GN Great Nordic Ltd.



Have an office in Kongens Nytorf (King's new square) and you've got yourself one of Copenhagen's most prestigious business addresses. Have your own building here and it means you've been around for a while. Great Nordic's five-story edifice is a genuine beauty. Built in 1894, it's a sight to behold either from the inside or out. If you're a fan of elaborate wood paneling, spiral staircases, wrought iron fixtures, frescoes and gold leaf trim-then you'd definitely want pictures of this place for the scrapbook.

I'm a little confused when finding a sign on the front entrance doors directing Great Nordic visitors to use a new side entrance and reception area. Within minutes of checking in with the receptionist, Inge Nissen, secretary to CEO Jorgen Lindegard, arrives in the lobby and explains the separate entries The building has essentially been spilt in half with a local bank occupying one side and Great Nordic the other. Why are these two companies sharing? Great Nordic owns the building while the local bank owns the land underneath.

Initially Nissen says there's no one around to meet with me but I tell her that many a time it's the CEO's secretary who answers questions and shows me around. The very accommodating Nissen agrees. I stump her with my first question: Why are two small antique cannons standing guard inside the lobby? The renovation of the new lobby was completed only two weeks ago and so Nissen isn't sure of the backgrounds of these two vigilant defenders.

Founded in 1869, Great Nordic manufactures a wide range of telecommunications products and equipment. For instance, it's the largest supplier of telephone headsets in Europe and the second largest in the USA. About 80 people work in the head office with over 3,000 company-wide. Revenues last year totaled $640 million.

Touring the building we walk over to main entryway of the building (now used by the bank) and it's gorgeous. Ornate wood paneling lines the walls as well as a ceiling fresco of winged messenger Mercury. The main focus of the entry hallway however, is a marble bust of C.F. Tietgen, the founder of The Great Northern Telegraph Company (predecessor to Great Nordic), who greets visitors from his pedestal.
Senior management gets reserved parking spots (a nice perk with parking in Copenhagen city center being at a premium), plenty of parking for bicycles, smoking is allowed in offices and there's a company cafeteria which Nissen says serves "very good" food. Though no recreational facilities-there are showers. It's a half-hour drive to the airport and 15 minutes to the nearest freeway. The company's website address (www.gn.dk) doesn't use the more global oriented ".com" address.

CEO Jorgen Lindegaard occupies a corner office that overlooks historic and picturesque Kongens Nytorv square. I make note of his laptop computer, the stand-up desk and the beautiful grandfather clock. The clock was made in England and dates back to 1685. How do I know? Experience has taught me that if I open the wooden door beneath the clock face I'll find the date as well as the signature of the maker of this handcrafted masterpiece (earlier we passed a grandfather clock dated 1750 in a hallway). Lindegaard's office is void of personal pictures but, I count one real plant. Don't fret about the plant being alone because once a week Lindegaard receives a fresh flower arrangement to keep it company. What's the coolest thing about his office? The balcony. The Queen of Denmark's palatial palace lies several blocks away and at 12 noon there's the changing of the guard. Guess whose office balcony they pass by on their daily procession?

The boardroom, with gold leaf trim on its ceiling, also overlooks the square. The walls are lined with pictures of past company CEO's.