Most companies don’t want average people in their headquarters. They say that there are “insurance” reasons they don’t have a display in the lobby or that “liability” or “OSHA” or some other rules prevent customers from touring facilities.
But we know that is a bunch of bunk. It’s an excuse. Because, frankly, its not a bit of trouble to allow people into your office. It’s the hospitable thing to do, particularly for a publicly traded company, and more companies should do it.
And while we’re on soap box, we don’t know of one person who sued a company because they fell touring a corporate art collection in a lobby. But we do know of plenty of companies that are sued for other reasons.
But some companies are smart about it, and figure out a way to open themselves up to the public. Banks always have art collections in their office building lobbies. And last we checked (their site was down today) Pepsico opened its art collection to the public in Purchase, NY in their Kendall Garden.
But the most wonderful company is John Deere, which knows exactly that its brand is at stake. It allows consumers to come in and see their headquarters building in Moline, Illinois. You just show up in office hours, and you can see the lobby. Mind you, they don’t have meetings with the CEO, but who wants that anyway? A good history display in the lobby is as good as can be.
So head on out to Moline and pay them a visit. Go in the lobby of the great Eero Saarinen building, and see one of the icons of American architecture. See why Saarinen, with his TWA Flight Center, revolutionized corporate architecture. And while you are driving there, think of which piece of John Deere equipment you would like to buy. (Note: read Harry Allen‘s excellent blog which has a great story of the Saarinen building.)
Remember, John Deere is American, and they employ Americans and are a stand-up bunch.