Triumph International Holding GmbH

Researching companies to visit included delving through a vast array of reference books. I looked at a company's revenues, number of employees and what industry they were in. When finding a company to add to my list I'd type in the CEO's name and company address into my label printer then, I'd print out two labels: one goes on an envelope (which is later mailed to the company) and the other goes on one of my questionnaires. So, I have no notes telling me the company's revenues or what they do. Why am I telling you all this? Well, it's been several months since I came up with my list of companies and quite frequently I don't remember what business a company is in. Take Triumph International Holding, I have no clue what they do but I think they might have something to do with Triumph, the sports car.

So, I make my way near Munich's central train station and park my bike outside Triumph's eight-story building. It's an unexciting area with a brewery complex situated right next door. Clueless me walks in and gets to deal with a male receptionist sitting behind a glass enclosed booth. I'm initially told they hadn't received my letter and then the receptionist tries to wave me away. I talk the receptionist into making a few phone calls to check around and finally a woman from public relations steps out into the lobby and basically says they can't help me. She evens suggests it would be more interesting visiting and writing about the brewery next door and that she could set it up. While we're standing in the lobby the receptionist gets a phone call and motions me to the phone. I tell the man on the phone about my unusual odyssey and he says, "well, you've came all the way from California to visit us, I think we should be able to find a few minutes for you". He then says to come on up to his office.

It was during the time the receptionist was making phone calls that I first noticed the five foot tall by 20-foot long picture mounted on the lobby wall of a beautiful black woman posing seductively and wearing nothing but a bra and panties. Is that Tyra Banks?, I ask. "No, it's Naomi Campbell", answers the receptionist. "What business is Triumph in?", I ask. "Women undergarments", he answers.

The public relations woman walks me through a courtyard and to another connected building. Employees get to park their bicycles in the courtyard and I count over a dozen. It's then up the dinky two-person elevator to the office of the man on the phone. It's rather an organized mess with lots of papers piled high on a desk. Who's this man? Head of public relations or corporate communications? No, it's Dieter Braun, one of the four owners of this $1.6 billion in revenues enterprise.
I tell Braun I had never heard of his company or his products. Braun gives me the bare facts such as this 113 year-old company does business in over 125 countries, has more than 30,000 employees and is very well known in Asia and Europe. Gottfried Spiesshofer and Michael Braun founded the company in 1886, with the later being a relative of you know who.

I learn this privately-held company produces and markets women's lingerie and nightwear, swimwear, beachwear, leisurewear AND men's underwear. "Do you sell men's underwear in the US?", I ask. "Not much", he answers. Braun then goes to a cabinet where he pulls out a pair of "Sloggi For Men" underwear and undershirt and bestows them on me. Hmm, the prices are marked on them; 28.40 DM (about $14) for the undershirt and 13.95 DM (about $7) for the underwear.

About 250 employees work here with Triumph having leased space in the building for the last 21 years. Everyone (including executives) eat in the cafeteria. "How's the food?", I ask. "Good" Braun answers.

Nothing special about the boardroom except the contrasts in colors between the white walls, black table & chairs and gray carpet. Any employee perks? There's a company store, which is open to the public, where employees get a 25% discount.