Lonza Group Ltd.

Built in 1962, it sure isn't hard finding Lonza's 19-story headquarters building since it really sticks out from the surrounding area near the Basel central train station. You also can't miss the Lonza name atop the side of the edifice since the letters are two-stories tall. It immediately reminds me of many similar-looking office buildings built in the US during the 1960's. Lonza manufactures fine chemicals and last year had revenues of $1.67 billion with 6,200 employees.

While friendly receptionist Rosemarie Kasparek calls up my contact person I check out the expansive two-story lobby. At one end of the lobby I note the several large six feet tall and ten-foot wide paintings by Robert Zielasco (1985) hanging on the wall. Getting close-up to the paintings I see the cleaning people haven't been doing their jobs, as spider cobwebs are evident.

It's a fun visit thanks to the charming Laura Gerber, Communications Manager. About 250 employees work here but it seems pretty quiet. Then again, it is August-prime vacation time here in Europe. The Swiss aren't superstitious like Americans as I note there's a 13th floor button in the elevator. Matter of fact, Gerber takes me up to the 13th floor and to the man occupying office number 1313. The guy seemed pretty normal to me.

There's plenty of employee parking, smoking in offices is optional and though there's no company cafeteria-employees receive lunch checks to use at local restaurants. The company's art collection is international in scope, there's no formal dress code, it's a 10-minute walk to Basel's city center, two minutes to the nearest freeway and a half dozen miles to Basel Airport. On-site recreational facilities include tennis courts and showers.

CEO Markus Gemuend occupies a middle office on the 18th floor with a great view of the Basel area. I note the computer and the six-foot tall cactus plant.

The two-story tall boardroom on the top floor (19th) features a massive 10-foot tall mural by artist Jean Lurcat (1892-1965) running the length of one wall. The boardroom table seats 20, I count two real plants and the large picture windows provide panoramic views.