s.a. D'Ieteren n.v.
High-end shopping in Brussels means heading for Avenue Louise
where all the big names and one-of-a-kind boutiques are located.
Avenue Louise runs for several miles with side streets leading
to Brussels' many diverse neighborhoods. D'Ieteren's head office
building can be found in one of these neighborhoods. Built in1964,
the huge 50,000 square meter (over 500,000 square feet) structure
pretty much encompasses the whole block and is surrounded by
cafes, apartments and small retail establishments.
You can tell what D'Ieteren does by checking out the picture
that accompanies this story. Yep, that's a car dealership you
see. You want to buy a new Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Seat, Skoda,
Lamborghini or Porsche in Belgium you gotta go through D'Ieteren
because they're the exclusive importers and distributors. The
company also owns Belron, one of the world's largest vehicle
glass replacement concerns and controls Avis Europe. Revenues
in 2004 totaled 3.3 billion euros and 7,600 employees.
Visitors check-in at the reception counter located on the showroom
floor. My letter of introduction mailed a month earlier was addressed
to CEO & Chairman Roland D'Ieteren but, it turns out the
CEO reins were recently handed over to Jean-Pierre Bizet. No
problem though as I have an excellent visit thanks to Philippe
Casse, Corporate Public Relations.
About 500 people work here. I mentioned the building being built
in1967 but D'Ieteren has been on this site since1906. Matter
of fact, D'Ieteren's roots date back all the way to1805 when
the company started out building horse-drawn carriages. In the
early 1900's the company was building and assembling car bodies.
Meeting rooms are name after antique cars, effective January
2006 smoking will not be allowed in offices, the company cafeteria
serves only cold sandwiches, there's no onsite recreational facilities--though
showers are available and no formal dress code. If you don't
have a company car then there's a waiting list for a parking
spot but, employees commuting via bicycle enjoy covered parking
spots. Any employee perks? Employees can purchase one car a year
at a "very special" price. I can't see Bizet's fifth
floor corner office because "he's not in".
Casse wants to show me the company museum and I'm thinking small
room with history time line and pictures on the walls. Boy, am
I ever wrong. It's a full-blown car museum occupying a whole
floor with over 90 out of the museum's 250 automobiles on display.
Ever seen a 1920 Studebaker, 1923 Bentley, 1924 Excelsior, 1931
DKW or 1934 Auto Union? They're all here. It's one of the largest
private-owned car collections in Europe but isn't open to the
Company website: www.dieteren.be