Timeline of the VKR Group
Ever since Villum Kann Rasmussen (MSc Eng) established his company V. Kann Rasmussen & Co
in 1941, we have been working on bringing daylight, fresh air and better environment into people’s
everyday lives. We did it then, and we do it now. Today VKR Holding’s companies employ
approximately 15,400 people in 40 countries worldwide.
Please explore the VKR Group’s milestones over 80 years.
Head of the company history department:
Telephone +45 61 55 69 20
MandøThe founder of the VKR Group was born on the Danish island of Mandø.+
The founder of the VKR Group, Villum Kann Rasmussen (KR) was born in 1909 on the Danish island of Mandø, where his father was the pastor. He graduated from Sorø Akademi highschool in 1927 and got a degree in structural engineering in 1932 from the Polytechnic University of Denmark. Mandø’s unique natural environment and its maritime light were a lifelong source of inspiration for KR. It was here that he tested several of his early products. If the roof windows could perform in the harsh conditions here, they could make it everywhere, he argued. KR was an innovative experimental scientist and product developer with the motto “One experiment is better than a thousand expert views”.
The Rasmussen family. In the front from left: Fride, Villum and Aage, 1911.
V. Kann Rasmussen & CoIn 1941 Villum Kann Rasmussen established the company V. Kann Rasmussen & Co.+
V. Kann Rasmussen & Co
On 1 April 1941, Villum Kann Rasmussen (KR) established his firm V. Kann Rasmussen & Co at Hammerichsgade, Copenhagen, specializing in glass roofing. The company’s first order was for a 900 m2 glass roof for the Cooperative Wholesale Society’s flax scutching mill in Aarhus. The contract was landed thanks to KR’s TUBUS glazing bar, which secured the glass using clips without the use of putty. It also drew water off with the aid of condensation drains, thus keeping the glass roof watertight. TUBUS was registered in 1944 as KR’s first patent.
Villum Kann Rasmussen at his desk, 1941
VELUX roof windowsIn 1942, Villum Kann Rasmussen developed his first VELUX roof windows for a number of school buildings.+
VELUX roof windows
In the autumn of 1941, KR was asked to supply roof windows for a number of school buildings, in which the loft spaces were to be fitted out as classrooms. His self-appointed task was: “…once and for all to make a skylight – a roof window – that in every respect was just as good as the best vertical window”.
The windows were made of wood, and had an exterior cladding in zinc. They featured condensation drains, were watertight and largely maintenance-free. This meant that the windows could withstand their exposed placement on a sloped roof.
Thanks to the roof windows it was now possible to transform many unused attic spaces into cheap and comfortable housing.
The first roof windows were delivered to Slagelse Vestre School in 1942. On the invoice, KR had handwritten the name VELUX, derived from VE for ventilation and LUX for light. VELUX was registered as a trademark in Denmark on 3 October 1942. Today, VELUX is perhaps the world’s best-known brand in the building components industry.
Marketing photo of the VELUX Type V roof window, 1946
PV-45 pivot hingeVillum Kann Rasmussen developed the pivot hinge to the first fully reversible VELUX roof window.+
PV-45 pivot hinge
In order to enhance the functionality of the roof window, a great deal of effort went into product development. In 1945, Villum Kann Rasmussen filed a patent application for a fully reversible VELUX window with a pivot hinge, which was not actually registered until 1949, and in 1946, one for an independent pivot hinge, which was registered in 1948.
The pivot hinge, which made it possible to rotate the zinc-clad sash on its own axis, which was crucial since it made it easier to clean the outside of the pane from indoors. The pivot window with coupled sashes and double glazing was named FV, and went on to become the most popular roof window in the 1950s and 60s.
PV-45 Pivot hinge with original patent document from 5th December 1949
Headquarters in Søborg & VELKINV. Kann Rasmussen & Co established new headquarters at No. 4 Maskinvej in Søborg.+
Headquarters in Søborg & VELKIN
In the late 1940s, the company was cramped for space at the Copenhagen business address. In 1950, the decision was therefore made to build corporate headquarters on a site at No. 4 Maskinvej in Søborg, north of Copenhagen.
In 1951, a workforce of 22 salaried employees and 13 hourly-paid workers moved into the new premises, which covered a total area of 1,250 m2. The workshops were constructed using the VELKIN system, which KR had developed in 1945. This system was Denmark’s first standardized system for cinstruction of factory halls.
A VELUX factory was also established in Østbirk, Jutland in 1946.
KR in his office at No. 4 Maskinvej in Søborg, 1954
First foreign companyVELUX GmbH Bauzubehör was established in Germany together with a local partner.+
First foreign company
In 1952, KR formed a partnership with Ernst Günter Albers, the owner of the joinery E. Albers & v. Drathen (ALDRA) in Meldorf in Germany. Together they established an agreement so that the windows for the German market would be manufactured in Meldorf, while hardware and know-how would be supplied from Denmark.
German VELUX Service vans, 1956
VELUX vertical windowsThe introduction of the first vertical windows.+
VELUX vertical windows
In 1944, Villum Kann Rasmussen (KR) designed his first vertical window, which he initially called VITREA. Around 1950, KR returned to his work on the vertical window, which was launched in April 1952 under the VELUX name. The vertical windows were produced in Østbirk and, from 1957, at No. 4 Maskinvej in Søborg.
Prototype of VELUX vertical window, type V at No. 4 Maskinvej in Søborg, 1951
VELTORThe introduction of VELTOR garage doors.+
The late 1940s saw the development of vertical-lifting and overhead wooden garage doors for installation in both VELKIN halls and ordinary garages. The garage doors were called Hi-lift but were further developed in aluminium and in 1953 called VELTOR.
Demonstration of prototype of VELTOR garage door at No. 4 Maskinvej in Søborg, 1951
The VELUX Company Ltd.The first VELUX company in the UK.+
VITRAL & VELTAVITRAL glazing panels and VELTA remote openers.+
VITRAL & VELTA
Villum Kann Rasmussen and his staff of employees developed glazing panels that were fixed using aluminium rails, which made them easier to install. The panels were sold under the name VITRAL, which was registered as a trademark in 1956. As an accessory product for VITRAL, a mechanical remote opening system based on compressed air was developed in 1960 and marketed under the name VELTA.
Brochure for VITRAL glazing panels, 1960
VELUX dome skylightsAcrylic dome skylights for flat roofs.+
VELFACVELFAC vertical windows and elements for residential estates.+
In 1961, the VELUX vertical windows changed their name to VELFAC, which was registered as a trademark on 22nd October 1962. The vertical windows were supplemented by the VELFAC prefabricated elements in wood for residential estates e.g. in the Copenhagen area and for 3,000 flats in Greenland.
VELFAC advertisement, 1962
VELDOVELDO dome vents for flat roofs.+
No. 10 TobaksvejenNo. 10 Tobaksvejen in Søborg was inaugurated as the new headquarters for the parent company of the VKR Group.+
No. 10 Tobaksvejen
In 1963, a new building at No. 10 Tobaksvejen, was taken into use as headquarters of the parent company of the VKR Group, where it remained until 2007, when VKR Holding moved to its new premises at No. 18 Breeltevej in Hørsholm. Today, No. 10 Tobaksvejen is the headquarters of THE VELUX FOUNDATIONS.
The VKR Group’s new headquarters at No. 10 Tobaksvejen in Søborg, north of Copenhagen, 1964
VELUX FranceVELUX sales company is established in France.+
In 1964, VELUX France was established in rented offices in Bagneux, south of Paris. In 1969, VELUX France moved to its own premises in a new building in Morangis near Orly.
Visit at VELUX France. Far left, VELUX CEO, H.N. Brandt. To the far right, Managing director of VELUX France, Jacques Pagot, and KR, 1964
The next generationLars Kann-Rasmussen joins the VKR Group.+
The next generation
The eldest son of Villum Kann Rasmussen, Lars Kann-Rasmussen (LKR) is a graduate engineer, and joined the company as an employee of VELUX France in 1964. After having held several posts within the VKR Group, in 1970 he joined the management of Dansk VELUX A/S. In 1976 he became chairman of the board of the parent company, and in 2005 chairman of the board of VILLUM FONDEN. LKR resigned from the business side of the VKR Group in 2010, and as chairman of VILLUM FONDEN in 2014. He was a powerful driver for the modernisation of the VKR Group that took place most notably after 2000 when a new holding company was established.
Lars Kann-Rasmussen during a meeting, 1964
Core valuesCore values and the Model Company Objective that Villum Kann Rasmussen penned in 1965.+
On 14 February 1965, Villum Kann Rasmussen (KR) penned his Model Company Objective. This was a mission statement for how the VKR Group was to demonstrate corporate social responsibility with products useful to society, and through model companies working in an exemplary manner. The objective is still an enduring ambition for the VKR Group: to conduct itself in a socially responsible manner, treating everyone with relations to the company decently, while also generating a profit
The Model Company Objective reads as follows:
“The purpose of the VKR Group is to establish a number of model companies, which cooperate in an exemplary manner. A model company works with products useful to society and treats its customers, suppliers, employees of all categories and shareholders better than most other companies. A model company makes a profit which can also finance growth and maintain financial independence.”
KR’s handwritten Model Company Objective, 1965
VELUX GGLA classic roof window is developed.+
In the mid-1960s, the focus on the roof windows business area intensified and new markets were cultivated. The year 1968 saw the launch of the new VELUX GGL roof window. This window featured a full-width control bar, a pivot hinge (PV-68) with full friction, a ventilation flap and the company’s own insulation pane. The window became a huge success and received the Danish Design Award in 1973.
VELUX GGL advertisement, 1968
The establishment of VILLUM FONDENTo secure the company and the vision of a philanthropic foundation and the creation of an enduring business.+
The establishment of VILLUM FONDEN
In the 1960s, Villum Kann Rasmussen (KR) started to consider arrangements for corporate succession. A number of family matters and tax-related aspects had to be settled in order to secure the company would be able to continue as a sound and financially independent entity. The focus turned to the creation of a foundation that could act as the VKR Group’s principle shareholder. On 21st December 1971 the foundation today known as VILLUM FONDEN was established, and in 1981 was followed by VELUX FONDEN.
The concept of a foundation appealed to KR because it would allow a large proportion of business revenue, to be channelled into a philanthropic foundation, which could in turn reinvest the funds in society and support a number of purposes. The main thematic areas for support were to become science, and technology, voluntary social work, culture and the environment.
KR with a grant recipient at No. 10 Tobaksvejen in Søborg, 1973
First sales company in the USAVELUX America Inc. is established.+
First sales company in the USA
The VKR Group’s first overseas company, VELUX America Inc. was established in Woburn, Massachusetts in 1975. Following the pioneering efforts of VELUX CEO, H.N. Brandt in 1978-80, a VELUX production company was established with a manufacturing facility in Greenwood, South Carolina.
Visit to VELUX Greenwood Inc. From left: Bodil Kann Rasmussen, Lise Kamman, Villum Kann Rasmussen and Svend Kamman, 1981
Vertical windowsThe VKR Group’s acquisition of the company RIBO Vinduer in Ringkøbing.+
VELUX FONDENThe foundation VELUX FONDEN is established.+
The VELUX FONDEN is established in 1981. The foundation supports activities for the elderly, gerontological research, ophthalmology research and research projects within humanities. Furthermore, the foundation supports large-scale projects with cultural, environmental, social or artistic purposes.
A grant allows for acquisition of hospital equipment at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, 1981
The VELUX CollectionThe VELUX Collection opens in Østbirk.+
The first Asian companyEstablishment of VELUX-Japan Ltd.+
VELFAC 200The VELFAC 200 vertical window in wood and aluminium is introduced.+
Around 1985 a new vertical window model was developed featuring a maintenance-free aluminium sash on a pinewood frame. This elegant, slimline construction also lets in more light. This window was named VELFAC 200 and set new standards within the industry and has been continuously enhanced ever since.
VELFAC brochure, 1985
Production and sales in HungaryThe VKR Group is established in Eastern Europe.+
The VES standard product rangeThe VELUX product range is standardised between Germany and the other European countries.+
The VES standard product range
The VELUX product range is standardised between Germany and the other European countries.
1991 sees the introduction of the VELUX European Standard range (VES). The VES range harmonises the product range between Germany and the other European markets in order to fully utilise the manufacturing capacity and prepare for the EU single market. To that end, the decision is made to introduce a new joint VELUX logo, which was most recently updated in 2005.
German brochure, 1990
50th anniversary and Employee FoundationThe VKR Group celebrates its 50th anniversary and establishes the Employee Foundation of the VKR Group.+
50th anniversary and Employee Foundation
In connection with the VKR Group’s 50th anniversary in 1991, an independent Employee Foundation is established. The foundation provides support for employees and their immediate families who face unfortunate situations with serious consequences, as well as support for the education of their children.
In 1996, the Employee Foundation grants the VILLUM KANN RASMUSSEN AWARD for the first time. The award is given to employees who have made a special contribution to realising the Model Company Objective. In 1998, the Employee Foundation also introduces grants to charitable causes in the local area of the VKR Group companies.
The first presentation of the VILLUM KANN RASMUSSEN AWARD on 23rd January 1996
Villum Kann Rasmussen diesVillum Kann Rasmussen dies at the age of 84 and is buried in Mandø cemetery.+
Villum Kann Rasmussen dies
On 24th August 1993, the founder of the VKR Group, Villum Kann Rasmussen (KR) dies and is buried in the cemetery on the island of Mandø , a few hundred metres from where he grew up. KR was awarded 55 registered patents and 9 designs in Denmark alone. In 1991, he was made honorary Doctor Technices honoris causa by the Technical University of Denmark, which stated the following: “You are awarded this degree in recognition of your many years’ exceptional work in structural research and design”.
Rationel Vinduer A/SThe Danish window company Rationel Vinduer A/S merges with the VKR Group.+
Svenska Fönster ABSvenska Fönster AB merges with the VKR Group.+
VELUX activities in GermanyThe VELUX Group takes over all VELUX activities in Germany.+
VELUX activities in Germany
The VELUX Group takes over full ownership of the VELUX companies in Germany with the Albers family in Meldorf selling its 50% stake in the German VELUX companies. This ends a partnership that has lasted half a century.
Signing of the Danish-German VELUX agreement. Top left: Jørgen Tang-Jensen, Hans Kann Rasmussen and Dr. Dirk Harten. Front row from left: Lars Kann-Rasmussen and Peter Albers, 15th May 2002
DOVISTA A/SDOVISTA A/S is established as a holding company for the business area of vertical windows and doors.+
DOVISTA A/S is established as a holding company for the business area of vertical windows and doors. In 2002, the companies VELFAC A/S, Rationel Vinduer A/S, Svenska Fönster AB and Traryd Fönster AB became members of the DOVISTA Group.
Vertical windows being manufactured at the DOVISTA production facility in Poland, 2015
New VKR headquarters in HørsholmVKR Holding A/S moves to No. 18 Breeltevej in Hørsholm, north of Copenhagen.+
New VKR headquarters in Hørsholm
In August 2007 VKR Holding moved to the newly built headquarters at No. 18 Breeltevej in Hørsholm, north of Copenhagen, on a site adjacent to VELUX A/S headquarters at No. 99 Ådalsvej. In 2012, VELUX Danmark A/S also moved to No. 18 Breeltevej.
VKR Holding’s headquarters at No. 18 Breeltevej in Hørsholm with Olafur Eliasson’s Daylight Pavillion in the foreground, 2008
Demonstration buildingsThe VKR Group’s first Active House is built in Lystrup near Aarhus, Denmark.+
In 2007, VKR Holding initiates a project to build eight demonstration buildings in Europe between 2008 and 2011. The objective is to demonstrate how energy-efficient buildings of the future can be built with special focus on the Active House vision. VELFAC A/S, VELUX A/S and SONNENKRAFT joined forces with local architects to develop these projects applying the VKR Group’s technologies. Special emphasis is placed on the Active House principles: low energy consumption, a healthy indoor climate and a positive impact on the environment. In collaboration with national research institutes, the buildings are monitored to register their performance and to understand the users’ experience of living and working in them.
The Simonsen family lives as a test family for one year in the first Active House in Lystrup, Aarhus, 2009
Lars Kann-RasmussenLars Kann-Rasmussen retires from his position as Chairman of the Board of VKR Holding A/S and VELUX A/S.+
Lars Kann-Rasmussen steps down as Chairman of VKR Holding A/S and VELUX A/S. He started in the VKR Group in 1964 and has been a powerful driver for the modernisation of the VKR Group that took place most notably in the years after 2000 when a new holding company was established. With his diligence and immense knowledge, Lars Kann-Rasmussen was also the driving force behind the internationalisation and market development achieved in this period.
Lars Kann-Rasmussen at VELUX A/S in Hørsholm, 2010
VELUX Modular SkylightsNew VELUX Modular Skylights for public and commercial buildings.+
The world’s largest thermal solar heating plantArcon-Sunmark A/S is Europe’s leading manufacturer of large-scale solar thermal heating systems.+
The world’s largest thermal solar heating plant
Through the 2015 merger of Arcon Solar A/S with Sunmark A/S, the VKR Group saw the creation of Europe’s leading manufacturer of large-scale solar thermal heating systems.
Arcon-Sunmark has supplied solar thermal heating collectors to the 35 largest systems in Europe. Lately, the company has delivered the world’s largest solar thermal heating system of 156,694 m2, in Silkeborg, Denmark. The plant covers about 20% of the total annual district heating consumption in Silkeborg, which equals the energy consumption of 4,400 homes and reduces CO2 emissions by approximately 15,700 tonnes per year.
The company and all IPR were divested in April 2020.
The worlds largest solar thermal heating plant near Silkeborg, Denmark, 2017
VILLUM Window CollectionVKR Holding opens the VILLUM Window Collection in Søborg.+
VILLUM Window Collection
VKR Holding opens a new exhibition at No. 4 Maskinvej, Søborg: the VILLUM Window Collection. A three-dimensional time tunnel charting the history of windows through the ages was designed by VKR Holding in collaboration with Rosan Bosch Studio, the graphic designer Maria Hagerup and the lighting designer Kim Borch.
The museum, with a collection of approximately 400 historical windows, was originally established in 2006 on the initiative of Lars Kann-Rasmussen. The purpose of the VILLUM Window Collection is to document and communicate the history of the window and its significance to the quality of human life and access to light, air and a view to the outside.
In 2015, VILLUM Window Collection received the Danish Light Design Award and was nominated to the Nordic Light Design Award 2016.
The VILLUM Window Collection, 2015
75th anniversaryOn 1st April 2016, the VKR Group celebrates its 75th anniversary.+
On 1st April 2016, the VKR Group celebrates its 75th anniversary, which is marked by events in more than 40 countries for 14,000 employees. The anniversary sees the première of the animated film, “75 years in Daylight – The story of Villum Kann Rasmussen and VELUX roof windows”
The anniversary logo of the VKR Group, 2016
Mads Kann-RasmussenMads Kann-Rasmussen is appointed CEO of VKR Holding A/S.+
Mads Kann-Rasmussen is appointed CEO of VKR Holding A/S and is thus the 3rd generation of the Kann-Rasmussen family in the position. Mads Kann-Rasmussen is educated in economics, holds an MBA from Copenhagen Business School, and has taken courses at IMD Business School in Switzerland. Formerly, he worked as a consultant for Boston Consulting Group. He began his career in the VKR Group in 2001.
Mads Kann-Rasmussen, 2015
The VELUX CollectionVELUX Collection reopens with a new and rebuilt exhibition+
The VELUX Collection
The VELUX Collection was inaugurated in 1981, but was completely redesigned and rebuilt in 2017-2018. The new VELUX Collection was inaugurated on 13th September 2018, in the presence of 600 VELUX employees. The VELUX Collection provides the story of the VELUX roof window and the company group’s founder Villum Kann Rasmussen. The collection is housed by the farm, on which land A/S Østbirk Bygningsindustri was later built.
The management and employee representatives inaugurated the VELUX Collection on 13th September 2018. From the left, Peter Bang, CFO, the VELUX Group, Bjarne G. Thomsen, president of the Committee, Lars Kann-Rasmussen, former CEO of the VKR Group, Jimmy Bendorf Laursen, employee representative and Kristian E. Justesen, CEO A/S Østbirk Bygningsindustri. The VELUX Collection, 2018
The VELUX collection, 2018
AcquisitionsThe VELUX Group strengthens its position within daylight solutions for commercial buildings+
In 2018 the establishment of a position within the commercial segment was greatly advanced by the acquisitions of US-based Wasco Skylights, German JET Group and Vitral in Denmark. The acquired companies complement the VELUX Group’s existing daylight solutions for commercial buildings, VELUX Modular Skylight, and will form a new division in the VELUX Group, VELUX Commercial.
Vitral glass roof in MT Højgaard’s new headquarters, Søborg, Denmark.