Johan Benad Ugland’s roots are firmly planted in his mother’s sixth century Storegra Farm in Grimstad. There was therefore never any doubt that he would take up his inheritance as the oldest son of Oda and Andreas L. Ugland, and become a farmer. However, first he travelled the world.
In 1968, he started a maritime education in England and USA. Around 1980, Johan Benad and his younger brother Andreas Ove started an operating company in London. The operations turned into a shipping company that was subsequently listed, and Johan Benad thus developed independent assets.
Later, the brothers left for the Cayman Islands and South America, where they established a shipping bank. However, around 1990 Johan B. Ugland was starting to get homesick. The generational changeover from Andreas K. L. to his three sons had already begun, and in 1993, after 25 years abroad, Johan B. started working in Norway again.
It has always been important to Johan B. to be part of the local community and to contribute his skills, experience and capital. When he returned home to Norway, there were significant problems in the timber industry, which had been over-expanding in the 1980s. Through combining financial and strategy skills with local expertise, the industry was rebounded and producing a profit.
In addition to the struggling timber industry, the property market was at a low and the research and development building in Grimstad was acquired by the municipality. This inspired Johan B. to start his big project: the development of the Sørlandets Teknologisenter (technology centre). This project was given a significant boost when concerted efforts resulted in Ericsson’s R&D unit moving to Grimstad rather than to Asker and Oslo. Today, the area is a booming technology centre and the University of Agder, Devoteam, the Norwegian Tax Administration, Coventure and Teknova can all be found here.
Yet it is farming that is closest to Johan Benad Ugland’s heart. As a farmer raising pedigree cattle and deer, he spends most of his time at Storegra farm.