Goldwell Celebrates 40 Years In South Africa: Interview with MD Steve Leahy
This year, Goldwell celebrates a major anniversary in South Africa.
Steve Leahy, Managing Director of Kao South Africa, spoke about the 40 – year milestone in South Africa of the much loved and highly respected Goldwell brand.
40 Years ago, an entrepreneur by the name of Colin Etberg decided it was time to bring a new brand into the South African Market, to complete with the other major manufactures in the country.
This brand, Goldwell had been established in Germany for a couple of years and Colin felt that the time was right to introduce this Salon–exclusive brand to our country.
As it happens with so many successful business stories, Colin began his journey working from his garage in Kensington. Uwe Herbig, known to many in our industry, was at hand to help Colin offload the very first container of Goldwell products. It was not long before the brand grew phenomenally and the business premises had to be upgraded.
Today the Goldwell Head Office is located in Capital Hill Commercial Estate in Midrand.
A POLICY OF HIRING THE VERY BEST, MOST PASSIONATE, SKILLED AND KNOWLEDGEABLE PEOPLE.
From the beginning, Colin made a point of hiring the very best, most passionate people he could find to grow this brand. It wasn’t long before Steve Leahy, who at the time was working for another major hairdressing brand, got a phone call asking if he would be interested in joining Goldwell. Steve jumped at the opportunity and in July 1990 became part of the Goldwell team. Steve went onto become General Manager in 1997 and took over as Managing Director when Colin retired.
Steve credits Colin as being a legend and a gentleman in the industry, instilling a culture of respect and discipline that is still a strong feature of Goldwell today.
WE BELIEVE CLIENTS SHOULD BECOME MORE LIKE FRIENDS, IN AN INDUSTRY WHICH IS BUILT ON RELATIONSHIPS
Growing this relatively new brand was a big challenge because there was a lot of rivalry between the major brands, Steve remembers. Goldwell has always emphasized that they are a salon – exclusive brand and this was a huge ‘Point of Difference’. “Our aim was to build a successful, professional business. One of the ways that this was achieved in the past was through the annual overseas trips, Jetset,” Steve explains. “We are hoping to re – introduce something similar in the future.”
A TRULY SALON – EXCLUSIVE BRAND, WAS NEEDED TO SUPPORT AND BUILD OUR SALONS CLIENTS.
Kao is a fantastic organization, says Steve. “We believe in the salon - exclusive ethos. As brands, we support our distributors. We have had massive amount support from Head Office and from our teams throughout the world. In turn, we believe in supporting and building our salon clients.”
GOLDWELL HAS ALWAYS BEEN KNOWN AS AN INNOVATOR AND LEADER.
Goldwell has always been known as an innovator and leader, bringing new, relevant exciting products and services to the industry. In its day, Colorance was a huge sensation as the first acid color for hair and of course the revolutionary Elumen brand has been a game changer for the industry.
Now that Goldwell is owned by the parent company Kao, the innovation within Goldwell has accelerated even faster.
“We are never standing still and always the one that leads the pack. To be part of an organization like this is a privilege – Kao are pioneers and trendsetters,” Steven says.
KAO ARE PIONEERS AND TRENDSETTERS. OUR COLOR IS LEGENDARY AND THE GOLDWELL COLOR HAS ALWAYS BEEN A FIRST CHOICE FOR HAIRDRESSERS.
Kao’ ethos inspires loyalty and many of the Goldwell team are familiar faces that have been with the Goldwell for years, even decades. “We are all on the same pages, striving to be number 1 in the hairdressing industry”, Steve explains. “Our color is legendary and Goldwell color has always been a first choice for hairdressers.”
WITH THE LARGEST TECHNICAL FORCE IN THE COUNTRY, EDUCATION IS A PRIORITY FOR KAO.
A passion for education is another factor the sets Goldwell and KMS apart. Their focus on education ensures that salons are knowledgeable and well equipped to offer outstanding service and results.
“Education for us will always be a priority,” Steve emphasizes. “We have the largest technical force in the country, with studios around South Africa and we have recently opened a training facility in Namibia.”
SUSTAINABILITY IS A PRIORTY FOR KAO AND HAS ALWAYS BEEN A CORNERSTONE OF THE GOLDWELL ETHOS
Looking to the future, Kao are already forecasting to 2025 and beyond, with a host of amazing products and initiatives in the pipeline, with an increased focus on sustainability, which is a massive priority for Kao going forward.
WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME JOURNEY AND SHARE THE SAME VISION
Steve would like to say a big thank you to the industry for the support and the fantastic relationships that have been built, building the business. “We have a formidable team at Kao South Africa, and we are all on the same journey and share the same vision. We are all looking forward to what the next 40 years will bring for our fantastic Industry,” he says.