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Hair Loss Industry Mourns Loss of Sy Sperling

Boca Raton, 20,02,17 – The hair loss industry was stunned to learn of the passing of Hair Club founder and industry icon, Sy Sperling.

Famous for his slogan, “I’m not only the president, I’m also a client,” Sy grew Hair Club from a small studio on New York’s Madison avenue into a multi-million-dollar enterprise

Sy sold Hair Club in 2000, but hair care was always on his mind and even over the dinner table he would regale his friends with new ideas to help people suffering from hair loss.

Sy Sperling’s energy and imagination never slowed down. To hair loss sufferers everywhere, Sy will always be “… also a client.

goodbye-sy-1

Goodbye Sy

It is with great sadness that I have to share the news of the passing of my longtime friend and business associate, Sy Sperling.

I first met Sy when I was an advertising executive working on Madison Avenue. Sy and his wife Amy had just started a hair business a few blocks away. He needed marketing and I was happy to moonlight. He liked to meet in his favorite restaurant, an Italian bistro called Antolotti’s, to develop the sales and promotion material that became the platform for Hair Club. I still have some of the early handwritten business forecasts, painstakingly put together on an old H-P calculator.

We stayed close as Hair Club grew and we constantly exchanged ideas and joked around. Sy had a great sense of humor. Everyone had a nickname and sooner or later fell victim to one of his practical jokes.

After selling Hair Club in 2000, Sy began to devour books. He was an inquisitive and constant reader. His favorite subjects were business startup case histories and historical biographies. I frequently had to bluff my way through a long lunch, pretending to know about an important personality, hoping Sy would do all the talking and not ask any questions. Fortunately, he was happy with that arrangement.

Sy Sperling’s energy and imagination never slowed down. To his friends and to hair loss sufferers everywhere, Sy will always be “… also a client.

The passing of my friend Sy Sperling

Yesterday at approximately 4:15 PM on February 19, I as well as Hair Club, suffered an  irreconcilable loss in the passing of my dear friend Sy Sperling. It will be hard in many ways for me to fully recover from such a loss given the enormous impact and profound  influences Sy had on me and an entire generation of entrepreneurs and young business thinkers.

I will sorely miss him. He was much more than just the founder of Hair Club or an early generation pioneer spokesperson that changed the conventional thinking of TV advertising during that era. For me he was mythological in stature. And as a young man looking to take on the World, he was my own personal “Superhero Action Figure”.

I had often thought of Sy as that “Eternal Optimist”, similar to Pangloss in Voltaire’s tragic comedy “Candide”. Pangloss, like Sy, served as the mentor to the main character Candide who throughout the story was exposed to countless misfortunes and ill-fate events that always had profound life-threatening implications. Pangloss was always by his side as his teacher able to rationalize why at the end of all this misfortune the lessons that will be learned will benefit mankind and deliver Candide to a higher level of wisdom and self-actualization.

Sy was my Pangloss, and I will forever miss the eloquent silence of his strength and the resiliency of his spirit. He will always be thought of by me as the “Soul Engine” of this Company and a Spiritual Healer. In addition, he will always be memorialized of as one of my most influential “lifetime journey companions”. Sleep well my friend.

From a personal eulogy that Hair Club owner, Steve Barth circulated to the Barth Group of hair replacement studios.

 

Sy and Chris 2015

Goodbye Sy

It is with great sadness that I have to share the news of the passing of my longtime friend and business associate, Sy Sperling.

I first met Sy when I was an advertising executive working on Madison Avenue. Sy and his wife Amy had just started a hair business a few blocks away. He needed marketing and I was happy to moonlight. He liked to meet in his favorite restaurant, an Italian bistro called Antolotti’s, to
develop the sales and promotion material that became the platform for Hair Club. I still have some of the early handwritten business forecasts,painstakingly put together on an old H-P calculator.

We stayed close as Hair Club grew and we constantly exchanged ideas and joked around. Sy had a great sense of humor. Everyone had a nickname and sooner or later fell victim to one of his practical jokes.

After selling Hair Club in 2000, Sy began to devour books. He was an inquisitive and constant reader. His favorite subjects were business startup case histories and historical biographies. I frequently had to bluff my way through a long lunch, pretending to know about an important personality, hoping Sy would do all the talking and not ask any questions. Fortunately, he was happy with that arrangement.

Sy Sperling’s energy and imagination never slowed down. To his friends and to hair loss sufferers everywhere, Sy will always be “… also a client.”

Hair Club reception

Hair Club Has A New Home

Cool, Chic and Cutting-Edge

Hair Club reception

Hair Club has a new home… and it’s state of the art. 120 employees now enjoy a workspace that is modern, sophisticated and very friendly. In fact, employee comfort and efficiency were top of the list when the company planned its move as the Hair Authority found out when we attended the Grand Opening. To celebrate its new home, Hair Club welcomed Aderans president and board members from Tokyo who flew in for the occasion, together with top executives from sister companies, Bosley, Rene of Paris and International Hair Goods. The mayor of Boca Raton was also on hand to wish Hair Club good fortune in Boca Raton’s newest Class A office building, as was the Consul General from the Japanese Consulate. The following interview was with Mike Nassar, Hair Club’s president and CEO.

Hair Authority:  Several months ago, we visited Hair Club at its old location. And when we say “old” it doesn’t mean outdated or tired promises.  In fact, it was a great building in a great area. So why did the company decide to relocate?

Mike:  We were coming up on the renewal of our second ten-year lease on 1515 Federal Highway. At first, we had no plan of relocating, we just wanted to make sure that if we stayed at 1515 we could get a complete makeover of the facility because the layout and design no longer provided the employee experience we valued. As we grew over the years, the suite has been redone a number of times and it became disjointed and more of a patchwork. It wasn’t keeping up with the way we wanted to work. I’ll give you an example.  We have about 12 people in the IT department and in the old offices, nobody knew where they were because they were stuck in a corner somewhere behind a wall.  Nobody even knew they existed. And even people within the corporate office didn’t really know each other or communicate with each other because it was so hard to navigate the place. It was more like a maze.  So, when we found out that our previous landlord wasn’t open to building out the space or allowing us to build out the space as we saw fit, we started looking to the outside. Colliers, our realty group, went to work and found us a number of locations including one on Yamato road and we were ready to sign the deal on that location until this the Palmetto Park Road space came up. As soon as we saw it, we were ready to move forward because it gave us a blank canvas to set up the space any way we wanted. 

Authority:  When we met last time, the thing that impressed us so much was the fact that Hair Club, a company that a lot of people regarded as a just another faceless monolith, was in fact a very human company. And that commitment wasn’t just an empty promise or slogan, it was demonstrated by lots of little things that might have gone unnoticed like mousepads with a message that told users they mattered, or the balloons in the call-center to celebrate a great week.

Mike:  We have tried to carry those values forward into our new space and take advantage of the design flexibility to add more benefits for everyone.

Authority:  You have clearly succeeded. We saw a massage room, several relaxation areas and places just to hang out. We could have been in Silicon Valley. What was the brief you gave the interior designer?

Mike:  It was very simple. Give us a space that is collaborative and employee friendly. That allows folks to have pride, not only in their personal workspace, but in their overall surroundings. And must allow people to talk to each other freely; a place where we can all get together and meet in a number of different areas versus one big conference room. If you remember, our old space had that one big marble U-shaped table that was huge and was made for really big meetings with a large number of people. It was intimidating. So, we told the architect, “Give us something that is the opposite of this from a collaborative standpoint, from an employee experience standpoint and from a structural standpoint.” And our architect came back to us with at least ten different designs.  They included areas where folks could rest like a serenity room with massage chairs, as well as, two very comfortable lunch rooms.  They also proposed something we liked a lot, a “scrum” area right as you get off the elevators where you can have meetings without sitting at a table and feeling stuffy. Knowing that we don’t see clients in our corporate office, we’ve been able to focus 100 percent on the employee experience.

Authority:  The interior design combines this low key, relaxing ambiance with the latest technology. We saw muted colors; gray walls with silver threads running through them that looked very sophisticated, but outside the conference rooms we also noticed what appeared to be high-tech LED panels. What were we looking at; and what other advanced technology is built in?

Mike:  We want technology to facilitate and streamline operations throughout our workspace. Our meeting rooms, for example, incorporate the highest possible level of technology you can get for video-conferencing or group chats. We can do a video call and share that meeting or presentation on a big screen for everyone in the room to follow. And we don’t just have one of those, we actually have two 100 plus inch projector screens. We also have 20 monitors throughout the facility which not only share data but also allow everyone to arrange quick and easy video conversations. 

Authority:  This must be a game changer because you have over a hundred locations, not to mention suppliers around the world

Mike:  That’s right. We have partnered with a number of high-level agencies from branding, to social media, to PR, to product design, to IT and most of these agencies aren’t based in Boca Raton. So, there is a constant need for us to be able to scrum or speak face-to-face with people in New York, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, L.A., China, Japan and all over the world. Our video setup allows us to do that. The other thing that you’ll find interesting from a technology standpoint is that, there are only three telephones in our whole office. There is a front desk telephone, a telephone in my office (because I’m old-fashioned) and my assistant Jimmy has a telephone too. But there are no other phones in the corporate office except on the call-center side.  We’ve moved to Skype for business on everyone’s PC and every person outside of the call center now has a headset or an earpiece that connects directly to Skype. So, when I want to call somebody, I just choose their name from Skype and dial right into their PC. I am immediately in video contact with them. I can use the instant messaging feature as well.  It’s faster and easier than walking over across the office and it allows for quick decision-making. 

Authority:  `This is technology that people would not expect in the hair replacement industry. Is this the future? 

Mike:  Absolutely. I think it’s our job as a company and as an industry to raise the bar and get ahead from a technology standpoint. And I think we’re doing that. You might have said a few years ago that we were ahead of our time because we were placing all our hair orders online to our factories throughout Asia, but we’ve come a long way since then. Some companies still make carbon copies of orders and fax them or mail them and things like that, but today all our orders are typed in at our 120 centers in a program that spits them out instantly at the factory that’s automatically selected as best suited to make that system type. So, we’re ahead of schedule from that perspective. But a couple of years ago I challenged the team to think bigger and as a result we have just launched an App called The HairFit App for our customers. They can use the App to book or change appointments and make payments. They can also learn more about our hair technologies, our product line and find out where the closest Centers are. We also introduced a new Tablet App. Our client relationship managers in the service centers no longer have to walk around and take notes on paper. They can come in with a tablet which is assigned to each one of them and pretty much answer any questions that might come up or take notes regarding the client experience right there on the tablet.  This information remains on the client’s record so if the stylist taking care of that client today isn’t available tomorrow, we know exactly what type of adhesive the clients uses, what color to use, maybe even what kind of coffee they like and what magazines they prefer. We’ve been able to install tablets in every styling room across the company, so over 800 styling rooms now have personalized tablets for each of their stylists. There is another side-benefit too – we recently had a client say they wanted to watch a college football game and we were able to pull it up on the tablet and have them watch the game right there in the styling chair. 

Authority:  Is there a risk that people will get distracted by these tools and waste time?

MN: One of the other things that stands out in this office is the fact that we don’t have a clock in any of the meeting rooms or the break rooms. Somebody asked me, “Why don’t we have clocks, people are going to lose track of time and take long lunches.” And I said, “Exactly. We want people to take the time they need away from their desk. Because, nobody should be chained to a desk all day long.” I believe a fresh mind and a vigorous exchange of ideas fosters innovation and collaboration.  I want our staff to want to come to work, versus having to come to work. 

Authority:  One of the nation’s top business schools recently published a paper that examined the skillsets you need to be successful in today’s marketplace. It used to be an MBA or a degree in computer science were key to top earnings, but things have changed. It’s now all about the kind of values you just described; imagination, human connectivity and leadership qualities. Those are the skills that are most valued and pay the highest.

Mike:  Agreed. Nothing against MBAs, I wish I had one. But at the end of the day, the values we need in our company are people who can be nice to each other. People that can care about each other. Folks that can communicate with each other. We’re not looking for that person that wants to sit in a cubicle or sit in their office and close the door. We’re looking for somebody that can communicate and can have a conversation.

Authority:  Conversations are an endangered species today…

Mike:  And becoming more so.  I know this from my kids. I don’t think kids talk anymore. I say that, because I look at my cellphone bill and there are hardly any minutes used, but there are thousands of texts! That’s not good for us in the long term. I think that applies to the business world as well. Nothing pleases me more at this point than to walk out of my office into marketing or IT or walk over to the accounting and legal side and see four lawyers sitting at a booth having coffee and chatting it up. Or, a bunch of IT guys standing in a corner of their work area, actually talking to each other face to face. Or, walking into a lunchroom and seeing somebody from marketing talking with someone from legal who probably never spoken to each other before. Those are the attributes I would look for. On a priority list I would place them higher than a business degree. 

Authority: How do you take these head office values get those out into the field?

Mike:    I think we’ve already taken care of that.  Today, there is very little separation between corporate and the field. I’ll give you an example of ‘walking the talk.’ The speeches at our Grand Opening were all filmed. We had two video cameras, a bunch of still photography cameras and a number of people recording on their phones. That was not the press. These were our own employees and they were broadcasting our speeches. and bringing the atmosphere and everything that was going on to all our centers. All our 1200 employees got to see what was going on real time. 

Authority:  Impressive!

Mike:  There is no reason for us to be disconnected. I think we’re way ahead of our time from that perspective because not only can we share experiences like the Grand Opening, or talk one-on-one, we also have an internal social media setup through Microsoft which lets folk from anywhere in the country post on Yammer and ask questions or join special interest groups. For example, we’ve got a culture committee that has 35 members who come from all levels within corporate and field. So, I think the divide between corporate and our field offices is non-existent at Hair Club.

Authority:  We’ve been talking about your corporate and business philosophy. Let’s switch now to the consumer. The market is changing faster than ever. More information, more choices, more cross marketing opportunities. How are you responding?

Mike:  On the front end we’re looking at a company that was founded on the infomercial and later moved to different forms of TV advertising. However, over the last few years we’ve moved to about 50/50 digital versus TV. In this fast-changing media environment, we have to be agile and keep experimenting.  We give close attention to things like, branding, public relations and social media. We’ve explored billboards in certain locations and done local or XM radio in a number of markets. We even have started to podcast with two well-known names in the radio industry, Conan O’Brien and Howard Stern. We’re trying to reach people we wouldn’t have reached before. So, that’s one way. The other way is what I mentioned earlier; we’ve made it very simple for Hair Club to have a strong and positive interaction with clients through our App, through customer service lines and through social media. Our customers get close personal attention from their stylists, and if they have a problem there’s always a computer they can go to.

Authority:  Is there anything else you would like hair loss professionals to know about Hair Club, where it’s going and what it represents?

Mike:  Regardless of whether we think of ourselves as a leader or the largest provider in North America, I’d like the industry to know that I believe we can get all come together to create something bigger. I think there is an opportunity for us to do things together and get there faster?  I’m going to butcher the quote but, “If you want to go fast, go by yourself. If you want to go far, take people with you.” I think this is where the industry is now. The smaller players need the help they can get from bigger players. And as a big player, we can probably learn from them to become more like an independent operator and reach out to folks in local markets. 

Authority:  What would your message be to a public that knows the old Hair Club?  What would be your elevator pitch?

Mike:  If you have a scalp, Hair Club is for you.  Whether you have hair or not, we can help you.  We’re not just a company that deals with male pattern baldness after your hair is gone. We’re a company that can help you whether you have hair loss or not. And we’re ready to help anyone and everyone including all ages. 

Our branding effort is going to focus on hair, health and wellness. 

Future Home of Hair Club Headquarters

Hair Club 2018

It’s All About People

Since Hair Club was first launched by Sy Sperling in 1976, the company has helped more than 600,000 people restore their hair. Hair Club now boasts nearly 120 locations throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. In 2013, the company was acquired by Tokyo-based Aderans Co. Ltd, which also owns Bosley, allowing the group to offer a suite of surgical and non-surgical hair loss solutions.

As it celebrates its 42nd anniversary, the company is expanding its corporate headquarters and will be relocating to the former Interstate Plaza office building in Boca Raton, Florida, where it plans to create a modern and collaborative environment for its more than 120 local corporate staff members, including more than 60 contact center agents.

[The Hair Authority has interviewed every incoming Hair Club president and our meeting with President and COO Mike Nassar was overdue. To our surprise and delight, we were invited to join his management team at a special luncheon the company organizes regularly to recognize staff contributions and important

Hair Club’s national contact center

achievements. The team spirit was palpable and when we did our own research back home, we were not surprised to see it reflected in comments and reviews online at glassdoor.com. The following is just one example of an employee review, “They truly care about their employees. The perks of the job are amazing and there is always so much to celebrate. This company promotes a team culture and the best part is that we change lives daily by helping others regain their hair!”

[Hair Authority: Mike, thank you for inviting us to join you at your staff luncheon today. It told us more about the company than we would have discovered in a regular interview. The old Hair Club was founded on a powerful personality, and that one personality drove the business. But that’s not what we saw today. Tell us about the new Hair Club.

Interviewing Hair Club President, COO, Mike Nassar

Mike Nassar: The first thing I want everyone to know is that we’ve simplified the name. Instead of Hair Club for Men and later, Hair Club for Men & Women, we’re now Hair Club, and we’re here for anyone dealing with hair loss. The other change you touched on is our focus on our staff. Our employees make things

happen for our clients. We made a huge investment in providing what we call the ultimate employee experience(UEE) and we see the benefits now in staff loyalty and level of commitment. When you have a dedicated staff, you have happy customers.

Hair Authority: After lunch, we heard everybody recite a Hair Club chant or mantra. What was that??

MN: They were saying, “We are Hair Club, We represent Hair Club.” It’s part of our culture. In this day and age, employee engagement can be a challenge. Our employees feel like they’re part of something bigger than just themselves. They’re part of the whole Hair Club organization, so we get a high level of engagement and huge productivity. And we all benefit from it.

Hair Authority: That reflects Aderans’ philosophy.

Excerpt from Aderan’s annual report

[MN: Yes, it’s Sampo Yoshi and it means a commitment to employees, a commitment to clients and a commitment to community. We had been thinking that way for a number of years prior to our acquisition by Aderans, but when we became part of Aderans, it really emphasized and bolstered our idea of helping others and giving back to the community. These commitments have become even more of a focus for us over the last two or three years.

Hair Authority: The formula appears to be working because Hair Club is doing very well at a time when the industry overall is consolidating. Is there another marketing secret?

[MN: We’ve been in growth mode since I’ve been here, which is a little over 13 years now. I know Hair Club has always had a growth mentality, so it’s not something I brought to the company. In fact, we’ve only closed two locations in the last 13 years. The company has grown every

single year for a number of years now. We’ve even opened 19 centers in just the last four years alone.

Hair Authority: It used to be that the best thing that could happen to a local hair replacement studio was to have a Hair Club open on the other side of the road. Things are different now. Those crumbs from the rich man’s table are not so plentiful. What changed?

MN: There’s always going be competition in every industry. But I think we can have friendly

Rich Narcisi, Hair Club’s Senior Vice President of Franchise Operations & Corporate Development

[competition that makes everyone better because with more than 90 million people in North America experiencing hair loss, there’s enough business for all of us. We are a prominent advertiser for the entire industry, whether our competition wants to believe that or not. When we advertise Hair Club or promote other hair loss and restoration search terms, the whole industry benefits. By us simply being on the internet or TV and telling people to look for hair replacement or hair restoration—or any number of hair therapies—we end up building the market for everyone. Our high volume of advertising is feeding the entire industry, not just Hair Club. Out of the 90+ million people experiencing hair loss, we may get 200,000 leads per year… the rest are going somewhere else.

Hair Authority: Why is this still a fragmented industry that never created a coordinated campaign to create broad consumer awareness and grow the market?

MN: I’m not sure. I have been talking to competitors since I first started with the company, and I’ve continued the dialogue now as the president. The good news is my phone seems to ring more often, and I’m finding we do have a lot of common ground. These shouldn’t be negative relationships. We can all have a friendly, competitive relationship and still succeed in the marketplace. Competitors can collaborate and make improvements together, whether it’s in a market, a certain geography or even country-wide. The problem today is one of fragmentation among the smaller competitors. It’s sort of an ‘every man or woman for himself or herself’ environment. I think we can change that if we talk about it openly.

Hair Authority: In other product categories there are standards and measurements for performance. To take a parallel industry like dentistry, the American Dental Association grants an official seal of approval to brands that can demonstrate superior performance. That’s how Crest became the market leader. But the hair replacement industry has no standards of any kind. Do you think that leaves us vulnerable?

MN: Cosmetology standards are mostly governed by states, but I do think the hair replacement category could hold itself more accountable. It’s done well on the surgical side through the ISHRS and I’m sure most dermatologists that people see for hair loss belong to a professional, accredited group. However, we don’t do that on the hair replacement side. We’re completely separate from salons that don’t do hair replacement, and we don’t talk enough about our specialists’ skills. It’s a bridge we need to build because the public is looking for hair loss experts but have no way to identify who is qualified to help them.

Hair Authority: The medical field suffers from a similar problem. Hair transplantation is seeing people entering the field who have little or no surgical training. They may have come from a trauma background or even be a dentist. Worse yet, the arrival of computer assisted devices like the ARTAS system allows doctors to offload critical surgery to assistants without specialized training. In response, ISHRS has established itself as THE educational authority on surgical hair restoration. Their mission is providing education, setting standards and accrediting doctors with specialized hair restoration skills. Which prompts the question, isn’t it time that we did the same thing for the hair replacement market?

MN: Many companies, including Hair Club, have talked about trichology and some of them have already jumped into it. In North America, trichology isn’t as big of a deal as it is in Europe—yet. Many of our

European competitors will tell you that every single one of their employees is a certified trichologist, and we could probably learn from them. This could be a smart way for our industry to step up operations, increase professionalism and be more of an authority on hair loss.

Hair Authority: Subscribers to The Hair Authority include hair replacement studios, hair restoration clinics, even drug companies like Merck. What would you would like them to know about Hair Club?

GIVE is part of Hair Club’s Culture, supporting the Ultimate Employee Experience as well as the Ultimate Client Experience

[MN: Hair Club is a company that’s shown steady and consistent growth for the last 42 years. Nowadays, we’ve made it our mission behind the scenes to start working on ways to innovate for the business and the industry. There are still people who look down on what we do. They call us “just a toupee company“. I use the word “just” because that’s how they refer to us. They don’t understand how much we impact people’s lives. We do that every day, and whether it’s Hair Club or any one of our competitors, we are making a difference in the lives of others. It’s about more than just hair. It’s about changing the way our clients experience life. I think it’s about time that we as an industry step out into the open and share this information with the public. We all need to come together to do that.

Hair Authority: Part of our problem might be that we are still victims of the old language and the old imagery. At The Hair Authority, we flinch when we hear somebody talk about a “piece”. Is it time to reinvent ourselves, come up with new imagery, more attractive language, create a new vocabulary?

MN: Absolutely, and there are ways to do that. We’ve got to speak in the customer’s language. There was a time when plastic surgery wasn’t something you talked about openly. Now, that has changed completely. Once upon a time, even hair extensions used to be a private affair; women who wore hair extensions didn’t tell other people about them. Now you can go on any social media platform and see pictures of women flaunting their extensions all the time. So, I think we can go that same route. At Hair Club, we’re trying to make it more about your “after” look than your “before” look. Whatever your “before” situation was really shouldn’t matter. It’s all about your life after restoring your hair. We provide solutions to help you get there. Whether it’s preventative, adding hair or even complete restoration, we offer something for everyone. We customize solutions to give you the best hair you can possibly have.

Hair Authority: We flippantly asked at lunch today, if the hair fairy granted you one wish, what would it be?

MN: Simple.It’s getting what we do to be more mainstream and better received by the public. We want people of every age and demographic to feel comfortable contacting us—because we have solutions for everyone.  It could be an 18-year-old who has just started to thin and sees his dad losing almost all his hair. We’d like to help that young person early on instead of them waiting until they lose their hair. The whole concept of personal care and overall wellness needs to come into play. Clients who come in for hair replacement aren’t just concerned about their hair. They’re going to a plastic surgeon, they’re going to weight loss centers, they’re going to gyms. We need to be part of that universe. It all has to come together so people can be the best versions of themselves.

Hair Authority: So, you believe hair replacement is not just a thinning hair solution, it’s part of a lifestyle.

MN: Absolutely. We sometimes get a bad rap because people think we “force” our clients into programs or memberships, but we’re actually making it easier for our clients. For a monthly fee, they can get anything and everything they want in terms of their style, the number of visits or services they want and the number of new hair systems they want per year. That’s the beauty of it. Nobody is ever forced into a service plan. When a client chooses Hair Club, we become their full-service salon and part of their overall lifestyle. Visiting Hair Club becomes like going to the gym. We’re now part of their self-care routine.

Hair Authority: As one of the biggest purchasers of hair, we have to ask, is the industry running out of hair?

With Frank DeCarlo, Hair Club’s Vice President of Production and Research

[MN: I visited all our factories in March. It was a seven-country tour and I can tell you they have plenty of inventory. They’re getting calls all the time from hair wholesalers and brokers and they assure me that we’re not running out of hair. What they couldn’t assure me of is the quality of the hair and whether that’s going to decline or improve. Unfortunately, I suspect hair quality will decline as more people copy western fashions by coloring and processing their hair before donating it.

Hair Authority: What is the biggest challenge facing Hair Club today?

MN: Our biggest challenge is getting people to come through the door. We need to find new ways to communicate with today’s consumers. Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z have different motivations compared to the clients we’ve had on board for the last 40+ years. How do we motivate a new generation to come in, so we can help them with their hair loss? Obviously, the increasing cost of hair, the cost of facilities and the rising cost of labor aren’t helping, but we can offset that with better marketing that makes it less scary for people to come in. The first time somebody visits us, they don’t know what they’re getting into because we don’t explain the hair application process in our advertising. It may not be glamorous to do that, but the world is changing. There are personal products being sold openly today that people would have been embarrassed to be seen with five or ten years ago. We have to move in that same direction in order to capture a wider audience.

We need to find new ways to communicate with today’s consumers.

MN: There’s plenty of opportunity for expansion in the industry. A cure for hair loss doesn’t really exist yet and more and more people are going to need our help. We have to position ourselves as a caring industry that can help people…and we should give back to society.

Hair Club’s President and COO, Mike Nassar, looks forward to bringing hair restoration to an even wider audience.

Hair Authority: Any final comments?

Hair Authority: It’s a very fertile market. Our challenge has been we’ve never known how to connect with it.

MN: Absolutely, and I think that’s key. We’ve got to connect to the consumer, but we’re not seeing it yet. The person who needs our services isn’t coming into Hair Club. We have to figure out how to get them to come in, so we can show them everything we can do for them.

Hair Authority: The walled garden which protected hair replacement for so many years no longer exists. It was good while it was there. But now the walls are down, and the medical/cosmetic/pharmaceutical companies are eyeing an aging population that used to be our home base.

MN: I believe we need to cultivate a bigger garden