20 miles southeast of Basel through several picturesque valleys
brings me to the isolated village of Oberdorf, home to Synthes-Stratec.
I guess it's not THAT isolated since a train spur line runs through
these parts however, it dead-ends in Oberdorf. With revenues
of $1 billion and 3,400 employees, Synthes-Stratec manufactures
instruments, implants and power tools for the orthopedic trauma
market. In 1999, Synthes in the US merged with Stratec Medical
in Switzerland. The company sports dual headquarters, here and
in the US.
There's only one road going through Oberdorf and it's near the
edge of town on a side street that I find the two buildings comprising
headquarters. Not knowing in which country CEO Hansjoerg Wyss
hung his hat I mailed my letter of introduction to Oberdorf figuring
I had a 50-50 chance of being right. Checking in with receptionists
Pia Lanz and Daniela Vogel I learn to my dismay that Wyss works
out of the USA. I take a seat while the helpful receptionists
try to find someone to meet with me.
I count over 20 glass display cases scattered about the reception/lobby
area. Inside many of the displays are skeleton bones along with
various company instruments and implants showing solutions to
problems that arise with bones. In the far end of the reception
area there's a breakroom area which looks more like a fancy bar.
I luck out as the charming Clivia Plett, Assistant to Roland
Broennimann, who's CEO of Stratec Medical, agrees to answers
questions and show me around. This three-story off-white building
with blue trim windows was built in 1998 and directly across
the street stands a four-story structure built in the 1950's.
About 350 employees work in the two buildings. There're no recreational
facilities, no formal dress code, smoking isn't allowed in offices
and there's plenty of free parking. It's 35 minutes to Basel,
20 minutes to the nearest freeway and 50 minutes to Zurich Airport.
CEO Broennimann occupies a top floor office with a view of the
valley. I note the computer. A painting hangs on a wall and I
ask Broennimann if there's any significance to it. Done by a
local artist, it shows an old steam locomotive chugging through