Nailco Salon Marketplace celebrated its 10th anniversary during the Nailco 1995 Salon Conference & Expo in Dearborn, Mich., September 29-October 1. More than 150 manufacturers and nail technicians joined company president Larry Gaynor, his wife and company vice president Teresa Gaynor, and staff members at a dinner and awards ceremony to celebrate the company's growth from a back counter in Gaynor's, teh family's dicsount health and baeuty aids store, to a 102,000-square foot state of the art facility.

Colorful History

Ironically, Nailco Salon Marketplace, today one of the largest nail product distributors in the world, came about by accident. In 1982, Larry Gaynor opened Gaynor's with his father.

"At that time," explains Gaynor, "beauty supply stores were limited in number. Manicurists came into the store and asked for professional sized of polish remover, Dragon Lady tips, files, and so on. To please the customer, we added a three foot section of professional nail products." 

Three feet wasn't enough for the nail technicians, who clamored for more, and the section soon expanded to eight feet. Everyone was happy for a while, until a nail technician came in asking for a "honey-tipped brush."

"I was thinking, Why would a nail technician want a brush with honey on the tip?" says Gaynor. Finally, Gaynor found out that the brush-which was named for its honey-colored stable bristles- was made by Creative Nail Design Systems, and he called the company to order a dozen. He was told they only sold their products to professional distributors so he had to order the brush from a professional distributor to resell it to his customer.

Meanwhile, nail technicians began to flock to Gaynor's in increasing numbers. In 1985, Gaynor opened Nailco. "We tore out eight feet of the cosmetics aisle, put in a counter, hired a nail technician, bought a computer, a 16-page black and white catalog," he says. 

In 1986, the company held its first tradeshow. In 1987, Gaynor closed his namesake discount store to focus his energies on Nailco. 

Success Has Its Ups and Downs 

Nailco has enjoyed continued growth each year. Gaynor credits his success to constant communication with his customers. This communication was easier when the company was smaller, admits Gaynor. "I took orders and did a lot of the day-to-day operations myself. But as we've grown, with two floors and 125 employees, it's harder to keep in touch." Still, Nailco is constantly surveying its clients, and Gaynor reads every response, and even responds to some.

All of this success han't come without mistakes. "We used to have a minimum order requirement; we used to not accept American Express; and we used to charge for shipped, no matter what size the order (all programs that have been changed)," says Gaynor. "Camp Nailco was also a costly mistake. We had ongoing seminars and activities at a resort over a weekend and we charaged a flat rate for the entire weekend. Only 40 or 50 people signed up. What we learned from that is that the industry just isn't willing to spend large amounts of money on education."

Other programs, such as the Beauty on Demand on-line fax database, have been slow to catch on, says Gaynor. "The program doesn't generate the interest we wanted because many salons don't have fax machines. But the most popular award people choose in the Nailco Miles program is the fax machine," he adds.

Gaynor describes Nailco as "technologically driven," a claim that is borne out by the company's  new 102,000-square-foot facility. From the high-tech computer ordering system to the semi-automated warehouse, the facility is a "grade A, five-star system," says George Schaeffer, president of OPI Products (N. Hollywood, Calif.), one of Nailco's vendors. 

When Nailco was part of Gaynor's, it supplied mostly local nail technicians. But as Nailco grew and word spread (and the catalog expanded, Nailco began to dominate the national mail order scene for professional nail products. Today, the company is a full-service mail order company with a top-line showroom and training center at the Farmington Hills, Mich., headquarters, holds annual tradeshows, and offers a variety of special services and programs. 

"Over the 10-year period, we have considered ourselves to be the market leader. We've achieved that position by listening to our clients and offering superior customer service. We have more than 100,00 clients, so we're doing something right. The next 10 years, we feel, are going to be more competitive, more challenging, and more difficult," Gaynor concludes. 

The Future Looks Bright

Gaynor isn't allowing himself or anyone else at Nailco to rest on their laurels. For 1996, his focus on nurturing better relationships with clients, which should be helped with the premiere of the Nailco Miles Platinum program with a dedicated toll-free order and customer-service line. Gaynor is also looking to open an overseas distribution  facility to better serve the international market. A West Coast location is also under consideration.

Happy birthday, Nailco. There's no doubt you'll make every effort to make all your birthday wishes come true. 

10 Years and Counting

  • 1986: moved out of Gaynor's into a 1,600 square-foot facility
  • 1987: held the first weekend nails training program; catalog grew to 36 pages; had 10,000 clients
  • 1988: held two more weekend training programs; introduced Nail World newsletter; had 13 employees and a 60-page catalog; moved to a 6,400-square-foot facility in Livonia, Mich. 
  • 1989: introduced first color catalog; expanded to 9,600 square feet
  • 1990: introduced Nail World magazine; expanded to 12,800 square feet and 22 employees; catalog grew to 96 pages
  • 1991: introduced camp Nailco; premiered indoor tanning, boutique, and holiday goods; gave away a Geo car at a sixth show; expanded to 16,000 square feet, 25,000 clients and 32 employees
  • 1992: introduced tanning equipment and Nailco News; catalog up to 166 pages; grew to 46 employees; expanded to 19,200 square feet
  • 1993: introduced day spa and massage products; expanded to 24,000 square feet with 60,000 clients and a 240-page catalog
  • 1994: introduced the first Virtual Reality tradeshow; client benefits grew to include Beauty on Demand on line fax database, Nailco Miles, Nailco credit card, Club1, and N-Tech; moved to a 102,000-square-foot facility; catalog up to 276 pages; grew to 80 employees
  • 1995: introduced Hairco, Sunco; acquired Beauty Direct; premiered the Nailco/Hairco sale catalog; introduced Nailco Conference & Expo; catalog pages exceeded 600, while customers numbered more than 100,000 and staff grew to 125

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