In his shirt sleeves and a pair of jeans, Michael Jungsvig looked comfortable and relaxed on a picture-perfect spring day in Gluckstadt. Every question brought a smile and an easy answer, a seemingly amazing feat considering he was stranded a half-world-away from home with little certainty when he could return.
Obviously, conquering the United States has a calming effect on a body.
On April 15, Jungsvig landed his company, the Danish clean energy firm SolarVenti A/S, its first client in the U.S. He signed a distribution agreement with Kight Energy, LLC, giving the Madison-based firm exclusivity to the entire U.S. market for SolarVenti’s solar-powered heating and ventilation products.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“We are pleased to add Kight Energy to our growing network of distributors,” said Jungsvig, business developer for SolarVenti. “I think Kight has the skills and the contacts to make this thing happen. Now, it comes down to hard work.”
Kight Energy founder and president Robie Kight was equally thrilled, saying the new agreement gives his company “another great product to offer the American public.”
The agreement justified the thousands of miles traveled by both Kight and Jungsvig to make the deal happen. Last December, Kight flew to Copenhagen, partially to attend the World Climate Conference, but also to explore potential business deals in Europe. He met with several companies, including SolarVenti.
While the two men and their companies are located on different continents, they found that they had much in common. In fact, Jungsvig said the U.S. and Danish business climates as a whole are remarkably similar.
“When it comes to small business, they are identical,” said Jungsvig, who added that SolarVenti employs roughly 25 employees. “Just like here in the U.S., the backbone of the economy in Denmark is small business.”
Jungsvig, 49, the father of two, had forged a successful marketing career before coming to SolarVenti. Approximately three years ago, he played a key role in the sale of a Danish insurance firm. When that project was complete, he began to look around for his next career move.
Long fascinated with clean, sustainable energy, he stumbled across SolarVenti product inventor Hans Jorgen Christensen on the Internet. Intrigued by the company’s patented solar-powered products, he came on board two years ago, charged with adding the U.K., U.S. and Canada to SolarVenti’s footprint that, at that time, encompassed more than 20 countries.
Jungsvig and SolarVenti had already entered the U.K. market before his deal with Kight. With the U.S. deal, SolarVenti has products and/or agreements in 25 countries stretching from Greenland to Australia. The company has installed approximately 33,000 units in homes, businesses, museums — even RVs, trailers and boats.
Still, Jungsvig is reluctant to take credit for the success.
“We are a niche industry, but we are growing,” Jungsvig said. “Sales are rising because of the energy crisis and energy costs. I think people get tired of hearing about these issues, but we have to do something, have to face it. It’s not going away.”
With the U.K. and U.S. in the bag, Jungsvig now can turn his attention to Canada. Asked when he planned his “invasion” of the Great White North, Jungsvig threw back his head and laughed.
“One thing at a time, please,” he said. “(The Kight agreement) was a pretty big thing, you know?”
Jungsvig won’t be going to Canada any time soon. In fact, the most pressing question for him was, “When will I get home?”
Jungsvig landed in the U.S. April 13, and was scheduled to fly home April 17 after the signing ceremony with Kight. However, the volcanic ash that has paralyzed air travel worldwide kept Jungsvig grounded. Not wanting him to spend more time in a hotel, Robie Kight took Jungsvig to his home for what Jungsvig termed “some great Southern hospitality.”
The delay turned into something of a plus. Alan Crancer, who heads up Kight’s marketing efforts, was able to spend time with Jungsvig, brainstorming on ideas to land dealers, and Crancer drove Jungsvig to building supply dealers and hardware stores, giving the Dane a ground-level view of American technology and building practices. Jungsvig also sat for several interviews with media — print, radio and television — giving both Kight and SolarVenti some great free publicity.
Jungsvig said he was frustrated about the disruption in his travel plans, especially the opportunity to celebrate the Kight deal with his colleagues at SolarVenti. But, he maintained his sense of humor.
“I understand my children are behaving, so that’s good,” he said with a wry smile.
For more on SolarVenti, visit www.solarventi.com. More on Kight Energy is available at www.kightenergy.com.
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