Bobst Group

What do ice cream bars, perfumes and spaghetti have in common? Most likely the Bobst Group (5,000 employees and revenues in 2001 of $948 million). Bobst is the world's largest manufacturer of machines used to produce the cartons and boxes those ice cream bars, perfume and spaghetti are packaged in.

Corporate offices for Bobst consists of two buildings separated by a public street about five miles from downtown Lausanne. A company factory wraps around the backsides of both buildings. Visitors check in at the five story, blue reflective glass structure built in the 1970's.

Friendly Monique Barschel mans the reception desk and whiles she on the phone I take in the lobby area and its brownish-orange decor. The ceiling is definitely different with 10 inch by 10-inch aluminum squares painted a copper rust color, then bent down at the edges. Suspended from a ceiling is a large television monitor giving company background information, showing scenic pictures of the Lausanne area and, names of guests visiting the company today (there's a group from Russia). Hmmm, I wonder why my name isn't up there-obviously it must be some kind of oversight.

Though I don't get much of a tour, my visit with the personable Christophe Bally, Human Resources Manager, is a lot of fun. How did he learn his English? An opening came up for a four-year stint at the company's New Jersey facility and he grabbed it-though he nor his wife had been to the USA before AND neither spoke any English. About 1,200 people work at this factory/head office facility (they don't break it down as to how many work in corporate). About 10 miles away in the village of Mex is another large plant with over 1,300 employees.

There are no executive dining rooms with everyone eating in the cafeteria. Upper management gets reserved parking, smoking is allowed (the CEO smokes) and there's a small fitness facility. Bobst does offer something not normally seen in the Swiss workplace: daycare. Why is the company located here? Roots, Joseph Bobst opened a printing supplies shop only a few miles from here back in 1890.
CEO Andreas Koopman has a top floor middle office in the older 4-story building (built in 1936) across the street. I can't see his office or boardroom because "they're being used".