AG Hair might have suffered the pandemic however rather chose to lean into its entrepreneurial culture and make a sharp pivot

When AG Hair moved into its brand-new, 70,000-sq.-foot, modern production center in Coquitlam, B.C., 2 years back, it belonged to a strategy to turbo charge growth of its hair care line of product to beauty salons in worldwide markets. Europe was next on its list. Then COVID-19 hit.

Not just was the European growth postponed, however beauty salons in significant markets throughout Canada and the United States were momentarily closed. Extremely couple of were buying hair items, so making was stopped in mid-March, leaving the majority of the business’s 82 workers out of work.

AG Hair might have suffered the pandemic however rather chose to lean into its entrepreneurial culture and make a sharp pivot. It started offering hand-sanitizing items for front-line health-care employees, attending to an international scarcity.

“We recognized there was this enormous requirement for health-care experts, and we wished to make a distinction and have the ability to offer them with the items they required,” states AG Hair CEO Graham Fraser.

AG Hair got Canadian and U.S. approvals a week after making an application for the licences required to make sanitizer, and produced samples to reveal regional authorities within 48 hours.

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

AG Hair’s Coquitlam center has actually rotated to making hand sanitizer (Photo by Alana Paterson)

“That quick action time, and the truth that we had actually gone through all of the Health Canada regulative difficulties, revealed [the local health authorities] that we were a partner they might rely on and somebody they might want to, to provide the items they required,” Fraser states.

Within a month, the business began draining the items, initially for the health-care market, then for customers by itself site and on Amazon. About 10 percent of AG Hair’s hand-sanitizer production likewise went to individuals in requirement, as determined by companies such as United Method.

Parallel 49 Developing Business is likewise utilizing AG Hair’s Coquitlam production center to produce its own mix of liquid hand sanitizer for front-line health and emergency situation employees, in collaboration with the B.C. federal government.

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Fraser credits his group for its energy and imagination in making the hand-sanitizer production take place, and assisting put AG Hair personnel back to work.

“We recognized we had a chance . . . and after that it became this unbelievable, practically war-room mindset and partnership with our owners, our executive group and our individuals to state, ‘How are we going to get through this?’ ” Fraser remembers. “I believe our success speaks with the kind of individuals we have and the entrepreneurial spirit of pursuing every opportunity we have, comprehending how we can produce the items and making it take place.”

AG Hair’s dedication to buying future development is a huge part of what makes it a Finest Managed business, states Nicole Coleman, a partner at Deloitte and co-lead of its Finest Managed Program in B.C.

“Ability and development come through rather highly with this business,” states Coleman, who is likewise AG Hair’s coach at Deloitte. “I don’t believe they would have the ability to pivot as rapidly if they weren’t so tactical and had the internal abilities to do it.”

The production center was a huge financial investment, however one Coleman states has actually currently paid dividends.

“They were looking forward with a tactical strategy in mind about future development and how they might broaden, instead of simply concentrating on the everyday,” she states. “Finest Managed business are constantly forging ahead and are mindful about preparing for the future.”

AG Hair was established in Vancouver in 1989 by hairdresser John Davis and graphic artist Lotte Davis. The husband-and-wife group started bottling hair items in their basement and offering them direct to beauty salons from the back of a station wagon.

The business ultimately moved its production off-site, to a 3rd party. One day, John went to view the operations and was shocked to see salt being put into the mix. Although he was informed salt is typically utilized as a thickener, he didn’t like the prospective negative effects of dry hair and skin.

It was at that minute John chose the business would supervise its own production. “Through that experience, John likewise ended up being a specialist in item advancement,” states Fraser, who concerned the business in 2000 as director of sales.

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After having actually worked for more than twenty years at PepsiCo and Kraft Foods, Fraser aspired to operate at a smaller sized, more nimble business where he felt he might assist make a distinction.

“It was best since I got to bring a great deal of structure and procedure that I discovered in those companies, however I likewise discovered a horrible lot about being a business owner from John and Lotte: that sense of seriousness, the decision-making procedure, the requirement to get things done and drive things forward and pursue chances,” he states.

Fraser has actually assisted drive AG Hair’s growth into the U.S. and globally, consisting of Australia, Taiwan, and Central and South America. A part of its sales go to One Lady Can, a charity established by Lotte that supplies education, education and mentoring for women in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fraser likewise manages the advancement of brand-new, trending items, consisting of a brand-new deep-conditioning hair mask made with 98 percent plant-based and natural active ingredients. Hand-sanitizing spray and gel will be the current addition to the business’s item lineup.

“We don’t see the need [for hand-sanitizing products] disappearing,” he states. “As the seclusion policies begin to get raised, individuals are going to require kinds of security and procedures as they return into routine life and work. We see there’s going to be a requirement for these kinds of items long-lasting.”


This short article appears in print in the June 2020 concern of Maclean’s publication with the heading, “Exercising the kinks.” Sign up for the month-to-month print publication here.

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