind with wood. About 420 employees work in the building, which includes a cafeteria overlooking a big pond, with the water coming right up to the cafeteria windows. Fake hawks hang down in front of the big picture windows in the cafeteria because birds seem to have a problem of not seeing the glass and trying to fly through. Officers on up get reserved parking and the company has three corporate aircraft. I got to see the CEO's office and the boardroom. I picked up a route map brochure from the receptionist, which is a handy little map which shows how to get to Union Camp's headquarters from various places such as; NYC, and Morristown Airport. McKenna scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
A few miles down the road from Union Camp, overlooking a 600-acre, three billion-gallon water reservoir is the corporate headquarters of American Cyanamid, a research-based biotechnology and chemical company which develops, manufactures and markets medical, agricultural, chemical and consumer products. Some of the well-known consumer products include Pine-Sol, Old Spice and Combat roach control. All that's visible from the street is a sign which reads, "Cyanamid, World Headquarters". The driveway takes you about a quarter mile from the main road past heavily-wooded areas until you come to several white buildings. The structure on the left, built in 1962 and containing 375,000 square feet of space is known as the main building, which houses the visitor/reception area. The structure on the right, known as the West Building, was built in 1976 and contains 175,000 square feet. The West Building appears to be only one story but, is actually 6-stories because it is built on sloping terrain. While waiting in the lobby area for Patricia Arnold, Communications Specialist, I had fun looking over the displays commemorating the 25th anniversary of the building of their corporate headquarters here in Wayne. Tomorrow (Saturday) the company is having a big party on the grounds to mark the occasion. As I waited in the lobby, I was surprised to find no magazines to read on the coffee tables.
Just under 2,000 employees work at the beautiful company-owned, corporate headquarters complex which is situated on a 180-acre site. There're 5 parking lots with a total of 1,720 parking spaces, with top management and car poolers getting reserved spots. The fitness center contains the usual equipment which includes several treadmill machines. The company does have a policy on smoking and from what I understand CEO George Cella Jr. is a cigar smoker. I did get to see the boardroom and the CEO's office, which has a great view of the huge reservoir in the distance. There's a cafeteria with a seating capacity of 800 and several management dining rooms; one of which is called the "Greenhouse" dining room. There's not much of an art collection, the company has three corporate aircraft and there's a helipad on the grounds. Arnold scored 9 points on my 1-10 scale. *NOTE I was quite impressed with the amount of material sent to me by Arnold and the follow-up research on questions she wasn't quite sure of at the time of my visit. One of the questions asked and she didn't know the answer to was; Why is American Cyanamid located in Wayne, New Jersey? Her answer is as follows:
Cyanamid originally planned to move its headquarters from New York City to Alpine, New Jersey. Residents in Alpine were asked to vote on a referendum which would change the zoning regulations so that Cyanamid could relocate to their town; the referendum passed by a small majority. However, Cyanamid felt the support of the town wasn't strong enough to warrant the move to Alpine.
Meanwhile, a teacher in Wayne, NJ heard that Cyanamid was considering relocation to New Jersey. She wrote to Cyanamid's CEO Wilbur Malcolm, inviting Cyanamid to relocate to Wayne, saying that the company would be welcomed in Wayne both as a neighbor and as a tax ratable for the school system.
Cyanamid investigated the area, purchased the property, built its new headquarters and relocated to Wayne, NJ in May, 1962.
Becton Dickinson and Company
Becton Dickinson and Company, which manufactures and sells medical supplies, has an unbelievable corporate headquarters in Franklin Lakes, population 9,000. From the main road you can't see a thing because tall trees block the view and you still can't see anything as you ride up to the guard gate because you're in a heavily-wooded area. The guard said they were expecting me as I was led to a good-looking 5-story, 380,000 square foot building which was recently completed in 1986. I met with Bruce Cohen, Supervisor, Security and Transportation, Corporate Office Planning and Service who gave me a great tour of the place, which I predict will easily make my list of the 10 spiffiest headquarters.
I could tell I was in for something out of the ordinary because atop the building is something which looks to be a cross between a church spire and a lookout post. The building has two long atriums, one of which houses an actual archeological dig. Picture this: on the ground floor of one atrium is a small indoor pond, followed by a section of green grass, followed by an actual hole in the ground, complete with slabs of concrete next to the hole AND a slab of concrete on a wagon from the 1800's! As you continue on to the other atrium various items are on display such as ancient statues. According to Cohen, the idea behind the two atriums is this; one atrium shows an archeological dig, while the other shows the result of the dig. Hmmm.
The building has all the latest in security and gadgets such as; when you enter a room, the lights come on automatically and five minutes after leaving a room, sensors turn the lights off. When a security guard makes the rounds at night, each room has a slot where he enters a card and a computer will punch in the time the room was checked. I counted at least three security guards patrolling the grounds, which might be because construction was in progress on an additional building going up. According to Cohen, the building will be about the same size as the first. Between 700-1000 employees work at the building located on a company-owned 130-acre site.
The fitness center has all the latest equipment including treadmills and stationary bicycles, in which you can insert videos and watch programs as you work out. My tour was so complete, I even got to see the mail room and the loading docks. I saw the boardroom and the CEO's office, the latter being a corner office with quite a bit of art and a view of the courtyard area.
Officers on up get reserved parking, there's a cafeteria, formal dining and the company has two corporate aircraft, with Newark Airport being a 45 minute drive away. The rosewood paneling and gray carpet throughout gives the building a clean, warm look. I asked Cohen if it was all right to take pictures f the buildings and grounds but, was told it wasn't possible because an architectural magazine was coming out with an exclusive. Cohen scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
After leaving Franklin Lakes, I headed about six miles east and rode around Saddle River, a town of 2,700, which is one of the 74 most affluent suburbs in the country. The Saddle River area is hilly, heavily wooded and has beautiful estates and country homes. No wonder companies are moving to Northern New Jersey, why should company executives commute to New York City when gorgeous pristine countrysides beckon? I still had a dozen companies to visit in New Jersey but, decided to ride my bike to Newark Airport tomorrow morning (Saturday) and catch a flight to Boston because the weather was already turning cold up there. I spent Friday night in blue collar Saddle Brook (population 16,000), which is not to be confused with affluent Saddle River, 10 miles north. I stayed in the Saddle Brook Marriott, which is supposedly the sixth Marriott Hotel ever built and though the exterior of the building looks its age, the room was great.
I arrived in Boston's Logan Airport Saturday morning and thanks to having read an article in a business magazine, my bike and I boarded a water taxi near the airport and for a $5 fee, were deposited in downtown Boston five minutes later. I spent the weekend playing tourist; riding around the perimeter of the shoebox of a baseball stadium known as Fenway Park, walking around inside the Boston Garden, pigging out at the pastry shops in Faneuil Hall Marketplace, riding around the campus of Harvard, riding up and down both sides of the Charles River, checking out the ritzy shops on Newbury Street and of course, checking out historical landmarks of the Revolutionary War.
Monday morning it was back to business as I rode several blocks from the Royal Sonesta Hotel (where I was staying) in Cambridge to the headquarters of Polaroid. Cambridge is separated from Boston by the Charles River and it was nice staying at the Royal Sonesta because you get a great view of the downtown skyline. Anyway, Polaroid is headquartered in a 4-story, sandy-colored building in a building complex known as, Technology Square. The building looked like it was built in the late 1960's. I checked in with the security guard/receptionist, who made a phone call to someone and then informed me no one was available to talk with me. I persisted and eventually a not very nice lady came down to the lobby area and told me "no one has received your postcard and there's no one available to talk to you". I gave her a postcard and a questionnaire and asked if someone could fill it out and mail it to me. Talk about being made to feel like you don't exist! I gave this unknown woman a -2 on my 1-10 scale AND I put my takeover whammy on the company. *NOTE It came as no surprise when I failed to receive my questionnaire back in the mail.
Bank of New England
Bank of New England is located in downtown Boston in a high-rise. According to the building directory, Public Relations is located in an adjacent small building so, I went up to the 16th floor, where I was then told to go to the 4th floor. Upon arriving at the 4th floor, I was told to go back up to the 16th. Returning to the 16th, I was directed to come back another time because the woman I was suppose to meet with was in a meeting.
The Bank of Boston
The Bank of Boston is headquartered in a 37-story structure not too far from the Bank of New England. I called up the CEO's secretary and she remembered seeing my card and forwarding it to Mr. Stepanian's office (President), who forwarded it to Mr. McWade in Corporate Communications. McWade came down to the main lobby, where we sat in chairs and went through the questions. He didn't have a business card because according to him, he was on "temporary assignment" The Bank of Boston does not own the building but, leases about 80% of the space from the owner; Equitable Insurance. McWade didn't take much interest in my questions and seem to just go through the motions. I was told there was "no way possible" to see the CEO's office and boardroom because "there's too much security".
About 5,000 employees work in the building, with vice presidents on up getting reserved parking spots. The company has no planes but, has a helicopter. There's a cafeteria, formal dining rooms and the conference rooms are named after U.S. Presidents. The corporate art collection is rotated and consists of a mish-mash of "fine art". Smoking is allowed anywhere. McWade scored 6 points on my 1-10 scale.
George E. Warren Corporation
George E. Warren Corporation is a privately held company that is a wholesale distributor of oil. According to Forbes Magazine the company has over $2 billion in revenues. Headquarters is in downtown Boston on the 19th floor of a 21-story building. I met with Jonathan Taylor, Treasurer, who said the current corporate offices, where they have leased space since 1982, will be moved to the Boston suburb of Framingham in the near future. Thirty-five people work in the contemporary designed offices on the 19th floor (14,000 square feet). Smoking is allowed anywhere, everyone is on their own as far as parking and there's a small lunch room. I didn't see much in the office of the newly named CEO and President, Thomas Corr because he hadn't had time to fully move into his new quarters. The boardroom is just a conference room. Taylor scored 8 points on my 1-10 scale.
Gillette leases space in the 52-story Prudential Building, which looks like it was built in the 1960's and is about two miles from downtown. I went up to the 39th floor and checked in with the receptionist. After making a few phone calls, she got hold of Joan Fitzgerald, Assistant Manager, Corporate News Bureau, Corporate Public Relations, who came out to the small plain-looking lobby/reception area and answered my questions. Fitzgerald made it clear she was very busy and made me feel like I was taking up her valuable time. The company takes up 11 floors in the building and senior management gets reserved parking. There's a cafeteria and no executive dining rooms. Smoking is allowed anywhere and there's a fitness center, which I'm told has a jogging area and pool. Fitzgerald seem to perk up when Mr. Mockler Jr., the CEO, walked by as she said "hi" to him. It wasn't possible to see the CEO's office but, she did run me in to see the boardroom. I didn't see any security guards or closed-circuit cameras. The company has no corporate aircraft and when I asked if Gillette has a corporate art collection; was told "not really". Fitzgerald scored 5 points on my 1-10 scale. I did feel they might have thought I was a spy because Ronald Pearlman had been trying for quite a while to take them over. *NOTE Fitzgerald never followed through on sending me information.
Boston Edison was just an elevator ride down from Gillette. Coming off the elevator, there's a closed-circuit camera and you have to be buzzed through a door. I checked in with the main receptionist on the 36th floor and ended up meeting with Eleanor Daly, Vice President and assistant to the CEO. Daly was enthusiastic about my project and asked a lot of questions. Boston Edison has about 1,200-1,500 employees in the building on 10 floors. The company has a cafeteria but, no executive dining. Smoking is optional, with CEO Stephen Sweeney smoking cigarettes. Vice Presidents on up get reserved parking, with downtown Boston (according to Daly) being "five subway stops away". It's a $15.00 cab fare to Logan Airport and the company has no corporate aircraft. I did see the CEO's corner office but, the boardroom was another story as Daly opened the door--only to find a serious meeting going on and needless to say, we retreated. Daly scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company
Near the Prudential Building is the 60-story, blue-glassed, landmark headquarters building of the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company. Corporate headquarters consists of three adjacent company-owned buildings: one was built in the 1920's, one in the 1940's and the 60-story structure was built in 1968 but not occupied until 1976 because glass sidings of the building kept falling off onto the pavement below.
I took the elevator up to the 54th floor, where I met with Kenneth Owens, Manager Corporate Community Relations. What a view he has from his office! The I.M. Pei designed structure is the tallest in New England. Never got past Owens office, who just went through the motions. I was told it was "too much hassle" to see the CEO's office and boardroom. About 6,000 employees work at the corporate headquarters, with other tenants leasing space in the 60-story tower. The cafeteria is open to the other tenants in the building and there are several formal dining rooms. The top officers get reserved parking spots and there's a fitness center which has Nautilus equipment as well as rowing machines and stationary bikes. The corporate art collection consists of "modern art". Owens scored 6 points on my 1-10 scale.
New England Mutual Life Insurance Company
New England Mutual Life Insurance Company is located right across the street from John Hancock. I went into the building twice and never got past the security guards at the entrance. I was told no one was in who could talk to me. The lobby area is very impressive, with huge murals on the walls of events in the 1700's. New England Mutual has a new building going up next door which looks to be about 30-stories. I don't know if I can make it back for another try.
Tuesday morning found me in Chestnut Hills, which is about 7 miles from downtown Boston. General Cinema has their headquarters in a white building connected to one of their theatre complexes. The movie, THE BIG EASY, was headlining the 5-theatres-in-one-complex. Small lettering on the front of the building, which looks to be three stories says, "General Cinema, Executive Offices". The entrance to the building is around the backside, where a good-sized parking lot is available. By day, the parking lot is for Corporate America and I guess at night, the paying public takes over. The reception/lobby area is very small and after explaining to the friendly, young receptionist the purpose of my visit, I went into the bathroom to change into my long pants while she got hold of somebody. I no sooner exited the bathroom when, I was met by a woman who said, "I'm sorry to tell you this but, we have a policy of no interviews, no tours, no nothing, I'm sorry you had to go all this way but, we did try to get hold of you". Well, I did an about face into the bathroom and put my riding shorts back on. I was even handed back the postcard I mailed to Richard Smith, the CEO, which was marked by a note on the front that said, "We do not respond to surveys". As I was leaving, I did notice a portrait of a man on the wall with the name, Mr. Smith, who was probably the founder. As I stood in the parking lot taking pictures of the building and grounds, it looked like the view from the top floor would be of a heavy forest area with some kind of lake or pond. Next door to General Cinema is the Chestnut Hill Mall, which contains such upscale stores as Blomingdales and Brooks Brothers. General Cinema is a publicly-held company which acts like it's private.
First Petroleum Corporation
My next stop was First Petroleum Corporation in Waltham (population 58,000), a suburb about 8 miles west of Boston. According to Forbes Magazine, the privately-held petroleum wholesaler had revenues of over $1.8 billion. Well, I found out Forbes made a boo-boo because First Petroleum according to the building directory is a subsidiary of Global Petroleum. Corporate headquarters is on the second floor of a new (1986) 6-story office building known as Watermill Center. I checked in with the rude, abrupt receptionist who said she didn't have time to read the postcard I tried to hand her. As I talked with her, various people walked by her desk and the whole place had the feeling of a cold, not very nice place to work. I asked her if she could check to see if CEO Alfred Slifka had received my postcard and before I could finish she says, "I know for a fact he isn't in and nobody has the time to talk to you." I think it's for people like her that the word b____, was invented. As I was riding away, I noticed Brandeis University was almost across the street.
Cabot Corporation, an energy and chemical company founded in 1882 by Godfrey Lowell Cabot, is also located in Waltham. Corporate offices are in a 4-story, red brick building which is part of a corporate office park. About 500 employees work in the offices situated up on a hill, which gives you a great view of a large reservoir and heavily-wooded areas. Fall was in the air and the leaves were turning color, adding to the splendor of the view. I met with Ruth Scheer, Director of Community Affairs, Foundation Vice President and Executive Director, who was enthusiastic about my project. The company leases their offices and have been headquartered there about a year. There is a policy of "no smoking" in the building and there's a cafeteria, with no executive dining. Logan Airport is about a 40 minute drive away and after December of 1987, the company will have no corporate aircraft. I did get to see the CEO's office, which is a middle office and, didn't get to see the boardroom because a meeting was going on. The company has a corporate art collection which includes 179 pieces of art, which are distributed amongst various corporate facilities throughout the country. Most of the collection is contemporary and includes graphics, watercolors, oils, sculptures and acrylics. Parking is "open", which means if the CEO is the last one in; he looks for a parking spot like everyone else. Employees who are runners, have serene country-like roads for noon-time runs. Scheer scored 10 pints on my 1-10 scale. *NOTE Scheer sent me loads of material on Cabot including a tidbit about the company running an auto repair course at their corporate headquarters.
Raytheon, a diversified company with interests in electronics, manufactures appliances (Amana), aircraft products (Beech Aircraft) and energy services, is located a few miles from Cabot in the neighboring city of Lexington (population 32,000). A sign visible from the street says, "Raytheon, Corporate Offices, Research Division". I rode up to the guard at the guard house and after calling me in, was cleared and directed to a building. Muzak was playing as I waited in the lobby for Lawrence McCracken, Manager, Media Relations. McCracken seem like a nice guy but, acted guarded. The 2-story headquarters building was built in 1961 and looks its age. There are other buildings on the company-owned, 100 acre site, including one housing Raytheon's publishing subsidiary. About 250-300 people work in the headquarters building. There's a cafeteria and executive dining rooms. Vice Presidents on up get reserved parking and smoking is not restricted. There are no recreational facilities except walking around the well-kept grounds. The Concord Turnpike is located right around the corner but, you wouldn't know it due to the dense vegetation.
I never got past the lobby area and my request to see the CEO's office and boardroom was met by a firm "no". When asked why not?, I was told, "We just don't take people up there". The company has 4 aircraft and has a helipad on the grounds. Downtown Boston is 12 miles away and, surprise!, I was given a red, 100% combed cotton polo-type shirt with the company's logo on the front. Considering how guarded McCracken had been-the shirt was unexpected. McCracken scored 7 points on my 1-10 scale. *Note McCracken never followed up on sending me literature as requested.
It was late afternoon when I arrived at Wang Laboratories corporate headquarters building in Lowell, a city of 92,000, about 35 miles north of Boston. Riding up to the fortress-like structure, I at first thought it was a hospital or college dormitory until seeing a sign out on the front lawn saying, "Wang". I locked my bike up and went inside the 12-story structure where a not very friendly receptionist said she didn't want to read my postcard. After verbally explaining to the receptionist what I was doing, she let out one of those sighs that lets you know you're being a pain, and said I needed a name of somebody AND an appointment. Letting me use the lobby phone, I called up the CEO's secretary. I got hold of Mr. Wang's (CEO) secretary, who told me the postcard had been referred to Mr. ??? (I didn't catch his name) but, after calling his office I was told it had been sent to Paul Guzzi's office. Calling Mr. Guzzi's office, I was told everyone was busy and to come back tomorrow. Well, I explained it was a 70 mile round-trip bike from Boston and it wasn't possible for me to come back because of my tight schedule but, my plea fell on deaf ears. The lobby area did have an interesting display of old Wang calculators and computers. I also noticed a sign by the reception desk which announced there was no smoking past the front entrance area. Disappointed in my lackluster reception, I headed back to Boston for the night.
The Stop & Shops Companies
Wednesday morning found me in an office park in Quincy, a suburb of 85,000 people, about 7 miles south of downtown Boston. The Stop & Shops Companies, which operates a chain of food stores and discount retail stores, leases space in a 5-story building. Nothing outside tells you Stop & Shops offices are in the building known as the, John Adams Building. I noticed a closed-circuit camera in the lobby as I checked in with the friendly receptionist and sat for a few minutes on a god-awful bright orange sofa in the lobby area. I met with Aileen Gorman, Vice-President of Public Affairs. My visit lasted about five minutes because the abrupt Gorman made it clear that's all the time she had for me. The company has no corporate aircraft, no corporate art collection and, smoking is restricted. Gorman did a good job of whisking me in and out of the offices and making me feel insignificant. Gorman scored 4 points on my 1-10 scale. *NOTE Considering my treatment, it was surprising to find an annual report was sent as I had requested.
Reebok International leases office space in a 2-story red brick building located in an office park in Canton (population 17,000), which is about 20 miles south of downtown Boston. It rained the whole way out there and stopped as soon as I rode up to the entrance. I was greeted by a not very friendly receptionist/security guard who had a "could care less" attitude. I used the lobby phone and called up the CEO's secretary, who ended up coming down to the lobby and showing me around. Pamela MacInnis, secretary to the Chairman, told me Mr. Fireman, (the CEO & Chairman) and all the big officers plus the entire Public Relations department were in Chicago attending a trade show. MacInnis, who's probably in her late 20's, told me new corporate headquarters were being built about 5 miles away in the town of Stoughton and the company would be moving to the new quarters in 1988. According to MacInnis, the new digs will have lots of recreational perks. I was given a tour of their showroom, which displayed their clothing and shoe lines; there must be over 100 types of shoes on display. The company has one aircraft, it's a 30 minute drive to Logan Airport, Vice Presidents on up get reserved parking and a cafeteria is shared with other tenants. One of the perks of being shown around by the CEO's secretary is; I got to see the CEO's office. MacInnis scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Hills Department Stores
Down the road a few miles stands the headquarters of Hills Department Stores, a chain of discount department stores that also owns Gallenkamp shoes. Corporate headquarters is a 1-story warehouse-type building which reminds me of a rundown K-Mart store painted brown. I had to pas a security guard to enter the parking lot. I met with Nan Rutter, Director-Consumer Affairs, who told me the company leases the building. About 750 people work in the no-frills, spartanly furnished structure which looks like it was built in the 1950's. The company flies a "just say no" flag out front, there's a cafeteria, no recreational facilities, no art collection, no aircraft and, parking is not reserved. I met with CEO Stephen Goldberger in his corner office for a few minutes and it was an uneasy meeting. Goldberger didn't come across as a too friendly kind of guy. A circular table in his office, which has four seats, is the boardroom. Rutter scored 9 points on my 1-10 scale.
Thursday morning after riding through the campus of Wellesley College in Wellesley (population 28,000), I showed up at the dumpy-looking corporate headquarters of Zayre, a discount department store chain, located in Framingham (population 65,000) which is about 25 miles west of downtown Boston. The 2-story building looks like it was built in the 1960's and looks similar to one of their stores. A new 4-story building is going up next door and a sign out front of it said, "Zayre Corp. Home Office Building". I went into the small dumpy, bare-bones furnished lobby area, which had an ugly orange and an ugly green sofa. The receptionist said my postcard hadn't been received and no one was available to see me. I thought it over for about 2 seconds and realized I didn't care if someone WOULD see me because the place isn't worth wasting my time.
From Zayre, I headed north about 15 miles, through the rolling, heavily-wooded countrysides which were putting on nature's spectacular once a year show of colors. The leaves were changing, the road I was on wasn't well traveled, my stomach was full; what more could a person wish for? Well, for one thing I wish it wasn't so windy and wish I didn't have to ride into the heavy wind. Maynard, a town of about 9,000, was my destination point. Digital Equipment, a big computer company is home-based in this sleepy little town. I had read several articles about Digital's headquarters being in a renovated 140 year old woolen mill and was looking forward to seeing it.
Sure enough, within a couple blocks of downtown, is a large complex of red brick buildings, which could pass for a mill or small college. A sign saying, "Digital" is against a low wrought iron fence along with an American flag flying in the background as I walked with my bike onto the grounds and into the main reception area. The main reception/lobby area is one of the more unusual and beautiful I've seen because the red brick walls, along with the wood floor and the height of the atrium (which is about 4-stories), gives you a sense of being in a place which is old and at the same time giving you a sense of being in a modern building. Does that make sense? I checked in with the receptionist, who after making a call, tells me public relations is in Concord and if I were to go there, someone would be happy to talk with me. It was easy for her to say, Concord was five miles north of Maynard and the wind was awful. How windy was it? Well, to me when garbage cans are getting blown over, then that's windy. Besides, I hated going to another location and asking questions about a corporate headquarters building or complex I can't see or be in as we talk. What if I rode to Concord and found out no one would/could give me a tour of headquarters? That defeats the whole purpose of my trek, which is to PHYSICALLY visit corporate headquarters. My schedule today was tight and so I passed on riding to Concord. I did notice closed circuit cameras on the grounds.
New England Electric Systems
New England Electric Systems is headquartered in Westborough, a town of 13,000, which is located about 40 miles west of Boston and about 20 miles east of Worcester. Corporate offices are in a 6-story building, which was built in two stages; 1964 & 1969. I met with David Hyde, Assistant Manager, Office Services, New England Power Service. Hyde, who is probably in his late 60's or early 70's, told me the company was just about the first, if not THE first to locate out here, which is now filled with office buildings lining either side of Route 9 (a freeway-type road which runs by the headquarters). John Hancock Insurance Company owns the building in which 900 employees work and, the reason the company is headquartered in Westborough is because it's in the center of the area it serves and services.
I never got past the lobby area and couldn't see the CEO's office or boardroom because they were being used. There's a cafeteria, vending machines and, several picnic tables were outside. Senior Vice-President's on up get reserved parking, there's no restriction on smoking, no art collection and, closed-circuit cameras where visible. The company leases helicopters and Worcester Municipal Airport is 20 miles away. I was disappointed in not being able to see the CEO's office because thumbing through the company's annual report in the lobby, I saw where the company had a new CEO, Joan Bok, a WOMAN. I would have liked to have seen what her office looked like. Would it have been masculine? Lots of flowers? Traditionally furnished? There's a basketball hoop on the backside of the building and a jogging trail around the grounds. Hyde scored 7 points on my 1-10 scale.
Almost across the street (Route 9) from New England Electric System is the headquarters of Data General, a computer company. A sign near the road reads, "Data General" and the street address for Data General is 4400 Computer Drive. Corporate Offices consists of three company-owned red brick buildings, one having 650,000 square feet, one 120,000 square feet and the other also having 120,000 square feet. The tallest is 2-stories and the first of the buildings was built in 1977. I met with Michael O'Leary, Site Security Manager. The company leases one helicopter and has not one, but two helipads. A helicopter was landing as I rode up. The lobby/reception area has two portable computers on display and closed-circuit cameras were also noticed. Downtown Westborough is a couple miles away and the almost 3,000 employees "park anywhere". I was given a tour of the Executive Briefing Room, which is where visitors are brought to look at the company's product lines. Nicely-furnished conference-like rooms with name like; the Concord Room or Cape Cod Room have been set-up to give presentations or samples of how Data Generals products work. There's a cafeteria and executive dining. O'Leary scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Hanover Insurance Company
I spent a night in Worcester, which is New England's second largest city with about 160,000. Early the next morning I was at the corporate headquarters of Hanover Insurance Company. Evidently it was TOO early in the morning because for some unexplainable reason; after locking my bike outside the entrance doors to the 3-story building I walked right into the glass doors-hitting my forehead hard on the glass. Actually, I blame it on the early morning cold weather and the fact I was still half-asleep. Lucky for me the security guard/receptionist hadn't seen my embarrassing display of stupidity. Rubbing my forehead, I checked in with the guard and was soon meeting with Joseph Henry, Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer in his office. One of my first questions asked was; does Hanover lease or own their headquarters building? According to Henry, Hanover leases the building from State Mutual Companies-who's corporate offices are located next door AND own 51% of Hanover Insurance. Hmmm. I told Henry I hadn't even heard of State Mutual Companies, let alone having them on my list of companies to visit. Henry called up State Mutual Companies and made arrangements for me to talk to someone over there after finishing with Hanover. Almost 500 people work in the 185,000 square foot building which was built in 1985. There are 2 cafeterias and formal dining for guests. Smoking is allowed anywhere and there's no boardroom. I did get to meet with CEO William O'Brien and saw his office, which is a corner office furnished very spartanly, with several pictures of his family and a view of the parking lot. Henry scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale. *NOTE I did receive a package in the mail containing an annual report along with a duffel bag and safety vest (for riding my bike or jogging at night).
State Mutual Companies
State Mutual Companies is headquartered in a company-owned 6-story, 550,000 square foot building built in 1957. Another 300,000 square foot building is located nearby. I met with Mark Plotczyk, Manager, Public Information and a loud gum chewer. Set on a 44-acre site about two miles from downtown Worcester, roughly 2,200 employees work at headquarters. There's a weight room, no corporate art collection, no corporate aircraft, a cafeteria and formal dining. Henry at Hanover Insurance had told me to be sure to see State Mutual's boardroom but, I didn't think it was very impressive, but then again most people haven't seen as many as I have. The boardroom, like many I've seen in insurance companies, has paneled walls, high ceilings and a long table. The fireplace and chandeliers did add a unique touch to the room. Plotczyk showed me the small chapel in the building, which even has stained glass panels. Plotczyk scored 8 points on my 1-10 scale. *NOTE I was sent an annual report along with a section of the Worcester Sunday Telegram newspaper date November 17, 1957, which featured a whole special advertising section on the opening of State Mutual Companies headquarters building. A story in the paper mentioned the chapel and how it isn't a chapel but, "The Mediation Room". It goes on to say The Meditation Room is, "A place to which employee or officer, stenographer or vice president, may repair, at any time of the day, to reflect, to think out a personal problem, perhaps even silently to pray".
Springfield lies about 50 miles west of Worcester and I arrived in the downtown area around 4 o'clock on a Friday afternoon hoping to visit Monarch Capital AND Massachusetts Mutual Life so I wouldn't have to spend the weekend in Springfield.
Monarch Capital, an insurance holding company, is located in a brand new office building in downtown, which isn't even completed. It looks to be about 20-stories tall and a new Sheraton Tara Hotel is connected to it. I went to the lobby and the security guard/receptionist gave me some numbers of people to call and I wasn't having any luck because everyone seem to have already gone home. What did I expect; it was Friday afternoon and Monday was a holiday (Columbus Day). At one point I was put on hold for 10 minutes and told the security guard I couldn't wait any longer because I had to get over to another insurance company before 5 p.m. and, I would drop back later.
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company
I jumped on my bike and hightailed it about 4 miles to the huge (1.2 million square feet), 4-story headquarters of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. It isn't located in a nice part of town, which helps one go faster if he isn't already in a hurry. I arrived around 4:30 p.m., which was just in time to see hundreds of people pouring out of the red brick Williamsburg-Colonial style structure to go home. I met with William Persch, Jr., Public Relations Director, for a few minutes and then, was turned over to Harry Evans, Associate Director of Publications, who ended up answering most of my questions as we sat in his office. The company-owned building was built in 1929 and has had various sections added on. About 4,100 employees work in the building, which is right across the street from the old headquarters of Monarch Capital (also a red brick building). I never got past Evan's office and seeing the CEO's office and boardroom was out of the question because enough advance notice wasn't given. There's a cafeteria, formal dining rooms, senior officers get reserved parking and, no corporate art collection. The company owns a helicopter as well as having a helipad on the grounds. Also located on the property are two tennis courts, a softball field, basketball, volleyball and a fitness center along with a fitness director. Evans scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale. *NOTE I never received material requested about the company's history.
I rode back to Monarch Capital and found out I was out of luck; everyone had gone home. I left my questionnaire to be sent to me. *NOTE I did receive an annual report along with several issues of the company's monthly employee magazine but, my questionnaire was not returned.
Springfield has a population of about 160,000 and several people in town said Springfield, not Worcester, is the second largest city in New England. Who's right? *NOTE according to my 1988 Rand McNally Road Atlas, which says its figures are from the "1980 Census populations or latest available estimates:, Worcester has a population of 161,799 and Springfield 152,319.