Niels Aage Kjær

EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Class of 2024, Denmark
Owner and Chairman of the Board of AVK Group

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Niels Aage Kjær transformed his father’s machine shop into a leading water valve manufacturer. 

Founded in 1941 by Niels Aage Kjær’s father, Aage Valdemar Kjær, AVK began as a local machine shop with three employees. In 1970, Niels took over the business only days before the founder’s sudden passing. At age 25, Niels saw an opportunity to grow the business while performing plumbing work for private homes. He needed water supply valves and was unsatisfied with those on the market — he knew he could develop better ones. 

Despite minimum funding and a bank that would not provide more loans, Niels bet on his strong values and ability to foresee new markets. He focused on developing solutions that minimized water and energy consumption, and his bet paid off. Niels’ strong vision helped AVK and its 100 employees thrive amid the energy crisis in 1979. Since then, AVK has grown to be a global leader in valves, hydrants and accessories for water and gas distribution, wastewater treatment and fire protection, with 5,000 employees worldwide. 

Today, AVK valves provide reliable and safe drinking water for people around the globe. Its Smart Water sensors digitally monitor the company’s core products, making it possible to reduce water loss, save resources and optimize general planning and operations of water networks. 

Niels’ values continue to direct the company’s growth and direction. AVK cooperates with partners across industries, governments and society to achieve sustainable development related to clean water and sanitation. 

I’m excited that our technologies can help end the global water crisis.