McGraw-Hill, Inc., occupies 22 floors of a 50-story building located in Mid-town on Avenue of the Americas. The structure, known as the McGraw-Hill Building, is 45% owned by McGraw-Hill and 55% by the Rockefeller Group. About 3,000 employees occupy 985,000 square feet of space. On the ground floor lobby thereís an information counter/reception area for McGraw-Hill and on the counter are several hooked-up computers, which allow people walking in off the street to punch in and receive information via McGraw-Hill News Services (stock quotes, latest news of the day etc). I meet with Elizabeth Russo, Director, Public Affairs. Thereís no formal art collection, although I do see quite a few pictures of old McGraw-Hill headquarter buildings. There're no corporate aircraft, no recreational facilities, with reserved parking for executive vice presidents on up (about 12 spots) and, Iím taken up to the 50th floor to see the cafeteria and some of the formal dining rooms which have Scottish names. There's a large auditorium (which is rented out) and according to Russo, the company is located downtown. Most people consider lower Manhattan to be downtown but, Russo considers their Rockefeller Center location to be downtown. Russo scores 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Itís raining hard when I leave McGraw-Hill at around 4 p.m. and walk back to the Citibank building at Lexington & 53rd Street to pick up my bike left locked up at their bike rack. The only problem is; it wasn't there! All that remains of my bike is the cable used to lock it up! God, am I upset! At first I think the security people inside the bank had removed it because a sign above the bike racks says only Citibank employees are allowed to use the bike racks. I go inside and tell the security guard my bike is missing and did her people, by chance, remove it? She checks with another security officer and says no bikes had been removed but, mine was the THIRD one today reported stolen. Iím REALLY upset. I stand near the bike racks for about 30 minutes thinking about how stupid and trusting Iíve been. I assumed that my bike, loaded down with four big blue saddlebags, would be too obvious or well known to be stolen. I also assumed there was safety in numbers because there were about a dozen other bikes locked up with mine. Yesterday, I had left my bike locked up there the whole day and no problems. Jeez, what an idiot! I lost clothes, shoes, rain gear and miscellaneous items. Iím lucky however that I hadn't left my tape recorder, notes or camera on the bike. A big problem Iíve been having in New York City was finding a safe place to lock up my bike. About 98% of the buildings don't have bike racks and don't allow bikes to be locked up anywhere on the building's property. Actually, I don't blame the building's owners for banning bikes on their property because I've seen where the bike messengers lock up their bikes, which is ANYWHERE; around trees, signs, benches, and railings. Sometimes I would spend half an hour trying to get clearance from a security guard or company official to allow me to bring my bike into a storeroom or empty back room, rather than leave it locked outside on the sidewalk.
I walk home in the pouring rain from the Citibank Building (about 2 miles) without an umbrella but, the rain doesn't bother me because Iím mad and sad at the same time. Things aren't looking too bright for me as I take stock of the situation: I'm out of money (surviving on cash advances from my credit cards), I have no publisher for a book (which I've been riding around the country on my bike for two years researching), I've just lost my bike, I'm stuck visiting companies in a city who's people have the reputation for being the coldest, unfriendliest in the United States AND to make things even worse; my girlfriend, Petra, who has never been to New York City (and is REALLY looking forward to it), is arriving in several hours to stay for a week, which means I have to put on a fake happy face.
I arrive back at the apartment and call up Rick Cendo, the New York Times reporter, and tell him I have an update for the story about me that hadn't run yet. After telling my sob story, Rick says heís sorry but, a stolen bike in New York City means nothing and he has no idea when and if, the story about me would run. I day dream for a few minutes about how great it would be if the New York Times story ran, along with a photo of my bike because my Cannondale touring bike is unusual-looking in that the tubing on the frame is twice as fat or large as normal tubing used on most bikes and it really stands out. I figure there couldn't be more than one or two bikes like mine in the city and with publicity, someone might spot it.
I next, call up one of the local television stations and ask if I can talk to Bree Walker, one of the station's news anchorpeople. Iím connected to a man who wants to know why I want to talk to Bree Walker. I tell the man about my project and how I just had my bike stolen in New York City, how Bree Walker use to do the news in San Diego (my hometown) until moving to NYC and how I've seen her on the local news in New York and was wondering if she could help me. "Not interested", the man says, "bikes being stolen in NYC isn't news, sorry". Click. Hmm.
I call up Newsday, one of the big local papers, and ask if theyíd be interested in doing a story on my mishap. I mention knowing the Times-Mirror Corporation owns them and I had earlier in the year a write-up in the Los Angeles Times. I was told they would get back to me. After hanging up the phone the doorbell rings and it's Petra. I tell her my bad news and of course she feels badly for me.
Later that evening a Newsday reporter, Manuel Perez-Rivas calls and asks if I can meet him at the scene of the crime tomorrow morning and of course, I agree.
The next morning we meet, he interviews me and pictures are taken of me standing next to the bike rack holding the security cable, which was all that had been left behind. Petra and I then walk over to the local police precinct and file a police report. I also call the California Bicycle Shop back in San Diego and tell them of my situation and order a new bike to be put together and shipped to me. I take the next couple days off; playing tourist with Petra and buying new shoes and clothes.
Tuesday, May 26, 1988 I visit Amerada Hess, an oil company, headquartered in the 42-story J.P. Stevens Building on Avenue of the Americas. Amerada Hess has leased space in the building since 1974 and occupies floors 38 through 42. I had been up to the 40th floor main reception area twice before with no luck in meeting with someone. On my third visit, I meet in the small lobby/reception area with Francis Degelmann, who has no business card but says sheís somebody's assistant. One of the first things you notice when coming off the elevator on the 40th floor is the dark green carpet. The color green seems to be everywhere, including green plants. Then I remember seeing several of the company's service stations in the area and they were painted-you guessed it-green. The main receptionist is a security guard and I notice closed-circuit security cameras in the lobby. Also in the lobby are miniature oil trucks and a miniature oil tanker on display.
My visit only lasts about five minutes but during that time, I see CEO Leon Hess walk through the lobby brandishing a cigar. Hess, according to Forbes Magazine is worth about $400 million and also owns the New York Jets football team. He sure looks like he's getting old. There's a cafeteria, with formal dining and, Mr. Hess has a corner office on the 40th floor. The company has one corporate aircraft and I never get past the lobby. Degelmann scores 8 points on my 1-10 scale.
Republic New York
Republic New York, a bank holding company, is headquartered in a company-owned 27-story building on Fifth Avenue. I meet with Hugh Harrold, EDP Audit Officer. Why do I end up meeting with an EDP Audit Officer (whatever that is)? Harrold, 63 years old, is a marathon runner and head of a local runners club. Evidently, they figure he can relate to me.
The company occupies 20 of the 27 floors, with about 1,800 employees working in the building, which has a cafeteria (located in the basement) and formal dining. There're no recreational facilities, no corporate aircraft and the CEO's office is on the 7th floor. I never get past Harrold's cubicle. Harrold scores 8 points on my 1-10 scale.
Milliken & Company
Walking into the ground floor entrance of Milliken & Company, a privately held textile manufacturer located on Sixth Avenue, it looks like it had at one time been a department store. Escalators in the middle of the expansive ground floor go up to the next level, just like in a department store. The receptionist, a very nice lady, makes several calls and then informs me the CEO's office is in Spartanburg, North Carolina and this is just considered a sales office. Hmmm.
MasterCard International, Inc.
MasterCard International, Inc., is a company I decided to add on to my list. Visa, MasterCard's competition, is headquartered in San Mateo, California (near San Francisco) and during my visit to the Bay area, it hadn't occurred to me at the time to visit their offices. Iím surprised to find MasterCard International headquartered on the 20th floor of a dumpy office building, which looks to be over 20 years old. They weren't expecting me to show up. How do I know? Because I had sent CEO Russell Hogg, one of my postcards and had received a letter in the mail telling me MasterCard International didn't want to participate in my project. Still, I wanted to visit their headquarters just to see what it looks like.
I come off the elevator and am greeted by a receptionist. She asks if she could help me and tell her Iím curious as to whether they are a privately held company or a public company. She doesn't know and has to call up someone to find out. "We're a public company", she replies. "Can I have an annual report?", I ask eyeing the average-looking lobby/reception area, which looks like it could seat about eight people. I get an annual report and left. According to the 1987 annual report, MasterCard International, Inc., had revenues of $118 million and after expenses, was left with a LOSS of ($5,306,000.00). No wonder they don't want to see me. The MasterCard International Board of Directors consists of 25 members.
Exxon, leases space in a 53-story building located next to Rockefeller Center. I go there on five separate occasions trying to meet with someone. It was becoming a joke to the security people manning the reception counter areas because I was also having trouble trying to see someone from Morgan Stanley and Price Waterhouse, which were also located in the Exxon Building. When I would be told no one at Exxon could see me, I would move over to the next counter manned by security people for Morgan Stanley and try to see someone there.
Actually, I had set-up a 10 am appointment with Price Waterhouse and had arrived an hour early just to see if I could meet with someone at Exxon. I lucked out. I met with Juiliet McGhie, Media Relations, Corporate and Public Affairs Department. At one time Exxon owned the building but had recently sold it for $600 MILLION to the Japanese. Exxon has been in the building since the 1970's and about 300 employees occupy 7 floors.
There's a cafeteria (employees get free lunch), formal dining, and quite an extensive modern art collection, which is stationary. I'm finding out most of the oil companies I've visited have had modern art, which surprises me because I've always thought of oil companies being as very traditional and very conservative. I wasn't able to see the CEO's because he was in but, I did see the boardroom, which for one of the largest companies in the world was a bit disappointing because it reminded me more of a conference room. The company has three corporate aircraft. McGhie scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Price Waterhouse, one of the Big 8 accounting firms, occupies floors 34,35 and 36 (141,000 square feet) in the Exxon Building. I had tried, without luck, to meet with someone on 3 previous visits and finally agreed to a 10 am appointment with Kristin Gibson, who business card did not list her occupation or title. I found out Kristin and I both went to the same college, the University of Arizona. My questions were answered as we sat in the cafeteria, which is mostly vending machines, with a microwave available for employees to use. Between 390-410 employees work in the building, which has been the headquarters for the company since 1972. The company's art collection consists of several photographs scattered around the offices; one photo was of the Mississippi River on a rainy day. To get up to see Gibson, I was issued a visitor badge that had the name, Morgan Stanley, on it. It's the first company I've visited where I was issued a badge with another company's name on it. The main reception area (not the ground floor lobby) had Newsweek, Time and Fortune magazines lying around. The offices were average, nothing fancy. I wasn't able to see the Chairman's office because I was told they were in the process of naming a new senior partner. Gibson scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
On Wednesday morning, May 25, 1988, Petra flew back home to San Diego, it started raining for the 9th straight day and Newsday, finally, (a week after it happened) came out with the story about me and my stolen bike.
Pfizer, a health care company, owns their 32-story corporate headquarters building. Built in the 1960's (and looks it), Pfizer's building is on 42nd street, several blocks from Grand Central Terminal. On my second day in New York City visiting companies, I had stopped by Pfizer and had a run-in with a most unfriendly, unhelpful receptionist, who was extremely rude to me. So, I'm back again two weeks later and fortunately I was helped by another receptionist. I met with Brian McGlynn, Assistant Director of Communications, Public Affairs Division. The company was founded in Brooklyn and remains in New York City because of those ties. The corporate art collection is a mish-mash of works, which includes a large mural in the lobby. The company isn't superstitious because there's a 13th floor. About 3,000 employees work in the building, there's a cafeteria and formal dining, along with a fitness center which has stationary bicycles, Nautilus equipment and treadmills. I was told I couldn't see the CEO's office (corner office on the 23rd floor) or boardroom because they were being used. The company has 1 or 2 corporate aircraft. McGlynn scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale. *NOTE McGlynn never followed through on sending me material.
Mobil Oil Corporation
Still on 42nd Street, about a block from Pfizer, is the corporate headquarters building of Mobil Oil Corporation. My post card sent to the CEO Allen Murray, resulted in my receiving a letter from Judith Moncrieff, Manager, Public Affairs. The letter thanked me for the post card and then went on to say, "While we must respectfully decline your offer, we would like you to know that we are grateful for your interest" What a crock! Mobil joined a very select group of companies which went to the trouble of writing me and telling me not to drop by or, they weren't interested in participating: Mars, Inc., Giant Foods, Inc., MasterCard International, Inc. and now, Mobil Oil Corporation. Mobil went down a couple of notches in my book.
Do you think my receiving a letter telling me they didn't want to participate would deter me from physically going to see what their headquarters looks like? Nope. I had read in the papers where Mobil had announced it would be relocating it's corporate offices to Fairfax, Virginia and judging by the looks of its headquarters building on 42nd Street I could see why. The grayish building with aluminum siding LOOKED old and worn. I guesstimate it was probably built in the late 1950's. I attempted to walk into the lobby but, after seeing the turnstiles and security guards guarding the entrance doors, I could see it was a lost battle. I did see an area in the lobby marked, "Visitor Center" and visitors have their briefcases, purses, backpacks put through security x-ray machines, similar to what airport use.
The Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation
The Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation, according to a booklet I was given, "is a private investment company that acquires and operates businesses for its own account and the account of its principals and associates of the firm. Since its founding more than 30 years ago, over 200 transactions have been consummated." The corporate offices consists of two floors in the 35-story Helmsley Building on Park Avenue. The Helmsley Building is distinctive because it is physically built OVER Park Avenue. This was my 4th time trying to see someone at The Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation and according to Pat Daly, the secretary who met with me, the reason she was meeting with me was "to stop you from keep coming back". It was said with her tongue planted firmly in cheek. About 50 employees work in the offices, which are painted yellow and furnished with the Early American look.
Getting in, just to see the main receptionist is difficult job in itself because you talk to her through a speaker box located in the hallway. You can't see her because of a thick wooden door although, she can see you via a closed-circuit security camera.
I asked if I could see the boardroom and was told I was in the boardroom, which looks more like a conference room although, I did see some old china displayed on one of the walls. Company has no corporate aircraft, no cafeteria but, they have a refrigerator that is stocked with Pepsi and Coke. The company's investments aggregate approximately $3.2 billion in sales. The privately-owned businesses have sales of $800 million, with substantial interests in five publicly-held corporations having sales of about $2.4 billion. Daly scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
The Turner Corporation
The Turner Corporation, an international construction company, leases space in a building it built and at one time owned. I met with Elizabeth Teasdale, Corporate Communications, Communications Associate, who told me she going to be going over to Europe shortly--on a bicycle trip. About 400 employees occupy the 36th, 37th, 38th, 39th and 17th floors of the 39-story structure which we guesstimate to have been built in the late 1960's. There's no corporate art collection, no corporate aircraft and I wasn't able to se the CEO's office because he was in. I did get to see the boardroom, which was very average-looking. I did see a model of "Turner City", a tradition that was started back in 1910, in which projects completed during a single calendar year are depicted in a scale model of a city. For instance, "Turner City 1987" illustrates 23,427,807 square feet of building construction substantially completed by Turner Corporation subsidiaries and affiliates. The figure represent over 225 buildings some more familiar are; the new United Airlines Terminal at O'Hare International Airport, the convention center in Cincinnati, and the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina. Turner Corporation was founded in 1902 in New York City by Henry C. Turner and D. H. Dixon. Teasdale scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Trans World Airlines has its corporate offices in a 44-story building. I went up to the 37th floor reception for the second time and waited around as the receptionist made several calls in an attempt to get someone to see me. I had read in the papers where the new CEO, Carl Ichan, announced TWA would be moving it's corporate office later in the year to Westchester County. According to what I read, Ichan said it would cut costs and be closer to his home. A woman walked by the reception desk and overheard what I was doing and tried to help find someone to talk to me but, from what I overheard on the phone, no one wanted to talk to me and I was told to "contact Public Relations in St. Louis". Magazines in the lobby area included; Electronic Age, The New Yorker, Travel-Holiday, Travel Weekly, Business Week, U.S. News, Industry Week, Commuter Air and International Business. Guess what? I didn't see a TWA Ambassador magazine and after I pointed it out to the receptionist, she quickly brought one out.
On the 41st floor of the same building housing TWA are the corporate offices of TW Services, which was spun off by TWA. I met with Phillip Reilly, Vice President & Controller, who told me the company would be moving to new quarters in New Jersey in January of 1989. The company occupies one floor (16,000 square feet) and has 31 employees. Some of the magazines found in the lobby included: Financial World, Leadership, Corporate Finance, Chief Executive, Business Month, American Heritage, and Institutional Investor.
I did get to see the corner office of Frank Salizzoni, the CEO, which had quite a few tombstones, several miniature TWA planes, and several real green plants. The boardroom looks more like a conference room and the art around the offices is mostly modern. TW Services was founded in 1983 and is engaged in food services, including the operation of 1,600 contract food service accounts, more than 1,700 restaurants and recreation service accounts. TW Services owns Denny's, which with over 1,200 restaurants is the largest full-service family restaurant chain in the United States. It is also the largest franchisee of Hardee's fast-food restaurants with over 400 units. Hardee's is up there with Carl's Jr, as my favorite fast-food chain. TW Services also operates El Pollo Loco, a chain of char-broiled chicken restaurants that has excellent chicken. Reilly scored 9 points on my 1-10 scale.
Triangle Industries, a packaging/container company leases 3 floors in a good-looking, 35-story building on Third Avenue, which was built in 1985. After 3 previous visits in which I was unable to meet with someone, I met with Mark Dorsett, Director-Communications. My visit was quick, with Dorsett displaying no interest what-so-ever. About 90 employees work in the corporate offices, with a mish-mash of art on the walls, no cafeteria but, a formal dining room. I wasn't able to see the CEO's office and I was given a quick peek at the average-looking boardroom. Dorsett scored 6 points on my 1-10 scale. *NOTE Dorsett never followed through on sending me company literature.
Philip Morris Companies
I was given a shoddy reception at Phillip Morris Companies, which owns a 24-story building on Park Avenue, which was built in 1982 and is about a block from Grand Central Terminal. I knew it was going to be a lousy visit by the rude, snarly treatment I received from the security guard/receptionist. To the left of her desk, stand two more security guards that check I.D. badges before allowing people to enter the elevators and offices. To her right is a reception area with several sofas. I was given the number of the CEO's secretary and, using one of the house phones, I called up and found out my card had been sent to George Knox, Staff Vice President, Public Affairs. I called up his secretary and was told he was out of the office. I waited in the lobby for about 20 minutes before trying again and finally got hold of the gravelly-voiced Knox. He asked me what kind of questions I was asking and as I mentioned some of them he started to answer them and I asked if we could do this in person, because otherwise I could be in the comfy confines of my home in San Diego doing it over the phone. Knox told me he was getting ready to go to lunch and he would "drop by" the lobby. So, Knox comes to the lobby with another man and he says to this other guy, "I'll just be a second". Jeez, how do you think hearing that made me feel? We quickly go through the questionnaire with Mr. Knox having a "could care-less" attitude and answering the questions in a bored manner. About 1,200 employees people work in the building, which has a cafeteria and formal dining rooms. Some of the "top guys" have reserved parking, the CEO smokes cigars and, I was told I couldn't see the CEO's office. It wasn't possible to see the boardroom because it was being used. Even if the boardroom wasn't being used, I'm 100% sure Knox wouldn't have made the effort to let me see it. Also part of Phillip Morris's headquarters, is a four-story atrium that houses a branch of the Whitney Museum of American Art. I gotta warn you though, don't go there if you have an aversion to cigarette smoke. New York City has recently imposed strict "no smoking" rules for office buildings and public places and the Whitney branch was exempted because it's part of Phillip Morris's headquarters and since tobacco is central to its business, it was granted an exemption. Doesn't smoke damage the art? Phillip Morris with revenues of over $22 billion is a biggie and after my lousy treatment, maybe they are getting too big for their britches. Kind of reminds me of Sears. Knox scored 1 point on my 1-10 scale. *NOTE As expected Knox neglected to send me material on the company.
North American Phillips
North American Phillips, which is a 100% owned subsidiary of N.V. Phillips, a Netherlands company, was added on to my list because it had revenues of about $5 billion. The company leases space in a 27-story building on 42nd street. Built in 1926, North American Phillips has been in the building since 1943 and occupies 7 floors. I originally took the elevator to the executive floor (23rd) and two security guards quickly directed me to the 4th floor, where I met with Enis Azzinaro, Office Manager. Azzinaro, a super nice lady, told me they hadn't received my post card but, she sat down in the lobby area and answered my questions. About 400 employees work in the building, with there being no company cafeteria or executive dining rooms. On display in the 4th floor lobby were boxes of some of the company's products. A fitness center contains Nautilus equipment, treadmills and rowing machines. I was told I couldn't see the CEO's office or boardroom. Azzinaro scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Thursday morning I walked into the Park Avenue headquarters of Colt Industries. The company, which has leased space in the building since the 1970's, occupies three and a half floors. I met with Peter Williamson, Director, Public Information, who said the company had just been bought by Morgan Stanley in a LBO (leveraged buyout) and, he was being let go at the end of the year. Jeez, it must awful to have your company taken over and then get canned.
The lobby/reception area was small, with 4 chairs and a green plant on the table. The receptionist was very friendly and efficient. Reading material in the waiting area included The New York Times and Wall Street Journal newspapers, The New Yorker, Time and Business Week magazines. About 100 employees work in the building and there's no cafeteria, no formal dining, no corporate art collection, no recreational facilities and no corporate aircraft. The boardroom had columns (beams) in the middle of the room because the building use to be an apartment building. David Margolis, the CEO, has a corner office with a view of Park Avenue. Margolis has quite a few framed photographs in his office of him and various famous people such as him poised with; Mayor Ed Koch and the Pope. Williamson scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Bankers Trust New York
Bankers Trust New York, a bank holding company, is headquartered on Park Avenue and this was my second attempt at meeting with someone. I checked in with the security guard/receptionists and they let me use a lobby phone. After making several calls, I found out Thomas Parisi, Senior Vice-President, Corporate Communications, was the man I was suppose to see. I called up his office and he initially said he was busy so, I told him I was going to be in town for another 10 days and asked if I could make an appointment. He said he would "take a pass". He made me feel like I was a fly and he was shooing me away. Seems to me it was a very tacky way for a senior vice president in communications to act. Parisi scored 2 points on my 1-10 scale.
It was now about noon and it was time for my luncheon appointment with John Maloney, Vice President, Public Affairs Division, Citibank. If you recall, I had received a letter from Maloney in response to the fan letter I had sent to the CEO of Citicorp, John Reed. The letter had told me to give Maloney a call when I arrived in NYC and he would make arrangements to show me around. Well, I had called up his office on 5/16/88 to set up a lunch appointment with him on 5/26/88 and on 5/18/88 my bike had been stolen outside Citibank headquarters building.
First, let me explain something: Citicorp Center Building is the distinctive 70-story structure with the slanted roof, while Citibank Building is the 41-story structure built in 1961 which is located right across the street from Citicorp Center. CEO John Reed of Citicorp (which is the holding company for Citibank), has his office in the Citibank Building. So with that out of the way, Maloney, Holly Cherico, myself and another woman from Maloney's office, left the Citibank building, went over to a restaurant in Citicorp Center and had lunch. I told them about my bike being stolen and they were very apologetic and really felt bad about it, especially since it happened outside their building. After lunch, we went up to the 51st floor of Citicorp Center to one of their training centers and had a terrific view of New York City from all four sides of the structure. Citicorp's new 48-story building located across the river in Long Island City was taking shape and was told when completed the company-owned, 1.3 million square foot complex will be the tallest building east of Manhattan in New York State.
I was taken to the second floor of the Citibank Building and walked around the floor, which houses the executive offices for Citicorp. Why are the executives on the second floor? Because at two acres, it's the largest floor in the building and CEO Reed wanted all the top guys on one level. Did I see anything unusual? Well, the secretaries have all the window views. Picture this; in the middle of this big square is a Japanese-style garden, surrounding this garden are the glass enclosed offices of the executives and surrounding the outside of the executive offices are the desks of the secretaries. From what I understand, the idea is that the executives can walk out of their offices and into the Japanese gardens and converse with associates. I didn't get to go into Reed's office but, I did walk by it.
When Citibank moved into it's 41-story office building in 1961, it was the first commercial bank to leave the Wall Street area and other banks followed suit, turning Park Avenue into a new bankers row. Until recently, Citicorp owned 100% of both Citicorp Center and 399 Park Avenue (Citibank Building). In 1987, roughly two-thirds of Citicorp Center and roughly one-third of Citibank Building was sold to Dai-ichi Seimei America., a U.S. affiliate of Dai-ichi Mutual Life Insurance Company based in Japan.
At the Citibank Building, security guards sitting behind desks sign you in and there's an employee cafeteria, a Junior officers dining room, a Senior officers dining room, and several private dining rooms on the 2nd and 39th floors. Approximately 5,000 employees work in the building, which has a total of 1.3 million square feet-with Citicorp occupying 866,000 square feet. There's an executive health facility for use by "most" senior management only.
Citicorp Center has a total of 1.4 million square feet, with 1,400 employees occupying 466,000 square feet. Maloney and associates scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
On Friday morning I walked into the headquarters building of Consolidated Edison, which is located on 14th street. For your information, I've been walking like crazy the last week (especially since my bike was stolen) and since I'm staying near 80th and 2nd Avenue, it's about a 66 block walk to Consolidated Edison, but it's fantastic walking in New York City because there's so much to see, so many people to watch. Consolidated Edison's building I guesstimate looks to be about 70 years old, with a very distinctive tower atop it. I check in at a security guard station and explain what I'm doing. I'm told to go up to the 16th floor where, after talking with a woman I find out there has been a big mistake. The security guard and woman thought I was there to sign up for a bicycle race Consolidated Edison was sponsoring! I used the woman's phone and called up CEO Arthur Hauspurg's secretary. I asked the CEO's secretary if she could tell me where my post card ended up. I was told it "didn't go anywhere", which she said meant, "they didn't want anything to do with me". It was kind of funny because they tell me they didn't want anything to do with me and yet, I'm up on the 16th floor of their building.
New York Life Insurance Company
New York Life Insurance Company is headquartered in a company-owned, 33-story historical landmark building built in 1926 and located on Madison near Metropolitan Life's headquarters. The building was recently renovated and on the ground floor there's a long grandiose hallway about a block long, which is lined with small shops. The ceilings in the long hallway are beautiful! I met with Linda Stanier, Corporate Vice President. There's a cafeteria and formal dining for directors. The executives offices are located on the 13th floor and according to Staniar, the corporate headquarters is located downtown (It's between Midtown and Wall Street). I was taken to the boardroom and given a demonstration of the excellent acoustics. Stanier sat at one end of the boardroom table and I at the other. She barely whispered something and even though the massive table is long (the Board of Directors has 19 members, so you can imagine how long and large the table is) I could hear every utterance she made. Why do I tell you this? If, for whatever reason you somehow end up in their boardroom for a meeting, don't whisper any secrets!
About 5,000 employees work in the building and annex building across the street. There's a fitness center, which has Nautilus equipment and the company "doesn't really" have a corporate art collection. Staniar, a little on the abrupt side scored 9 points on my 1-10 scale.
Unbelievable! I must have visited 10 companies today and New York Life Insurance was the only one I was able to get someone to meet with me. Why? Because it's Friday, and Monday is a holiday (Memorial Day). I found out New Yorkers start their long holiday weekends early.
It's Saturday, May 28, 1988 and my new bike arrived from San Diego! It cost half as much to ship it via two-day Federal Express ($80) then it would have been to ship it on a commercial airline. My new bike cost $1,000 and I don't particularly care for it. I guess it's because after riding a bike around the country for two years; you get it broken-in. Do you know how hard it is to break in a new seat? I got my bike on Saturday and it's also the first day I realized just how expensive living in Manhattan can be: I needed to have my wheels trued (aligned) because they had been banged up in the shipping and I also needed little odds and ends such as handle bar tape, extra tire tubes etc... and found the prices were almost DOUBLE of what I paid in San Diego!
Sunday morning my bike and I caught the Hampton Express bus at 80th Street & 3rd Avenue in Manhattan and two hours and about 80 miles later, my bike and I were deposited in Southampton. The Hampton Express is a privately run bus service, which in the summer transports Manhattanites from the city and deposits them along the beach communities of eastern Long Island. While on the bus, I was going through the Sunday New York Times when, hells bells, the Times had finally run the story about me. I was disappointed however, that they didn't run a picture of me and my bike because maybe it would have helped get my bike back.
Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Montauk they're all great areas. All these years I've heard people talk of the "Hamptons" and never knew what the big deal was all about. Some of the sprawling estates in Southampton make Palm Beach look like tract housing. I checked out the spiffy grass tennis courts at the Meadow Club and the golf course at Shinnecock Country Club in Southampton, which are (I was told) THE clubs to be a member. I also checked out Barry Trupin's controversial seaside chateau. Trupin is the private investor who bought a 63-room Georgian-style mansion and was converting it into a French Gothic castle, which had the community in arms.
Though I had a great time riding around eastern Long Island, it was costly because I caught a sore throat/cold and couldn't talk. Tuesday morning I felt like dying but, had a week earlier set up a 11 am appointment at Manufactures Hanover and didn't want to cancel because I had already been there three times trying to meet with someone. Manufacturers Hanover, owns their 50-story Park Avenue headquarters building, which was built in 1960 and was headquarters for Union Carbide until Manufacturers bought it in 1982. Approximately 1,000 employees work in the building that has a law firm as the only tenant in the building. I met with John Meyers, Vice President, who without asking if I minded, lit up a cigarette and aggravated my sore throat. I don't know why an appointment was necessary because I never got past his office to see anything. For reasons unknown to Mr. Meyers, the CEO and senior executives are located on the 8th & 9th floors and the boardroom is on the 50th. There's a cafeteria, formal dining rooms and the CEO John McGillicuddy, smokes cigars. The whole first floor of the structure seems to be wasted space because you take an escalator to the next floor where the security guard/receptionists checks you in. The company has one corporate aircraft and, they do have a corporate art collection, which consists mostly of paintings, and sculptures, which are stationary. Meyers scored 8 points on my 1-10 scale. *NOTE Meyers never followed through on sending me material.
Trying to meet with someone at AT&T had been a real pain in the rear. I had gone to the 35-story building, which looks like a grandfather clock, a week earlier and to get to the main lobby/reception area you have to take an elevator up to the "sky lobby" which is 60 feet up. To get to the elevators, you first walk through an archway entrance, standing 100 feet high; it's massive, grand and intimidating all at once. Walking to the elevators you pass Evelyn Beatrice Longman's giant gold-leafed statue, Genius of Electricity (nicknamed "Golden Boy"), which once adorned their old headquarters building in lower Manhattan. I come off the elevator and there's a female security guard/receptionist standing behind a big counter. I stood there for EIGHT minutes while she yakked on the phone, without her so much as acknowledging my presence. A woman, who was dressed like she worked in the cafeteria, dropped by as the security guard continued to completely ignore me AND, attempted to sell wallets to the cafeteria worker! Here's this security guard, AT&T's first line of contact with the general public, and she's selling a line of wallets on company time, at the reception desk and at the expense of ignoring a visitor!! I couldn't believe it! After listening to the two women yak, I found out the reason for her lax attitude-I overheard her tell the other woman it was her last day on the job. Hmm. When she finally did acknowledge my presence, I was given a phone to use and spent the next 15 minutes having to explain what I was doing to someone, then being transferred and having to explain it all over, then AGAIN being transferred and having to repeat my story. I finally gave up and left.
A few days after my memorable first visit, I called up (from a pay phone) and was able to make a 12:30 appointment to meet with someone. So, here I am again at AT&T's headquarters building except this time, I had been told to meet this person in a 3-story connecting building next door, known as AT&T's Infoquest Center. It's sort of like a hands-on science & technology exhibit\museum, where you get to play with gadgets and learn about the phone company at the same time. The guy I was suppose to meet with at 12:30 hadn't shown up and after waiting a half an hour, arrangements were made for Salvatore Mirando, Staff Supervisor, Security/Safety, Resource Management, to show me around. This was great because I've found security people have access to areas usually not readily accessible to public relations, corporate communications personnel.
The $200 million, 35-story, 550,000 square foot structure designed by Phillip Johnson is one of the most impressive corporate headquarters building I've visited! The building is actually 50-stories (640 feet) but, tall ceilings on the floors reduced the number of stories (top floors for the executives have 12 foot ceilings). The fitness center has all the latest exercise equipment including, Stairmaster, treadmills and stationary bikes. The executive dining room is plush; with the walls being individual leather panels and the executives having a view of the Hudson River. A portrait of Alexander Graham Bell overlooks the dining room, while in the boardroom, which has a enormous boardroom table, a portrait of Theodore N. Vail, a founder and the first president of AT&T watches over the proceedings. James Olson, the CEO, had recently passed away and I was shown the low-keyed, corner office of Robert Allen, the new CEO. Allen has a view of Central Park and 5th Avenue and, while I was in his office picked up his phone to make sure it was an AT&T product. It was. Light colored wood paneling and marble (I saw several marble staircases) are used throughout the building. I was shown a well-appointed employee lounge, which has to rank as the most plush I've seen on my trek. Mirando scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Radio station WOR-AM, a talk show station, had read about me in the New York Times and tracked me down. I agreed to come to their studio on Wednesday morning (today) and tape an interview. I walked over to their studios near Times Square and it was a fun experience talking into a mike, even if I still had a bad sore throat. I had also received a message to call Bill Adler Publishing but instead, I looked up their address in the phone book and walked over to the offices on 5th Avenue. I found out Bill Adler is a literary agent and had read about me in the New York Times. Mr. Adler thought my project had the makings for a good book and was interested in representing me. He said to give him some of the news clippings I've had, a book proposal and, he would see what he could do for me. I told him I would think about it. Later that day, I did get to thinking about it and decided he was the person to represent me. I called Petra, (my girlfriend in San Diego) and told her to Federal Express to Adler some of my news clippings and a copy of my book proposal.
Dover Corporation, which manufactures among other products; elevators, gas heaters, oil field equipment, flow meters, hydraulic auto lifts, and welding guns, leases half of the 36th floor in the Chemical Bank Building on Park Avenue. Coming off the elevator, you first have to be buzzed in through a glass door by the receptionist before you can talk to her. The reception area is very tiny, with one seat. On a corner table are two realistic-looking wood carvings of ducks. Magazines lying around included; Fortune, Manhattan, inc., The Financial Post, Business Month and Satellite Communications. I met with Maria Lonks, Office Manager. Dover has been located in the building since 1975 and at one time, Washington DC was their corporate headquarters. There's no cafeteria, no executive dining, no corporate aircraft and, no boardroom. Twenty-two employees work in the offices and I asked Lonks if she was aware the elevators in the building WEREN'T Dover elevators. She was. Gary Roubous, the CEO, has a corner office with a view of Park Avenue. Roubou's office had several pictures of western landscapes, Indian pictures probably due to the fact he's from Colorado. I also noted a big live plant in his office. Lonks scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
The Chemical Bank Building was home to quite a few companies on my list; Chemical New York, Borden, Continental Grain, Arthur Young and Dover. Out front of the building near the street is another Seward Johnson, Jr. sculpture called, TAXI!, and it's of a man in a business suit hailing a cab.
Forstmann Little & Company
Thursday, June 2nd, I visited Forstmann Little & Company, a privately held leverage buyout firm. Their offices are on the 44th floor of the General Motors building on 5th Avenue. This was my 4th time to their offices and the very cute receptionist was getting a little perturbed. On my previous visits I was always told I needed an appointment but this time, after she announced to someone I was back again, she was called up on the phone and told to tell me, "Mr. Little doesn't have time".
Magazines lying around the reception area included; Fortune, Institutional Investor as well as the Wall Street Journal newspaper. The reception area walls were lined with volumes of bounded books and also located around the reception room were tombstones, along with 5 plants, one of which is I think, a big Easter lily. A poster on the wall caught my eye and it read:
Lets clear the air, lets iron out the trouble,
you'll feel better, work better, get farther,
you'll be treated fairly.
MacAndrew & Forbes Holdings Inc.
MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc., is the privately held company run by Ronald Perelman, who in every picture I've ever seen of him, always has a big cigar in his hand. His various holdings have over $2 billion in revenues, which include Revlon, a film processing company and, a company that makes licorice extract. The address I had for his headquarters was 36 E. 63rd street, which is a townhouse. I had been there a week earlier in which I rang the doorbell and tried talking into a speaker box, explaining to someone who I couldn't see, the reason for my visit. Finally, after spending 3 minutes talking into the stupid speaker box, a man who looked like a plain-clothes security guard came out a side door and asked me what I was delivering. I attempted to explain to him what I was doing, but he seem more interested in getting rid of me and told me there were no offices here. That night I looked up the company's name in the phone book and found four addresses listed for MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings: 21 E. 63rd, 36 E. 63rd, 38 E. 63rd and 42 E. 65th streets. I went back to 36 E. 63rd and was sent to a brownstone office/house? at 38 E. 63rd, where I was given a "could-care-less" welcome by the receptionist. The receptionist told me I should contact Robin Cohen, who is in public relations and wasn't in. I called her later from a pay phone and was told by Cohen, "I didn't want to participate, thanks anyway".
I noted the first address I went to at 36 E. 63rd street had closed-circuit security cameras located outside the place and, on the entrance door was a mezuzah, which according to a dictionary; is a small parchment scroll placed in a case fixed to the doorpost by some Jewish families as a sign and reminder of their faith. Is the townhouse Perelman's home or corporate headquarters?
The Bear Stearn Companies
The Bear Stearn Companies, an investment banking firm, has some of the worst people I've had to deal with. The company is headquartered in a high-rise on Park Avenue and even though their name is out front of the building, I'm pretty sure they only lease space. The building houses many other tenants and when you walk in the front doors, there's a Bear Stearns reception area manned by security guards. I made five separate visits and all I ever got was flack. The security guards are bored, unhelpful and twice wouldn't let me use a lobby phone. I talked to one woman on the phone who talked in a rude obnoxious manner (similar to the way Mayor Koch of New York City talks) like this; Whad ar ya doin? Whad do ya want? What kind of questions? I can't help ya. It was the perfect stereotype of how I had envisioned New Yorkers to talk and act. I finally was able to get the number of Mr. Greenberg's (the CEO) secretary (on my previous visits the security guards wouldn't give me the extension) and asked her if she could tell me where my postcard ended up. After looking around, she comes back on the line and says the postcard wasn't sent ANYWHERE, "probably because we didn't want to do anything with you". "Oh, okay", I said, as I hung up the phone and walked away thinking what a rinky-dink organization. Why didn't they tell me that two weeks ago instead of me coming back and back? I remember walking by the elevators in the building and certain banks of elevators are for use by Bear Stearns employees only and security guards stand there to make sure you have a pass or ID card. Posted on a small stand near the elevator is a hand-written note on stationary, who's letterhead reads: From the desk of Sir Alan Greenberg. The note reads, "If you have any questions about showing your I.D., see me personally". I asked a security guard about the note and was told it came about because some of the senior executives didn't like having to show identification.
Capital Cities/ABC's corporate offices are discreetly located on 51st street in a building, which I think is part of the Helmsley Palace Hotel. The Villard Mansion, which looks to be four-stories, was a historic 100-year old Roman Renaissance style structure which was preserved and incorporated into the high-rise Helmsley Palace Hotel and that's why I'm not sure if Capital Cities/ABC is in a separate building or if it's part of the hotel complex. You have to walk down a set of steps to the door, where a small plaque outside the entrance reads; Capital Cities/ABC. To get inside, you ring a bell and then a receptionist buzzes you in. On both my visits I was told I needed an appointment. Later in the day, I called home for messages and was told I had received a letter from Catherine Foti, Publications Coordinator, Corporate Communications. Part of it read, "We appreciate your interest in Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. However, spring is typically a very busy time for us and our schedule doesn't permit us to participate in your survey of Corporate America". Sounds like a pretty flimsy excuse to me from a company that is supposedly in the news gathering business.
I was given a rude welcome at Colgate-Palmolive, which is headquartered on Park Avenue in a building with its name on it. From reading the building directory, I could see Colgate-Palmolive occupied floors 8-11, with quite a few other tenants in the building. I had been there on at least four previous occasions and was usually told no one is in, or I needed an appointment. Matter of fact, I had been there so many times I lost track because I ended up calling CEO Ruben Mark's secretary to find out where my postcard had trickled down to and was transferred to Silas Ford, Executive Assistant to the President, who informed me I had been told in an earlier visit, that they did not want to participate. Hmmm. I also noted that on every one of my visits to Colgate-Palmolive, I would walk up to the main reception desk and the receptionist would be reading a book or magazine and would give me one of those looks like I had interrupted her reading. The company slipped quite a few notches in eyes.
Bristol-Myers leases space in a 44-story building on Park Avenue. On my 5th visit, I was able to meet with Madeleine Dreyfack, Senior Writer/Editor, Communications Services. I don't know if the reason someone finally agreed to meet with me had anything to do with the fact she had my New York Times write-up in front of her and maybe it gave what I was doing some credibility. Bristol-Myers occupies 15 floors in the building, including the top two (43rd & 44th). Almost 1,300 employees work in the offices, which has a corporate art collection of mostly Early American works. On each of my 5 visits, I had gone up to the 44th floor reception area and explained to the receptionist what I was doing. Between my 5 visits, I dealt with three different receptionists and they were all older woman and not very friendly or helpful. One in particular stands out because she greeted me as only a New Yorker can; "Whadaya want?, there's no soliciting!". I wasn't able to see the CEO's office or boardroom because they "just don't do that". Near the cafeteria is slide-show, where you press a button and on a screen is a short segment on the company, its products and what the products do. Also there's is a museum-type exhibit showing the company's various products through the years. Dreyfack scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Since I've been in New York, I've gone up and down dozens and dozens of elevators in dozens of buildings and the ones zipping you up to the executive floors of Bristol-Myers (43 & 44) are the fastest I've come across (so far) in New York City.
Reliance Group Holdings
Reliance Group Holdings, is an insurance holding company that also owns the Days Inn lodging chain. The company and it's well-known CEO Saul Steinberg, lease three floors in a good-looking building built a few years ago. The name of the building is Park Avenue Plaza, but actually it fronts East 52nd street. This is another company where I had to visit 5 times before getting to meet with someone. My previous visit weren't all for naught because there's a fruit bowl at the main receptionist's desk and I was at least able to grab an apple or orange on the way out. There're always two receptionists at the main reception desk (29th floor) and one would think after four visits the receptionists would at least act like they know you or give you an acknowledgement. Nope. Very blah. I had read quite a few articles about the CEO Steinberg, (when in his 20's, he tried to take over a major bank) and was aware he lived in something like a 100-room house (mansion) on Park Avenue. I also knew he was a patron of the arts so, it didn't surprise me to see displayed on the wall in the lobby a flag from the Revolutionary War (13 stars). Also in the lobby is a scale model of Steinberg Hall. That's the building on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, which was named after him for donating the millions to build it. He's an alumni of the school's Wharton Business School. The lobby area has several nice plants (real) and quite a few of the company's annual report. I met with Brian Martin, Vice President-Communications, who just seem to go through the motions and showed no interest. About 200 employees work in the nicely furnished offices. There's a cafeteria, formal dining and the CEO smokes cigars. The company has a photography collection, closed-circuit security cameras and one corporate aircraft, which is a comfy 727. I wasn't able to see the CEO's office but, I did see the average-looking boardroom. Martin scored 7 points on my 1-10 scale.
Alexander & Alexander Services
Alexander & Alexander Services, an insurance brokerage company, occupies one floor in a 44-story building on Avenue of the Americas (part of Rockefeller Center). I met with Barbara Bamford, Executive Assistant to the Chairman, on my third attempt at seeing someone. The company has been in the building since 1978, and have 60 employees in the offices. There's no cafeteria but, an executive dining room. The company has quite an extensive collection of sculptures, which are scattered around. I got a look at the office of the recently retired CEO John Bogardus, which was somewhat bare because he was in the processing of removing his personal belongings. The boardroom was pretty typical. Bamford scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Quantum Chemical, which until recently was called, National Distillers & Chemical, leases 3 floors in a 26-story building located on Park Avenue. About 100 employees work in the building, which has been its headquarters for 25 years. On my 3rd visit, I met with Richard Tilghman, Vice President, Corporate Relations, who upon my arrival, took me to a side room to show me an actual bar, which was now obsolete because the company had recently sold off its liquor business (hence, the name change). Lining the walls of the bar room are original paintings of various old ships. I also saw several scale models of ships. Besides having security/guard receptionists, I notice closed-circuit security cameras and, some of the magazines in the 14th floor lobby area included; Insight, Sport, Time, Business Month, Forbes, Manhattan inc., and Chemical Week. CEO John Stookey, smokes cigars and has quite a bit of Elizabethan-style furniture (including a grandfather clock) in his corner office which, from what I was told, has been in his family for years and years. The boardroom was very traditional. Tilghman scored 7 points on my 1-10 scale.
Witco, a chemical & petroleum company, leases the 11th, 12th and 13th floors in the Continental Illinois Bank Building on Madison Avenue. They've occupied space in the building since 1981, which was about the time the building was built. On my third visit, I was able to meet with William Toller, Executive Vice President, Finance/Administration. The main reception\lobby area has fresh flowers, along with quite a few magazines that included; Forbes, Adhesive Age, Industry Week, Journal of Accountancy, Chemical & Engineering News, Soap Cosmetics Chemicals Specialties, and Financial Executive. At the reception desk, they give away small pocket-size daily diary books with a picture of Kendall motor oil on the cover (Kendall Refining Company is a subsidiary of Witco)
There's no cafeteria, no corporate art collection, no executive dining room, no fitness center and no corporate aircraft. Toller told me CEO Wishnick, wasn't in today but had left word that he wanted to meet me so, I made arrangements to see Wishnick and his office on Monday. Toller scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States
On Friday morning after SIX visits to the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, I was finally able to meet with someone. The company is headquartered in the 54-story Equitable Tower, a three-tiered, company-owned office tower built in 1985. Total gross space in the tower is approximately 1.5 million square feet. The Equitable Tower and the Paine Webber Building occupy an entire midtown Manhattan block and together form Equitable Center. When you walk into the five-story, skylit lobby, you can't help but notice a 86 by 32 foot mural by Roy Lichenstein entitled; Mural With Blue Brushstroke. I had been there so many times the four or five different security guard/receptionists at the check-in counter were starting to recognize me on sight. I had called up Mr. John Carter's (the CEO) secretary on one of my visits and was transferred to someone who wasn't in. On other visits, I would ask for a certain person, be told he or she wasn't in and then be transferred to someone else, who for one reason or another couldn't help me. It got to be a real comedy. So, on my 6th visit I met with Kimberley Strother-Pryor, Associate Account Manager. In the large lobby area of the Equitable Tower, The Whitney Museum operates its largest branch of the Museum, with 6,000 square feet of space. The Equitable has placed works of art on permanent view throughout the public spaces of the building and Equitable Center. These include murals by Thomas Hart Benton, Sol LeWitt as well as sculptures by Paul Manship, Scott Burton and Barry Flanagan.
About 750 employees work in the building, which has quite a few other tenants. The company has no corporate aircraft, which I found surprising for such an enormous company. I was told I couldn't see the CEO's office or boardroom without an appointment, so, hopefully next week we can work out an agreeable time for me to come back because I figure seeing the boardroom is worth the trouble of returning. Strother-Pryor scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Continental Grain Company
This is my fifth visit to the 50th floor offices of Continental Grain Company, a privately-held firm whose' business is commodity trading & processing. Continental Grain is BIG, with revenues estimated by Forbes magazine to be about $13 BILLION. Corporate headquarters is on the top floor of the Chemical Bank Building on Park Avenue and the view from the large windows in the reception area is spectacular. On every one of my visits, I was always greeted by the same security guard/receptionist, who by the way is a retired cop and a nice guy. It got to be a routine where I would come off the elevator, we would exchange greetings, and he would then call up to see if this woman (her name was Ms. Pennasack or Ms. Pennasak) to see if she had time to see me. The answer was usually, no. I had called Pennasack earlier in the day to see if I could set up an appointment and she had told me to call her back in one hour. Rather than calling her back and letting her give me a possible brush-off on the phone, I physically showed up on the 50th floor again. Well, that ploy didn't work because I talked to her on a lobby phone and was told they weren't interested in talking to me. Jeez. After everyone of my visits, I would ask the security guard/receptionist if I could use the restroom to change into my shorts and I would rank Continental Grain as having the nicest restrooms I've seen so far in corporate New York City. The restroom area was very spacious and included mouthwash, lotions and a selection of soaps to use. How did I know the security guard/receptionist was a retired cop? When I was sitting in the lounge area, I saw him sit down in his chair behind his desk and noticed a gun in an ankle holster so, I asked him about it. The offices looked pretty plush but then again, the extent of my tour consisted of taking the winding staircase from the 50th floor to the restrooms on the 49th.
National Bulk Carriers
National Bulk Carriers is the privately-held shipping and real estate company owned by Mr. D.K Ludwig, the 91 year old recluse. according to Forbes magazine's estimation; Mr. Ludwig is worth about $500 million. Corporate headquarters consists of one floor (34th) in the 50-story Burlington Building on Avenue of the Americas. The company has been headquartered there since 1969 and is part owner of the building.
I had been by the offices several times before without having any luck meeting with someone but, on my visit yesterday, I was able to make an appointment for today with George Uhlich, Director of Personnel. When I had talked to Uhlich on the phone yesterday, he seemed very guarded and skeptical about meeting with me and had asked a lot of questions about what kind of questions I was going to ask. When you come off the elevator, there really isn't a reception or lobby area, and if you didn't know better you'd think you had gotten off on a floor housing back-office personnel. I did see an issue of Leaders magazine lying on a chair in the waiting area. The receptionist, a young woman is very nice and very accommodating. I met with Uhlich who made it a point to tell me he wouldn't answer any questions concerning Mr. Ludwig. There's no corporate art collection, no corporate aircraft, no cafeteria (although there is a cafeteria for tenants), no executive dining rooms, and about 100 employees work in the corporate offices. Senior management get reserved parking spots and there's a swimming pool. Although I wasn't allowed to go into the CEO's office I was given a "walk by", and from what I saw, Mr. Fisher's (the CEO) office is furnished just as plain and functional as the rest of the offices.
Before asking Uhlich my questions, I figured it would be a good idea to give him a little background on the type of information being collected. I spent about five minutes giving him a spiel about my project, telling him samples and examples of the type of information I was gathering. How, I've been to many other private companies and was given warm receptions and, how many of the companies got a kick out of my questions etc. It evidently worked because he was very cooperative in trying to answer questions. Patting myself on the back because Uhlich answered my questions and, assuming it was all due to the five minute "spiel" given beforehand (which was to alleviate any fears he had about my asking probing questions) led me to ask Uhlich at the end of our talk; "Mr. Uhlich, yesterday", I said, "you seemed so skeptical about whether you would talk to me today and yet this morning, you were more than accommodating, why?" He told me as he was driving to work this morning, his car radio was tuned-in to WOR-AM and, had listened to my interview (which had been taped two days earlier). Evidently, the radio interview had given my project some credibility. Uhlich scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
The Interpublic Group of Companies
The Interpublic Group of Companies, an advertising agency, leases space in the Time/Life Building. On my fourth visit, I met with William Keating, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, who was cold, aloof and not very friendly. The Interpublic Group of Companies occupies the 44th floor (35,000 square feet) and have been in the building since 1968. There's no cafeteria for the approximately 100 employees, no executive dining rooms, and the CEO smokes cigars. The main lobby\reception area is small, with fresh flowers on the table and a contemporary painting by Peter Halley entitled, "Three Sections". On my first two visits I dealt with a rude, sarcastic receptionist and on my next two visits, there was another receptionist, who was very nice and helpful. It's amazing how a secretary or receptionist can change someone's perception of a company. I wasn't allowed to see the boardroom or CEO's office and I was in an out of Keating's office in about two minutes. Keating scored 4 points on my 1-10 scale.
Marsh & McLennan
Marsh & McLennan, a holding company for insurance and reinsurance brokers, leases space in the 50-story McGraw-Hill Building. I met with Tess Palmer, Administrative Assistant, who answered my questions about their functional, nothing fancy offices. About 200 employees occupy floors 5-15, with the company having been located in the building since 1972. I did get to see the CEO's office, which was an office next to a corner office. Palmer scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
It was another weekend in Manhattan and I had a good time playing tourist. Bloomingdales in Manhattan is definitely a one of a kind store but, it has a major flaw; they spend all this money on displays, unusual gimmicks (when I was there, the State of Kansas was being exploited) and, it's practically impossible to find a salesperson to take your money! I went into the store on three separate occasions and could never get anyone to wait on me.
I spent quite a bit of time riding my NEW bike around Central Park, hoping I would see my OLD bike pass by. No luck. I did have a memorable experience in the park though; I was riding around the upper west side of the park (toward Harlem) in the early afternoon with an older man (probably in his 60's) who I found out was a dentist, and as we rode by a clearing, we were hit by a barrage of sticks and rocks thrown by a gang of black boys AND girls, the oldest probably being no more than 14 years. The dentist got off his bike and tried to get the kids to stop, as they continued pelting passing joggers and bikers. The kids showed absolutely no respect to the dentist and taunted him with a nasty barrage of profanities. A total of five bikers stopped as well as a couple of joggers and it was a losing battle talking sense to the kids, who dared the dentist to hit them. It was an unbelievable scene!
Until the scene in the park, I had ranked the accident I witnessed the week before as being my most poignant memory of the Big Apple (so far): It was a weekday around 5 PM and I was heading up Park Avenue on my bike to my apartment. Traffic on Park Avenue was packed (as usual) with people wanting to get home. A young guy on a motorcycle attempted to pass two cabs by going between them and as a result--the young guy and his cycle were literally squished between two taxis. I was the first one on the scene and I could see where he was only bruised but, his cycle was smashed. Well, about 30 seconds had elapsed between the time the motorcyclist was squished and the horns started honking. The cars in traffic didn't care if he was dead or not; just move him and his cycle out of the way! It fit the typical stereotype story I had heard about cold, hard bitten New Yorkers.
Sunday Morning I picked up all the Sunday editions of the local newspapers and headed over to benches at the end of 72nd street, which overlooks the East River. While reading the papers and catching some sun, I met Carole Fiedler, a rental agent for the 50-story black-glassed high-rise apartment building that was going up behind where I was sitting. The building, known as One East River Place was about 80% complete and Fiedler gave me a tour of the place. What a place! Do you know what told me this building was going to be a winner? It wasn't going up to the 50th floor to see the indoor skylit swimming pool, or being located on a dead end street, it was going to the 49th floor and seeing the view from the laundry room. Everyplace I've ever seen sticks the laundry room down in the building's gallows (usually near the building's boiler room or garbage dumpster). One East River Place is a very impressive and at the end of the block is the well-known auction house, Sotheby's.
Monday morning I visited Warner Communications. The company leases space in a 33-story building, which is part of Rockefeller Plaza. The name of the company is above the front entrance to the building. As I was walking across the street to enter the building, I heard a truck driver yell, "Hey Mort!" and the guy walking next to me turned and waved. I then realized it was the obnoxious host of that new talk show-Morton Downey Jr.. I had made a 10 am appointment with Cheryle Peagram, Assistant Manager of Shareholder Relations, after two unsuccessful attempts at seeing someone without an appointment. The lobby area on the 30th floor is small, with plants and annual reports on a coffee table. About 140 employees work in the building, which has been headquarters for the company since 1963. The CEO's office is on the 26th floor but, I wasn't able to see it or the boardroom because "meetings were going on". There's a cafeteria, formal dining room and the company has one corporate aircraft. Peagram scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale. As I was leaving the lobby of the building I saw David Hartman, who was also leaving as well as Garrick Utley, the newscaster. I guess Rockefeller Center is a great place for star-gazing.
I stopped in at Witco's corporate headquarters again, to meet Mr. Wishnick, the CEO. He's a short, bearded man, a little on the heavy-side, which I believe makes him the first CEO I've come across who sports hair on his face. He has a very small corner office that is crammed full of trophies he won as a speed-boat racer. Also in his office is a picture of his father; one of the founders of Witco. I told Wishnick he has one of the smallest CEO's offices I've seen and he told me it was of his own doing.
It's Tuesday morning around 7 am and I'm in Lower Manhattan getting on the Staten Island Ferry heading over to Staten Island to visit Advance Publications, the mammoth privately-held company owned by the Newhouses. I get off the ferry on Staten Island and my bike and I made our way to 950 Fingerboard Road, which is about 5 miles from the ferry landing. The plain 2-story red brick building houses the newspaper offices of the Staten Island Advance, a Newhouse paper. I walked into the main lobby and was told by a receptionist (who had to be at least 80 years old), to go downstairs. After going downstairs, I found I had been misdirected and was taken up to see Richard Diamond, Publisher, and the man I had sent my postcard to. (According to the listing in the 1987 Macmillan Directory of Leading Private Companies, Richard Diamond was listed as the top man in Advance Publications, with the Newhouses getting no mention-that's why I sent my postcard to Diamond). It was 8:30 am and Diamond was in his corner office smoking the raunchiest smelling cigar I've ever encountered. After an awkward exchange of greetings, Diamond informed me that there was no corporate headquarters and I said, "what" and he said, "we don't have a corporate headquarters" and I said, "what do you mean?" and he answered, "Advance Publications doesn't have a corporate headquarters". I told him he must be kidding and said, "don't you publish newspapers, own Conde Nast and Random House?" He replies, "yeah, but we don't have a corporate headquarters". He told me he didn't want to seem evasive but, he was being VERY evasive. I asked him if this was the mailing address for Advance Publications and he said, "I guess you could say that". I left his office scratching my head; this is a company with over $2 billion in revenues and they have no corporate offices? Hmmm. His evasiveness must have something to do with the death of Si Newhouse and the tax problem their having with the IRS. On a scale of 1-10, Diamond scored 3 points. *NOTE I later dropped by the Conde Nast Building on Madison Avenue. I talked to several women who, couldn't or wouldn't tell me where the corporate offices of Advance Publications were located. What really ticked me off though was the security guard in the main floor lobby, who even though I explained to him what I was doing, thought I was a messenger and sent me up to talk to the women via the dingy service elevator in the back. On my way out I confronted the guard and TOLD him I wasn't a messenger or delivery person and expected to be treated like the rest of the visitors to the building.
I took the Staten Island Ferry back to lower Manhattan and am fortunate to get the folks at the Vista International Hotel to let me store my new bike in an empty room as I head over to visit a slew of companies near Wall Street. I wasn't due to spend a couple of nights at the Vista until this coming weekend, which was nice of them to accommodate even though I wasn't a registered guest.
Goldman Sachs, is a privately-held investment banking firm with approximately $4 billion in revenues. It's a good-looking high-rise building that couldn't be more than a few years old. I tried to call Mr. Weinberg's (Chairman & Senior Partner) office using the phone at the security guard's desk, but for some reason the phone wasn't working properly and so the guard sent me up to the 22nd floor. The receptionist I encountered coming off the elevator on the 22nd floor; Florance Clarke, was extremely brusque. After a short wait in the well-appointed lobby area, a woman came out and informed me Mr. Weinberg had received my postcard and did not want to "participate in your survey" Judging by what I saw in the reception area, I imagine the offices are quite plush.
Johnson & Higgins
Johnson & Higgins, is a privately-held insurance brokerage firm, which along with Alexander & Alexander and Marsh & McLennan are about the three biggest in the brokerage-insurance business-with the later two being public companies. According to Forbes magazine, the company has about $690 million in revenues. The company leases space in a 40-story building on Broad Street, which is owned by Olympia & York. The company's name is out front of the building.
Johnson & Higgins occupies floors 2 through 11 and 39 & 40. I took the elevator up to the 40th floor and as I exited the elevator I said to myself, "THIS is what I envisioned reception areas of billion dollar corporations to look like! As I walked up to the receptionist desk, which is manned by a security guard/receptionist, I took note of the wood paneling, the well placed giant vase filled with fresh flowers, and, the oil paintings on the elevator lobby walls; "Polo Players" by Robert Hallowell, "Shipping off Montauk" by Granville Perkin and "Farmhouse by a Stream" by Henery Pember Smith" and the wood ship model of the Flying Cloud. The main reception waiting area had the smell and feel of tradition and power. Magazines lying around included; Institutional Investor, The New Yorker, Governing, and Natural History. Also on one wall was a plaque stating, the Purpose of Johnson & Higgins. I waited a few minutes before being greeted by Jane Krumrine, Assistant to the Chairman, who informed me she had three lunches to take care of and could only give me a minute. She wasn't kidding as we whizzed through the questions. The company has about 1,000 employees in the building, which has been the company's headquarters since 1986. Chairman Robert Hatcher, Jr., smokes cigarillos, there's a cafeteria and 3 executive dining rooms. The company has no corporate aircraft, no recreational facilities and serve Pepsi & Coke.
The company has an extensive corporate art collection, which according to Krumrine features American impressionists. I was given a booklet on the company's art collection, a copy of the company's annual review (it's similar to an annual report) and was sent on my way in about 3 minutes. Looking through the art booklet, I wish I had gotten a tour because they have quite a collection of art, which includes; a couple of early 19th century vases, a bronze sculpture by Frederick Remington entitled, "The Cheyenne", several wood ship models, and a set of six Audubon engravings from the artist's "Birds of America" series. Krumrine scored 5 points on my 1-10 scale.
Chilewich & Sons
Chilewich & Sons, is a privately held wholesale supplier of farm products, raw materials and commodity trader. It's one of those companies you never hear about but, with over $1 billion in revenues it's a biggie. Corporate headquarters is in an older building, which is actually located on Wall Street (120 Wall Street). Coming off the elevator I momentarily thought I was on the wrong floor as I encountered an old woman (grandmother-type) knitting behind a glass cubicle. Inside her cubicle were pictures of kittens and other items which made the place look more like an old-time doctor's or dentist's office. On a wall was a sign reading: Chilewich Corp.
Leather Best Inc., eLBe products
A woman came out and said, "Mr. Chilewich is out of the country and hasn't had time to do all his stuff" and that she herself, is "too busy". I asked if I could get some material on the company and in a very evasive manner she replied, "I can't talk about that now, I'm too busy". Boy!, she was very strange, very secretive. What exactly does the company do. Hmmm. I don't know who that woman was but, she scored 2 points on my 1-10 scale. As I was leaving the building I did see a plaque saying the owners of the building was, Silverstein Properties.
American International Group
American International Group, an insurance holding company, is headquartered in a beautiful 66-story (952 feet above street level) Art Deco building. Built in 1932, it's one of the tallest structures using brick ever built. As I walked up to the security guard/reception counter on the main lobby, you can't help but notice the marble in the lobby floors and foyers and the detailing on the elevator doors. I met with Patricia Monahan Sutter, Manager, Public Relations. About 5,000 employees, along with other tenants work in the company-owned building, which has a total of 800,000 square feet of office space. The company has a collection of oriental art, has no recreational facilities, and one corporate aircraft. I was told the CEO's office is on the 18th floor but, wasn't allowed to see it or the boardroom because they were "off limits".
Sutter made a phone call and we got permission to go up to the observatory on the 66th floor and as I found out shortly, it isn't your normal observatory. Sutter, myself, and a security guard barely fit into a special tiny elevator, which whisked us up to the former observatory that now serves as a private reception room for AIG. As soon as you step off, the elevator returns to the ground floor thus, giving you an uninterrupted 360 degree view in the column-free room. As we were going up the elevator the security guard told us he has been up to the 66th floor observatory many, many times escorting VIP's, which would explain why after disembarking from the elevator he steps out through a glass door and leaps up on an outside balcony. Well, me being the idiot I am, I blindly followed him out to the balcony and immediately found out something about myself I never knew; I'm afraid of heights!! It was kind of funny and then again it wasn't because you had to picture the scene: This security guard is up on this thin balcony ledge 66 floors up yakking away about the sights & pointing out views and I'm frozen in my tracks; I can barely talk and I'm actually shaking. The security guards looks at me and casually says, "you aren't by chance afraid of heights?" and me trying desperately to act macho in front of Sutter replies, "well, I think so" as I inched my way back into the enclosed room. The view from up there is the most spectacular, bar none, of anyplace I've visited! You can look across the way and see the twin towers of the World Trade Center, midtown Manhattan, New Jersey all unobstructed by walls, columns or elevators in the glass enclosed room. Sutter scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Continental Corporation, an insurance company, is headquartered in a gleaming high-rise glass office building with a huge atrium. A small free-standing sign outside the main entrance reads, "Continental Insurance". I dropped by on three separate occasions and was never able to connect with anyone. I had been given three different numbers to call and there always seem to be an excuse.
Asarco, a mining company (American Smelter & Refining Company), occupies office space in the Continental Insurance Building and on all three visits, I was told the man I was suppose to see was out of town. Couldn't someone else meet with me?, I would ask, and the receptionist would tell me, "no". The reception/lobby area was small and magazines lying around included; Industry Week, U.S. News & World Report, Business Month, Forbes magazines. I noticed two live plants in the reception area along with the company's annual report.
U.S. Life, a life insurance-based holding company, leases space in a 17-story building they once owned. Built in 1959, the building still has the company name on the front of it. I met with Mimi Chu, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Communications. About 300 employees work in the building that has a variety of other tenants. There's a cafeteria, no executive dining rooms, no recreational facilities, no corporate aircraft and the main receptionist is a security guard. The elevators have cameras in the ceilings, the CEO's office is on the 9th floor and for an insurance company; the boardroom is very plain and functional. Chu scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Home Life Insurance Company
Home Life Insurance Company, which is not to be confused with the Home Group, a company I already visited, leases space in the 36-story Barclays Bank Building. Home Life occupies 3 floors and the offices are furnished in an Early American decor or if you want; the Williamsburg-look, with the color blue being favored. Approximately 130 employees work in the corporate offices, which has no cafeteria, no formal dining, no corporate art or corporate aircraft. As I waited in the reception\lobby area, I had my choice of thumbing through U.S. New & World Report or The Best of Arizona Highways. I met with Elizabeth Burr, Corporate Facilities Manager, who wasn't friendly at all. I did see Mr. Nichol's office, the CEO, which is a corner office. The boardroom was pretty typical except for four real plants (the CEO's office had two live plants). Burr scored 5 points on my 1-10 scale.
Wednesday, June 8th, found me in lower-Manhattan again. Bunge Corporation, is a privately-held wholesaler of grain, feedstuffs, vegetable oils, processed fruits and shortenings. Revenues are over $4 billion. Corporate offices are on the 36th floor of, 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza (headquarters for Chase Manhattan). I never got past the security guards in the ground floor lobby area. I used one of the phones at the security guard desk and after calling up, I was told by a man who didn't identify himself that they did not want to participate AND when I asked if I could get some literature on the company, he said, "no". How do these companies with billion of dollars in revenues get away with be so secretive?
New York Stock Exchange
If you recall, about three weeks earlier during my visit with Evan Cooper, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Drexel Burnham Lambert, it was mentioned by Cooper that I add on the New York Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange to my list of companies to visit. So, I mailed postcards the next day to both companies and three weeks later, I'm in the lobby of the New York Stock Exchange Building getting my backpack put through a metal detector device. After explaining to the security guard what I was doing, he directed up to the 21st floor, why, I don't know because it's the floor housing the Regulation department of the Exchange. I used a phone and called up the secretary to John Phelan, the Chairman, and after waiting a few more minutes on the 21st floor, I received a call telling me to go to the Visitor's Center. I find my way to the Visitor's Center, a woman greets me and hands me a visitor's kit. I explained to the woman I wasn't interested in the stock exchange but, the corporate offices of the New York Stock Exchange, Inc. (which had almost $300 million in revenues according to the 1986 annual report). The woman disappeared and several minutes later was back with a large information kit. She then informed me, "the best we could do on short notice", would be for me to look around the Visitor's Center and have the information kit. "Short notice?", I gave them three weeks notice! Very poorly handled.
American Stock Exchange
Well, I figured my reception would be a heck of a lot better at the American Stock Exchange, after all-they're number two (to the New York Stock Exchange), and #2's usually try harder. At the American Stock Exchange, there's a sign outside the entrance door to the building announcing no visitors are allowed. I explained to the security guard in the lobby what I was doing and after talking to several people, I was told someone would come down and see me. There's no place to sit down as I stand by the security desk, which is right by the elevators. This small man gets off the elevator, takes a glance at the security guard as if to verify I'm the guy he's suppose to see and walks over to me. I give him one of my postcards and tell him I sent it three weeks ago to Arthur Levitt, Jr., the President. The man tells me he knows nothing about the postcard, has no idea who I am, and says, "we don't give tours" and tells me "we aren't interested". He essentially told me to take a hike. He did say he would give me information on the place, so off he goes into the elevator and after about a 5 minute wait, a woman who is probably a secretary comes down and hands me an information kit. I told the lady if she could do me a favor and, "tell the gentleman I just spoke to that I've had a front page write-up in the Wall Street Journal". I then turned and walked out. I was steaming! That jerk had made me feel like I was some kind of weirdo or insignificant peon and that's why I told the woman to relay my "message" to him. The American Stock Exchange, Inc. and subsidiaries had $114 million in revenues in 1987, with a net income of a little over $8 million.
Brown Brothers Harriman & Company
Brown Brothers Harriman & Company, is a privately-held bank with revenues of about $350 million. I had added them on to my list because private banks are a rarity (I think there're only 12 in the country) and Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., has been around for a long, long time. The company occupies about 50% of a 34-story building on Wall Street. About 400 employees work in the corporate offices, which has a cafeteria and no formal dining rooms. I met with Edwin Stabbert, Personnel Manager. I was told I couldn't see the boardroom because there's no boardroom. I wasn't allowed to see Mr. T. Farley's office (the CEO & Managing Partner) because he shares a large room with the other partners and it would interrupt them. There's no corporate art collection, the CEO smokes cigarettes, and the company has no corporate aircraft. Stabbert scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
If you recall, I had stopped by the corporate offices of American Express about three weeks ago and was told by the CEO's secretary to leave a postcard because they hadn't received the first one I sent. I was back again at the main reception counter, which is still manned by three unemotional women who LOOKED like they were bored, and waited on you like they were bored. I called up Mr. Robinson's (CEO) secretary again, and was told,---these are her exact words-"it's a decline". I said, "excuse me?" and she says again, "it's a decline". I said, "what does that mean?" and she says, "it's just a decline". To fully appreciate the humor in what she said, you have to work or had worked in a store or business where credit cards are used. Why? I use to work in a hotel and would have to call in the person's credit card number to MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club or American Express to get an OK and sometimes the person at the credit card center would say, "it's a decline". Obviously I was disappointed in the brush-off by American Express and it dropped a few notches in my eyes. Near the lobby area of American Express is one of the company's Travel Service centers and I stopped to cash a check and I swear!, I've been to at least 30 of these American Express Travel Service centers on my travels around the country and the employees are never nice and always act like they're doing ME a big favor by waiting on me!! Foolish me, I always thought the annual fees charged by American Express card entitled me to that service.
Bank of New York
Bank of New York, owns it's 30-story headquarters building at 48 Wall Street. This was my third try at meeting with someone and, as on my previous two visits, I had do deal with the main receptionist who chain-smokes and sits in a little smoke-filled room located inside the entrance to the building. The third time was a charm because I was able to meet with Owen Brady, Vice President. The bank has a lot of history because it's the oldest bank in New York and was founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1795. I got to see CEO John Bacot's office and found it to be awfully small, not a corner office, furnished very traditional and on the one wall was a portrait of Alexander Hamilton. The boardroom is very traditional with chairs and furniture dating back to the 1800's. The headquarters building was built in 1929 and Brady wasn't sure of the number of employees (which includes 2 neighboring buildings) but, said there were a total of 10,200 employees in the whole company. The company has no corporate aircraft, no recreational facilities, with the company's art collection being a mish-mash of works. I did get to see an interesting display on money and I was also given a red conservative tie, with the company's logo all over it. Brady scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Irving Bank, a bank holding company, is headquartered right across the street from the Bank of New York in a building which looks like it was built in the 1920's. The address is quite prestigious; 1 Wall Street. On my first visit I was told everyone was out to lunch so, I was back again. Bank of New York and Irving Bank were in the midst of a fierce takeover battle, with Bank of New York trying to take over Irving Bank. I had minutes earlier finished meeting and talking with Mr. Owen Brady, a Vice President of Bank of New York and also the company's chief public relations spokesman. I walked into the lobby of Irving Bank and explained to the security guard, who was probably in his late 60's, what I was doing and the first thing he said was, "Did you speak to that asshole Owen Brady at Bank of New York?!". Jeez, feeling were definitely running strong from the lower ranks. I was given the number of George Cannon to call, and using the phone in the lobby I called up his office and talked to a woman who identified herself as Cannon's assistant. The woman was rude, abrasive and eventually said it was "a bad day" and promptly HUNG UP on me. I don't know what her problem was but she definitely needs a job change.
Mocatta Metals Corporation
Mocatta Metals Corporation, a privately held company dealing in bullion and metals leases space in the World Trade Center. I showed up in the bright red reception area on three separate occasions and was told each time, that the person I was to see was busy. The small reception area which had a red rug and red velour chairs also had four live plants. Some of the magazines lying around included; Forbes, Fortune, Business Week and Time. Revenues for Mocatta Metals are $26 BILLION but, the company is 95% owned by Standard Chartered Bank of England.
On the way back to my apartment (from visiting companies in lower Manhattan), I stopped to check out the offices of Spy magazine. Why? Well, until this visit to the Big Apple, I had never been to New York City, yet, I subscribed to New York magazine, Manhattan inc. magazine, read the national edition of the New York Times every day, subscribed to Spy magazine and read Crain's New York Business. I enjoyed reading Spy magazine (a somewhat satirical publication) but, never understood a lot of the inside jokes because I really wasn't familiar with all the people the magazine spoofed. Now that I've been in New York City for over a month and have been reading the New York Times, New York Post, New York Daily News and Newsday everyday, I pretty much know the movers and shakers and who the "wanna be's" are. The offices of Spy magazine are located on the 9th floor of the Puck Building, an interesting old structure which was probably built around the turn of the century. Located in SoHo (which is near Greenwich Village), the area surrounding Spy's corporate offices is seedy and sleazy. Walking into Spy's offices, I was greeted by a male receptionist and handed him one of the postcards I send to CEO's. He read it and said, "you're from La Jolla?!, I use to live there and drive a cab for La Jolla Cab!" It was funny what he said, because three days earlier I was riding my bike on Columbus Avenue (near Central Park) when, I guy stopped me and said, "aren't you from La Jolla?" I nodded and he said, "I use to drive a taxi for La Jolla Cab and would see you riding your bike all over town!" Evidently, New York City is where La Jolla Cab drivers end up. Anyway, the former La Jolla Cab driver at Spy magazine, tells me the two editors and the publisher aren't in but, he agrees to show me around the bare-bones, sparsely-furnished offices. When you look out the window, across the street is a gas station and quite a few bums were hanging out at the corner--with several sleeping ON the sidewalk. I left after my 3 minute tour, duly unimpressed.
After leaving Spy, I stopped by the offices of Editor & Publisher magazine (a weekly trade publication about the newspaper business), which is located 11 West 19th Street. I almost didn't go in because the security guard wouldn't let me bring my bike in the lobby and he finally relented in letting me put it in the service entrance-way under the watchful eye of a security camera. Mr. Robert Brown, the President and Editor wasn't in but, I was given a tour of the place, which was your typical average-looking office facility. Leaving Editor & Publisher I stopped nearby and visited President Theodore Roosevelt's former home, which is run by the National Park Service and has a fascinating museum\exhibit display.
It's Thursday, June 9, 1988 and I've checked out of my apartment and moved into the Novotel Hotel, a nice new high-rise hotel near Times Square. Thursday and Friday are my last two days in Mid-town so, I'm going to try one more time to visit all the companies which have been giving me the runaround.
Touche Ross, one of the Big 8 accounting firms, leases space in the black-glassed Paramount Pictures building on Broadway. Of all the headquarters of the Big 8 accounting firms I've visited, this one is located in the least desirable area. This was my third visit and the woman I was suppose to meet with, backed out of talking to me after having a meeting concerning my visit with her boss.
I went back to the headquarters of Associated Press, for my 6th attempt at meeting with someone. Located in 50 Rockefeller Plaza, The Associated Press, (a non-profit news cooperative, owned by American newspapers and broadcast members) has its name on the front of the building which reads, "The Associated Press Building". I had added AP on to my list of companies to visit because it's the world's largest news-gathering cooperative. In the United States alone, AP serves 6,000 radio and television stations and over 1,500 newspapers.
I had been up to the 4th floor reception area so many times, the three receptionists sitting behind a tall reception counter, knew me by sight. I had kept getting put off by Susan Clark, whose title is unknown and finally, I was able to meet with Mr. Hanson, who's in the Corporate Communications department. About 700-800 employees occupy 4 floors in the building. The offices are very functional, there's a cafeteria, in which Coke is served, and I noticed closed-circuit security cameras. I was in Mr. Hanson's office on the 8th floor and was told I couldn't see CEO Louis Boccardi's office on the 7th floor because he wasn't in. That was odd because it's when the CEO ISN'T in his office that I usually get to see it. Mr. Hanson scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale and, I was given an Associated Press T-shirt.
Equitable Life Assurance
I went back to the Equitable Tower Building for a tour after setting up a mutual agreeable time with Kimberley Strother-Pryor, the woman I met with on my first visit. What a joke! A woman, who I'm not sure of her title (I think she was some kind of a receptionist or secretary) met Strother-Pryor and I in the main floor lobby, took us up to the top floor (50th floor), where I got to see the very nice company cafeteria, which is huge and has great views. I say my return visit was a joke because that's all my "tour" encompassed. The boardroom is also located on the 50th floor but, it was "being used" and it wasn't possible to see the CEO's office. So, my return visit for a "tour" lasted all of 2 minutes but, it is still one of the most impressive company cafeterias I've seen.
Thursday morning I went back to the Citibank Building. Why? A few days earlier I had called home and was told Holly Cherico, from Citibank was trying to get in touch. Cherico was one of the people who took me out to lunch during my visit to Citicorp's headquarters. Well, it seems they felt really bad about my bike being stolen outside their headquarters building and Cherico said they wanted to buy me a new lock. I explained to Cherico that it was in no-way the banks fault for what happened. She was pretty persistent and finally I said, okay. She said she would get back to me. After finishing talking to Cherico, I called up Petra, (my girlfriend back in San Diego) and told her about my conversation. Petra said they were probably kidding about the lock and would surprise me with a new bike. If was funny she said that because many of the companies visited after my bike was stolen asked me if Citicorp had replaced it and were amazed when I answered, "no". Cherico had gotten hold of me again and asked me to drop by her office this morning. Well, when I left her office, I was the owner of a new Kryptonite lock. It was kind of ironic though because Kryptonite locks (U-shaped) are suppose to be the best bicycle lock you can buy and I had just read an article in Newsday, in which it was reported; Kryptonite locks are guaranteed anywhere in the country EXCEPT New York City.
After my bike was stolen, it seemed everyone had a similar tragedy to tell me and my favorite was the one I heard about one of the Kennedy boys. It seems one of the Kennedy boys was riding his bike through Central Park, when he was stopped, knocked off the bike and stolen. Well, to 99.99% of the population it would be -so long bike forever-but, by nightfall, the bike had been "returned".
R.H. Macy & Co.
On Friday, I visited privately held R.H. Macy & Co., for the third time. Corporate headquarters is on the 13th floor of the company's flagship store (supposedly the largest department store in the country) located on West 34th street. Two old-style elevators manned by attendants whisks you up and down. Coming off the elevator on the 13th floor I noticed a grass garden located on an outside balcony and along the hallway leading from the elevators to the security guard/receptionist are old photographs of, I guess-past officers of the company. As I had my two previous visits, I struck out again in attempting to meet with someone.
Mercantile Stores, is a lower-end department store chain which seems to act more like a privately-held company than a public one. Corporate offices are in the classic 17-story Greeley Arcade Building on West 31st street. The main receptionist on the 6th floor sits behind a glass booth and the whole set-up is definitely low-rent, with the waiting area having several low cost chairs lined up, with the plain plaster-like walls making you feel like your in the back of a warehouse building. Three times I dropped by and three times I was given the runaround and was told everyone was "busy". I went down to the 5th floor, which is where the CEO's office is located, and was told by a man who said he's in charge of "operations" that they "don't participate in something like this". Mercantile Stores rank right near the top in having the cheapest looking reception area.
The Carter Organization
I was back in Mid-town again and stopped in for the 4th time at the Park Avenue offices of, The Carter Organization, the private company which has become well-known from representing corporations in proxy battles. When a company attempts to take over another company, what The Carter Organization basically does is help one or the other company collect proxies (votes) for its respective side. I had read several articles about Donald Cater, the founder and CEO, and was curious as to what his office would look like. I do know his secretary and main receptionist are two of the unfriendliest, unhelpful, unprofessional people I've had to deal with. On my previous visits, the receptionist would tell me Carter wasn't in and I would tell her I didn't need to talk to Carter; most any other person could answer my questions. Mr. Carter's secretary came out and told me Carter wasn't in and I asked her if, "he wasn't in or he just didn't want to participate?" and she replied, "doesn't want to participate". I left wondering why they didn't tell me that the first time. The magazines lying around the small reception area included; Forbes, Fortune, Business Week, Leaders, and Financial World. Earlier in the week, I believe it was in Financial World magazine which stated, Carter took home $35 million dollars last year.
Young & Rubicam Inc.
Young & Rubicam Inc., is the only advertising agency I've visited which is actually located on Madison Avenue. Corporate headquarters is in a company-owned, 25-story structure that was built in 1925. Though the company has been headquartered in the building since 1925; it wasn't until 1980, when the company bought the building. On my third visit, I met with Joan Hafey, Vice President, Associate Director Corporate Relations. When you come into the building, there's a counter manned by two security guards. The main reception area is on the 6th floor. The name of the company is on the front of the building, About 250 employees work in the corporate offices. There's a canteen, (which is a cafeteria with no seating) and the company's corporate art collection consists of a few Audubon prints, which Hafey wasn't sure if they were originals or copies. There's no corporate aircraft, no boardroom and, the CEO's office is a corner office which had one plant, lots of rocks (yes, that's what I said, rocks) and Early American furniture. Why is the company located in New York City? The company was originally located in Philadelphia and in 1923, they won General Food's Jello account and one of the conditions of getting the account was for Young & Rubicam to open a New York City office. The canteen serves Coke, Pepsi AND Dr. Pepper (the later being included because they have the Dr. Pepper account). Hafey scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Omnicom Group, an advertising holding company, occupies one floor in the same 33-story building housing another advertising agency I had already visited; D'arcy Masius Benton & Bowles. This was my fourth attempt at meeting with someone. On my first visit, the main receptionist was unfriendly, with a "could-care less attitude" and wouldn't even let me use the rest room. On my second visit, there was a different receptionist and after telling her about the rude receptionist I had encountered on my first visit, I was told the first receptionist was a "temporary" and there had been several complaints about her. I can't believe a billion dollar company would put a "temporary" on the front lines. Anyway, on my fourth visit I called Walter Carlson, Public Relations Director from a lobby phone and asked if he had about 10 minutes to answer some questions I had about their corporate headquarters and he said, "make it 5 minutes". Carlson was guarded and not very friendly. The company has been in the building since 1986 and was going to be moving into new offices on 437 Madison Avenue in the future. Sixty-eight employees work on the floor and there's no cafeteria, no corporate aircraft, with Pepsi being served in vending machines because it's one of their accounts. There's no boardroom and CEO Allen Rosenshine office contains four plants, lots of family pictures, with a conference room next to his office. Carlson scored 6 points on my 1-10 scale.
The Morgan Stanley Group
The Morgan Stanley Group, which has it's corporate offices in the Exxon Building in Mid-town, ties with Associated Press and W. R. Grace Company for my making the most visits (6) in attempting to see someone. As with Exxon, Morgan Stanley has a security guard/reception counter in the main lobby area of the Exxon Building. On my second visit, I was given the name of Peter Roche, who is supposedly in the Public Relations department, as the person I was suppose to deal with. I would call his office and be told he was out, busy, in a meeting or unavailable and I would duly leave my name. It got to the point where the security guards would snicker when they saw me walk in the lobby. If they didn't want to talk to me at Morgan Stanley why didn't they just say so? Supposedly, they're one of the classier brokerage houses but, you could have fooled me.
W.R. Grace, a chemical company, is headquartered in their own building on Avenue of the Americas. As I mentioned, I dropped by their offices 6 TIMES and never got past the security guards in the main floor lobby. On my first visit, I called up from the phone at the security guard's desk and was told to come on up and someone would see me. However, that was the day the reporter from the New York Times was following me around to collect information for a story and, I mentioned to the guy over the phone that a reporter from the New York Times was with me and would it be okay if he came up too? The answer was, "no". Evidently the W. R. Grace doesn't like the New York Times or the media in general. My next five visits were futile. John O'Connell and Chris Tofalli were the two men I kept trying to reach and was forever getting the runaround. I had read many articles about CEO J. Peter Grace and he was suppose to be a "take no crap" kind of guy. I had seen his picture enough times to recognize his face and that's what was so funny when I checked in with the security guards; they were older men and had the same facial features as J. Peter Grace. You know how you see people with pets which look like them, well, the security guards reminded me of Mr. Grace.
Rapid American Corporation
Rapid American Corporation, is the privately-held conglomerate run by Meshulam Riklis, who is probably better known as the wife of singer(?) Pia Zadora. The company owns among other companies; McCrory variety stores, T.G. & Y. department stores, J.J. Newberry variety stores, Schenley Industries (liquor importers & distributors), Culligan (water conditioning products), Faberge, and Samsonite Furniture. Corporate offices are on the 18th floor of the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. When you come off the elevator you're watched by a close-circuit security camera. I dropped by three times and everytime I was told, the woman I was suppose to talk to wasn't in.
CBS and Loews
CBS and Loews, both have Laurence Tisch as the CEO. The address I had for Loews' corporate offices; 666 Fifth Avenue turned out to be empty offices in a dumpy building because the company had moved to the 7th floor of a new building at 667 Madison Avenue. I went to the new headquarters on three separate occasions, where, even though employees had moved in, workmen were still putting finishing touches on the interiors. On one of my visits I met Michelle Oaklan, Director of Public Relations for Loews Hotels, who told me she wasn't the one to answer my questions but, could help me out if I needed a room for a night at the Summit Hotel. (I told her about my side project on the corporate traveler). Loews Corporations owns Loews Hotels, Bulova Watch Company, CNA Financial Corporation (insurance) and Lorillard, a cigarette manufacturer. On my other two visits I was told the man I was suppose to see wasn't in.
I went to CBS's black-glassed high-rise office building on West 52nd street four separate times and was never able to get together with anyone. As soon as you walk into the building, you are greeted by security guards and if you have no appointment-you are out of there or else as in my case; you go to pay phones near the door and try to contact someone. I called up Laurence Tisch's secretary, who told me to contact the office of Edward Grebow, Senior Vice President-Administration. Grebow's office told me to contact Corporate Communications where; I was always being transferred or told no one was in. I spent my last two visits putting quarters in the pay phones because when I would be transferred, it wouldn't go through and I would be cut-off. Again, as at Capital Cities/ABC, I was disappointed in my treatment from a news information organization.
I had stopped by the offices of Helmsley Enterprises once, and was told everyone was out to lunch. I never bothered going back because the story about Harry & Leona Helmsley's alleged misuse of company funds in redoing their Greenwich, Connecticut estate had been splattered all over the papers and I figured I would be the at the bottom of the list of people someone at the company would want to talk to. Harry Helmsley, the CEO, who is in his late 70's, controls over 50 million square feet of commercial space in New York City, 50,000 apartments and has a chain of hotels run by his wife. Are the corporate offices of Helmsley Enterprises located in the landmark Helmsley Building on Park Avenue or in the elegant Helmsley Palace Hotel? Nope, they're in a plain office building on 42nd street which is pretty dumpy when you consider the man's worth about $1.5 billion and owns some of the choicest property in New York City.
Peat Marwick Main & Co.
Peat Marwick Main & Co., one of the Big 8 accounting firms, is headquartered (or so I thought) in a high-rise building at 345 Park Avenue. The building is also the headquarters for Union Pacific and Bristol-Myers. You would think accounting firms would be very organized but not at this one. I visited the company on three separate occasions and on my last visit, I was told the corporate offices had been moved to New Jersey but then again, everyone I talked there seem to NOT know anything about who was who or what was what at the company. One guy I spoke to didn't even know who Larry Horner was! (he's the CEO).
First Boston, an investment banking firm, gave me the runaround. I went to their corporate offices in the Park Avenue Plaza Building (which is also where Reliance Holdings has their offices) on four separate occasions. You are greeted by a large atrium when you enter the building and then you take an escalator up to the next level, where First Boston has a information counter manned by security guards. I always seem to get the runaround from whoever I talked to and on my final visit; I was told I needed to go to another building (on 49th street), they needed to see my questions in advance AND, would only respond to my questions via mail.
DeLoitte Haskins & Sells
DeLoitte Haskins & Sells, another one of the Big 8 accounting firms, is headquartered in the W.R. Grace Building. I mentioned I tried to visit W.R. Grace 6 times, well, I tried visiting this accounting firm four times. I never got past the main floor lobby area and the man I was told to see; Gene Richey, was never in.
I spent Friday and Saturday at the Vista International Hotel, which has over 800 rooms, and what amazes me most is it's the ONLY hotel in lower Manhattan. I was on my bike and over the Brooklyn Bridge by 6 am on Sunday morning. I was heading to Garden City, which is on Long Island. To get there, I had to go through parts of Brooklyn and the Queens. I had been told there were some real bad area to go through and figured if I left early enough most people would still be sleeping. I no soon got over the Brooklyn Bridge when, I wasn't sure which way I should go so, I kept going straight. I came upon a down and out black man standing in the middle of the street and as I rode by, he yelled,"hey white boy!, you had better turn around and go another way because you be getting yourself in big trouble that way!". Jeez, I stopped, looked at my map and couldn't figure out which way to go because the streets were so confusing. I finally decided to take the derelict's advice and doubled back. I hadn't gone 2 miles down the road when, the back tire went flat (of course as usual, it's always the much harder to fix back tire which goes flat). Good grief!, it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn't bought a pump for my new bike. It's 6:30 am on a Sunday morning and I'm in a real seedy area. Visions of Tom Wolfe's book, Bonfires of Vanity, kept flashing before my eyes. Well, I ended up WALKING my bike about three miles until I found an open gas station. It was frustrating because I had past several gas stations but, since it was Sunday they were closed, which meant the air hoses were turned off.
By late morning I was in Garden City and checked into the Garden City Hotel, which by the way is a very nice place to stay. I spent the rest of the day riding around the area. I checked out the nearby campuses of Adelphi University and Hofstra University and rode through several nice little towns like; Old Westbury and Flower Hill (two of the 74 most affluent suburbs in the country).
Monday morning I visited the corporate offices of Avis Inc., which are located in a 3-story building on a busy street in Garden City. On the front of the building, which looks like it was built in the early 1960's, it says, "Avis" and below it in black letters, "World Headquarters". Entering the lobby, the color red is all over the place, including the receptionist; who's wearing a red uniform similar to the ones you see Avis employees wearing at airports. In the lobby is an Avis Rapid Rental machine, which you could use to rent a car from their lot across the street. The only magazine I noticed in the lobby waiting area was, Chief Financial Officer magazine. I received a warm reception from Demetria Mudar, Manager, Public Relations, even though for some reason the company hadn't received my postcard. About 1,000 employees work in the company-owned building, which has a cafeteria (Coke is it) and formal dining. There's no corporate art collection (except for old ads), no corporate aircraft, and no recreational facilities. CEO Joseph Vittoria has his office on the second floor and was in the process of moving into the office of the former Chairman, which is a corner office. The boardroom wasn't much to look at because it's basically a conference room. Vice Presidents on up get reserved parking spots. I was taken into this good-sized room where there's a computer-like scoreboard which shows figures for the following: Total transactions to date, Total reservations to date and another, Total reservations to date; the figures are for the whole Avis system, with the last reading of Total figures to date-in a constantly changing status. Mudar didn't know why the corporate headquarters was located in Garden City (population 23,000), but speculated it might be because a former CEO lived close by. As I was leaving, I stopped by the front desk and picked up about a dozen stickers which read, "We try harder", and are done in about a dozen different languages. Mudar scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Long Island Lighting
Long Island Lighting, a utility company, is headquartered a few miles from Avis on the same road (Old Country Road) but, in a different town; Hicksville, population 50,000 (no, the people around town didn't look like hicks). Out front of the plain-looking, 3-story brick headquarters building is a sign which reads, "Lilco Executive Offices". They too, hadn't received my postcard but, Maureen Flanagan, Public Affairs, came to the lobby and answered my questions. The company leases the building, management gets reserved parking, there's a cafeteria and a executive dining room, the later being called the Megawatt Room. There's no corporate art collection, 1 corporate aircraft, a softball field, and it's about an hour to JFK Airport. Flanagan scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Grumman, an aerospace company which also manufactures fire trucks, yachts and canoes, has its corporate headquarters on a 500-acre site in Bethpage (population 30,000). I can vouch for their security system because yesterday (Sunday) I met one of their security people. I had gone by the place so, I would know where to go on Monday morning. On one side of a busy street is Grummann's headquarters complex and on the other side are residential homes. I was standing across the street from Grumman on a sidewalk in front of homes taking pictures of the corporate headquarters building when, a company security guard in a truck comes tearing across the street (onto incoming traffic), pulls up to me and wants to know what I'm doing. I told him about my project and how I as going to be visiting the company tomorrow blah, blah and gave him one of my postcards. After telling me the company doesn't want pictures taken, he drove off. I was pretty impressed with their surveillance because I couldn't see any cameras located anywhere on the building.
As I rode up to the 3-story headquarters building on Monday morning, I locked my bike outside the entrance door and a security guard, who already knew who I was, came out and greeted me. Evidently, my run-in with the security guard the day before had given me some notoriety. I was met by Miriam Reid, Manager, New Bureau, who ended up driving me to another building on the grounds to speak with Lois Lovisolo, Archivist/Historian, Public Affairs. Downstairs in the basement of a building is a small company museum and that's where Lovisolo's office is located. It's a fascinating place filled with all sorts of pictures and models of the various planes built through the years by Grumman along with tons of company memorabilia.
The company owns the actual headquarters building (built in 1984) and 75% of the Bethpage compound: Grumman owns an estimated 515 acres out of 623, with the remaining 108 acres owned by the Navy. There's a total of 7 cafeterias and an executive dining room (approximately 17,000 employees work in the complex), with Coke, Pepsi and RC Cola being served. All employees get a free turkey at Christmas (company-wide total of 32,000), there's a fitness center for management and a nearby recreational center for employees which includes; 10 softball fields, three soccer fields and 3 "unofficial" tennis courts. A picnic area nearby called; McKay Field, has a miniature golf course, volleyball and shuffleball courts.
I got to peek in the CEO's office and the President's office, with neither one being a corner office and both had views of the grounds. The boardroom was bare with no pictures but, there was one plant-although it was fake. Part of the Grumman's grounds use to be a polo field. The company has enough parking for about 90% of it's 17,000 employees which work at the huge complex and I was told that was sufficient due to car pooling, vacations, sickness etc.... The company has 6 corporate aircraft: 2-Gulfstream 1, 1 Gulfstream 111, 1 Beech Baron, 1 Beech C-90 King Air and a helicopter. Lovisolo and Reid, both scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
It was around high noon, when my bike and I caught the Long Island Railroad back into New York City. All the commuter trains on Long Island deposit people in boring, Penn Station, which is next to Madison Square Garden (34th street & 7th Ave) and has absolutely no character. Grand Central Station is about 20 blocks away and the terminal is just like its name-GRAND.
I rode along Riverside Drive, which goes along the Hudson River and passed, Columbia University and Grant's Tomb (guess who's buried there) until I came to 180th street and that's where I crossed over to New Jersey via the mighty George Washington Bridge. The bridge is probably about a half mile long, is high up, makes a hideous rumbling noise from all the cars and trucks going over it. Someone mentioned something about it being one of the busiest bridges in the COUNTRY and I can believe it.
I arrived at the corporate headquarters of CPC International in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey (population 5,800), around 4PM. A small sign visible from the busy road which reads, "CPC International" greets you, and next door is the headquarters for Thomas Lipton (which has sales of about $1.2 billion and is a subsidiary of Unilever). Two receptionists were manning the main entrance and I noticed closed-circuit security cameras. CPC International, manufactures quite a few well-known consumer brands and products such as; Skippy peanut butter, Mazola corn oil, Knorr soups, Best Foods, Hellmanns, Argo, and Thomas' English Muffins. Though there are four buildings, a 3-story structure houses the 200 employees comprising the corporate staff, while about 500 employees work in the other three buildings which house U.S. operations for Best Foods. The company has been headquartered there for 20 years and owns the buildings, but leases the land. I met with William Parker, Corporate Director of Public Relations. There's no art collection, no corporate aircraft (Newark Airport is 30 minutes away) and no recreational facilities. There's a cafeteria and an executive dining room called; the International Plaza Room. Besides flying the U.S. flag, the state flag and company flag, they also fly the United Nations flag, with the later being something I hadn't seen in my travels. I was taken over to one of the Best Products buildings and given a tour of some of the company's test kitchens. The boardroom is very plain, with the CEO's office being a corner office with contemporary furnishings and a view of the street. Why is CPC located where they are?, according to what I was told, it's a convenient location with mid-town Manhattan only 35 minutes away. Parker scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
It was late in the afternoon when I left CPC International and headed northwest to Mahwah, New Jersey (about 40 miles away) which is almost on the New York/New Jersey border. It's about 20 miles past my next company I was going to be visiting (Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea) but, there was a brand new Sheraton Hotel in Mahwah and a complimentary room had been extended to me. I passed through the affluent Saddle River area again and for that matter, all the towns and villages in Northern New Jersey seem to be affluent.
Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company
Tuesday morning June 14, 1988, I rode into Montvale (population 7,500) looking for the corporate offices Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. I knew it was close by because I stopped in and checked out an A&P grocery store and it was obviously a prototype of the company's stores to come because it was brand new, big, and had departments and items I had never seen in an A&P store. At one time, A&P use to be the largest grocery chain in the country, now it's a subsidiary of Tengelman Group, a West Germany company. Though A&P was foreign-owned and not suppose to be on my list, I added them on because I wondered how their headquarters would compare to all the other grocery store chain's offices.
Well, it sure wasn't worth making the effort to stop by because the receptionist could have cared-less about my being there and was told no one was available to talk to me. Out near the street, the familiar A&P logo tells you have found the place and corporate headquarters is a 3-story brownish building set in an office park-type setting. A small creek flows by the front entrance doors, complete with squawking ducks. In the lobby- Muzak plays and there's a good-sized trophy case in the lounge/waiting area. I also noted closed-circuit security cameras.
Leaving Montvale, I followed Chestnut Ridge Road to Woodcliff Lake (population 6,000). Though it was only a few miles between the two towns, Chestnut Ridge Road seem to be lined with corporate offices. The corporate offices of BMW of North America (revenues of about $2.5 billion) are almost next door to Ingersoll-Rand's.
Ingersoll-Rand, which manufactures machinery (air compressors, pumps, rotary drills), is headquartered in a company-owned, 4-story building which sits on a beautifully landscaped 42-acre site. As you enter the driveway leading onto the grounds, a small sign near the street reads, "Ingersoll-Rand". Entering the lobby, I noticed lots of plants (real) and no magazines to read in the lobby waiting area. I met with Dick Johnson, Public Relations. Roughly 220 employees work in the 147,000 square foot building, which was built in 1972. There's a cafeteria, a formal dining room, no recreational facilities, no corporate art collection, and one corporate aircraft. Out front of the building flies the U.S. flag, company flag, and the United Nations flag (after never seeing this flag my whole trip I see it twice in the last two days). The receptionist; Maria Zito is very nice and I noticed a security guard. Smoking is allowed and Vice Presidents on up get reserved parking. I did get to spend a few minutes talking to the Chairman Thomas Holmes in his office, which overlooks the grounds and I also met Theodore Black, the President. Nice headquarters and nice people. Johnson scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
Toy "R" Us
Toys "R" Us, is headquartered in dumpy-looking 4-story building next to a freeway in Rochelle Park, a middle class town of about 6,000 people. The company's name is on the side of the building. I took the elevator up to the small, plainly-furnished -except for a few toys, reception area. I was told everyone was out to lunch and after waiting in the reception area for about 15 minutes, I decided the offices looked like they wouldn't be worth hanging around to see.
According to a sign telling the time and temperature, it was 3 PM and 102 degrees as I arrived in downtown Newark. It was the middle of June and a 102 degrees?, I would hate to be around here in August when it's hot AND muggy. Newark, with a population of about 330,000, has got to be one of the most uninviting cities I've visited. It reminds me a lot of Detroit. I was here to visit four companies; Prudential Insurance Company of America, Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company, Public Service Enterprise Group, and First Fidelity Bancorp.
Mutual Benefit Life
Mutual Benefit Life, with revenues of over $10 billion, is probably one of the reasons there is still a downtown Newark. Corporate headquarters is a company-owned, 20-story building, which was built in 1957 and looks it. Entering the lobby, I was glad the security guard let me bring my bike inside because there was, NO WAY, I was going to lock it outside on the downtown streets of Newark. I was given a warm reception by the receptionists, who had been forewarned of my pending arrival. I met with James Goodness, Communications Manager, Public Relations. About 1,500 employees work in the building, which has a well-equipped fitness center and a policy of no smoking in the building. The CEO's office had several plants, was modern in furnishings and wasn't a corner office. The boardroom was about average, the company has no corporate aircraft and, there's a cafeteria and formal dining.
It's interesting as to how the pelican became the company's symbol. The following was taken from a company newsletter for employees: "The symbol of the pelican, which comes to the Company through one of its founders, Robert Patterson, has a historical connotation. This connotation-selflessness and devotion to those who depend upon it-has many references. There is a legend that says that in times of famine a pelican will pierce its own breast and allow its young to feed upon its blood. This devotion to the needs of others, the Company founders felt, typified the reasons behind the formation of Mutual Benefit-to provide a financial future and security to the families of breadwinners who met an untimely death."
The receptionists scored 10 points and Goodness scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale. *NOTE Upon returning home I received a package containing a T-shirt, coffee mug, 2 sweat bands and a little toiletry case (all with the company's name and logo on, of course).
Prudential Insurance Company of America
Leaving Mutual Benefit, I rode down Broad Street (the main street) a few blocks to the corporate headquarters of Prudential Insurance Company of America and probably the other reason (besides Mutual Benefit) for there still being a downtown Newark. I had a run-in with a female security guard/receptionist in the main floor lobby, who wouldn't let me use the phone to call someone. I gave her one of my postcards and explained to her how I had sent the postcard to CEO Robert Winters. She replied, "Mr. Winters is an important man and he ain't got time for someone like you". I found a pay phone and was able to get together with Susan Pohli, Assistant Public Relations Consultant, Public Affairs Department. I would have gagged if Pohli had told me Prudential didn't own their 24-story headquarters building because it seems like Prudential, Metropolitan Life and Equitable, own about half the office buildings in the country. The company's name is atop the white building and I counted 10 large trees scattered around the large lobby area along with quite a few plants.
Built in 1963, the 601,815 square foot structure is known as the Prudential Plaza Building. A total of 3,500 employees work in the Plaza building along with two other nearby Prudential buildings. There's a cafeteria, an executive dining room on the top floor and, there're two fitness centers which includes stationary bikes and a jogging track.
I never got to see anything besides Pohli's office. I couldn't see the CEO's office (on the 24th floor) and wasn't able to see the boardroom because a meeting was going on. As I have found in most insurance company headquarters-there's a 13th floor. The corporate art collection is contemporary and the company has one company plane and two helicopters. Pohli scored 10 points on my 1-10 scale.
It was about 4:45 PM when I left Prudential and it was HOT. Almost across the street is the shimmering blue-glassed office building housing the headquarters of Public Service Enterprise Group, an electric and gas holding company. It's the newest looking building in downtown Newark and I guesstimate it to be about 25-stories tall. First Fidelity Bancorp is down the street near Mutual Benefit's headquarters and it looks like a pretty typical bank headquarters building. The building looks to be about 20 stories tall, with the name "First Fidelity Bank" in big blue letters on top of the side of the structure. The building looks like it was built in the early 1970's.
From downtown Newark I headed just about due west for fifteen miles to Short Hills, New Jersey. I hate to knock anyplace but, Newark has some of the worst areas I've had to ride through on my whole trek. Yet, fifteen miles east is Short Hills and Millburn, two of the most affluent suburbs in the country. I spent the night at the Hilton at Short Hills, which besides being a new deluxe hotel, is right across the street from an upscale mall called, the Mall at Short Hills. I decided it wasn't worth going back into downtown Newark to visit First Fidelity Bancorp and Public Service Enterprise Group, so early the next morning I caught a plane home.