Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG
Trains in Europe are
a fast and efficient means of getting around cities and countries
(unlike in America). So in many European cities being near the
central train station is a prestigious location. It's about a
block from Heidelberg's central station where I find the headquarters
of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen. Over 1,800 employees work here
and its part headquarters and part research & development.
It used to be a factory site but that's been relocated to the
outskirts of town.
Founded in 1850 by Andreas Hamm in nearby Frankenthal, the company moved to Heidelberg and its present site in 1896. Revenues in fiscal 1997/1998 totaled 6.8 billion-DM.
CEO Hartmut Mehdorn occupies a corner office on the top floor and as with most of the executives offices I've seen in Germany he has no personal items. Walk into an executive's office in the USA and it's the norm to find personal effects such as family photos, autographed baseballs or displays of their personal hobbies. Mehdorn has two computers in his office, one real plant and a plaque on his black desk, which I've seen in many a CEO's office. The plaque reads "No surprises". The U-shaped boardroom seats 27 in comfortable gray chairs. I count four real plants. I always touch the plants to see if they're real or fake. Many boardrooms contain fake plants because the room doesn't get much light or use.
Going into the product display room containing the giant printing presses I notice what looks to be a bus tour group coming through. "Do you have tours of this place?" I ask. According to Moorman, printers from around the world come here in groups for a look-see. Also swarming around one of the giant presses (it's at least 50 feet long) is a group of potential buyers who seem to be walking around the machine giving it the old kick-the-tires once over.
Before leaving I ask about the big flashing screen in the lobby and tell Moormann having my name up there in lights would make a great photo. The very accommodating Moormann obliges and in a few minutes the screen reads "Welcome Paul Wolsfeld from San Diego, California"; I take out my digital camera and snap a few shots. It's always neat when companies announce your arrival and some have really rolled out the red carpet for me. While going around the United States I remember visiting this insurance company in Waverly, Iowa. It's a small farming town of about 10,000 in Middle America and I could tell nothing much happens there. Why do I say that? Well, when I showed up they had big banners announcing my arrival and employees were asking for autographs.