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Nils Erik Jensen nacque a Stoccolma nel 1920 e nella sua gioventù lavorò contemporaneamente di giorno nell'azienda di trasporto urbano e la sera in un ristorante.

 Subito dopo il secondo conflitto mondiale Nils aprì con un amico una piccola ditta nella quale si riparavano biciclette e radio per poi diventarne ben presto l'unico proprietario.

 Oggi quella piccola ditta artigianale è la ELFA, che fornisce componenti elettronici in una dozzina di Paesi e che ha brevettato più di 50.000 prodotti!

 Acuto giocatore di bridge, egli divenne ben presto Presidente di un circolo della sua città e figura di riferimento del bridge svedese rappresentandone la Federazione  in due diverse occasioni per diversi anni.

 Nel 1980 la sua fama aveva varcato i confini del suo Paese tanto da procurargli la Presidenza della Europea Bridge League della quale in seguito divenne anche Presidente Emerito.

Nils ricoprì anche vari incarichi nell'ambito della World Bridge Federation fino a diventarne Vice Presidente nel 1987.

Prima di scomparire il 19 maggio del 2004 nella sua Stoccolma, Jensen aveva anche organizzato con successo diverse competizioni mondiali di altissimo livello tra cui la Bermuda Bowl del 1970 e del 1983, anni nei quali la stessa si svolse a Stoccolma.

Nils Jensen (born in Stockholm on March 11, 1920) was a fine player and a much-appreciated organiser.

Some of you might recall that he was President (Emeritus) of the EBL, a WBF delegate and Honorary Member. If not, see the Encyclopedia.

Nils not only made the best of the chances he got - he created them. A few examples: When he was fed up with his studies (at the age of 16), he went to a classmate’s father’s work at the railroad company and asked if they needed any help. They didn’t. “But wait, there is a vacancy on a train now on Saturday. We need a waiter...”
Nils had no experience of how to serve, but he took the chance.

The next chance came when a young couple he knew from school asked if he could cover as repairman in their bicycle repair shop during the summer holidays. Nils didn’t know how to repair a bike, but he didn’t know the word  “no” either.

Unfortunately, the employers did not have the money to pay the agreed $50 at the end of the summer.

Instead, the employers offered Nils a part of their new enterprise for $150. The company, called ELFA, had a business plan to sell components and flowcharts for build-it-yourself radio kits. Nils saw the potential, but he didn’t have the funds. Unlike most other people, Nils did not see any chance for this business to go down the drain. So he tried to raise the missing $100 among his friends and relatives, but to no avail - they were as broke as Nils and his potential business partners. Impossible? Not quite. Nils managed to get a personal bank loan, guaranteed by a large number of understanding (and equally broke) colleagues at the rail company.

This was after the Second World War when radio components were sold as surplus material in USA.

Importing them into Sweden was as difficult as it was costly, but one day Nils got the brilliant idea that he could hire on to one of the cruise ships going to New York and sail back with the cabin full of radio components. No grass ever grew under Nils’ feet. So, he immediately headed for the Swedish America Line’s HQ in Stockholm. The waiting room was packed with people, until the moment when it was announced that all staff for the next vessel were enrolled. Nils was the only one to stay.

After a while the chief recruiter asked harshly: “What are you doing here?” Nils took the opportunity to explain that he wished to work as a steward the next summer. “I do need a steward”, grumbled the boss, “but I need him now! The ship is sailing from Göteborg tomorrow morning...” Nils’ success story is well worth telling, but space is limited and I think that you have grasped the idea by now. Otherwise, just remember that Nils was an extremely successful businessman who managed to build a small empire, and big wealth, from nothing.

Nils had extraordinary social talents. He was an active member of many service/volunteer associations and organizations. He not only knew his company’s (several hundred) workers’ surnames; he also knew their first names and their family details off the top of his head.

He truly was a self-made man, but he was definitely not nouveaux riche. He always remained the same person. He kept his friends from his youth and in particular he cared about those who had been less successful than he had.

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