Festo AG & Co.
Riding10 miles southeast of Stuttgart brings me to Esslingen
am Neckar. Seeing as how the Nectar River runs through the city
it doesn't take a genius to figure out it translates to Esslingen
on the Nectar River. I'm here to visit Festo AG, a family-owned
concern that manufactures pneumatic products, power tools and
offers courses in vocational training. The company has over 4,700
employees and sales last year of 1.2 billion DM's.
I assume the head
office would probably be somewhere around the downtown area.
Boy am I wrong. There's a light drizzle as I make my way up a
switchback road going up very large and steep hill (or a small
mountain). Normally you don't hear me complaining about hills
or mountain because I like 'em but, I've been trying to beat
this nasty summer cold and it's hard riding because I have this
The head office/factory complex sits on the backside of the steep
hill (or small mountain) and before entering one has to be cleared
by the guard manning the gated entrance. The guard doesn't speak
any English so he points me to the reception area in the five-story
I meet with Eberhard
Veit whose business card reads: Director-Strategic Product Management.
He's also one of the six members which make up the Board of Directors.
The visit is short
and sweet. The main reason being I have no voice (that nasty
summer cold is the culprit). Veit strains to hear my questions,
which pretty much, come out in a whisper. Actually it gets quite
comical as Veit answers "what?" to everything I say
because he can't hear or understand what's coming out of my mouth.
Heck, if I was in his shoes I probably would have told me to
"take a hike".
Gottlieb Stoll (1897-1971) founded Festo back in 1925 and that
explains why there's a portrait of him in the reception lobby.
Stoll also had an interest in geology that explains why there's
a six foot in diameter petrified tree trunk in the reception
This head office/factory site was built in the 1960's with additional
buildings added on in 1982. Easily the most unusual item to be
found here is the giant inflatable structure sitting right outside
the administration building. It's about the size of two convenience
stores and looks like a magnified version of those inflatables,
which allow kids to climb inside and bounce around. I ask Veit,
"What's up with the inflatable structure outside?"
Veit says it's a permanent structure and is used as a display
room for the company's various products. Hmm, that makes sense;
a company that manufactures products using air and air compression
having a showroom inflated with air.
Nothing special about
Veit's second floor, middle office which includes one real plant
and a family photo. There're two cafeterias, no recreational
facilities, smoking is allowed in offices and there's a formal
dress code. The logo is Festo's name in blue lettering. "Any
significance to the color blue?" I ask. Veit answers, "blue