Clariant Ltd.


From Basel I follow the Rhine River about 10 miles to the small town of Muttenz. Near the riverfront is a massive manufacturing complex with a wide assortment of buildings and structures bearing the names Clariant, Novartis and Ciba. I'm here to visit Clariant, a specialty chemicals company with over 29,000 employees. Clariant was spun off from Sandoz (which is now Novartis) in 1995.

I stop at the gated entry and identify myself to the guards. A few minutes later Werner Flukiger, Manager Corporate Conference, Congresses and Special Affairs, walks out and greets me. It seems he hasn't a clue who I am or what I'm doing. I ask, "How did you end up being the one to meet with me? Flukiger says he received a call from a higher-up telling him to take care of the guy on a bike. It turns out there's a large specialty chemicals convention going on in town and most of the executives and all of corporate communications people are there. I tell Flukiger I'm acutely aware of the big convention because there are no hotel rooms to be had even in the outlying areas of the city. Matter of fact, at the end of this day I have to hop on a train with my bike to Mulhouse, France (35 miles away) to try and find a room!
We head back to his office in the 4-story headquarters building built in 1991. Flukiger asks if I notice the flag of China flying outside. There's a delegation visiting and it coincides with the specialty chemicals convention. When there's an important visitor they break out the flag. Hmm, that's funny I don't see the USA flag fluttering out there.

About 1,300 employees work on this site, which is shared with Novartis. Plenty of free parking for employees and I notice lots of covered parking for bicycles. Though there's no fitness center there are showers for those who jog. "Any perks for employees", I ask. "Free mineral water", Flukiger answers. I give him a "so what" look and he says it's an unusual perk in Switzerland.

Nice guy Flukiger has a great sense of humor and speaks five languages: German, English, French, Spanish and Italian. Me, I barely speak English.
I can't see the CEO's office because "he's in" but his view sure can't be exciting since he's surrounded by large buildings. Here's something unusual: the boardroom is the only place in the building with air conditioning. According to Flukiger, you have to get special permission from the Swiss government to install air conditioning in office buildings. I tell Flukiger I'm going to be asking other companies about this to see if it's true.