RHI AG



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.