Inspiration began shaking our timbers the minute we saw the blueprints for the site. The area planned for the expansion of Brussels Airport was the perfect place for our enterprise. Create a free-trade entrêpot, a veritable country, within the airport. We’d call it the Principality of Mapei Products, like Liechtenstein, only more renowned, less snobbish. French, English, Flemish and Walloon would be the official languages.
The population would be the more than twenty-million passengers that transit through the gates, and the national dish would be potatoes and mussels. The very Italian Mapei and the famed Belgian mollusc in proud nationhood. The future was ours. Joining the European Union would be our first step, of course. Then we’d negotiate the first policy decisions with Germany, France and the other member states. And so we did. We deployed our forces strategically. The elite Mapefluid N200 corps was assigned the foundation work. The specially trained Mapecem units took the screeds. While the Ultraplan contingent handled fast underlayment, the sappers Granirapid, Adesilex P25, Kerabond and Isolastic led the adhesives. The Ultracolor no. 10 and Keracolor shocktroops took care of the grouts.
It was quite a campaign. The job site was exceptional: some 500,000 m3 of earthmoving, 240,000 m3 of concrete, 80,000 m2 of granite, 27,000 tons of steel, 20,900 m2 of windows. So, too the result: a new terminal built, the original renovated. A great place to take off and land in the centre of Europe. Beautifully finished, convenient, a pleasing air about it. It was a dream come true. And it was our downfall. The dream of seizing power vanished. Instead, we seized the day, wandering through the terminal, having coffee in the bars, stopping for purchases at the duty-free shops. We were carefree, even chatting up the hostesses as they passed by. The principality, statehood, wasn’t even a blip on the radar screen.
All for the best, really. We can still see our people happy to fly off and land here at Zaventem. It’s a just reward. Then there’s that little big favour the airport authority granted us. The two notes you hear in overture to every public announcement in the airport introduce the anthem of the Principality of Mapei Products. So, the next time you go there, put your boarding pass on a chair, stand at attention and place your hand on your heart as they sound. It’ll make our day.
* The Liège suburb of Grâce-Hollogne is Mapei’s Benelux warehouse and, since 2016, the site of a training facility for its materials.