Chocolats Halba AG
Wallisellen, population 10,000, lies about 10 miles northeast
of Zurich and is home to candy and chocolate maker Chocolats
Halba. The five-story building looks more like a warehouse than
a head office and that turns out to be partly true as it is part
warehouse and part head office. To the right of the building
(and out of the picture) stands the factory. Since 1972 Chocolats
Halba has been owned by Coop, Switzerland second largest retailer
with more than $10 billion in revenues.
Checking in with the receptionist I see where visitors can help
themselves to an open box of chocolates as well as wrapped pieces
of chocolate. I take a pass on the chocolate because once I start
I can't stop. After a few minutes I'm meeting with Karl Zeller,
Built in 1984, a total of 320 employees work here and in the
factory next door. Employee parking is free and plentiful plus,
the company helps pay the fare for those who commute via public
transportation (train, bus). Smoking isn't allowed in the workplace,
there's covered parking for cyclists, no formal dress code and
the employee cafeteria is partly subsidized. It's 10 minutes
to Zurich's airport, five minutes to the nearest freeway and
20 minutes to Zurich's city center. Any unusual employee perks?
Free candy and chocolate at work.
CEO Felix Ruckstuhl occupies a large middle office filled with
all kinds of interesting nik-naks. On one wall hangs a collection
of porcelain rolling pins and on a window sill there's a collection
of antique chocolate tins. On the other side of his office is
a large collection of cut-outs used in bakingyou know,
tins shaped like an Easter bunny or gingerbread man. Ruckstuhl
says he wears two hatsin the morning he runs Chocolats
Halba and in the afternoon it's Panofina, Coop's bakery division.
The view out his window? Hills, farmland and residential housing.
Before leaving I'm shown a good-sized room containing an impressive
display of the company's various product lines. Zeller then makes
a quick stop into the warehouse and when he returns I'm presented
with a large box of goodies for the road..It looks like my taste
buds will be getting a good workout.
Company website: www.halba.ch