Svedala Industri AB

My bike and I hop on one of those hydrofoil boats on Copenhagen's waterfront and within an hour we're deposited over to Malmo, Sweden, a nice coastal city of 250,000 inhabitants near the southern tip of the country. Those hourly departures will more than likely be sharply curtailed next year when the almost completed 20-mile bridge linking the two countries is completed.

A three-minute bike ride from Malmo's city center brings me to the six-story building housing Svedala Industri's head office. The building is a classic example of the differences between Scandinavian and American office buildings. In America an office building might have several dozen tenants but there will be only one name atop the sides or front of the structure. Here, you might find a half-dozen company names (which light up at night) bolted atop the sides of the building.

After being buzzed into the building and again buzzed into the first floor reception area I explain myself to the receptionist. The friendly woman makes a call and in a few minutes Sven Mikkela whose business card reads "Group Staff-Information Services & Market Communications" greets me. Though he doesn't know where my letter of introduction sent to CEO Thomas Older ended up-he's more than accommodating.

The company has leased space in this red brick building (built sometime in the 1970's) since 1988 and occupies two and a half floors. About 90 people work here. Other than the television in the lobby and a bowl of candy on the receptionist's counter there's not much except for a few pieces of mining equipment. Mining equipment?? Well, what do you expect from one of the world's largest suppliers of crushing and screening equipment for the construction, mining and other mineral-processing industries? Revenues in 1998 were $1.8 billion with over 11,000 employees.

Employees enjoy free covered parking and access to a fitness center with showers. However, as far as lunch is concerned you're on your own since there isn't a cafeteria. Not to fret though as downtown and its multitude of eating establishments is a mere six-minute walk away. It's 12 miles to the airport.

There isn't much of a view from CEO Older's second floor corner office and it's void of any personal items such as pictures of family but that's pretty much the norm here in Europe. I count two plants, one laptop and a map of the world on the wall. Older says he enjoyed reading the news clippings sent with my introductory letter and that comment lets me know the letter had arrived here as I suspected but just hadn't ended up with Mikkela. Oh, and by the way, in Mikkela's name the letter "a" is suppose to have two little dots over it just as the "o" in Malmo is suppose to have two dots over it. Sorry but my computer keyboard doesn't have the capability to make the overhead dots.