I'm visiting Swiss chocolate and cookie makers so I thought I'd
add Haco to the list as it's a manufacturer of food products
such as cereal bars, seasonings, desserts, breakfast beverages
and coffee. Most of its products are sold to restaurants, corporate
cafeterias and private label grocers. It turns out to be a complete
waste of time thanks to Peter Speck, the company's dismissive
and narrow-minded managing director.
The company's headquarters lies about five miles east of downtown
Bern in the small town of Guemligen. The six-story, 1970-ish
building connects to a large, block-long factory. The factory
butts up to railroad tracks.
I lock my bike in a covered area reserved for employees commuting
via bicycle and proceed to the security booth. Anyone wanting
to get into the factory or head office has to check-in with the
guard. The security guard doesn't speak English but seems to
understand when I say I'm from California and point to Managing
Director Peter Speck's name on my questionnaire. About five steps
from the security guard's booth is the reception area manned
by a receptionist. The guard points for me to take a seat in
the reception area while he makes a phone call.
A glass display in the small reception room shows off a sampling
of the company's products. Visitors can also help themselves
to cereal bars in a basket on the counter. Haco manufactures
these bars for Migros, Switzerland's largest supermarket chain.
I'm very familiar with these bars (Farmer) as I'm a fan of the
one containing caramel filling and coated with chocolate.
The guard calls me over to the phone and I find myself talking
to Managing Director Speck. I explain what I do and how I sent
him a letter of introduction a month earlier. I ask if he knows
who ended up with the letter. Speck says he doesn't remember
it and goes on to say that neither he nor his staff has time
to talk with me. I ask if maybe the person who opens his mail
might know about the letter. Speck says he opens his own mail
and gets "hundreds of pieces" and if he doesn't recognize
who it's from it gets tossed unopened into the trash and with
that I'm summarily dismissed off the phone.
Hmmm, let me get this straight. On the back of one of those cereal
bars is Haco's address. If a consumer wrote Speck to complain
or compliment, the letter would be tossed unopened unless Speck
recognized the name on the return address on the outside of the
letter? Haco does business in 30 countries. Does that also mean
the company has missed out on business opportunities because
a potential customer's letter wasn't opened due to Speck never
opening letters from people he doesn't know?