Pivovana Lasko d.d.

Head 40 miles east of Ljubljana (Slovenia's capital and largest city with 300,000 people) or 10 miles south of Celje (Slovenia's third largest city) and you'll find yourself in a very narrow picturesque valley. It's here in Lasko, population 2,000, that one finds the head office and factory complex of Pivovana Lasko, Slovenia's largest brewer. Soft drinks and bottled water are also part of the mix. Revenues total more than $160 million.

Located at one end of this small town, the large brewery complex dominates Lasko. Matter of fact, the railroad line running through this narrow valley slices right across the brewery grounds.

With the valley so narrow most of the town is built on the hillsides. The brewery lies mostly on the valley flatland but the four-story head office is up a bit on a terraced hillside. The building's exterior has a 1970's look to it but upon entering the interior is very modern and looks to have been recently renovated. Two receptionist man the reception desk. Over the years I've visited quite a few beer companies and the majority of the time I'll find glass displays showing off their product lines. Nothing of the sort on display here though. Three oil paintings hang on lobby walls and they look to be scenes of the town (Lasko) with the brewery complex visible in each.

Uros Bozicnik, from the company's marketing department, answers questions and gives me an extensive tour of the place. NOTE: there's a small "v"-like symbol that's suppose to go over the letter "o" in his first name as well as over the "z" and "c" in his last name. This symbol is quite common in Slovenian names and changes the pronunciation. Unfortunately my computer (bought in the USA) doesn't have this symbol and I apologize for not getting it correct.

About 40 people work here and in a connecting building. Around 250 work in the brewery facility. The company's roots in this town go back to 1825 and have been on this site since 1938. Employee parking is plentiful and free, the corporate logo is a ram's head (indigenous to this area) inside a green oval and smoking isn't allowed in the workplace. Executives and employees eat together in the company cafeteria; it's 12 miles to the nearest freeway and 50 miles to the nearest airport (Ljubljana). There's no formal dress code and if you bicycle to work you won't find covered or designated parking spots. Any employee perks? Coupons, good for six free cases of beer, are issued once a month.

Bozicnik walks me through the brewery to reach a room housing beer memorabilia but, find the door locked and nobody around. Getting there requires traversing over an enclosed walkway above the public railroad tracks. Side note: During my stay in Ljubljana I tried several of the company's beers while dining out and give both the "two thumbs up".

CEO Bosko Srot occupies a top floor corner office. I note the computer, three plants (real), framed historical brewery photos and, a big stained glass window. Scattered around Srot's office are over 20 colorful beer steins (or beer mugs as we say in the USA). What's the view out his window? Well, one can't see out the stained glass but the window next to it affords him a view of the forested hillside. The table in the nearby boardroom is oval-shaped and seats 12.

Company website: www.pivo-lasko.si