Spector Photo Group
It's a flat bike ride past farmland to reach Wetteren, a town
of 20,000 inhabitants about 25 miles northwest of Brussels. Head
three miles from Wetteren's city center to a light industrial
area and you'll find the head office and a factory of Spector
Photo Group. Doing business in a half-dozen countries, publicly-traded
Spector does film processing, operates photo-related retail stores
and mail order. Revenues in 2004 totaled 358 million euros with
It's about noon time when I show up and that's not a good thing
because here in Europe everyone takes off for lunch at the same
time. In the USA staggered lunches are more common as to not
leave various departments unattended or unmanned. Jeez, that
means having too wait until 2 PM. I still have to visit a company
about 10 miles away and then cycle the 35 miles back to Brussels.
The entrance to the reflective glass four-story building is on
the backside of the structure. Checking in with receptionist
Cathy Plehiers I explain having sent a letter of introduction
a month earlier to CEO Tonny Van Doorslaer. As expected, Plehiers
says it's lunchtime and nobody's around. However, I'm in luck
as the helpful Plehiers makes a few calls and corrals Chris Van
Raemdonck, Secretary-General, into meeting with me. It's a good
choice as the accommodating Raemdonck extends a warm welcome.
Raemdonck's business card contains a photo of himsomething
I hadn't seen since visiting Eastman Kodak.
Spector has been on this site since its founding back in 1965.
Aerial photos show how the original building has been added on
to and expanded over the years. About 300 people work here. There
are no onsite-recreational facilities, company cafeteria serves
hot food, employee parking is free and plentiful, smoking isn't
allowed in the workplace, there's no corporate art collection,
no formal dress code, it's three miles to the nearest freeway
and no covered parking for your bicycle if you cycle to work.
I can't have a look in CEO Van Doorslaer's office because "he's
not in" but we go to a nearby room so I can check out the
view when he looks out the window. Not bad at all with a river
flowing peacefully past the backside of the building and beautiful
farmland in the distance.
Company website: www.spectorphotogroup.com