History and Milestones at United Plantations
The era of discovery in the late 19th century brought Western Europe face-to-face with the ancient cultures of the world. Perhaps it is a legacy of those events, strengthened by an inherent urge of much greater antiquity, that moved men of talent and initiative to seek partnerships and opportunity amidst the wonders of the East. As a Danish company founded in the early colonial Malaya in 1906, United Plantations dared to do things differently. Explore our story, one of struggles, courage, resilience, survival and development all interwoven to uphold our philosophy of being Second to None.
THE EARLY DAYS
During the year 1885, the founder of United Plantations, Mr. Aage Westenholz, left Denmark for the Kingdom of Siam upon graduating as a civil engineer. He was appointed as the first director of the Siam Tramway Company in 1887, after playing an instrumental role towards its founding, not least supported by King Chulalongkorn who played a significant role in many of Westenholz´ Siamese ventures. In 1891, Mr. Westenholz travelled to America to study electric tramways, and upon his return to Siam he helped electrify the tramway carts in Bangkok, which were initially pulled by ponies. In 1893, Westenholz enlisted in the Siamese navy to fight a French naval attack on Bangkok. His bravery, skill and fluency in the Thai language soon got him promoted to Captain. Once the French naval threat was at an end, Westenholz returned to his earlier work on the city’s newly electrified tramway and in 1895, he joined the Siam Land, Canals and Irrigation Company.
In 1898, Westenholz accepted a post as manager of a new concern, The Siam Electricity Company, which was to generate and supply electricity to Bangkok. His earlier experience with tramways helped him to manage the concern with great efficiency and in 1903, he was appointed the Chairman of the company. Westenholz’s time in Bangkok had made him a wealthy man and in 1906, he was actively promoting new business ventures of his own. One of these was an investment into agriculture in Malaya, which was the beginning of what would become United Plantations.