Rosenbauer International AG

Let's see, there's IBM blue, UPS brown, Rosenbauer red and John Deere green. Rosenbauer red? Why not? Everything connected with one of the world's largest makers of fire fighting trucks seems to be red. The trucks it produces are red, it's corporate headquarters building outside of Linz is red, even the furnishings in the company cafeteria is abuzz in red.

Built in 1968, the seven-story head office of Rosenbauer International $309 million in revenues, 1,300 employees) lies four miles from downtown Linz. Behind the structure there's a company production plant. It's a mixed-use area with apartments nearby.

Markus Oetter, VP-Human Resources, answers question and shows me around. The company's roots date back 1866. Though there's no corporate art collection, Rosenbauer operates a fire-fighting museum in a nearby town housed in a former seminary. Parking is plentiful here, smoking is allowed only in designated areas, it's four miles to the airport (Linz) and two miles to the nearest freeway. Any employee perks? 50% off at the company store which carries all kinds of fire fighting paraphernalia.

The boardroom features an elongated table seating 14, one real plant, pictures hanging on the walls of firemen wearing fire suits and, surprise---toy model fire trucks. I'm somewhat embarrassed after asking to see CEO Julian Wagner's corner office. Why? Without knocking, Oetter just opens Wagner's door and walks in. This finds Wagner in what looks to be a serious conversation with his second in command. Then again, when you've been with the company for more than 20 years as Oetter has-you can do things like that.

What's the coolest thing about my visit? It's definitely going out to the factory in the rear and getting a ride in a Panther FL 6X6. It's an aircraft rescue and fire-fighting vehicle-the kind you usually see at airports. The driver takes us for a spin through an adjacent proving ground featuring rocky and uneven terrain. The finale of the ride being the turning on of the water cannon atop the truck and letting it rip. Boy, the reach of that torrent of water is truly impressive