On the 19th September 2008, a warm and sunny day, the Spanish company Talleres Felipe Verdés – better known as Verdés – took a full day off for its two work shifts to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the company. A team of employees had organized various open-air activities, which met with the general applause of all concerned. Altogether almost 200 persons participated, as the staff from the Portugal, Morocco and Algeria branches also joined the party, as well as a few former employees who are now retired.
The day started with a surprise treasure hunt cum photo-safari in the morning, whereby teams of five roamed the surrounding countryside and villages. In the afternoon more activities followed, such as 18 Paint-ball battles in a hilly wood nearby and other more sedate games at the Verdés site. The Worker’s Centennial Dinner was held in a theatre in Igualada, where the party ended after the last toasts were drunk at 1 a.m.
The second part of the celebration took place on the 24th and 25th October with Verdés customers from all around the world, who began pouring in a few days previously, enjoying both the beautiful autumn weather and the Verdés hospitality. The 200 guests were welcomed by the chairman, Felipe Verdés B., at the lunch served in a 14th century farmhouse. In his speech, Mr Verdés explained that the whole purpose of the party was to show the company’s gratitude and appreciation to its clients. And not only to the century-old and fifty-year-old brickmakers, but also to the engineering companies from Spain and from the rest of Europe which have supported Verdés loyally in its drive over the last 10 years to reach a 90% export quota spread over four continents.
After lunch, the guests returned to the company site, where visits to the workshop were organized in groups according to language preference. Here one of the main focuses of interest was the recently installed Laser Cutting system.
During the event, many moving moments of the past were remembered: Some brickmakers older than Verdés – such as Palau which has been in the brick business since 1875 – recalled how they purchased their first equipment in 1910 from F. Verdés Sabadell. Another customer from Colombia brought back to Mr Felipe Verdés’ M. memory, how his father Mr Morales bought personally from him in 1961 a machine for his plant in Bogotá, and so on.
Along with these cherished long-standing partners, some new brickmakers also shared their experiences with the Spanish company: For example, an entrepreneur in the Ukraine, escaping his start-up frenzy for two days, along with a Macedonian colleague anticipating the delivery of his first-ever Verdés extruder.
In the dark early hours of the 25th, the bleary-eyed guests were collected in buses from the hotels for a surprise activity, and were taken to a small airfield nearby. As dawn broke, the more daring customers were given a crash course in a balloon passenger ship and emergency landing procedures. Afterwards they were directed to unload, unfold, and inflate the gigantic balloons, each basket of which held 11 persons. Then the balloons ascended in simultaneous flight – a magnificent spectacle. During the 90 minutes of the flight, the passengers were rewarded with a view of the striking Montserrat Mountain breaking through the sunrise clouds; they then passed low over Manresa, a largish town with quite a few children waving enthusiastically to the unusual scene of six giant balloons flying together.
After packing and loading of the balloons in the trailers, also enjoyed in good comradeship by the Verdés customers, they were collected from the various landing sites of the balloons and taken to an old “Masía” (farmhouse). Here the guests were expected for a local country meal, with the wine served in “porrons” and “pipos” (catalan glass wine fountains), which also contributed to the convivial and festive atmosphere. At the end of lunch, in deference to the good number of Algerian and Moroccan customers present, a traditional southern “att’ai” (Chai bil’ Naana – dark green mint tea) was brewed and poured by Mr Verdés himself, from his own tea set, with some laughs at his (poor) dexterity in hammering off the lumps from the big sugar block.
After the last champagne toast to the health of the new balloon flyers, the buses took the customers to their departure destinations, except for those who remained to follow their respective project analysis along with the Verdés experts during the following week.
In one thing, they were all of one opinion: Verdés promised party, excitement, surprise and emotion of dizzying height, and they delivered!