Norway’s unknown entrepreneurs

The Adolfsen brothers are major players in hotels, preschools, and other hospitality

Photo: Peter Fiskestrand / Wikimedia Commons Hotel Horten Brygge, in Vestfold, is just one of the two brothers’ many hospitality properties.

Photo: Peter Fiskestrand / Wikimedia Commons
Hotel Horten Brygge, in Vestfold, is just one of the two brothers’ many hospitality properties.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

The brothers Kristian and Roger P. Adolfsen are among Norway’s unknown entrepreneurs. Since they bought their first hotel at Andøya 25 years ago they have created a billion kroner business. They grew up on Andøya, an island with a population of 5,000 situated about 190 miles inside the Arctic Circle. The island is the original and leading whale watching destination in Norway. It is also launch site for Norwegian Space and Northern Light research rockets since 1962.

The brothers received their bachelors of business administration from BI Norwegian Business School. The school was first established as a night school during WWII in Oslo. Today it is an internationally recognized not-for-profit private institution and has one of Europe’s largest and most productive academic environments. For a period the school had an agreement with the Business School at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The exchange agreement meant that if the student included some special courses in his BBA, was on the honor list, and passed the TOEFL test, the student was guarantied entrance. At the peak in the golden eighties about 30 Norwegians received their MBA each year. Most of them joined the alumni club where I was one of the founding fathers. The Adolfsen brothers graduated in 1989 and 1990. It was during their studies in Madison that they made the business plan they’d execute upon returning to Norway.

Since they started their first limited partnership company from scratch in 1987, they have founded and invested in many successful companies. Today the companies where they have significant ownership employ some 6,000 employees in six countries and have a total revenue of about NOK 2.5 billion.

They established the chain Norlandia Hotels and Resorts in 1995. The chain consists of several establishments spread throughout Scandinavia, both privately owned and franchise-operated hotels. Each hotel is run under different management with its own strategy and brand. This ensures that each hotel is unique and profitable.

Norlandia Care was founded in 1997 and is now one of the largest companies of private health care services in Scandinavia. The company’s services include the running of patient hotels, nursing homes, and child care.

The group has also invested in several private preschools in Norway and Sweden, situated in Tromsø, Bodø, Brønnøysund, in the south-east of Norway, and in the Stockholm area. Another area is a guiding service where they are the largest in the country.

The brothers are involved in numerous property projects in Norway, Sweden, and Brazil, totaling 20 different investments. They are always looking into new areas to invest and have substantial stock holdings in several smaller Norwegian companies.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 4, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

Avatar photo

Rasmus Falck

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo.