Good chemistry with Switzerland.

Author:Newman, Alex
Position:Business
 
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Switzerland is a fantastic location for corporations and employees alike. Little wonder that The Dow Chemical Company--a leading Fortune 50 firm--has kept its regional headquarters for Europe, the Middle East and Africa in Canton Zurich for almost 60 years. Dow Executive Vice-President and EMEA President Geoffery Merszei gives us an insight to his company and the key role Switzerland plays in its strategy.

Switzerland is known for--among other things--its large and successful businesses. But while Swiss banks and financial companies normally take the spotlight, the nation is also home to a vast array of international firms, or at least their regional headquarters.

"We are actually one of the very first companies to establish a regional headquarters here in Switzerland, and to remain here," Dow's Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) President Geoffery Merszei tells Swiss News. "Since 1952--for nearly 60 years--we have been coordinating our European business activities out of Zurich."

In contrast to many international firms, which chose to set up shop in Brussels, "Dow is one of the companies that decided to remain here. It has been used for many years as an example of a successful American company having its headquarters in Switzerland," Merszei says. Switzerland may not be a 'manufacturing base', yet it plays an equally important role for Dow: "it's a management base", Merszei explains, noting that the company also has a long history of research and development at its Swiss locations--recently, it even announced plans to expand this focus.

Small country, big responsibility

With its headquarters in Horgen, near Zurich, and various technical and research-and-development sites throughout the nation, Dow employs around 800 people in Switzerland. Of those, around 700 work in marketing, management, sales, communications, law, human resources and back-office functions at the Horgen site. Besides the location's national importance, it also manages approximately 15,500 international employees across Europe, the Middle East and Africa: a region accounting for revenues of almost US$16.5 billion in 2009--or around 35 per cent of Dow's global business.

In Europe alone, the company has over 60 manufacturing sites and 50 commercial offices spread across 20 nations. And while the bulk of these are in Germany--generating around 25 per cent of sales--Dow's Swiss location manages offices and plants throughout the continent: from the...

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