Modern Original People – Bob Myers

Bob Myers worked his way up the corporate ladder, crafting an enviable career by taking chances, playing his hunches and finding solutions for problems others might find insurmountable, but before we get to that, a little back story. The General Manager, Membership, for the Professional Beauty Association (PBA) grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, home to the oldest and largest Amish community in the country.

“When I got into the professional beauty industry, people would ask if I was Amish,” says Myers, whose stock answer was, “Yes, I am. My horse is at the airport, but I left him some grain.” Later when he worked for Estee Lauder, Myers found it comical that the “corporate dress code” was black-on-black, which also happened to be the “uniform” of all the Amish people he knew back in Lancaster. Let’s just say that it helps to have a sense of humor in these situations.

A draftsman who worked for a civil engineering firm, Myers, like many men before him, made a decision to go to beauty school because that’s where all the cute girls were. He graduated, though he admits that he just wasn’t that good at doing hair. “I went there on a mission, and I accomplished it,” says Myers. “I found my wife.” He and Daphne, who have been married for 34 years, became teachers at the cosmetology school they graduated from, but eventually Myers longed for something more.

When an opportunity presented itself to work for Kenra, he jumped at it. He and Daphne got married, had the first of their three children and moved to Indianapolis for about a year and a half. Then they moved back to Lancaster where they wanted to raise their family, and Myers made an unconventional decision: to perform his duties as Director of Education from a remote location. “I guess you could call it an early version of home officing,” says Myers, who adapted to a life on the road but was “fully present and accounted for” when he was home.

Myers, who also managed the sales team, describes his job as the “greatest adventure of my life.” During his tenure there, Kenra saw unprecedented growth. “We took that company from $2 million to $20 million,” he says, “and we introduced some of the products that are still popular today.”

Along the way, however, Myers became passionate about hair color, but at the time Kenra wasn’t heading in that direction. Then he heard about a position as Regional Sales Manager at Joico. “It was actually a step down from where I was at Kenra, but it gave me an opportunity to expand my scope and learn about the growing hair color market,” says Myers, who took the job and started working his way up the ladder again, eventually becoming National Director of Sales and Education.

This time around, his commute to the home office was a lot longer since Joico was based in Southern California. It was while at Joico that Myers began his love affair with running. “I’d been traveling for a long time, and I wasn’t getting the exercise I needed,” he says. “As I got older I started putting on weight.” So when one of his colleagues suggested a contest to see which of them could lose the most weight, he was onboard. To sweeten the pot, it was decided that whoever won was free and clear, but the loser would have to take off his shirt and dance to Chaka Khan at the next sales meeting. “There was no way I was going to do that, so I started running five or six miles a day,” says Myers, who has since run five marathons.

Myers worked for Joico for a decade, and when the company was staged for sale, he was part of the due diligence team that put together information to structure the transition. That experience gave him a higher profile, and Framesi, an Italian color company based near Pittsburgh, recruited him when it was in the stages of a transition back to private ownership. “It was a great learning experience,” says Myers, who began looking for other opportunities when his stint at Framesi came to an end after a year.

In 2006 Myers was in the process of buying a distributorship when he got a call from a recruiter who told him that Aveda was interested in meeting him. Aveda was a company whose values had resonated with him for years, so Myers took the meeting with Dominique Conseil, Aveda Global Brand President. Initially he was offered a consulting position, but after three months, he was hired permanently as Vice President of Sale and Education, which Myers describes as “my dream job without concession.”

The only hitch? The position required a move to Chicago, but Myers wasn’t interested in pulling his children out of school. So, he and his wife bought a condo in Chicago, and he began another long commute.  As it turned out, Aveda was acquiring a distributor and needed someone with corporate transitional experience, which Myers had acquired when working for both Joico and Framesi, proving once again that playing a hunch can be a good thing.

“Our territory began exceeding all of our goals, but only after a lot of customer engagement, service and staff development,” says Myers. Meanwhile, Estee Lauder was restructuring in order to meet the digital demands of the future, and Myers was offered a plum position as Vice President of New Business Development for the Professional Brands Division at Estee Lauder.

Then PBA came calling. Now Myers spends about 75 percent of his time in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the rest in Lancaster. “I have always made career choices that involved a lot of travel, he says, “but I’ve never missed an important lacrosse game or a karate tournament. I would like to believe I was a role model for my children. They’re great kids, and I’m incredibly proud of them.”

As it turns out, Myers has one more humorous story to share. While his job keeps him in Arizona, a state that has attracted retirees for decades, it turns out that he already owns property in the city that U.S. News & World Reportjust named one of the best places to retire: Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “Trust me, it’s not because of the weather,” he laughs. “It’s because of the diversity, the access to organic food sources, the fact that the cost of living is not prohibitive, and location, location, location.” As it turns out, Lancaster is just a short ride by train or automobile to New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland.

“There’s no place like home,” Dorothy observed in The Wizard of Oz, but Bob Myers—both he and his wife have 200 years of ancestral history in Lancaster County—didn’t need her to tell him that.