Mettler-Toledo Group

A dozen 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 for Mettler-Toledo.

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 the train.

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