Per Grieg Sr, longtime leader of the Bergen-based Grieg Group, died on Thursday.

“Per was a warm, wise human being who enriched and inspired us all,” the company said in a statement. “We have lost a dear colleague, a leader, and a friend.

“We extend our deepest condolences and compassion to the Grieg family who mourns the loss of a father, a grandfather, and a great-grandfather.”

Grieg was 91. A cause of death was not disclosed.

He led the Grieg Group from 1972 before retiring in 1999.

According to a profile published by the Grieg Foundation on his 90th birthday in 2022, Grieg had initially wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps as an architect but instead studied naval architecture and mechanical engineering.

After graduating in 1956, he would work at a shipyard until his uncle, Halfdan Grieg, recruited him to join the other family business — shipbroker Joachim Grieg & Co — in 1961.

He would take control of what became the Grieg Group in 1972, after having built up bulker owner Star Shipping through the 1960s alongside Per Waaler, the foundation said.

His early tenure at the helm of the group was tumultuous. In 1974, both Halfdan Grieg and Waaler would die, the latter in a plane crash while en route to a business meeting in Japan.

The company also ran into prolonged financial difficulties that nearly left it bankrupt before what he described as the “golden 90s”.

In the foundation’s profile, he also described a necessary cultural shift away from a top-down management style to one where employees were treated as something of an extended family.

“We exist for the employees, not the other way around,” he said.

“When I joined the company in 1960, most of the businesses were led in an extremely authoritarian manner.

“The owners had all the authority and power and also made all the decisions. The regular employees did not know to what extent they lost or earned money.”

Upon retirement, he divvied the company up between his four children, Elisabeth, Camilla, Elna-Kathrine and Per Grieg Jr.

All four remain on the board of the group holding company Grieg Maturitas, with Elisabeth as the chair.

In 2002, he founded the Grieg Foundation, which donated more than NOK 1bn ($97.1m) to charitable causes both inside and outside of Norway. He would run the foundation until 2020.