Hamon & Cie (International) SA

Louise Avenue gets the call as Brussels' main shopping street. Located about a mile and a half from the city center it's home to all the upscale shops and boutiques. It's on a side street several blocks from Louise Avenue where I find Hamon & Cie's blah and tired-looking headquarters. The six-story structure looks to have been built in the 1950's.

Hamon's primary business is heat exchangers. Ever go by a factory or power generation facility and see those massive chimneys or water cooling towers? Those are Hamon's speciality. Founded in 1904, revenues total $792 million with over 2,100 employees for the publicly-traded concern.

The furnishings and decor in the lobby/reception area look tired and dated. A seven foot tall color photo of an industrial cooling tower hangs on a lobby wall. Two men, one wearing a T-shirt with "Adidas" splashed across the front, are manning the reception desk They're awfully casually dressed and I wonder if they're just filling in. Neither speaks English. I point to the name of CEO Francis Lambilliotte on my questionnaire and one shakes his head as if to say Lambilliotte's not here. They make a call and a woman steps out into the lobby. I explain who I am and what I do and the woman says Lambilliotte and his secretary are both on vacation. The woman, who works in the shipping department, goes on to say that the information gathered would soon be obsolete anyway as the company is moving its headquarters in a few months to the southern part of Belgium. I sure hope their new head office has more of a professional look to it because image matters especially when your company helps in the building of nuclear power plants.

Company website: www.hamon.com