WMH Walter Meier Holding AG



Twelve miles from Zurich and fronting Lake Zurich stands Staefa, a sleepy village of 5,000 inhabitants. About a mile inland there's an industrial park and it's here that I find WMH Walter Meier Holding, a manufacturer and distributor of heating and air conditioning systems along with equipment and tools. Revenues last year were $409 million with 1,400 employees.

WMH leases the top floor in a four-story, blue with red trim building. The company's initials "WMH" are in big letter near the top of the structure and there's even an American flag flapping alongside the Swiss flag.

CEO Heinz Ruegg turns out to be my contact person. It's very decentralized company with a head count of 12 at the head office. Parking isn't a problem, smoking is optional, there's no cafeteria but a break room and the company's art collection is modern and international in scope. It's a 30-minute drive to Zurich, there's no corporate aircraft and, no recreational facilities though one could always head one floor below and join a local fitness center operating in the building.

Why is the company located in this industrial park? WMH used to have a factory right next door. I count one real plant in the boardroom along with an eight-sided table. Ruegg's top floor corner office affords him a view of the lake and mountains. I note the desktop and laptop computers, cactus garden and stand-up desk. I've found CEO's use a stand-up desk due to one of three reasons: (1). They were in the navy-standing on the bridge (2). Have a bad back (3). Are too antsy and can't sit still. So, what's Ruegg's reason? Bad back