Phonak Holding AG



I'm in Staefa, a small town (5,000 inhabitants) hugging the Lake Zurich shore. Downtown Zurich lies 12 miles away. I cycle inland a mile or so to an industrial park and it's here that I find Phonak, the world's third biggest hearing aid company after Siemens (Germany) and William Demant (Denmark).

The Swiss call this an industrial park; I'd call it more of an office/light industrial park. Phonak's three-story building is a real beaut although the photo accompanying this story doesn't show it. Several large trees blocked my shot and there's also a huge crane outside the front entrance. The crane is there because they're having the glass in the long atrium re-coated. It's not so much a wide building but it goes very deep. How deep? Deep enough to accommodate 600 employees. Yep, there's a big factory in the rear.

I have a real nice visit thank to the very charming Karin Haggenmueller, Assistant to Group Management. I still can't believe this place was built in 1987 and added on to in 1997. It looks so new. Maybe it's the bright and airy atrium or the exposed metal beams painted green.

Eating in the good-looking cafeteria you have the option of taking your tray outside to a rooftop deck, there's no smoking in offices, covered parking for commuting cyclists but if you drive it'll cost to park the car in the company garage. It's 30-minutes by train to Zurich and 45 minutes to Zurich Airport. Any employee perks? Discounts on company products. Recreational facilities include an outdoor pool, sauna and showers. What's the neighboring terrain like? Directly across the street cows are grazing and vineyards cover the hillside.

Hearing aids are very small devices, which explains workers in the factory working at cubicles similar to those in the watchmaking industry. Speaking of cubicles, that's what Founder, Chairman and interim CEO Andy Rihs occupies. It's a third floor, middle cubicle. The elongated table in the boardroom seats 14.

Revenues last year were $383 million and 2,400 employees