Charles Penzone celebrates his 50th year in the industry this year. As an industry visionary who pioneered several concepts such as the Grand Salon, which married salon, spa and nail services in almost 20,000 square feet of luxury, Charles Penzone was a frequent source in SALON TODAY features over the years. Having earned numerous industry honors, including several SALON TODAY 200 and SALONS OF THE YEAR awards, Penzone’s often graced our pages, and even made the cover a time or two. So when Editor in Chief Stacey Soble learned the owner of six salons in the Greater Columbus, Ohio-area was celebrating his 50th anniversary in the industry, she seized the opportunity to interview him via podcast. Following is an excerpt of that interview:
LISTEN to the podcast.
SALON TODAY: What first attracted you to hairdressing 50 years ago?
PENZONE: I’m a first generation Italian American who is in his late 60s. Most men of my generation of Italian heritage went into professions like hairdressing, barbering and construction, or businesses like restaurants, grocery stores or importing produce. I had five male cousins in the beauty industry and probably even more female cousins. I thought I would give it a try and decide whether I was going to stay in it or go on and pursue something else. I fell in love with this industry, and it’s been the only thing I’ve done for 50 years.
In 1992, THE TODAY SHOW visited Columbus and filmed at Charles Penzone’s first Grand Salon for three days. The resulting story brought a flood of reporters from around the world. SALON TODAY: If you were looking back at a scrapbook of your career, what pages would make you the most proud?
PENZONE: This company and this brand have much to be proud of. One page I would definitely include would be our associate training program which we started in 1969. Or maybe I would show a picture of the first computer we put in during the 1970s. Or the beautiful salon designs we did very early on as well as the employment agreements we introduced to the industry. The Grand Salons are something that we are very proud of, as well as our management team, which includes two CPAs, six MBAs and probably 20 other people with business degrees. I’m also starting my 16th year as a member of the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology, and am serving under my fourth governor—that would definitely be in the album. And, we’ve employed up to 10,000 people in the Central Ohio area and providing jobs for people is something I’m elated about. I’ve often said I’ve had the opportunity to party with Paul Mitchell in the ’70s and dine with Vidal. I’m proud of this company that currently consists of about 500 great people…we’ve been very blessed and are very lucky.