miles east of Zurich and its green farmland dotted with small
towns. I'm in downtown Greifensee though I wouldn't call this
a town but more like a village. I don't see how this somewhat
remote place could possibly be the headquarters for Mettler-Toledo,
the world's largest manufacturer of weighing instruments. It's
just before noontime on a rainy day as I pop into the local market
for directions. Hmm, they say to follow this road, then turn
right, then left after a hill. The directions take me past residential
housing with nary an industrial or office park in sight. Still
skeptical I make the left turn after the hill and there, at the
end of a dead-end street, stands the multi-building headquarters
The large lobby is filled with a slew of displays showing off
the company's wide range of products. While friendly receptionist
Irene Stutz finds out who's my contact person, I peruse the exhibits.
Besides scales used in food retailing, there's weighing instruments
used in laboratory and industrial applications as well as automated
chemistry systems. Mettler-Toledo is also the world's largest
manufacturer of metal detection and other end-of-line inspection
systems used in production and packaging. Along with all the
latest modern products are several old-timers such as a balance
scale from 1913.
Mettler-Toledo is a US-based company listed on the NYSE but most
of the executives hang their hats here in Greifensee. Revenues
in 2001 were $1.1 billion with 8,500 employees.
The accommodating Gudrun Dreier, Corporate Communications, answers
questions and gives a tour. It's not until Dreier shows me an
aerial photograph of this and surrounding area that I realize
the size of their facility. Behind the headquarters complex of
about six buildings stands a factory complex of another half-dozen
or so buildings. Jeez, almost 800 people work here. Train tracks
pass near the rear of the factory with a train stop close by.
You can hop on a commuter train and it'll zip you into Zurich's
central station in 10 minutes. The country road I traveled to
get here passed along farmland and gave no inkling as to the
level of development behind a forest of trees running along one
side of the road-then again, it was raining.
Built in the 1970's, headquarters is a three-story building,
topped by a six-story structure, built around a courtyard. About
80 people work here. There's plenty of employee parking, smoking
is allowed in offices, it's 20-minutes by car to Zurich Airport
and two minutes to the nearest freeway. Everyone eats in the
cafeteria and Dreier says the food is "very good".
I concur as I'm treated to lunch and give it my highest possible
rating-the two thumbs up. I even spot CEO Robert Spoerry eating
at the next table.
The company's logo is unusual-it's the view you see looking down
onto a pyramid. Why? The pyramid comes to a point at its top---meaning
it's precise. There're are no recreational facilities on-site
but showers are available. Not a bad place to go for a run-right
across from headquarters sheep and horses are grazing. I can't
see CEO Spoerry's top floor middle due to his being in meetings.
Any employee perks? The company pays for half-fare tickets on
During the tour of the factory Dreier mentions Mettler-Toledo
having a "daughter kilo". My reaction---"what
the heck are you talking about?" I learn that in Paris,
France there exists a "mother kilo". This is the master
kilo used as a basis of measurement to measure all other kilos
(a kilo equals 2.2 pounds). Each country has a "daughter
kilo" and guess whose factory houses the Swiss member of
this close knit family? It's still lunchtime as Dreier sets out
to show me this "daughter kilo". She hasn't seen it
in several years but knows it's in the basement. Unfortunately
there're dozens of rooms, most are locked and no one is around
to tell us anything so, I leave unfulfilled