Making The Right Cut

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Not just your ordinary barbershop

By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) August 31, 2009

MANILA, Philippines - It’s not business as usual for this group of journalists. While newsmen would normally be in front of their computers chasing deadlines or out searching for stories, this particular bunch also chose to do business on the side.

Indeed, the story behind Newsbarbers is an interesting one.

Dennis Gadil, a veteran journalist for the Malaya newspaper and one of the pioneering investors behind Newsbarbers wanted to bring back the traditional idea of a barbershop.

He said that in the old days, when someone is lost or new in a community, the first thing that they go to is the neighborhood barbershop where information about a home address or a person could be had. You can even get the latest gossip from there.

“That’s what we want to recapture — the era when barbershops played a unique role in the community and not as a mere place of ‘kwentong barbero,’ he told The Star.

With this vision, Gadil invited fellow journalists to invest in the business.

It’s been a long time since the first branch opened in 2003. Newsbarbers now has another home – the IL Terrazzo Mall along Tomas Morato, Gadil said.

The IL Terrazzo branch is Newsbarber’s biggest in terms of area and the most expensive investment at almost P2.4 million.

“We used electric or automated barber chairs for this branch,” he said.

Gadil and business partner Zaldy de Layola , ex-reporter of People’s Journal and now working for Senator Noynoy Aquino, started the business. They opened the first branch at Ever Gotesco mall along Commonwealth Avenue.

“We invited Era Prado of Abante as our first partner or financial investor. Every branch costs P900,000 to build from an original capital of P500,000. We have to borrow from our friends and relatives to finish the project,” Gadil said.

At that time, Zaldy was already in talks with the crew of an existing barbershop who was willing to join him.

Zaldy came to the House of Representatives and floated the idea.

“We immediately applied for a space at the Ever mall but was only able to get feedback after almost a year. The rest is history. Newsbarbers was born!” Gadil said.

Aside from Ever, Circle C and Morato branches, Newsbarbers is also in SM Fairview, SM Pasig and SM Taytay.

The second branch, the one in Circle C Mall along Congressional came almost three months after the first branch opened.

Along the way, for the other branches, Gadil tapped other partners. These include Ryan Pacpaco of Taliba/People’s Journal, Fidel Jimenez of, TJ Burgonio and Norman Bordadora of The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Jess Diaz, Delon Porcalla and Kaye Adraneda of The Philippine Star, Gerry Baldo of The Daily Tribune, JP Lopez and Wendell Vigilia of Malaya and Edmer Panesa of Bulletin.

Non-media friends also became partners, namely Bong Arrezza, Mario de Layola, Jun Tatoy, Ana Ng, Nestor Ng and Orlan Maningas, Gadil said.

“The minimum investment is P100,000,” Gadil noted.

Gadil said Newsbabers is not your ordinary barbershop. Newsbarbers is people-oriented.

“The subtle difference is how we treat our workers. We treat them as co-partners in the business, as co-equals. If you know what I mean,” he said. The market response so far is encouraging.

“The way we treat and care for our people have been reaching the ears of our customers and other barbers from other salon have pending applications for us. Price-wise, they still see our prices competitive with the other leading barbershops,” Gadil said.

Newsbarbers was just in time when there was a major shift in the taste of macho men who were fed-up with beauty parlors manned by gay hair stylists. The exodus to barbershops was just beginning when Newsbabers entered the business.

The macho men and their kids never looked back, Gadil said.

“Aside from death and taxes, I think one regular occurrence in our life is that we grow hair and we ought to cut them,” Gadil said.