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A New Slant Salon Hair Care

ThermaFuse CEO Van Stamey

By: Karen A. Newman
Posted: August 29, 2008, from the September 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

Meeting ThermaFuse CEO Van Stamey for the first time is a little like squaring off against an oncoming train—but in a good way. You can sense his determination even before he opens his mouth to speak. When he does talk, he looks you right in the eye, and you want to hear what he has to say. Stamey was in Las Vegas in mid-July for Cosmoprof North America, working the booth with ThermaFuse president Wayne Sinquefield and talking about his line of products for heat-styled hair that launched in August 2005.

With a pair of industry editors, he was all business, firing off a description of his line. “Our products are broken down by fundamentals, treatments, stylers and sprays,” he said, and the products on display were visually attractive and, right on trend, clearly labeled as to their specific benefit: volume, color care, moisture, strength and more. It became clear very quickly that, when it comes to Stamey and his products, what is on display is just the tip of the iceberg. Stamey is warm and engaging. He surrounds himself with relatives and friends, and makes his customers feel like part of the family. He has a new strategy for the salon hair care business, and he is making it work.

Bring on the Heat

Stamey’s roots run deep in the salon business. He grew up in a family of hairdressers, starting with his father, who got into the hair business to avoid work in the local mills. The family legacy grew to include his mother, grandfather and an aunt—who all have worked as independent salon owners.

The work fed his father’s interest in formulating hair care products. Back in the day, people who visited a salon once a week had no reason to take product home, but Stamey’s father had different ideas. “Dad viewed his shop as a business, not just a salon,” said Stamey. “His customers were evenly split between men and women, and everyone took product home.”

His father started formulating products in the back of his salon in 1973. Stamey, who chose a business degree over barber college, has always worked in the Kannapolis, N.C., family business. He ran Grayson O, the manufacturing company his dad founded, packaging professional hair care products for a number of brands. That company now is run by a nephew, allowing Stamey to concentrate on ThermaFuse.