Cy-Fair man retools career in style
Knowing his days as an office systems communications consultant were numbered, Cy-Fair resident Kelly Williams discovered a new calling as the owner of hair salons.
After 20 years as a data quality strategist at different companies, Williams knew the layoffs were coming and planned ahead. He met with a franchise headhunter and did his research with the University of Houston Small Business Development Center.
In October 2007, Williams acquired his first Great Clips franchise, and by March 2008, he opened his own Great Clips location.
His two locations, one in Cypress and one in Spring, are both a work in progress, but are doing well, thanks to extensive franchise training, personnel development, conferences and local classes designed to support owners.
Salon managers Toya Johnson and Ashley Szilagyi enjoy working with Williams.
Johnson, manager of the Cypress location at 13113 Louetta Road, said Williams' approach and hands-on attitude motivates the stylists and engages the customers.
"We definitely respect him. He's out there cutting hair with us and learning in training classes with us. He laughs and jokes with us. He is also very fair and treats us as individuals. He's very understanding and business-minded," said Johnson, a 15-year salon veteran.
Szilagyi has witnessed Williams' concern for his employees and customers at the Spring salon at 2211 Rayford Road.
She said his upbeat mood adds to the salon atmosphere.
"He's refreshing and actually cares for the staff. He's always interacting with the stylists and the customers. It's a good experience. I plan on being here for a long time," Szilagyi said.
Williams was born in Albuquerque, N.M., and raised in Southern California. Upon graduating from the University of Southern California in 1985 with two degrees, Williams embarked on a consulting career in office systems communications.
His last position at BMC Software lasted a little less than three years and through two rounds of layoffs before his turn came up, he said. Williams' goal was to have a plan for the future.
"I knew it was coming. I began looking at alternatives. I heard about the franchise and thought it might be compatible. They've given me tons of training. I went in with my eyes open. It's been a pretty good idea," Williams said.
The biggest challenge has been embracing the world of hair styling.
"It's just different. I had never been exposed to this before. I hire stylists for attitude and train for skill. I love paying bonuses because it means we're growing. I enjoy working with the staff. It's very unique. It's been so gratifying. I really wish I could've done this years ago," he said.
In his free time, Williams enjoys spending time with his wife, Carol Williams, who works with RBC Bank, and hosting weekly poker tournaments.
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