How a hair-care firm went from salon provider to sanitizer powerhouse

When AG Hair moved into its new, 70,000-sq.-foot, state-of-the-art producing facility in Coquitlam, B.C., two decades in the past, it was aspect of a strategy to supercharge growth of its hair treatment products line to salons in worldwide marketplaces. Europe was future on its record. Then COVID-19 strike.

Not only was the European growth place on maintain, but salons in significant markets throughout Canada and the United States have been quickly closed. Pretty number of ended up purchasing hair products, so producing was halted in mid-March, leaving most of the company’s 82 employees out of function.

AG Hair could have waited out the pandemic but rather determined to lean into its entrepreneurial lifestyle and make a sharp pivot. It started delivering hand-sanitizing merchandise for entrance-line wellbeing-treatment personnel, addressing a world-wide scarcity.

“We realized there was this substantial need to have for overall health-care experts, and we desired to make a variance and be equipped to present them with the solutions they essential,” states AG Hair CEO Graham Fraser.

AG Hair acquired Canadian and U.S. approvals a 7 days immediately after applying for the licences wanted to make sanitizer, and manufactured samples to demonstrate area authorities in 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 creating hand sanitizer (Photograph by Alana Paterson)

“That immediate reaction time, and the actuality that we had absent by all of the Wellness Canada regulatory hurdles, confirmed [the local health authorities] that we had been a partner they could rely on and another person they could glimpse to, to produce the products they necessary,” Fraser says.

Within a thirty day period, the company began pumping out the goods, initial for the wellness-care industry, then for individuals on its personal web site and on Amazon. About 10 per cent of AG Hair’s hand-sanitizer production also went to people today in have to have, as determined by corporations these types of as United Way.

Parallel 49 Brewing Business is also utilizing AG Hair’s Coquitlam producing facility to develop its individual blend of liquid hand sanitizer for entrance-line well being and emergency personnel, in partnership with the B.C. governing administration.

Fraser credits his team for its energy and creativeness in generating the hand-sanitizer creation occur, and assisting set AG Hair staff back again to function.

“We recognized we experienced an option . . . and then it grew to become this incredible, just about war-area mentality and collaboration with our entrepreneurs, our executive group and our individuals to say, ‘How are we likely to get by way of this?’ ” Fraser remembers. “I believe our results speaks to the type of men and women we have and the entrepreneurial spirit of pursuing just about every avenue we have, understanding how we can deliver the items and building it come about.”

AG Hair’s motivation to investing in upcoming expansion is a huge aspect of what makes it a Ideal Managed firm, suggests Nicole Coleman, a lover at Deloitte and co-guide of its Ideal Managed System in B.C.

“Capability and innovation occur by way of very strongly with this firm,” states Coleman, who is also AG Hair’s mentor at Deloitte. “I never consider they would be in a position to pivot as rapidly if they weren’t so strategic and had the internal capabilities to do it.”

The production facility was a huge investment, but one Coleman suggests has previously paid dividends.

“They had been hunting forward with a strategic plan in mind about potential advancement and how they could grow, relatively than just focusing on the day to working day,” she says. “Best Managed businesses are often pushing the envelope and are conscious about arranging for the upcoming.”

AG Hair was launched in Vancouver in 1989 by hairstylist John Davis and graphic artist Lotte Davis. The spouse-and-wife staff started bottling hair goods in their basement and selling them direct to salons from the back of a station wagon.

The enterprise finally moved its production off-web page, to a third party. One particular day, John went to look at the operations and was shocked to see salt getting poured into the combination. Despite the fact that he was instructed salt is typically made use of as a thickener, he did not like the opportunity aspect outcomes of dry hair and pores and skin.

It was at that moment John determined the company would oversee its have production. “Through that expertise, John also became an qualified in products development,” claims Fraser, who came to the business in 2000 as director of income.

Right after possessing labored for extra than two many years at PepsiCo and Kraft Meals, Fraser was eager to function at a lesser, more agile enterprise the place he felt he could help make a big difference.

“It was ideal due to the fact I obtained to convey a ton of composition and procedure that I acquired in these corporations, but I also realized an dreadful lot about becoming an entrepreneur from John and Lotte: that perception of urgency, the selection-creating method, the have to have to get matters performed and drive points ahead and go after possibilities,” he says.

Fraser has served push AG Hair’s growth into the U.S. and internationally, including Australia, Taiwan, and Central and South The united states. A part of its profits go to 1 Female Can, a charity founded by Lotte that gives schooling, training and mentoring for ladies in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fraser also oversees the growth of new, trending products, like a new deep-conditioning hair mask created with 98 for every cent plant-primarily based and all-natural elements. Hand-sanitizing spray and gel will be the most current addition to the company’s merchandise lineup.

“We do not see the demand from customers [for hand-sanitizing products] going away,” he says. “As the isolation policies get started to get lifted, people are going to want kinds of stability and protocols as they get back into typical existence and perform. We see there is likely to be a have to have for these types of products and solutions very long-term.”

This write-up seems in print in the June 2020 challenge of Maclean’s magazine with the headline, “Working out the kinks.” Subscribe to the regular print journal right here.

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