Elkem ASA

Trying to locate the head offices of Elkem isn't easy as I make my way through a hilly residential area with twisting one way streets. It's almost like they don't want anyone to find them.Elkem, with $1.3 billion in revenues and 5,200 employees, is one of the world's largest suppliers of metals and materials. We're talking ferroalloys, silicon metals, aluminum, carbon products and electrode paste for the electrometallurgical industry.

I finally find the place and it's a white building currently being given another coat of paint. The painters have all kinds of equipment around the front entrance and with the small parking area full of cars it means parking my two wheels near an electrical enclosure (in other words, no parking for bicycles).

Entering the small lobby I'm greeted by two well-dressed receptionists. Correction, they don't give me a greeting but look up as if they've been interrupted by something unimportant. Neither seems to be visibly doing anything and there's no one else in the reception area yet, both are noticeably unfriendly. I don't think it has anything to do with my attire (a polo-type shirt and shorts)-one gets the impression they have this unfriendly air about them all the time. Jeez, this isn't a good sign. I've learned over the years there's a definite correlation between the image the receptionist projects and what kind of reception I'll receive. I'm told (more like ordered) by one to take a seat while she places a call to learn the whereabouts of my introductory letter sent a month earlier to CEO Ole Enger.

After about five minutes a woman comes striding over to me. I stand up and extend my hand for the traditional shaking of hands but hers isn't forthcoming. Instead, she lets out "what do you want!?" in a sharp and abrupt manner as if to let me know I've pushed her patience to the limit. I start to explain who I am and what I do but before I can get halfway through she interrupts and says curtly "not interested". Wow, this is really bizarre. I try handing her one of my postcards that explains what I do but she pushes it away. I ask if they received the introductory material sent a month earlier to the CEO and it's answered with a quick "no!". She then turns to the door, which was obviously done to let me know to leave. I'm still standing there somewhat dumbfounded trying to figure out what just transpired and why this woman, who I've never before seen or communicated with in any way, is reacting in this manner. Looking at her I say, "I can't believe you treat people like this". She doesn't respond. I ask for her name and title saying I need to have it for my records. She spells out "Ragnhild Krogseth" and gives her title as "Corporate Communications". Wow, I can't believe this nasty woman is in charge of communicating for the company.

Riding off I try to put myself in her shoes and try to think of possible reasons for Krogseth being so downright ornery to me. Was she called out of an important meeting? Did the snobby receptionist explain incorrectly what I do and Krogseth thought I was asking for a donation?-which still doesn't justify her lack of courtesy. Then again, maybe it's just the way Elkem operates.