Lindt & Spruengli AG

Just to give you an idea what an idiot I can be read on. I had a real problem finding reliable information on companies to visit in Europe which, as you know, primarily is determined by a company's annual revenue. I typed up company names and addresses but for the most part never made a note as to what business they're in. So here I am in Kilchberg, a half dozen miles from Zurich on the lakefront and I'm looking for Lindt & Spruengli which I assume is a hardware store chain because I faintly recall seeing stores with that name. So imagine my surprise when I come upon this manufacturing plant on the side of the road with the heavenly smell of chocolate coming from it. Turns out Lindt & Spruengli, with revenues of 863 million Swiss francs, has been churning out chocolate since 1845.

It's starting to rain again but that's not a problem here as I park my trusty steed in a covered parking section for cyclists. Entering the six-story administration building and walking up to the reception counter I come face to face with a silver tray overflowing with various kinds of delectable-looking chocolates. My problem with chocolate being, I can't eat just one so I restrain my hands.

Receptionist Frau E. Spielmann calls around to find out who ended up with my advance material. I don't know her first name because nobody in Europe ever wants to give it out. Looking around the chairless, lobby waiting area I spot a cigarette vending machine! I'm sorry but Lindt & Spruengli just went down a notch in my eyes because chocolate and cigarettes don't conjure up a pleasant picture.

They can't locate my letter but, Sylvia Kaelin, secretary of the board (she's secretary to the board of directors), takes matters into her own hands by answering questions and showing me around. Thirty people work for the holding company here with 600 working in the adjacent production facility and 380 in the rest of the building.

Part of the plant was built in stages, between1899 and 1959. The building we're in was built in 1954 and added on to in 1963. A busy road passes by the front of the place, with Lake Zurich a short nine iron shot away. The railway line runs behind the property so, the road and railroad hem in the site.

I can't see CEO Ernest Tanner's office due to him being "in a meeting" which means no getting to find out what kind of chocolates, if any, he keeps on the coffee table. I do get a tour of the company museum which does a history timeline-type display. Kaelin sends me away with a stash of chocolates. Goodies includes several boxes of "Fioretto", a new product introduced in 1995. The fancy wrapped chocolates have a rich, fluffy creamy center. Yummy.