Picanol Group

Iper is a delightful and compact town of 35,000 located in the northwest corner of Belgium. Cycling several miles from Iper's city center brings me to a modern office park anchored by Picanol Group, a manufacturer of textile weaving systems. Matter of fact, the office park might have been built and developed by the company as it's called Picanol Office Park. Founded in 1936, revenues for publicly-traded Picanol totaled 384 million euros in 2004 and employs 2,300 workers.

Picanol's seven-story, red brick and glass headquarters building was built in 2002. Making my way to the security guard/receptionist I can tell right where the company has factories thanks to the three clocks on wall. One clock shows the current time here in Ieper, another Greenville, South Carolina and the third, Shanghai, China.

I explain to the security guard/receptionist my mailing a letter of introduction over a month ago to Chairman Luc Van Nevel and ask if he can call up Van Nevel's secretary. Aw jeez, the security guard/receptionist says it's vacation time and there's just a skeleton staff here. I wait in the very large waiting area while he attempts to contact somebody. In the picture accompanying this story you see the three-story glass structure connected to the red brick building–that's the large waiting area with several meeting rooms located off to the side. Twenty-five black leather chairs along with three black coffee tables are scattered about the room.

It's not good news as the security guard/receptionist says he can't find anybody around to meet with me. Boy, I like the town of Ieper but it hasn't been good to me as all three companies I came here to visit (Picanol, chocolate maker Van Lys and cookie maker Jules Destrooper) failed to inform me they'd be closed.

Company website: www.picanolgroup.com