Zito d.d.

Listed on the Ljubljana stock exchange since 2000, Zito is Slovenia's biggest manufacturer of bread, pasta, flour, pastries, sweets, frozen foods and, even chewing gum. The company has been around for 50 years but the roots for several of its brands date back to late 1800's. Revenues total $100 million. Zito was added to my list primarily due to being Slovenia's biggest producer of chocolate. During my travels the previous two years in Belgium and Switzerland I visited a large number of chocolate and cookie makers and so it's only natural to see how a Slovenian manufacturer stacks up.

I'm about four miles from Ljubljana's city center and standing in a McDonald's parking lot. Adjacent to the right is the city's largest enclosed shopping mall and to the left of me stands Zito's four-story head office with a large factory facility in the rear. Directly behind McDonald's is a store with a Zito sign atop so I check it out as it's probably a Zito factory outlet. Boy, the store carries a whole range of food products and everything in here couldn't possibly be manufactured by Zito.

The head office building was probably built in the 1960's. Checking in with the receptionist I count four plants (real) in the no-frills reception area. Don't see any candy or chocolate samples or even photos of company products on the walls. There's a small blue sofa and chair for visitors. It seems no one knows anything about my letter of introduction mailed a month ago to Chairman and CEO Iztok Brici. However, Breda Gorjup, Export Manager, agrees to answer my questions.

It's not much of a visit though as the lobby is as far as I get. About 300 out of a total of 2,200 employees work here in the headquarters/factory. Employee parking is free and plentiful and those who bicycle to work enjoy semi-covered parking. There's no smoking in offices and no company cafeteria-though there are vending machines. It's 300 meters to the nearest freeway and 20 miles to the airport. Any employee perks? A puny 5% discount on Zito goods. That onsite Zito factory store I checked out earlier turns out not to be "one of a kind" but, part of a chain of more than 20 such stores.

My request to see CEO Bricl's office and the boardroom is turned down. I also leave with zero goodies. NOTE: Visiting Swiss & Belgian chocolate and cookie concerns I started keeping track of whether or not product samples were offered to visitors and if I was given goodies upon my departure.

Company website: www.zito.si