Family owned

Father, daughter team fuel Kalo Kustoms Garage

-Messenger photos by Hans Madsen
Kalo Kustoms Garage co-owners Tom Krough and his daughter Hannah Krough hold up a few vintage cans of oil and other automotive fluids found in his Kalo shop. He’ll often have customers purchase some of the old cans.

KALO — Tom Krough, co-owner of Kalo Kustoms Garage in Kalo, is a pretty lucky guy.

He gets to spend every day he works in the shop with his daughter, Hannah Krough. She’s the other co-owner.

“It’s just perfect,” Tom Krough said. “We’re on the same page all the time.”

“The only time we butt heads is when I think of how something should be done,” Hannah Krough said. “He lets me make my own mistakes.”

Tom Krough describes the business as a “hot rod repair shop” which is just of one the things they do. They also do custom work and restorations, and are frequently the ones called to help somebody out who’s been working on a car project then for whatever reason, got bogged down.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Kalo Kustoms Garage co-owners Tom Krough and his daughter Hannah Krough check the air filter on his Ford Stiletto, an unusual variant of the Ford Pinto, in their Kalo shop.

“We’ll help you get over whatever hump you’re in on your project,” he said. “It’s for when you just don’t want to. We don’t mind picking up.”

Krough also works on and tunes vintage engines.

“A lot of shops replace things, we repair,” he said. “A lot of shops don’t even know how to deal with points.”

Hannah Krough is a graduate of Iowa Central Community College’s automotive body repair program. Coming to work with her dad seemed like the perfect way for her to use her skills. Tom Krough has spent his working and recreation life repairing things, building things and creating various projects.

“I’ve always been a problem solver,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Clifford, “The Big Red Dog,” watches as Kalo Kustoms Garage co-owners Tom Krough and his daughter Hannah Krough look over his 1966 Sunbeam Alpine. It’s one of several rare and unusual cars the Kroughs have restored for themselves at the shop when not working on customers' projects.

“The text book gave me the knowledge,” she said. “Dad gave me the hands-on experience.”

The inside of the shop has the friendly atmosphere of a cross between museum, man cave and shop. Along the walls, shelves hold old oil cans, car parts, various bits of car related stuff, old tools and a few other things only car people can really identify

Krough will occasionally sell off an item or two to people who come in to visit.

“I should hang tags on everything,” he said. “With the price of oil, that old can is worth at least $5.”

They both enjoy visiting with customers and friends in the shop.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
The Kalo Kustoms Garage’s logo has been added to a 1948 Corsley “A Fine Car” co-owner Tom Krough brought back to life.

“We meet a lot of interesting people,” he said. “Car people are easy to talk to.”

The Krough team is more interested in producing a custom vehicle for their customers that can be driven. Sometimes that means installing modern components like disc brakes in old cars to give the customer a better driving vehicle.

“We make drivers,” she said. “We want them to be used. He doesn’t want a vehicle that owns him, he wants to own the vehicle.”

The Kroughs will often let customers come in and help alongside them. They said that helps give the owner a sense of sweat equity and sense of participation that the customers enjoy.

“We enjoy it just as much as they do,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Kalo Kustoms Garage co-owner Tom Krough looks over his 1948 Crosley “A Fine Car.” at his Kalo shop. Krough left the exterior the way he found the car, the interior is all new. The little car was sold by the Gambles Hardware store chain and was sized so it could fit through their store doors. The car gets about 50 mpg.

When not busy with customer work, Krough can often be found working on one of his many personal car projects.

You won’t find any Mustangs or Camaros here. They like the unusual.

“We’re very into unique cars for our own collections,” she said.

“It’s often something people don’t hear much of,” he added.

A good example of that is their 1948 Crosley “A Fine Car” that was rescued, mechanically restored then fitted with a new interior. The exterior was left the way it was found, rusty with lots of missing paint. It has a lot of character.

“They were sold through the Gambles Hardware Stores,” he said. “They are small enough to fit through the doors.”

The Crosley was quite innovative. The tiny engine has an overhead cam, uncommon at the time. It’s also a gas miser. Krough said it averages about 50 mpg. On the downside, it’s only intended to be driven at 35 to 40 miles per hour, tops.

“The manual warns you not to go 50 miles per hour for an extended amount of time,” she said.

Kalo Kustoms Garage is located at 2490 Hilltop Drive and can be reached at 515-269-3813.

Customers who show up will be greeted by Clifford, one of several friendly shop dogs.

“He’s the big red dog,” Tom Krough said.


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