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
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