V-Zug AG and Metallwaren Holding Ltd.

Besides visiting watch and chocolates companies, I thought it would also be fun visiting companies who's name or brands were famous in Switzerland. V-Zug is such a company. It's household appliances (especially its washing machines) holds a strong position in the Swiss kitchen and laundry markets. However, it's hard finding information on V-Zug especially since its website isn't in English. From what I can gather it's owned by a holding company (Metallwaren Holding) so, to cover my bases I sent a letter of introduction to both.

Head about 30 miles due south of Zurich and you'll end up in the affluent city of Zug. It's 11:30 AM and the rain is pouring down hard as I near the edge of town on Zug's main street. I see a very large white modernistic building and spot the V-Zug name so I quicky head for cover under the large awning over the entrance. After peeling off the wet rain gear (jacket, pants, hat and shoe booties) I enter the building and head to the reception counter. Jeez, it turns out this place houses the company showroom with the head office being a block away. It's now 11:40 AM and still raining hard so I put back on all my wet rain gear to go the one block. The V-Zug head office building looks new and unfortunately there's no awning over the entrance. Right behind is the entrance to a V-Zug factory so, I get permission from the security guard manning the factory entrance to place my bike under a building canopy. I peel off all the rain gear again and then make a mad dash into the building. I explain what I do to the receptionist and how I sent a letter of introduction a month earlier to CEO Werner Rellstarb. The receptionist calls his secretary and is told they know nothing about my letter. Jeez, it's now 11:45 AM. Why do I keep mentioning the time? Come noon time in Switzerland and the whole country stops working until 2 PM. I have several companies to visit in the outlying area and I'm hoping not to have to retrace my way back here. Anyway, I decide to leave background information and head for the offices of Metallwaren Holding, the parent company. The receptionist says it's about four blocks away. So, I hurriedly put on the rain gear and race down the road.

It's 11:50 AM when I check-in with Metallwaren Holding's receptionist on the first floor of five-story office building adjacent to the Park Hotel Zug. I sent a letter of introduction a month earlier to Managing Director Tony Reis and ask the receptionist to call up his secretary. Hmm, it seems they know nothing about the letter. I'm in luck though as Roland Heinrich, Director-MZ-Immobillien, the company's real estate arm, agrees to meet with me.

Unfortunately it's not much of a meeting as it's now 11:55 AM and Heinrich is expecting guests any minute for a noon luncheon date and then he'll be tied up in the afternoon upon returning. Plus, the fact Heinrich has no background information on who I am and what I do, it's little wonder he's guarded in answering questions.

Directly across the street from here stands a modern block-long shopping center and as I mentioned the Park Hotel Zug (a four star property) sits next door. Well, all this used to be part of a V-Zug factory complex and in 1987 the site was razed and rebuilt to what it is today. Metallwaren occupies the first floor with10 people working here which is essentially the offices for the company's real estate arm. Smoking isn't allowed in the work place, employees are on their own in finding parking, there's no formal dress code, it's one mile to the nearest freeway and a 45 minute drive to Zurich's airport.

My questions are answered sitting a few feet from the reception counter. A framed picture of a factory hangs on one wall. My request to see the office of Managing Director Tony Reis is rejected because "we don't show it". After three minutes my time is up as Heinrich's guests arrive. Metallwaren is a publicly-traded company so I ask and receive an annual report--in English. Revenues in 2003 were 482 million Swiss Francs ($376 million) with1,991 employees. Company website: www.metallzug.ch.

I still don't understand why V-Zug and Metallwaren said they hadn't received my letters of introduction especially since other companies in this area did. Maybe it's the German connection. Huh? When traversing Germany I received crummy receptions at Miehle, Siemens (twice) and Robert Bosch (twice), big makers of appliances. So? Well, V-Zug and Metallwaren are located in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.