As a kid going through the daily routine of life hair loss is NEVER anywhere remotely near the forefront of your mind. When I was growing up in Tennessee I could not wait to get out of school so I could go run through the mountains or tinker with my "computer" and play video games. One of the things I also liked doing was staying up late at night hoping to find a science fiction movie or catch the next episode of Saturday Night Live. One thing I would invariably see would be commercials with a guy that talked about hair loss. At the end of the commercial he'd say that he's not only the president of the company, he was also a client. I'm talking about Hair Club for Men and Sy Sperling.
Why is Sy Sperling a Big Deal?
Sy Sperling is the first person ever to really bring hair loss into the light in any meaningful way and he did so the way anyone with a dream would do in the 1980's and that was through the use of TV commercials. Almost as long as I can remember I have recognized this phrase; "I'm not only the president of Hair Club for Men, I'm also a client". This was his famous tagline that is so powerful that any guy over the age of 30 instantly knows it as being from Hair Club. The thing about Sy Sperling is that, just like myself and my friend Spencer Kobren, he made a business out of his quest to fulfill his own needs.
Sy Sperling opened his first hair restoration salon in 1969 in New York because he too was in search of a way to fight his hair loss. At the time he was trying to promote the use of hair "weaves" instead of the more common toupee. Weaves literally weave the new hair in with existing hair so that it is better anchored and more natural for those times where intimacy may reveal the truth. In the end, it's still a wig, but it ushered in the era of more awareness and it most likely helped to elevate the quality of this alternative to hair loss for the entire industry.
By 1990 Sy Sperling had 85 salons in various cities and 30 years after he started the company he sold it for 45 million dollars. Not bad! Part of this payout was a requirement that he sign a non-compete for a full fifteen years. This is an amazing testimony regarding the power of his name. I have heard of one year, two year and even five year non-compete agreements. I have never heard of a fifteen year non-compete agreement which, to me, is incredible. Well, now he's free of this agreement and he chose to reach out to Spencer Kobren for what may be the start of a comeback.