Vienna isn't known for its tall buildings but if you head to
the city's fringes you can see that perception is slowly changing.
The tallest of these new buildings are the Twin Towers, two 35-story
glass towers five miles south of Vienna's city center. Built
in 2001, these towers really stick out since there's nothing
in the area remotely close in height.
I'm visiting RHI, the world's largest maker of heat resistant
refractory products. Revenues in 2001 were 1.8 billion Euros
with over 11,000 employees. It sure isn't difficult figuring
out which of the two towers houses company offices since one
has "RHI" in giant letters atop its side.
Though it's the day before the annual shareholders meeting I'm
in luck as the accommodating Dr. Gerhard Kantusch, Director-Human
Resources/Communications, finds time to meet with me.
Getting up to the offices of RHI requires checking in at the
reception/security desk in the lobby. These new towers come equipped
with elevators sporting new features that are evidently for speed
and security purposes. Before getting into the elevator you push
which floor you want to go to because once you step inside the
elevators there are no floor buttons to press.
RHI has 320 employees ensconced on the 24th, 25th and 26th floors.
Why is RHI headquartered in Vienna? It was founded here 100 years
ago. There's plenty of employee parking, smoking in offices is
optional, there's no company cafeteria (the shopping mall on
the first two floors offers a wide range of eating possibilities),
there's no company art collection, bicyclists enjoy covered parking
and there's no formal dress code.
CEO Helmut Draxler occupies a 26th floor corner office--though
I can't see it due to him busily preparing for tomorrow's annual
shareholder's meeting. The boardroom table seats 10. Kantusch
makes a point of using the stairwell to go between floors. Why?
To show off the flooring. It's a company product and withstands
intense heat-as in a fire.