Barry Callebaut AG

Zollikon, a wealthy lakefront enclave six miles from Zurich, is where Barry Callebaut calls home. With revenues of $1.5 billion and 4,900 employees, Callebaut is the world's largest manufacturer of high quality cocoa---processing 14% of the global cocoa harvest. Yep, many of the world's best-known confectioneries buy their chocolate from Barry Callebaut. No there wasn't someone name Barry Callebaut, it's the result of a merger in 1996 between French company Cacao Barry and Belgian chocolate producer Callebaut.
The three-story head office building sits amidst quiet and prime residential housing a mile from the lake. Though newly built in 2000, it's a low-key affair except for a small company sign near the top of the structure.

My visit is great, thanks to the warm and enthusiastic reception given by Thamara Cronin, Executive and Personal Assistant, and Erika Bolt, Secretary/Logistics. It's a very decentralized company as you can tell by the fact there's a total of only 11 people here. Thanks to the underground parking garage parking isn't a problem. Smoking is allowed in offices, there's no cafeteria but a nice break room and a small patio. It's 15 minutes by bus to Zurich's city center, 40 minutes to Zurich Airport and 10 minutes to the nearest freeway. The company's logo is the name "Barry Callebaut" in white lettering with a red background AND, with a cocoa bean stuck between the name.

Any employee perks? Free soda, coffee and chocolate. Boy, do they have the chocolate. Cronin and Bolt place this huge bowl in front of me filled with a potpourri of Barry Callebaut chocolate products. Jeez, I don't want to try one because I'm one of those that can't stop at one. Oh, oh, these liquor-filled chocolates are good. I end up taking two handfuls.

Since Cronin is Executive Assistant to Chairman Andreas Schmid it's no problem having a look in his second floor corner office. The walls are white, wood floor brown and furniture black. I count five family photos and don't see a computer. The view? The grounds and apartment building next door

CEO Patrick De Maeseneire hangs his hat a few doors down from Schmid. The boardroom is located on the top floor but unfortunately it's occupied. As I'm leaving the two women continue to try and weigh me down with more chocolate but I haven't any room on my bike. Riding off I wave good-bye instead of saying it due to my mouth being filled with chocolate.