Focke & Co.
As mentioned before, sometimes when riding up to a company I have no idea as to what business they're in. How come? It's plain and simple: I forgot. The main criteria for making my list of companies to visit were revenues. Making the cut-off meant having at least $300 million in sales. Also, if a company had less than the $300 million required but employed several thousand employees it interested me. I made very few notes as to what business, industry or products the company made. In other words, I rely on memory. Actually, it's more fun not knowing what a company does. Then again, if need be I can whip out the laptop and log on to that all knowing resource of business information: Hoover's Online.
I'm in Verden to visit
Focke & Co but, haven't a clue as to what they do. However,
the address for this company "Siemenstrasse 10" has
me concerned because I didn't come all this way to visit a subsidiary
of Siemens. *Visit the archives to read about my disappointing
reception earlier this summer at Siemens' head office in Munich.
Rabea Kuehn, who works in customer service, answers questions and serves as my tour guide. "What does your company do?" is the first question out of my mouth. Of course you noticed in the question asked that I didn't attempt to pronounce the name of the company--which could be embarrassing if done incorrectly. It turns out Focke & Co is one of the world's largest manufacturers of cigarette packing machines with over 6,000 of these multi-million dollar contraptions installed in over 50 countries.
Focke & Co., founded more than 40 years ago in Bremen by CEO Heinz Focke, moved to neighboring Verden for two good reason: available land and, maybe more importantly; Focke lives here. Back in 1955 Heinz Focke designed the first automatic tobacco weighing and pouch packing system. Since then the company has been on a roll being the leader in mechanical and electrical innovations in the industry.
Between the head office
and adjacent plant, over 800 work here. There're no recreational
facilities but workers in the plant have use of showers. Of course
smoking is allowed with CEO Focke being a fancier of cigars.
No, you don't have to be a smoker to work here. Case in point,
Kuehn nor the receptionist are smokers.
Bremen's airport lies 25 miles away and it's two miles to the nearest freeway. "Any unusual employee perks?" I ask. "Workers in the factory get free milk in the cafeteria", answers Kuehn.
Though we take a walk
along the executive corridor it isn't possible to see CEO Focke's
second floor corner office due to "he's busy". Kuehn
says Focke doesn't have a computer in his office. Hmm, now it
makes sense. Earlier I asked if the company had a presence on
the Internet and Kuehn answered, "No". "Why?"
I inquired. "Mr. Focke is concerned about security"