How a hair-care company went from salon supplier to sanitizer powerhouse

When AG Hair relocated to its new location, the 70,000-sq.-foot, modern manufacturing facility in Coquitlam, BC, two years ago, was part of a process to expand its hair care line in salons. in international markets. Europe was next on the list. Then COVID-19 hit.

Not only was growth in Europe halted, but salons in major markets in Canada and the United States were temporarily closed. Very few buy hair products, so production was halted within March, leaving 82 of the company’s employees unemployed.

AG’s hair was waiting for the epidemic but instead he decided to lean on his business culture and make a sharp pivot. It began to provide handicrafts to health workers in the future, addressing global needs.

“We realized that there was a great need for medical professionals, and we wanted to change and provide them with the things they need,” said Graham Fraser, chief executive officer of AG Hair.

AG Hair received Canadian and US approval one week after applying for the necessary permits to perform cleaning, and released a sample of government officials within 48 hours.

AG Hair’s Coquitlam site has decided to make a hand sanitizer (Photo by Alana Paterson)

“The time for immediate response, as well as the fact that we have gone through all the challenges of Health Canada, has shown. [the local health authorities] that we were partners who could rely and someone who could look after them, to provide what they needed, ”says Fraser.

In less than a month, the company began rolling out the items, first for medical purposes, then for consumers on its page and on Amazon. About 10 percent of AG Hair Manufacturers also went to people in need of help, as well as known organizations such as United Way.

Parallel 49 Brewing Company is also using the AG Hair’s Coquitlam manufacturing facility to develop its own integrated water-based hand sanitizer for future and emergency services, in line with the BC government.

Fraser commends his team for its strength and expertise in creating handicrafts, and for helping to bring AG Hair staff back to work.

“We realized we had a chance. . . and then it became strange, the idea of ​​war and solidarity with our own owners, our larger community and our people to say, ‘How do we deal with this?’ Fraser recalls. “I think our success depends on the type of people we have and the business spirit that follows every path we have, understanding how we can make those things and make them happen.”

AG Hair’s commitment to investing in future growth is a key part of what makes it a successful company, says Nicole Coleman, a partner at Deloitte and director of its best-run program in BC.

“The potential and expertise come from the company,” says Coleman, who is also an AG Hair coach at Deloitte. “I don’t think he can sing fast if he is not talented and has the inner ability to do that.”

The manufacturing facilities were well-funded, but one Coleman claims to have provided the benefits.

“They were hoping for a plan of action in mind when it came to future growth and how they could grow, rather than just thinking about everyday life,” he says. “Leading companies always push the envelope and are always interested in planning for the future.”

AG Hair was founded in Vancouver in 1989 by hairdresser John Davis and photographer Lotte Davis. A group of men and women began putting hair extensions in their basement and selling them directly to the salons from behind the station wagon.

The company eventually relocated its production to another location. One day, John went to see the operation and was surprised to find that salt had been added to the mixture. Although she was told that salt was widely used as an additive, she did not like the effect on hair and dry skin.

It was then that John decided that the company should oversee its production. Fraser, who came to the company in 2000 as chief marketing officer, said:

After working for more than two decades at PepsiCo and Kraft Foods, Fraser was eager to work for a small, fast-moving company that he felt could help change.

“It was great because I had to bring the system and the many ways I learned from those organizations, but I also learned a lot about being an entrepreneur from John and Lotte: quick awareness, decision making, he has to do things and move things forward and pursue opportunities,” he said.

Fraser has contributed to the growth of AG Hair in the US and in other countries, including Australia, Taiwan, Central and South America. Some of her products go to One Girl Can, a charitable organization founded by Lotte that provides education, training and mentorship for girls in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fraser also oversees the development of innovative, innovative products, including a new deep-framed hair mask made up of 98 percent plant and natural products. Hand spray and gel mixer are the ones that will be added soon on the industry results.

“We do not consider it necessary [for hand-sanitizing products] to go, ”he says. “With the advent of alternative therapies, people will need more security measures and protocols as they return to life and work. We see the need for such resources for a long time to come.”

This article was published in June 2020 Of Maclean with the theme “Solving Problems.” Subscribe to the monthly edition of the magazine Pano.

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