Glaverbel is the European branch of Japan-based Asahi Glass Company,
the world's biggest maker of glass. I normally don't visit subsidiaries
but thought it might have an interesting head office. Glaverbel
revenues in 2004 totaled two billion euros and commands a workforce
of over 16,000 in Europe.
I'm about five miles from downtown Brussels on a tree-lined street
with small office and embassy buildings (Brussels is the capital
of Belgium). Home for Glaverbel is a circular five-story building.
Built in 1961 by Glaverbel it was sold and now the company is
only one of multiple building tenants. It is still a famous and
well-known building due to its unusual circular design.
After getting directions from the building receptionist I make
my way to Glaverbel's first floor reception area. A brown hardwood
floor and walls of spiffy-looking green laminated glass greet
visitors. I take a seat while the receptionist finds out who
ended up with my letter of introduction mailed to CEO Arthur
Ulens a month earlier. Oh boy, I find out smoking is allowed
because ash trays are on the coffee tables and there's a side
door open and the stench from two smokers smoking permeates the
Benoit Ligot, Corporate Communications, is the one answering
my questions. About 200 employees work here. The cafeteria is
shared with other building tenants, meeting rooms are name after
company products, smoking in offices is optional and parking
is first come, first serve (except for senior management). It's
three miles to the nearest freeway, 15 miles to Brussels airport
and there's no corporate aircraft. The circular building contains
a large grassy well-maintained courtyard area with trees however,
it's for looking only as it's off- limits to everyone. Commuting
cyclists enjoy covered parking, there's no formal dress code,
no corporate art collection or onsite recreational facilities.
CEO Ulrens occupies a top floor office (there are no corner offices
since it's a circular building) with a view of the street.
Company website: www.glaverbel.com