SSAB Svenskt Stal AB



Who says a steel producer can't be fun? All it takes is an interesting building and a receptive contact person and that's what I get at SSAB, a steel producer with $2.2 billion in revenues and over 9,600 employees. The seven-story building proves to be a lot of fun to visit thanks to the very accommodating Bo Legelius, VP and General Counsel.

Built in 1916, it was originally part residential apartments and part movie theatre and guess which part SSAB occupies? Yep, the former movie theatre. Receptionist Sylvia Holgersson greets visitors in the area that would have been the lobby and former ticket counter area of the theatre. There's the obligatory bowl of fresh fruit on Holgersson's desk (apples, pears and bananas).

The company's done a great job of renovation and bringing parts of the theatre back to its original splendor and grandeur. What's interesting is the touch of Art Deco throughout which I thought didn't come into vogue until the 1920's. Theatres back in this period had large balconies and the company took this one and divided it into two separate meeting rooms. It's still neat taking the stairs up to these balcony rooms even if it is without a bag of popcorn. It's still hard to believe this place this isn't a listed (historic) building. Here's a piece of trivia; Legelius says Hollywood screen legend and Swedish- born actress Greta Garbo was known to frequent the theatre.

SSAB, founded in 1978, has leased space in the building since 1981. About 30 people work here occupying floors one, three and five. Smoking in your office is optional, reserved parking is provided, there's no corporate art collection, it's a five-minute walk to the city center and six miles to the nearest freeway (the E-20).

One way to determine if this is a "good" building is to peruse at the names of other tenants. Baker & McKenzie, one of the world's biggest law firms just moved out but still has their name in big letters atop the sides of the building. I'm quite familiar with Baker & McKenzie having visited their head office in Chicago.

I give CEO Leif Gustafsson's 5th floor office the once over. I note the laptop computer, wood floor (typical Swedish), fake plant, no personal items (typical European) and a work table along with two red and two blue sofas. The boardroom isn't possible to see since it's in use.