How a hair-treatment company went from salon provider to sanitizer powerhouse

How a hair-treatment company went from salon provider to sanitizer powerhouse

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When AG Hair moved into its new, 70,000-sq.-foot, point out-of-the-art production facility in Coquitlam, B.C., two years back, it was element of a prepare to supercharge expansion of its hair care item line to salons in international markets. Europe was subsequent on its listing. Then COVID-19 strike.

Not only was the European enlargement set on keep, but salons in important markets throughout Canada and the United States have been briefly closed. Pretty couple of had been obtaining hair products and solutions, so producing was halted in mid-March, leaving most of the company’s 82 personnel out of perform.

AG Hair could have waited out the pandemic but instead resolved to lean into its entrepreneurial culture and make a sharp pivot. It started delivering hand-sanitizing merchandise for entrance-line health-care staff, addressing a worldwide lack.

“We realized there was this significant have to have for health and fitness-treatment pros, and we wished to make a big difference and be capable to provide them with the products and solutions they essential,” states AG Hair CEO Graham Fraser.

AG Hair received Canadian and U.S. approvals a week right after making use of for the licences necessary to make sanitizer, and made samples to exhibit nearby authorities within just 48 several hours.

AG Hair's Coquitlam facility has pivoted to making hand sanitizer (Photograph by Alana Paterson)

AG Hair’s Coquitlam facility has pivoted to making hand sanitizer (Photograph by Alana Paterson)

“That swift response time, and the point that we experienced gone as a result of all of the Overall health Canada regulatory hurdles, confirmed [the local health authorities] that we were being a companion they could belief and somebody they could glance to, to provide the products they desired,” Fraser suggests.

Inside a thirty day period, the enterprise started out pumping out the items, first for the wellness-treatment business, then for individuals on its very own site and on Amazon. About 10 for each cent of AG Hair’s hand-sanitizer manufacturing also went to men and women in will need, as identified by corporations such as United Way.

Parallel 49 Brewing Corporation is also applying AG Hair’s Coquitlam manufacturing facility to generate its individual blend of liquid hand sanitizer for entrance-line wellness and crisis workers, in partnership with the B.C. federal government.

Fraser credits his workforce for its energy and creative imagination in earning the hand-sanitizer production come about, and assisting put AG Hair staff members back to work.

“We realized we experienced an option . . . and then it grew to become this outstanding, almost war-area mentality and collaboration with our proprietors, our executive workforce and our individuals to say, ‘How are we heading to get via this?’ ” Fraser remembers. “I consider our achievements speaks to the style of men and women we have and the entrepreneurial spirit of pursuing every avenue we have, knowing how we can deliver the products and building it happen.”

AG Hair’s commitment to investing in future progress is a massive section of what tends to make it a Ideal Managed corporation, suggests Nicole Coleman, a associate at Deloitte and co-lead of its Greatest Managed Method in B.C.

“Capability and innovation arrive by means of fairly strongly with this business,” claims Coleman, who is also AG Hair’s coach at Deloitte. “I don’t imagine they would be ready to pivot as swiftly if they weren’t so strategic and experienced the inside abilities to do it.”

The manufacturing facility was a large investment, but a single Coleman claims has presently compensated dividends.

“They have been looking forward with a strategic strategy in head about foreseeable future advancement and how they could increase, rather than just focusing on the day to working day,” she claims. “Best Managed companies are often pushing the envelope and are conscious about preparing for the long run.”

AG Hair was started in Vancouver in 1989 by hairstylist John Davis and graphic artist Lotte Davis. The partner-and-wife group commenced bottling hair items in their basement and providing them immediate to salons from the back again of a station wagon.

The company ultimately moved its producing off-web site, to a third social gathering. Just one day, John went to check out the functions and was astonished to see salt becoming poured into the combination. Although he was explained to salt is generally made use of as a thickener, he didn’t like the potential facet consequences of dry hair and pores and skin.

It was at that instant John determined the corporation would oversee its own producing. “Through that practical experience, John also grew to become an expert in solution progress,” states Fraser, who came to the business in 2000 as director of profits.

Just after owning labored for additional than two many years at PepsiCo and Kraft Food items, Fraser was keen to do the job at a smaller, far more agile enterprise where he felt he could help make a big difference.

“It was excellent mainly because I got to provide a good deal of composition and system that I acquired in these businesses, but I also figured out an terrible good deal about remaining an entrepreneur from John and Lotte: that feeling of urgency, the final decision-producing approach, the need to get factors finished and drive issues forward and pursue options,” he claims.

Fraser has assisted generate AG Hair’s enlargement into the U.S. and internationally, such as Australia, Taiwan, and Central and South America. A part of its profits go to A single Girl Can, a charity started by Lotte that offers education, training and mentoring for ladies in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fraser also oversees the growth of new, trending items, including a new deep-conditioning hair mask produced with 98 for every cent plant-based mostly and purely natural components. Hand-sanitizing spray and gel will be the newest addition to the company’s item lineup.

“We never see the demand [for hand-sanitizing products] heading absent,” he states. “As the isolation guidelines start out to get lifted, men and women are going to need varieties of stability and protocols as they get again into frequent existence and operate. We see there’s likely to be a have to have for these types of merchandise lengthy-time period.”


This short article appears in print in the June 2020 issue of Maclean’s journal with the headline, “Working out the kinks.” Subscribe to the month-to-month print journal right here.



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