Businessman harnesses German roots in WV
Posted on September 15, 2015
Jens Kristian Kiel moved to West Virginia not only from a different culture, but a different country. Kiel is the owner of Made in Germany, a marketing and creative strategy firm based in South Charleston.
Kiel has lived in the state for several years, moving in 2005 to marry a woman he met online. That woman, Marianna Lyon, had such an influence on Kiel they agreed to begin dating long distance for about three years, returning to each other’s home country every year. He said the small coal communities welcomed him with open arms when it came time for him to make the move to the Mountain State.
The couple got married in Sutton in 2005. Lyon is an elementary teacher in Boone County, where the pair lived for nine months before moving closer to the capital city. Kiel also has two sons who live in Germany. Kiel said while he enjoys living in more of a city atmosphere, he is thankful for the experience he had when he first came to West Virginia.
“I was received well in Madison, everybody greeted me and invited me to visit their home church,” he said. Kiel jokes with people who ask him where he is from that he picked up his accent from his nine month stay in Boone County. “I always faced this curiosity; people want to get to know me,” he said. “I have built a lot of good friendships that way.” Kiel said when he is outside the Mountain State and asked where he is from the answer is always West Virginia.
“Nowadays I say I’m from West Virginia,” he said. “There are still traces of Europe in me, and I’ve embraced the fact and made it my own personal brand: Made in Germany.” Kiel’s brand follows decades of work in advertising and technology, bringing a unique perspective to the marketing and creative strategy arena, he said. Reviewing things like Apple’s new iWatch, Kiel writes reviews and presents seminars including a workshop on online etiquette.
Kiel’s business skills were formed in Ruhrgebiet — the coal and steel region of North Rhine-Westphalia that became the hub for innovation, communication and management when Kiel lived there. He said those skills have helped him bring a new perspective to Appalachia. With a major in English and a minor in biology from Grashof Gymnasium in Essen, Kiel uses both his creative and analytical sides in his business. In a managing position of a West Virginia creative strategy firm, Kiel said he learned to combine German efficiency and American fervor to procure quality in products and services for his clients.
Kiel specializes in corporate communication, brand marketing, content marketing and design services. After 40 years of living in Europe, Kiel said he wants to bring people to the Mountain State, including those in his new Appalachian family who have decided to leave.
“We are ambassadors of our state,” he said. “I represent West Virginia, and I hope to represent what’s good about the Mountain State.”
Editor’s note: This is part of a continuing series of stories that feature West Virginians motivated by their passion for the Mountain State to make a home or return home in order to make a difference in their communities.
If you have a suggestion for a future “Mountain Mover,” contact Mandi Cardosi at email@example.com or 304-415-1480.