Zehnder Group Management
It's a drizzly morning as I make my way to the edge of town in
Graenichen. Surrounded by peaceful and colorful farmland, this
town of maybe 4,000 inhabitants isn't difficult to navigate since
there's only one main road. The head office of Zehnder Group
stands alongside this road and next door to one of its factories.
Zehnder Group, with 2003 revenues of 362 million Euros and over
2,500 employees, makes radiators. Not the kind found in cars
but those used in heating homes and buildings. Do you have a
towel heating rack in the bathroom or seen one in a hotel? That's
them also. Founded here in Graenichen back in 1895, this publicly-traded
company is still controlled by the Zehnder family.
Elisabeth Oberli, secretary to CEO Hans-Peter Zehnder, extends
a warm welcome and tour of the two-story structure built in 1994.
Upon entering the building I could tell right away smoking is
permitted because the stench of tobacco is heavy in the air.
Not a very pleasant experience for non-smoking visitors.
Fifteen people work here, parking is plentiful, there's no formal
dress code, no corporate aircraft, no onsite recreational facilities
and, cyclists enjoy covered parking. A few minutes walk in a
building separate from the factory stands the company cafeteria.
Oberli rates the cafeteria food as "excellent" and
employees can even sit outside. It's five miles to the nearest
freeway and 40 miles to Zurich's airport.
The desk and chairs in CEO Zehnder's second floor middle office
are black, the walls white and the carpet rose-colored. I note
the computer, fake small tree along with three clown paintings
and a picture of a motorcycle. The view out his window? The company
factory next door.
Taking the stairs from the first to second floors surprises first
time visitors because one doesn't expect to see a polished and
gleaming motorcycle on display. What's the story? Back in the
early 1920's until the late 1930's the company manufactured its
own line of motorcycles, which explains the motorcycle picture
in CEO Zehnder's office.
We take a walk next door to the showroom in the factory. Jeez,
I didn't know radiators came in so many shapes, sizes and colors.
Also on display are two more splendidly restored Zehnder motorcycles.
Company website: www.zehndergroup.com