Robert Bosch GmbH

With revenues of 50 billion-DM and almost 190,000 employees, Robert Bosch is definitely in the global big leagues. Bosch manufactures a wide range of products including packaging machines, automotive equipment, electric power tools, household appliances such as refrigerators, washers & dryers and even mobile telephones. You never hear much about Bosch in the United States yet, the company has over 17,000 employees at 20 different locations.

I tried visiting Robert Bosch four years ago but received a real tacky reception. Matter of fact, the company made my list of "10 Worst Receptions in Germany". I showed up at the gated entrance and didn't even have to identify myself to the security guards because they already knew who I was. How? Earlier they had received a memo concerning my pending arrival and were told to relay the message that the company wasn't interested in meeting with me.

Bosch uses a post office box for its mailing address which makes it look like it's headquartered in Stuttgart but, that's not the case as its physical headquarters lies about 10 miles west of Stuttgart in suburban Gerlingen. The last two and a half miles requires going up a steep switchback road.

Showing up again I can see things haven't changed. There's the gated entry and visitors check in with the guards at a small building to the side of the driveway. A couple hundred yards away stands the concrete slab 12-story head office with the name "BOSCH" in big letters atop the side. Obviously built in the 1970's, the name of the side of the structure could easily be changed to "Holiday Inn" or "Marriott" because it looks just like a hotel structure.

The guard dials up CEO Hermann Scholl's secretary and then hands me the phone so I can ask her who ended up with my letter sent to her boss. She puts me on hold and comes back several minutes later saying there doesn't seem to be a record of it. If I can wait she'll try to get someone to "bring you to the building and take care of you".

Several minutes later Simone Rajnovic shows up and hands me a company brochure along with a gift: a miniature flashlight. I ask her if someone has time to answer my questions. Rajnovic says she's only a secretary in the Press department and was told to hand me the material. I tell her of my previous experience here and how frustrating it is to come all this way just to see a guardhouse. I ask, "Can you at least take me up to see the lobby?" She answers, "No".

Riding off I think about my original list of "10 Worst Receptions In Germany" and how Robert Bosch managed to land a slot on the sequel.