My story isn’t so different from many other immigrants to the USA. I’m the naive farm boy from Denmark who, with an apprenticeship in furniture marketing from ‘Magasin’ in Copenhagen,…
My story isn’t so different from many other immigrants to the USA.
I’m the naive farm boy from Denmark who, with an apprenticeship in furniture marketing from ‘Magasin’ in Copenhagen, arrived in 1975 in Denver,Colorado, on a temporary workvisa with $500 in my pocket and two suitcases.
Having loved history, and the stories of the old west since as a young boy i read the adventures of Davy Crocket, i wanted to stay in the US, and ended up working for Danish stores in Calgary and Vancouver, Canada, a couple of years while waiting for my Green Card.
The timing was perfect.
My former Denver boss, Christian Christensen, was starting his own store and invited me to become a partner. Within two years, I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and opened my own furniture storestore.
Over the next few years I was able to buy Christian out and move to a larger location. From the start we carried mostly Danish teak, but over the years we evolved into a full-service contemporary store and were an early entrant in online sales.
Albuquerque has been good to us. Although we had our ups and downs, by 2000 we had seventy employees and multimillion dollar sales.
Then came 9/11.
Most of us remember where we were that day, and what we did. I. and the entire staff, were glued to the showroom TVs. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing. My wife, Sylvia, called from work. She was employed as a civilian property specialist with the Air National Guard. The base was on lockdown, and there were rumors that the air force would shoot civilian air craft out of the sky.
We had plenty of time to follow the news. There were no customers, and the streets were almost empty.
Over the next to weeks, we scrambled to save the business. Merchandise arrived daily, and there was no way we could pay for it. We laid off more than half of the staff. And we cut costs wherever we could. In the end we survived, but sales never fully recovered.
Another economic crisis in 1998 was hard, and when we were hit again in 2011, I was burned out. It wasn’t fun anymore.
Soren Thomsen, my minority partner and GM, offered to buy me out. We came to an agreement, and I have been happily retired from retail ever since.
Even back in school in Denmark, I enjoyed storytelling and language, and now I have the time to engage my creative side. I’m writing a series with a Danish protagonist, John Agger, and I put him in impossible situations in Bosnia, New Mexico and the cartel world in Mexico. ‘Sword of the Prophet’ was published in 2016, and I have two more with an agent at the moment. The forth is in the works.
If a writing career is in the future, we will see, but I enjoy the ride.
In 2019, Sylvia and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary. She’s a native New Mexican, and we met over a hog-dead-at a matanza, or luau, at my house, and we never looked back.
Over the years we have built my little, traditional adobe house into a cozy hacienda, we travel the world, and we enjoy each others company.
A couple of years ago, Sylvia’s son, Jason, died suddenly from a stroke, leaving two small children.
Sari, now 10, and Luke, just turned 3, are the love of our lives, and we see they often. For me, who never had children of my own, to become grandfather is amazing, and I figure I got the best of both worlds. I didn’t have to go through the whole ‘raising kids’ thing, but ended up with the best grandkids in the world. Pretty neat.
I just turned 65 and am the proud owner of a Medicare card.
Books need to be written.
The world is waiting to be explored.
Life is good.