Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, the author of The Ultimate Lego Book, is probably better known as the owner of the Danish toy company, LEGO. From its humble origins, the business, started by his grandfather, sees Kjeld as the third generation in his family to own this brand.
The first LEGO toys were manufactured from wood in an effort to ensure the company’s survival. Initially, the company’s focus was household goods, such as ironing boards and ladders. These days, the company’s toys are emulated across the globe and their construction sets replicated by many others in the toy industry.
The company faced many challenges since its inception, with their factory being burnt down twice, once in the 1940’s and again in 1960. After the latter, the company decided to stop the manufacture of wooden toys entirely, deciding to focus on the production of their plastic toys instead.
Under Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen’s leadership, the company produced a vast variety of toy sets. Amongst these was the famous LEGOLAND Space of 1979. Due to its success, he henceforth instructed designers to focus on the construction of sets showcasing different themes.
The advent of computer games, however, saw the demand for construction sets to decline. Kjeld was forced to revisit his company’s strategy in order to become a major player in the toy industry once more. Part of this strategy saw the company launch digital design software in interactive games. Amongst these were Star Wars for Wii and Mars Mission designed for personal computers. Lego Universe was also launched in 2010. These initiatives saw the company undergoing a dramatic change, and Kjeld becoming not only one of the richest men in Denmark but the world. The company is also continuously introducing new minifigures, themes, and Lego Mindstorms. Additionally, Lego.com has seen the light as well as licensed assets for the company.
Kjeld and his company have received two awards thus far, namely being featured in the Toy Hall of Fame (2008), and receiving The Freedom Prize, Distinguished Family Business in 1996.
A man who has faced many challenges during the course of his career, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen is well-versed in making decisions, changing a company’s focus, and branding to suit current times and needs. A man who is able to tailor-make his presentations to suit his audience, his story is one that inspires while making you think.