adidas-Salomon AG

I'm about 25 miles northwest of Nuremberg and if all goes well, I'll solve two of life's mysteries: Why the heck is adidas-Salomon located in Herzogenaurach and why isn't the word adidias capitalized? Need I explain what businesses adidas-Salomon is in? Last year, revenues for this seller of shoes and sports gear totaled over $5.9 billion and
employs over 12,000 people. It's now passed Reebok as the one industry leader Nike sees when it looks over its shoulder.

Herzogenaurach, a gorgeous little village surrounded by pastoral farmlands, has maybe at the max 10,000 inhabitants. The address I have (Adi-Dassler Strasse 2) brings me to a factory complex of buildings but learn to my dismay via the security guards that company executives have recently moved to a new headquarters complex several miles away.

Hmm, this is strange I seem to be cycling along a road which takes me past a fenced-in compound with deserted buildings which looks like it was some kind of hospital-maybe a mental hospital. Continuing along the road I come upon a large open field and set way back from the road is a long, new looking building so I surmise this must be the place.

Construction workers are still doing work on the sidewalks outside the entrance as I lock my bike up. Entering the bright and expansive lobby I'm confronted by a wide range of items. Hanging from the ceilings via cables are three televisions and several mannequins dressed in addidas gear line a wall. Bright red and blue sofas (from IKEA?) are scattered about. Behind the reception counter are storage closets but they're made to look like lockers found in locker rooms. Attached to the front of the reception counter a continuously moving sign messages visitors to visit the adidas Website. The place feels new and high-tech.

After a few minutes wait Alex Briggs whose business card reads "Global Public Relations" greets me. Though nobody seems to know anything about the introductory letter sent a month earlier to CEO Robert Louis-Dreyfus it doesn't stop Briggs from extending a warm welcome and tour of the facility.

The U-shaped, three-story headquarters building looks new, but turns out to be only partly true. The two ends of the building were former army barracks. Not just any army barracks but US army barracks. What's going on here? Well, we're on the site of a former US military base. Remember several years ago when the US government was shutting down bases? This place got the ax. That explains the deserted buildings I passed along the road.

About 1,500 people work here, parking is free and plentiful and something out of the norm for Germany; it's a smoke-free building. It's a mile to the nearest freeway, a 15-minute drive to Nuremberg's airport and the company's dress code can be described in two words: informal & casual. Any employee perks? 30% off goods at the company store.

What kind of recreational facilities do they have here? Well, there's the usual indoor gymnasium and soccer fields and then there's the lighted golf course. Yep, how many companies do you know which have an on-site golf course? Actually, the army built the course in the 1940's and Briggs says it was probably the first golf course in Europe to be lit for night play.

A new cafeteria building is going up several hundred yards from the main building. "Isn't there going to be a covered walkway between the two buildings?" I ask. "No", answers Briggs. Boy, that'll make getting to lunch in lousy weather a real challenge. Then again, if they're hungry enough they'll "just do it".

CEO Robert Louis-Dreyfus' second floor corner office contains plenty of sports memorabilia. There's a jersey signed by members of New Zealand's All Blacks Rugby team, a Notre Dame football helmet, a University of Tennessee football helmet signed by Peyton Manning, a picture of the French soccer team and, a jersey signed by cyclist Jan Ullrich-who came in second in last year's Tour de France. Hmm, I think they all have a common connection but I'm not sure what it is. Though his office is plantless, I count six family pictures, a desktop computer, a bookcase filled with dozens of books on a wide range of topics and last but not least, a television with a 50 inch screen. Why is his office on the second floor? Meeting rooms are on the top floors.

Why is the company headquartered in Herzogenaurach? Roots. It was founded here in 1949. Why is adidas not capitalized? Briggs shrugs and says that's the way it's always been spelled. What's the new mailing address for adidas-Salomon AG? Simply: World of Sports, Herzogenaurach, Germany