Klaus Krogh was meant to follow in his father’s footsteps. His father was a blacksmith in Jutland in Denmark and Klaus was supposed to go into the metal working industry when he grew up. By coincidence, it became the wood working industry instead.
“I went to the States to visit my sister and her new boyfriend,” he explains.
“I wanted to “do” America, so before I left Denmark, I sold a farm and some horses I had. When I landed in the States, I had more than 100.000 DKK in my pocket.”
“We are talking 30 years back; it was a lot of money at that time,” says Klaus Krogh who is a former Danish champion in “Eventing”, a horseback riding discipline, which combines dressage, cross-country and show jumping. In Danish called Militær Riding.
But just because you have your pockets full of money, you don’t have to throw them away. So Klaus contacted a good friend of his, a Danish Circus Princess married to an American Circus King in New York.
“They asked me if I could make some horse stables to take along on road shows. Some simple constructions you could assemble in minutes, and take apart again when the show had to go on to the next town. It was a small job, just some weeks, and then I bought a Toyota Van for 700 $,”
In his new bought car, the Danish horseman drove off to California. The address of his brother in law he kept on a piece of paper. When he parked his car and walked into his office, there was nobody there. But the phone was ringing.
“So I just answered the phone. A guy calling from Canada was in need of a tool engineer specialised in machines to the wood industry. The guy calling ended up offering me a job at an exhibition. In Canada. I had to bee there in two or three days.”
Why not? The plan was to do America. Canada is America too, he thought. And after he finally met his sister and her boyfriend, he left to Canada. It all went well, and he returned to another job that his sisters boyfriend offered him. Forget the horses. Now the Dane was a specialist in wood machinery.
“Eventually my sister left her boyfriend, but I stayed with the guy,” Klaus is laughing.
“We made a deal so I helped out in his business, and I got money in my hands every week. At that time I had hardly touched the money I brought with me from Denmark.”
Everything was fine. The Dane did America as he planned. Everything went better than expected. After two years he sold the Toyota Van for the same price he had paid earlier. And now Klaus returned to Denmark an experienced wood working specialist.
Ten years later, his life was tumbled up side down when he had a very serious traffic accident.
“I broke my right leg and lost 10 centimeters of it. Later I got five centimeters operated in from my hip, and later again I got five centimeters extension of my leg via a Russian method, where I over five weeks screwed a little on a tool the doctors had operated in to my leg. I stretched the leg a little day by day, and the body itself extended the leg,” explains Klaus. What is left of the accident is today only a slight limp when he walks.
“I had ten operations in all. After the last operation I got in contact with Dan Engross in Jutland, near to my home. I could not work hands on with the machinery, but they gave me a job a the office.”
Slowly but steady, Klaus came back to the life. He loved working with assembling machinery lines for wood working factories and most of the time, assemble the used machinery again somewhere in a developing country. That’s how he came to Bangkok first time.
“I came to Asia and Bangkok for the first time in 1994 on an extended Easter holiday. My boss in Denmark had sold a lot of second-hand machinery to an IKEA sub supplier. The payment turned into a problem, so I had to stay in Bangkok for ten days,” he recalls.
Later, Klaus Krogh was asked to dismantle the machinery at a factory in Sicilia in Italy, and assemble it for a British costumer in Vietnam. When the machines were running, his job was done.
“But the British company was worried about the project which included more than 300 machines, and asked me if I could stay. So I signed a contract, and I was there more than two years. I trained more than 20 electricians; I made a computer based maintenance program and many other things. It was a good time, but eventually I got so bored with the daily routines. I simply had to get away, so I quit the job.”
During that time Klaus had no steady girlfriend and spent a lot of his time bar hopping in Saigon. But one day it just became too much.
“There was a manager in one of my favourite bars in Saigon with whom I talked a lot. One evening I asked her if she knew a good girl who had never been in contact with the bar environment, who could be interested in me and establishing a proper relationship. She went straight to the phone. And half an hour later my wife Hang arrived and said hello to me – and we have been together ever since. The last five years including our son Kevin,” Klaus laughs.
Until Hang met Klaus she had been working all her life in her parent’s coffee dealer shop. The couple married on December 2. 2002, and in the spring of 2003 Klaus finished another contract. At the same time his wife talked a lot about opening a shop with clothes. A small thing to keep her occupied.
“I got the idea to open a Danish bar and restaurant, and after some long evening talks with Hang, we rented the first place and opened June 15 in 2003,” says Klaus and “the rest is history” as they say.
“Except for the first month after Storm P. was opened, I have been occupied with my daytime jobs in the wood industry. Today, I would say that the bar and restaurant is my wife’s business, but of course I am here if I am needed.”
And needed he was when the first housing contract was about to expire.
“I asked our landlady what we could expect the new rent would be. For five years we had paid 1.500 US, and during that time Saigon rents had gone crazy, so it was clear that we would have to pay an increase if we wanted to stay where we were.” 5000 US $ per month was the new demand, so Klaus and Hang decided it was time to buy their own.
“At that time the bank was still a place where you could borrow money. So we bought this place where nobody can kick us out. It’s simply wonderful,” Klaus is laughing.
“While many other bars are forced out of the centre when their contracts expire and they cannot afford the raised rent, we can stay here in the very centre of Saigon for ever.”
Klaus Krogh and Hang Krogh
Storm P.- Scandinavian restaurant
5B Nguyen Sieu Ward.
Ben Nghe, District 1, HCMC