Head 30 miles west of Venice and you'll be in Vicenza, a city
with a population of 110,000. Gruppo Beltrame is a steel concern
with over $900 million in revenues, 1,800 employees and operations
in six European countries. The address for Beltrame's head office
leads me a huge steel manufacturing plant on the edge of town.
It's a bustling industrial park area and there's the usual not-very-pleasant
smell in the air that usually surrounds steel-making plants.
There's a long driveway leading to the plant and visitors share
the road with the coming and going of large tractor-trailer trucks
delivering who knows what. Head office visitors park and check
in at a guard booth. The truckers also have to stop, park their
rigs and check in at the guard booth. So, I'm standing at the
guard booth with about a dozen truck drivers who all have to
fill out forms. The line is very slow. One of the drivers in
line behind me asks about my bike. He speaks English and after
a little bit of conversation he says I'm standing in the wrong
line-that I should walk around the guard booth to the other side.
Sure enough, one of the two security guards comes over to the
window. This security guard saw me ride up on my bicycle and
so why did he let me stand with the truckers-did he think I was
making a delivery? The unfriendly guard doesn't speak English
so I show him the name of Giancarlo Beltrame on my clipboard
and ask to speak to Beltrame's secretary. Who's Giancarlo Beltrame?
He's the CEO and his grandfather (Antonio Beltrame) founded the
company here in Vicenza back in 1896.
I'm handed a phone with Beltrame's assistant on the other end
and ask if she remembers my letter of introduction mailed a month
ago to CEO Beltrame and if so, where was it was referred. The
assistant, who sounds very nice, says Beltrame probably saw the
letter and deemed it "unimportant". "Are you trying
to say he probably tossed it in the trash?" I ask. She acknowledges
with, "I'm afraid so". I ask if there's somebody who
would have a few minutes to meet with me and she says it wouldn't
When companies don't let me on the premises I'm usually pretty
good in at least snapping a photo of the building where the head
honcho hangs his hat. However, the guard booth is located so
far from the plant that I can't see anything in the distance
resembling an office building. So, the picture accompanying this
story doesn't show much except for the steel mill.
Company website: www.beltrame.it