The TK Foundation is named for J. Torben Karlshoej, who is remembered as a dynamic global shipping magnate who founded the Teekay Shipping Group. The company went public in 1995, and is currently valued at over $3 billion.
Jens Torben Karlshoej had a lifelong passion for the sea and ships, and even as a young man he had made a goal for himself to own his own shipping company. This was quite an audacious vision for a young man who grew up on a farm in Denmark. He immigrated to the United States in his early 20s, and at the age of 31 he founded his company with little more than seed money. He used his initials (T.K.) to give the company its name: the Teekay Shipping Group.
In less than 20 years, he had not only accomplished his goal, but had become an immensely respected figure in shipping circles. Karlshoej was not only fiercely competitive, but passionately committed and courageous. Upon his passing at age 50, he was mourned not only by his family and friends, but by a worldwide industry that he had helped to revolutionize.
Karlshoej had a particular passion for a few causes:
- Great affection for his seafarers
In his heart, there was a special place for those who worked his ships. He recognized the sacrifice and efforts of those afloat, always caring for their comfort, welfare and well-being. He had great human compassion, and offered a ready hand to assist seafarers with personal hardships.
- A passion for ships and the sea
As a child in Denmark, Karlshoej was enchanted by visits to the harbor. The call of the sea was potent, sparking a lifelong love of both the sea and the ships that cross it. As a lifetime student, Karlshoej never stopped learning new things about both.
- A dedication to youth
Mr. Karlshoej was well-known for giving young people a chance to prove themselves, and rewarding their good work. He was blind to matters of race, hiring and promoting people from all backgrounds even when it was not standard practice in the shipping industry. Although his own education stopped after high school, he understood the importance of education to raise the disadvantaged from their circumstances.
Today, The TK Foundation seeks to further the causes that J. Torben Karlshoej cared most about, and to carry on the values that were important to him: honesty, trust, respect and persistence.