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.