Poppies International nv

The village of Geluveld probably hasn't more than 2,000 inhabitants with the surrounding area mostly farmland but, this is where Poppies International calls home. Iper, population 35,000, and about 10 miles down the road, would be the nearest big town. Poppies' one-story headquarters/factory sits next to a passing freeway in a small industrial park.

Founded in1976, this family-owned business employs about 400 people with revenues of 46 million euros. What to they do? Manufacture cookies, cakes, filled waffles and frozen desserts such as eclairs and cream puffs. Over 90% of Poppies' products are exported with quite a bit of business done in the United States where the company has a factory in North Carolina. Two big customers of Poppies in the USA are Sam's Club (owned by Wal-Mart) and BJ's Wholesale Club.

Next to the front doors there's a small fish pond but I don't spot any fish in it. The receptionist sits behind a glass enclosure. Don't see any samples of company products for visitors to enjoy. Two glass displays next to the counter are filled with yummy-looking packages of Poppies' frozen desserts.

Though Catherine Maerten, Sales Manager, hadn't seen the advance material mailed to Managing Director Phillipe Desmet a month earlier, she generously agrees to answer my questions. The head office/factory was built in 1990 and about 200 people work here. There's a break room but no company cafeteria, employee parking is free but limited and there's no formal dress code. Employees who cycle to work enjoy covered parking for their bikes, there are no onsite recreational facilities but, showers are available. It's a half-mile to access the passing freeway, smoking isn't allowed in the workplace and it's an hour and a half drive to Brussels airport. Any employee perks? Discounts on company products purchased by the case.

I can't see Managing Director Desmet's office which overlooks the parking lot because "he's not here". So, do Poppies' products taste as good as they look? I don't know as I wasn't offered any and leave empty-handed.

Company website: www.poppies.com