Tessenderlo Group

It requires four visits but I finally meet with someone at Tessenderlo Group. Then again, my visit with Geert Dusar, Manager Corporate Communication, consists of a mere seven minute talk in the lobby.

Home for Tessenderlo, a diversified chemical concern operating in 21 countries with 2 billion Euros in revenues (2004) and more than 8,000 employees, is an eight-story building. Two blocks away stands the massive new European Union Parliament building complex. Thanks to the Parliament building, the formerly rundown area has been undergoing a big transformation with new apartment and office buildings starting to take over.

Built in 2005, Tessenderlo occupies 80% of the building with outside tenants the rest. Two tall glass display cases near the ground floor reception area give visitors an idea of the diversity in which Tessenderlo products are used. In the food industry (gelatin and glycine), agriculture (fertilizers and phosphates for animal feed), construction (PVC windows and pipes) and even in dashboards, perfumes, paper, cables and photography.

So, was there or is there a Mr. Tessenderlo? Nope, the company, who's roots go back to 1892, is named after a town in northern Belgium. About 200 employees work here. Smoking isn't allowed in offices, there're no onsite recreational facilities, no cafeteria though there's a break room. Meeting rooms have no names but are numbered, it's three miles to the nearest freeway, 10 miles to Brussels airport, there's covered parking for commuting cyclists along with showers. Any unusual employee perks? No.

What's the view from CEO Gerard Marchland's top floor middle office? What does the boardroom look like? Can't answer either as I'm not invited past the reception lobby.

Company website: www.tessenderlogroup.com