Walking away from my chat with Henrik, I couldn’t help but reflect on a number of things. The first was how chatty he is. His wife Katherin, who is the glue which holds the clinic together, and my husband both had to come to the door and indicate to us that it was time to wrap it up and call it a day to get us to stop talking. I can’t recall another man I could chat with so easily: talking with Henrik was like talking to a girlfriend, and I mean it in the most polite and sincere way.
The second thing that struck me was how debonair Henrik is. Even in his work uniform of company polo shirt and chinos, he has a real presence. I have seen his socials, I know he really rocks a dinner suit, as seen in the photos of the pageant which Katherin was involved in last year. The smile on his face made it clear he was enormously proud of Katherin’s participation in her first pageant, in which she received the title of Mrs National Universe Europe 2022. He has that same glow when he talks about himself as a family man.
Henrik has purposely structured his work life on a 4 day a week cycle to best accommodate a positive work/life balance and allow him sufficient down-time to relax and enjoy his time as father to his two daughters, aged 8 and 9, and to pet-parent his delightful golden retriever, Summer. He lives in a very female dominated home environment and it is clear that he is in his element!
I asked Henrik to describe himself in just 3 words, and with some assistance from Google Translate, he came up with fulfilled, persistent and simple. We discussed the nuances in English of the difference between happy and content, but he settled on fulfilled and I think he was spot-on with that choice. Some people might balk at a person calling themselves simple, but I understood perfectly Henrik’s intent. He is direct, in the “what you see is what you get” way. He doesn’t hide himself away, his social media presence shows his life in its rawness, without filter or tweaking to make it look even better.
But in my mind, the characteristic which most underpins who Henrik is as a person is his persistence. What he has achieved in his brief four years in Hua Hin is exceptional. To fully understand this, I need to give you a bit of the back story. Although Henrik is a true “go-getter”, it was actually Katherin who was the instigator of the family’s move to Hua Hin in 2019. The pair had always been a bit adventurous and had been having small tastes of family life outside their native Sweden. At one point it even appeared that living in Spain could be part of the family’s future. But, in a twist of fate, Katherin was offered a 6-month contract working in a 24-hour Swedish medi-call centre based here in Hua Hin. The couple leapt at the opportunity to try the Thai lifestyle for half a year, and Henrik told patients at his Swedish clinics that he would be back in 6 months to continue their care.
So, with Katherin taking on the role as bread-winner, Henrik became a house-dad, at the same time seizing the opportunity to engage in further study. At the end of Katherin’s contract, the family found themselves very reluctant to give up all they had built for themselves in Hua Hin, and that was when Henrik’s dogged determination and persistence were unleashed.
Thailand has very strict rules about the sorts of occupations that are open to foreigners, who are not allowed to work in jobs that Thai nationals have the training, skills and capacity to undertake themselves. Henrik works in the medical field, he is an osteopath by profession, and it is a career path which is not currently supported in Thai universities. Over the past 4 years, he has worked hard to convince the Thai medical hierarchy that osteopathy is a profession for which there is patent need and growing demand amongst both the Thai and expat communities. Henrik has had to raise awareness, educate, advocate and schmooze at the same time, in order to obtain the required permissions and licenses to operate his business, Spine Clinic, which is on the grounds of Lotuswell Resort in Hin Lek Fei.
Starting as a single practitioner, Henrik has built and grown the business, step-by-baby step, brick by brick. Spine Clinic now has a dedicated, multi-national, multi-disciplinary team who work with a holistic focus on pain-free well-being. Among the team at Spine Clinic are an osteopath, several chiropractors, a physiotherapist and a specialist in Chinese acupuncture. Katherin co-ordinates the smooth running of the Clinic, which also offers wellness activities such as yoga.
A recent very proud moment for Henrik has been the securing of a 10-year business licence from Health authorities in Prachuapkhirikhan. This now provides a secure foundation for further business expansion. However, Henrik will not have fully achieved his goal until the National Health Ministry gives it’s stamp of approval to Osteopathy as a full member of the suite of medical professionals in Thailand. Anyone with even a modicum of knowledge of Thai bureaucracy will understand that Henrik will have to play the long game here, but I fully believe he has the stamina and determination to see this through. He is the middle son of three brothers in a family of several generations of Swedish farmers, he is made of stern stuff, he is prepared to take the bumpy path, the one less-trod. Henrik is persistent to the very core, perhaps stubborn to the heart.
In addition, Henrik is very much a “people-person”. He talked in a very animated way about the hands-on nature of his work and his belief in the basic human need for physical touching as a path to feeling good. From someone else, there might have been the possibility for this to seem creepy, but from Henrik it was not. As an osteopath, he practices an internationally recognised and well-established form of manual medicine where the hands are used as tools in the diagnosis and treatment of lower back pain, joint issues and headaches, among other things. Henrik is keenly interested in the interaction of a patient’s physical symptoms and their mental and emotional well-being and the resultant psychosomatic disorders that may arise. I left our chat assured that the patients at Spine Clinic are in very safe and competent hands indeed.
Henrik has been able to maintain a rosy outlook, even throughout the Covid pandemic. He chooses to take an optimistic view of the future, and aims to remain open and adaptable in the face of change. Henrik is looking to work on his leadership style now he is leading a growing team, but realises he is lucky to have the gift of vision. He is building his team on the core values of professionalism, friendship and loyalty and understands the value of a simple smile in getting the very best out of everyone he encounters in his day.