Today's companies were both in the brewing/distillery industry, one large and multi-national (Grolsch, owned by SAB-Miller) and one small and domestic (Hooghoudt).
The Hooghoudt visit was interesting because of the contrast to Grolsch: it is a small, family-owned company with what appeared to be very inefficient production operations and a presentation from a young marketing manager who had only been with the company for 3 months: Their whole marketing team is new as the company is planning to develop a strategy to increase the market for their main product, which is seen as an old-fashioned drink for old men (jenever - a type of gin with lots of different herbs added).
Interesting, for me, was that all four of the companies we visited on this program are over 100 years old (and Meyer Werft and Hooghoudt are still owned by the founding family). The presentations we received reinforced the common factors my research has identified regarding the culture of old companies. They all talked about a creative/innovative/entrepreneurial culture, the 'ownership' mentality they cultivate with employees, and a conservative approach to financing that keeps debt levels low.
Since Grolsch is located in Enschede, we had a pleasant 2-hour ride through the provinces of Drenthe and Overijssel to get there. Those who stayed awake - the bus left at 6:45 a.m., a little early for many of the students - had great views of the flat farmland of the area.