Assa Abloy AB

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why Assa Abloy occupies the 9th and 10th floors of a ten-story building in downtown Stockholm. It's called location, location, location. You walk one block and you're in Stockholm's central train station. Drive a few blocks and you're at the beginning of the freeway-which in turn is a straight shot out to the airport. However, it's a long straight shot with the airport 30 miles away.

Though one can freely walk into this building, using the elevators isn't possible unless you know the access code or someone buzzes you up. The later requires finding the company's name on the keyboard directory and then punching the corresponding numbers on the keypad to talk to the reception via a speaker. I HATE talking into speaker boxes.

Stepping off the elevator I check in with receptionist Pernilla Persson. I take a seat in the small reception area while she tracks down who ended up with my introductory letter sent a month earlier to CEO Carl-Henric Svanberg. Visitors can peruse the half-dozen newspapers (Financial Times along with five Swedish papers) or check out the glass display full of locks. Why the locks? Hey, this is the world's largest lock company so they better have a few.

Soon I learn who's my contact person: Pernilla Persson, the receptionist. Hmm, when the receptionist is the designated person assigned to meet with me it's pretty much shows the lack of importance the company places on my visit. Actually in a few minutes I learn she IS the appropriate person. Why? It's a small office with only 30 people on the two floors plus, the personable Persson knows the answers to all the questions. Heck, unlike most receptionists I encounter--she even has her own business card.

The building is less than six years old and has been Assa Abloy's home since 1994. In other words, since the company's inception. In 1994 Securitas AB and Metra Oy AB jettisoned their lock operations to form Assa Abloy. Revenues in 1998 topped $1 billion and total employees number 12,000.

Smoking isn't allowed in the offices, there's no company cafeteria, no corporate art collection, plenty of employee parking and employee perks are pretty much limited to discounts on locks. Nothing special about the oval-shaped table in the boardroom.
Though CEO Svanberg is on the phone in his top floor corner office I take a quick peek. The view? He has a birds-eye view of trains going in and out of the train station. Oh, and one more thing. I check the lock on his office door. Yep, it's an Assa Abloy lock.