Royal Philips Electronics

Imagine picking up a newspaper and reading the headline, "Coca-Cola Moving From Atlanta To New York City". Well, that's essentially what happened last year with electronics giant Philips as it moved from its birth place of Eindoven (population 300,000) to Amsterdam. Four years ago I dropped in on Philips' blah offices in Eindoven and I'm eager to find out if they've corralled space with more pizzazz.

The address I have has no street address just, "The Rembrandt Tower". It's not a problem finding the place though because everyone I encounter knows where it is. Why? Amsterdam is a city of few tall buildings. In the city center you'd be hard pressed to find one even rising 10 stories. However, go several miles from the city center to the ring roads that encircle the city and you'll find a few. The biggest? You guessed it, the 35-story Rembrandt Tower, which sticks out like a sore thumb. Built in 1998, it reminds one of a miniature version of the Empire State building.

The building directory lists the 23rd floor as the reception area for Philips so up I go. Stepping off the elevator one has to be buzzed into the reception room. It's a cozy area with two receptionists manning the desk and two black leather couches to plop down in. While waiting one can peruse the Financial Times, Economist magazine or peer at the flat screen television (a Philips model, of course). Things are very efficient here and within minutes I'm meeting with Ton Vervoort, Senior Director, who's been expecting my arrival.

I question Vervoort about the number of employees working here and how much of the building Philips occupies. Vervoort says 330 employees occupy 12 floors. I then ask, "Philips is a global big boy how come you don't have your own building or at the least have your name atop the building?" Vervoort walks me over to a window and says to take a look downward. Next to this tower is a canal, between this tower and the canal a slim building is rising up and it's going to be Philips' new home. In jest I say, "Aw jeez, that means I have to come back again next year to check out the new offices".

You can light up in your office though Vervoort says few here smoke, the company's art collection is a mixture of contemporary and old Masters (though surprisingly no Rembrandts or Van Goghs) and, Friday's are casual dress days.CEO Cor Boonstra occupies a corner office on the 24th floor containing two real plants, a landscape painting and a great view of the airport (a half-dozen miles away). Nothing fancy about the boardroom or the oval-shaped table seating 21. I also come across two busts; one is of Gerard Philips (company founder) and the other his brother, Anton Philips. There's also an oil painting of 93-year old Fritz Philips.

Walking around I get the impression the offices and furnishings are temporary and it'll change when they move into their own building. Hey, maybe the top of the new building will have a flashing light bulb.

Probably the most unusual tidbit I pick up is when I ask Vervoort his commute time. I've visited almost 3,000 companies and have heard a wide range of answers to this question. Several in New York City talked of three hour commutes (each way!). Visiting a company in Altdorf, Switzerland the guy told me he had a 10 minute commute: a two minute walk to the gondola and then eight minutes up. How long does it take Vervoort? He motions me over to the window again and says to look down. Adjacent to this tower is an apartment complex. Yep, he takes the elevator down, walks out the door and in a few steps-he's home. Boy, he can forget about using the "I got stuck in traffic", "the train broke down", or "the car broke down" lines. Heck, if he calls in sick-they can even peer down and see if it's legitimate.