n.v. Umicore s.a.
Umicore, with 2004
revenues of 7.1 billion Euros and over 11,000 employees, produces
and recycles advanced materials. Its specialty is recycling precious
metals but it's also one of Europe's largest copper producers,
one of the world's top three producers of automotive catalysts
and the world's number one in zinc specialty products.
Headquarters for Umicore is a low-key, six-story building on
a quiet side street in Brussels' city center. No splashy signs
on the sides or atop the building are found here About two minutes
after snapping the picture accompanying this story it started
to rain so I went inside and received permission from the receptionist
to wheel my trusty steed to a warm, dry spot in the underground
A vase of flowers (real) sits atop the reception desk. Four (fake)
eight-foot tall climbing plants sprinkled with fake metal flowers
are scattered about the reception area. A computer monitor displays
the company's stock ticker.
Couldn't ask for a better person to meet with than Eddy Cornelis,
Communications Manager. Why? Besides being a nice guy he's got
experience with the companyas in 34 years worth.
About 300 people work here. It's a designated protected (listed
or historic) building which most companies dread because it severely
restricts what can and can't be done to the structure. Senior
management gets to park in the basement but employee parking
elsewhere is subsidized. Conference rooms are named after metals,
the company cafeteria serves hot food and there's covered parking
for commuters who bike to work. It's six miles to the nearest
freeway, a five minute walk to Brussels' famous grand square
and 10 miles to the airport. There's no corporate aircraft, smoking
isn't allowed in the building, on-site recreational facilities
are nil and, there's no formal dress code (casual Fridays are
CEO Thomas Leysen occupies a second floor corner office. All
the furnishings are either black or white. I count 14 tombstones
(34 is still the record), five framed family pictures, one computer
and zero plants. Leysen likes hippopotamuses which explains the
five miniature hippos and two camels. Leysen also has a sense
of high adventure as seen in the framed photo of him trekking
on foot near the North Pole. The view out his window? The building's
The boardroom contains hardwood floors, the boardroom table seats
28 and three framed company stock certificates hang on the walls.
Umicore was founded in 1906.
Company website: www.umicore.com