Michel Byvoet
  I am born in the Flemish part of Belgium. In my youth I was intrigued by electronics and I worked a few years as an electrician in an electronics shop. It was boring and low paid so I searched a job as a sales representative and sold first publicity and later school photography. Because the schools in Belgium close in July and august I had every year a gap in my income of 2 months. So one year I decided to search an other job for these two months. And so I came in contact with the company Byvoet.
Byvoet employed 350 people in 1985 in Hasselt Belgium. They had a classic mans shirt brand called "Jean d'Artes". It was a family business that started in the fifties. To give 350 peoples work every month, they must have produced about 4000 shirts a day in Belgium in '85. So beside their own brand they produced for everybody else and they had also a fairly successful business in children garments with the same name. I was employed as a representative for the mans shirts dep. When I worked there about a year we came one morning to the job and found the fire department in the street and the big production hall behind the administrative building was completely burned away.
The only thing you saw was the big floor surface and the legs of the sewing machines tables with the machine head laying between the rubble and the still vertical standing legs. After they cleaned it, I remember that you saw again the red tiles of the floor and pins everywhere, thousands of them, as the sole reminder that this ones had been a bussing confection factory.

At a certain moment Michel Byvoet, my boss, decided to fire their representative for the Walloon part of Belgium and to install me as their new man in the French part of Belgium.
Small problem: I spoke no French at all. He decided that in order to prepare me for my task everybody, who could, should from that day on speak only French with me in the company. I remember me doing enormously my best to absorb the language as soon as possible. When I stood in my first shop with sweat in my hands I could do a basic explanation about my product but the clients found my language funny and my effort sympatic and I sold more shirts that the previous native French representative.

After the fire however they decided to concentrate on their children garments and the man shirts department became neglected. Jean d'Artes shirts were rather expensive and lacked competitiveness