50 years ago, Niels Aage Kjær took over AVK from his father, Aage Valdemar Kjær. Through a great development, he transformed AVK from a small workshop to a successful worldwide group of companies.
Niels Aage Kjær is born and raised in Galten, Denmark. Already from a young age, he helped his father in the workshop on Søndergade in Galten. Later on, he was taken in as an apprentice before starting his studies. In 1967, he graduated from Odense Technical College as engineer, but he prefers to be called factory owner.
On 1 June 1970, Niels Aage Kjær and his father became business partners. Sadly, his father passed away only a week after. At this time, AVK was a small workshop with only three employees that manufactured refrigeration systems and provided plumbing work in the local community. In 1970, Niels Aage Kjær developed the first AVK valve for water supply and built the first factory on Smedeskovvej in Galten.
With his drive and enthusiasm, Niels Aage Kjær has managed to turn the small, local workshop into a global group of companies with a billion Kroner turnover. Today, AVK is the leading manufacturer of valves and fittings within water and industry with factories and sales companies across the globe. In addition, AVK has also become an important player in the work towards greener solutions, clean drinking water and effective and sustainable solutions.
AVK's headquarter is still located in Galten, but today, the company employs more than 4300 employees in more than 100 companies worldwide.
During the last couple of years, AVK's development has accelerated via a number of strategic acquisitions – a strategy that will continue to shape the future. AVK is a company that is characterised by constant development, which indeed can be linked to Niels Aage Kjær's personal drive and enthusiasm. He is a charismatic leader, a skilled entrepreneur and business man and at the same time, he is a man with a strong will and perseverance.
The values quality, innovation, continuity and close customer relations were the foundation of the small workshop seven decades ago, but they still permeate the company today and will continue to shape the future of AVK.
Throughout the years, Niels Aage Kjær has received a number of honours – among others, the Order of the Dannebrog in 2010 and the award for honorary craftsman of the year in 2010 as well. But even with all the success and honours, this does not mean that he is all about the suit and tie. On the contrary, Niels Aage still likes to put on the yellow safety vest and the safety glasses and walk around one of the many factories – back to where it all began. Niels Aage takes great pride in AVK's products and ensuring that they are of the highest quality, but still takes his time to have a little chat with the employees. Therefore, throughout the years, AVK and not least Niels Aage have managed to attract and retain skilled employees, and there is a mutual respect and interest for the wellbeing of AVK.
Apart from his success as a business man, the environment is high on the agenda for Niels Aage Kjær. He has worked with WWF and helped increase the focus on the rising consumption of plastic as well as the need for better handling and recycling of plastics in Denmark – a topic he has also included on AVK's agenda.
Niels Aage also has a great passion for art - something he shares with his wife, Ellen Margrethe. This passion for art is also very visible when visiting AVK Holding's headquarter on Søndergade in Galten as well as the AVK Academy and Visitor Centre in Skovby. Throughout many years, AVK has also been a proud sponsor of art, culture and sports in the local community. In his spare time, Niels Aage enjoys playing golf on the AVK golf course in Silkeborg-Ry Golf Club and when the weather allows for it, he enjoys sailing on the lakes in Silkeborg.
Due to COVID-19, the planned reception and celebrations for business partners and employees have been rescheduled for June 2021.