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Gimme-5 with Andrew Biazis, Keune's Chief Operating Officer

Monday, 24 November 2014 18:39

Keune Haircosmetics is a prestigious hair care products company for professional hairstylists. Established in 1922 by Jan Keune –one of the founders of the perm formula– Keune has developed into a multinational, specialized in high quality professional hair care products for the beauty industry. His son, George Keune, Sr., still leads the company.

We sat down with Keune's Chief Operating Officer, North America, Andrew Biazis, and we are excited to share this exclusive Gimme-5 interview with all of our readers.

1. Could you tell us about Keune and its mission?
"Keune has been in North America for 16 years. Our No. 1 goal is to make sure hairdressers know who we are and what we stand for. What we stand for is the 'Art of Hair Design.' We are a completely professional brand. We are not sold in mass-market outlets like ULTA. We want to lead with hair color, which we're known for, and obviously build upon that, but be known as a full-service company, as we are around the world in more than 70 countries. It's important that we continue to grow our salon retail haircare products as well –which are of excellent quality– and we want beauty professionals to know that they can depend on Keune for all their product and technical needs."

2. Why is Keune Different?
"The main players we listen to are the stylists and their clients, but our mission also is to become the best partner to the distributors, who play a critical role in making sure that salon professionals are satisfied with our support. We then will have accomplished our mission.
We rely on our entire team. We want to have our people, who are recognized leaders in their craft, like George Alderete, Roy Peters, Shannon King, Dennis Gebhart, John Yurkew and Christopher Sulimay, lead the way with our artistic presentation to the trade, particularly with our class curriculum at our state-of-the-art and recently expanded Academy in Atlanta.
We are also a family-owned company, which is an advantage as far as timely execution of initiatives. Many times during the week when I'm on the phone with George Keune, Jr., our North American founder, the first thing he always asks me is, “How is everyone in your family?” Then he asks me, “How is everyone doing in the company?” and finally he asks me, “How did that education or marketing program go?” It's never about being preoccupied with the level of sales, as we pride ourselves in judging our performance by the activities we perform. It's never those typical big corporation type questions, which is something we really enjoy about his approach and which is similar to mine. I've been in this industry for 28 years, and this is the first company I've worked where we exclusively focus the priorities on doing the right activities. We believe as long as we do the right activities, the revenues will follow."

3. How did you join Keune?
"It started with sending an e-mail to George Keune, Jr., and presenting my credentials. I was under a non-compete clause from P&G at the time and had had the opportunity to observe the industry from an outside perspective. I asked myself, “Where can I make the greatest contribution to a company and build a great team?” I decided I needed to find the right spot where I could make the greatest contribution, establish a great “positive working together culture” and not to do it for the money but for the satisfaction of doing something special, because I realized this will probably be the end cap to my career. I told George that I wanted to invest at least the next 10 years of my life, if he's happy with our team’s efforts, to do something unique with this company in North America."

4. What are your main goals for Keune?
"Our core values are 'True, Dedication, Elegance and Together.' We don't like to take a short trend that is going to last for 3 months and be greedy and focus on that. We would rather go for more long-term elegance in our approach. In our overall mentality, we know that we need to do it together. For example, we listen to stylists, their clients and our studio team before we create any trend collections. Our new “The Sublime” Trend Collection came from listening to clients in the chair. They were looking for elegant and timeless style, including a softer, beautiful look. They want looks that are wearable for the workplace, but also to wear out on the town created with temporary styling products and a versatile cut. Because we stay true to what we hear in the market, our trend collections are loved by stylists and clients, alike. Additionally, we all view Keune like this is our own business, which reinforces working closely together and helps us to maximize our potential. A true entrepreneurial approach."

5. What's in store in 2015 for Keune?
"What's most important continues to be building our organization. About 18 months ago, we had about four representatives in the field. By the end of this year, we will have close to 30 people representing us in the field as our best ambassadors. 'Feet on the street' is one of the best ways to achieve brand awareness.
We also have a new four-product range called Care Line Satin Oil, which provides healthy, silky, soft and shiny hair. The Satin Oil collection improves the quality of the hair remarkably, making it stronger and shinier, without feeling greasy or heavy. In September, we launched two highly anticipated products – Design Dry Shampoo and Volume Powder for infinite styles, texture freedom and extra care for your hair. We have the utmost confidence in our products, as we use the highest quality ingredients to ensure they will consistently perform. We test-market our products extensively with our sophisticated Research & Development department and flagship test salon in the Netherlands. We go the extra mile to make sure these products really work.
We are also working on creating the ideal Keune salon experience to establish an emotional connection with stylists and their clients. Besides the required retail shelf merchandising, brand signage and typical point- of-sale materials, we are going back to our creative drawing boards and really trying to bring to life our motto, the Art of Hair Design, and establish that ultra important emotional connection to our brand. So far, all is on track to double the size of the company in the next 3 years, as we are currently in the process of doubling the size of warehouse and office space to accommodate our tremendous growth of close to 30% a year the past two years."

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