Hydrant factory open in Minden

American AVK, a producer of fire hydrants, gate valves and other waterworks accessories, opened its doors to the public on Monday with a tour of a new 180,000-square-foot factory.

American AVK president Alan Jurkonis said that relocating the previously Fresno-based company to Minden was an easy choice.

"The welcoming attitude of everyone in Nevada made the choice easy," Jurkonis said Monday. "Our new neighbors are so friendly."

The company is one of many waterworks firms under the umbrella of AVK International, stationed in Denmark.

"This marks a milestone from our humble start in San Francisco," said AVK owner and Chief Executive Officer Niels Kjaer, referring to the first American branch of AVK established in San Francisco in the 1980s. "This is the result of hard work, sweat and enthusiasm."

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki lauded the company's choice for its headquarters, located at 2155 Meridian Blvd., off Airport Road.

"You can't get a whole lot better than this," Krolicki said. "Having a view of Jobs Peak, no offense to those in Fresno, but it's a no-brainer."

Vernon Anderson, president of Water Products Inc., an Oklahoma-based distributing company, said his business sells only AVK because of its high quality.

Greg Vaughn, who operates a engineering consulting firm in Arkansas, said he has been using AVK's products since 1998.

"They are far superior than what's out there right now," he said.

Vaughn also said he tried to persuade AVK to move to Arkansas but was unsuccessful. He said the people of Carson Valley should feel lucky.

Carson Valley residents Kody Kiltz and younger brother Daniel Kiltz have both been working at the factory since it opened in March. Kody Kiltz works in the powder coating department, spraying valves and hydrants with protective coating. Daniel Kiltz works as a machine operator.

"Good pay, good benefits," Kody Kiltz said.

The factory currently has 109 full-time employees. According to accounting supervisor Kimberly Busch, 52 of those employees came from Fresno or worked for the company before its relocation. The remaining workers came from Carson Valley and surrounding areas, including Yerington and Carson City.

Busch said she is very happy with the quality of the workers and thinks Carson Valley is great place for employees and their families.

-- Scott Neuffer can be reached at sneuffer@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 217.


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