Well, I have a feeling I can pretty much pencil in Breitling
on a list of worst receptions. The good-looking, four-story head
office (renovated in 2001) stands two blocks from downtown Grenchen
(population 16,000) and the length of bicycle from the main railroad
tracks running through town. Directly on the other side of the
train tracks stands a similar looking three-story Breitling watch
production facility. Large signs on all sides of both buildings
let train passengers; car drivers and pedestrians know who occupies
the structures. If the large signs aren't enough to draw attention
to the place then surely the full-size plane parked on Breitling's
building roof will do the job.
Entering the building you walk up a short ramp (like an airplane
ramp) and are greeted by several receptionist manning the reception
counter (airport check-in counter?). I explain who I am, what
I do and ask if they could find out who ended up with my letter
of introduction mailed over a month earlier to CEO Theodore Schneider.
In a few minutes Valerie Burgat, Advertising and Public Relations,
steps into the lobby. Burgat doesn't know if Schneider received
my letter but dismisses it by saying, "Mr. Schneider doesn't
give interviews, we don't give tours and we don't release figures".
I explain what I do and how I collect corporate trivia---unusual
information on company headquarters. I point out its not every
day one finds an airplane atop a building.
Burgat agrees to answer my questions but it's over in three-minutes,
as she couldn't care less. The plane on the roof isn't the real
thing but a replica minus the engine. Burgat doesn't know what
kind of plane it is and isn't interested in finding out for me.
About 140 people work here, there's plenty of employee parking,
smoking isn't allowed and there's no formal dress code. I'm in
and out the door in six minutes along with a Breitling watch
catalog. Go to the company's website and you'll find very little
info on the company. I found the following info in the Breitling
catalog: Leon Breitling founded the company back in 1884 in the
Jura Mountains. Ernst Schneider bought the company in 1979. Don't
know how CEO Theodore Schneider is related-son? brother? cousin?
In the attached photo you'll see I captured a train passing between
the two Breitling buildings