Swiza SA

I'm a few miles from Delemont's city center in an industrial park and I'm expecting the worse entering Swiza's one-story headquarters/factory building. Why? While researching Swiza I wasn't able to find any info on its website regarding owner(s) or management so I called up and asked for the name of the managing director or CEO. The woman on the phone declined to give me a name. Not a good sign. I always like to address my letter of introduction to the top person in the company and ended up having to send it addressed simply to "President or Managing Director".

Swiza is Switzerland's largest manufacturer of table and alarm clocks producing over 50,000 a year. Swiza acquired Mathew Norman, the well known name in carriage clocks, several years ago.

The reception area is pretty no-frills thanks to the linoleum floor and brown Formica table and chairs in the waiting area giving the place a 1960's look. A stand-alone glass display case shows off some of the company's product lines. I explain myself to the receptionist and ask if she can find out if my letter of introduction had been received. Before being told to take a seat she points out that the company normally doesn't participate in these kinds of things.

Well, it turns out my fears of an unfriendly reception are for naught thanks to the hospitable welcome extended to me by Pierre Schwab, President. Schwab's grandfather founded the company back in 1904. My questions are answered while sitting in a room serving a dual purpose; it's part conference room and part company museum. Glass display cabinets filled with Swiza's products through the years line the room.

When this facility was built in 1981 Swiza was the industrial park's first occupant. Forty people work here. There's plenty of parking including covered spots for workers or visitors who cycle to work, no formal dress code, smoking is allowed in the workplace (Schwab is a non-smoker) and, employees received a substantial discount on company products. There're no recreational facilities, it's a 45-minute drive to Basel's airport and no company cafeteria-though there's a break room.

Schwab occupies a middle office with a boring view of the company parking lot. I note the laptop, one real plant, three modern paintings (personal favorites) and quite a few family pictures. There's also several pictures featuring Schwab presenting clocks to various dignitaries. On a shelf stands a six-inch tall miniature bicycle. It turns out Schwab is a cyclist-though he's cut down on the frequency.