Mueller Martini Marketing AG

VisitingLooking at the name Mueller Martini Marketing AG one would think it's a marketing company. Nope, it's a manufacturing concern with 4,000 employees, half of who are in Switzerland. You know those newspapers and magazines you read? This company makes those huge printing presses that prints ‘em. Big conveyor systems automatically route the freshly printed newspaper from the presses to the loading docks–guess who makes those too? Mueller Martini also manufacturers bookbinding and print finishing systems.

Founded in 1946, the head office for Mueller Martini is a drab, five-story building on the outskirts of Zofingen. The red building looks to have been built in the 1960's and sits next to one of their factories. Though located in an industrial park area, directly across the street stands a field of wheat. Zofingen, population 10,000, lies about a half-hour drive west of Zurich and contains a beautiful old town in the city center.

You can't walk into the building but have to be buzzed in. I buzz the buzzer and a man's voice says something in German. When I start to speak the door buzzes so I open it and enter. The lobby decor dates from the 1960's as I look around for a receptionist or reception area. I find neither but spot a phone. I dial several different numbers before someone answers. I explain to the woman who I am and how I mailed a letter of introduction a month earlier to CEO Rudolf Mueller. After briefly being put on hold the woman comes back on the line and says CEO Mueller will be down shortly.

When Mueller appears I'm eyeing an oil painting hanging on a wall dated 1968 and it's of a man wearing a suit. There's no name underneath so I ask who it is. "It's my father", answers Mueller.

Asking how many people work in the head office turns into a tricky proposition as Mueller says there really isn't a head office as Mueller Martini Marketing is a holding company with global operations. After going back and forth I finally tell Mueller that to me, wherever he hangs his hat--then that's the head office. It's here that he hangs his hat the most and so how many people does he say work in the head office? One. The accommodating Mueller extends a friendly reception but I get the feeling that answering questions about the company isn't the norm for this low-key, family-owned business.

Parking is plentiful, smoking in the workplace is possible, the company cafeteria serves hot food and there's no onsite recreational facilities. It's five minutes to the nearest freeway, 35 minutes to Zurich's airport, no formal dress code, covered parking for cyclists and employee perks include discounts at local merchants.

I count three plants (real), note the computer and the globe in Mueller's corner office. On one wall hangs a framed drawing of the town of Zofingen back in 1836 and on another is a framed picture of Mueller's father. The view out his window? Rolling hillsides of farmland.

Before leaving I ask for some background/history on the company. We head down to the communications area where Mueller spends at least 10 minutes going through various file cabinets looking for literature in English. No luck. I mention this because later I go to the company's website, do a Google search and can't find a single reference to the company's annual revenues. Darn, I should have asked him.

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