Forbo Holding AG

Long time followers of my travels know I enjoy visiting companies located in the suburbs of big cities. Gone is the hustle and bustle of the big city and there's more of a relaxed atmosphere. I'm 15 miles due north of Zurich in the village of Eglisau and am looking for the offices of Forbo Holding. I have no street address but it shouldn't be a problem since it's a tiny village of maybe 200 people. It's lunchtime and the two or three shops in the town center are closed up tight. I see a real estate office open and ask the woman. She doesn't know where Forbo is located. Jeez, how could she not know about this company with $654 million in revenues and 5,200 employees? She's in real estate?? It's starting to drizzle as I spot a map of the area. Though it's in German, I see the name Forbo and it's on the outskirts of town. It's a steep climb to get out of this village.

Hanging a left off the only road through town I continue maybe a quarter mile. Then, behind a field of sunflowers, I spot Forbo's white four-story headquarters. It looks to have been built in the 1980's. The building overlooks a huge deep ravine-which I just rode up. Off to the right maybe a hundred yards lie the railroad tracks.

Hmm, this is odd. You can't enter the building unless you're buzzed in. This is very unusual for a company located in such a rural area. After entering I approach the reception desk and the receptionist seems more interested in talking to a colleague. Then it turns out she doesn't speak English. The receptionist makes a call and a woman shows up. I explain what I do and how I sent an introductory letter a month earlier to CEO Werner Kummer. I then ask if she could contact Kummer's secretary to find out who ended up with my letter. While waiting I scour the area. To the left is a large room filled with displays of various floorings. It's definitely a showroom. Forbo is a producer of Linoleum and Vinyl flooring, with a world market share of 60% in Linoleum. Forbo's other core businesses includes adhesives and belting.

After a wait of several minutes another woman appears and she starts telling me they never received the introductory letter and aren't interested in sponsorship. Over the course of the next three minutes I repeat three times to this woman that I have a sponsor and am not looking for sponsorship. This not very nice woman goes on to say that there's "a problem on your end" as to why they never received my advance material. I explain this visit is a one shot deal for me and ask if anyone would have a few minutes. Jeez, this woman pretty much tells me to take a hike. I ask for her name. She refuses to give it. I explain that I'd like to have a record that I physically came by here and was told no one is interested in speaking with me. I explain that I don't want to leave only to find out later that my letter had been received but I didn't ask for the correct person. This woman assures me she would have seen the letter. I repeatedly ask for her name and title. Finally she says, "Liz Lischer". "And your title?", I ask. "I work for the CEO", she finally answers. Methinks she's CEO Kummer's secretary but for some reason doesn't want to fess up.

What a crummy way to treat visitors, especially someone who's come a long way. Adding icing to the cake-it starts pouring down rain as I leave. Yep, I sure won't forget Forbo.