Barco n.v.



With a population of 75,000, Kortijk gets to call itself the largest city in western Belgium. Cycling three miles from Kortijk's city center brings me to an office/light industrial park that's home to Barco, a manufacturer of automation products. Projectors and displays for avionics and medical equipment are just some examples of products manufactured by Barco. Revenues in 2003 for publicly-traded Barco totaled $789 million with over 4,000 employees.

It's raining like crazy as I cycle up to Barco's two-story headquarters. I know the company has covered parking for bicycling commuters because my bike and I take cover from the barrage of rain under an enclosure in the car parking lot.

I check-in with the receptionist and explain my mailing a letter of introduction a month earlier to CEO Martin De Prycker. After a few minutes of sitting down in one of the nine red velvet chairs in the waiting area I'm soon talking to Christa Deprez, Executive Secretary to CEO De Prycker. I couldn't ask for a better person to talk to as Ms. Deprez has been with the company for 37 years.

Built in1989, a combined total of 1,000 employees work here and in the adjacent factory. Employee parking is free and plentiful, smoking isn't allowed in the workplace and everybody (including management) eats in the company cafeteria. Meeting rooms are named after mountain ranges and cities around the world, there's no formal dress code, no corporate aircraft, it's about a mile to the nearest freeway and, about 60 miles to Brussels airport. Was there a Mr. Barco? No, the company started out back in 1934 assembling radios with parts from the United States thus Belgian American Radio Corporation (BARCO).

Nothing special about CEO De Prycker's second floor office. He sits behind an oval-shaped desk and I count two family pictures, two plants (real) and one computer.

Company website: www.barco.com