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Phil Weaver: Cutting a Path Forward

Listen, engage, and empower. That’s the advice of Phil Weaver, who has over three decades of experience managing workforces exceeding 200 people.

After thirty years in high tech, over which the enterprising Weaver grew businesses across the globe, the Ottawa native took his managerial skills to another field entirely: the beauty industry. “I felt it was time for a change,” he explains. “The beauty industry was interesting not only because it was close to home, but because it was customer focused.”

To say that Weaver was just as successful in his new milieu would be a grievous understatement. As CEO of Oakview Management, Weaver oversees 49 salons across Eastern Ontario. They operate under four imminently recognizable brands: First Choice Haircutters, Magicuts, SmartStyles, and his most recent acquisition, Rooster’s Men’s Grooming.

Oakview’s empire began in 2008 when the company acquired a nest egg consisting of twelve franchises. Twelve years later, it had more than quadrupled in size, offering haircuts, styling, colour/highlights, and beard trims not only in the Ottawa area but in Embrun, Hawkesbury, Rockland, Gatineau, Manotick, Kemptville, and Carleton Place.

Oakview’s most recent acquisition, Rooster’s, has changed the grooming game for men. The burgeoning franchise, with locations in Kanata and Orleans, has tuned into a large, underserved market, offering men the kind of personal attention that borders on pampering. “I felt that men needed an upscale place to relax, an escape from their busy day,” explains Weaver. “Each client has a private area to get their services: haircuts, straight razor shaves, facial treatments, and beard trims.”

Weaver makes sure that the teams helming each of the Oakview-owned salons, regardless of which brand they represent, are regularly updated on the latest trends and techniques. “To be successful in the beauty industry, skills need to be elevated,” he maintains. Looking to ensure quality control, Weaver, in 2019, oversaw the acquisition of a trio of beauty academies, here in Ottawa and in London, Ontario. “We train the students in hair services, medical esthetics, and esthetics,” he lists. “And as the owners of 49 salons, we’re well suited to ensure that the students have lots of hands-on experience to hone and perfect their skills.”   

Given Oakview’s success, it’s no surprise that Weaver is also in demand as a business guru, helping aspiring entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level. In 2020, he founded the Canadian Salon Franchise Association with over 400 salon locations in Canada. The association provides business advice to improve operations and assists in the resolution of contentious issues impacting operation and the business caused by the Franchisor. In addition, the association assists owners to secure competitive costs on products and services.

So, what’s Weaver’s formula for successful leadership? According to the indefatigable entrepreneur, it’s a clear vision. “Make your values and expectations obvious,” he advises. “Also, practice integrity and clear communication. We need to treat everyone with fairness and respect.”

That said, Weaver is quick to admit that despite their success, he and his team are ever-evolving. “We are always learning,” he admits. “There are many challenges that we face.” Hence, his strategic retreats into sessions of serious self-reflection and his consultative discussions with fellow business owners. These practices not only assure the solvency of Oakview’s interests, they also imbue their figurehead with the spirit of positivity and adaptability.  “There is always a path forward,” Weaver advises optimistically, “even when it doesn’t seem evident.”

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