Head and shoulders above

WHEN Steve Ackerie set out to offer customers their money back if they were not happy with his service or products back in 1965, it signaled the birth of maverick marketing in Australian hairdressing.

Today, the ostentatious entrepreneur continues to stand by that satisfaction guarantee. Recently named employer of the year for sending 300 employees on an international training event at the Sheraton Hotel in Hong Kong, the king of rainbow flair and all things hair has a basic leadership principle.

“If you can’t lead, you shouldn’t be up front,” says Ackerie.
“The training tour was for a select 300 of our staff and this year it was about them believing that they could go and helping another staff members believing that they can succeed also. It’s basic leadership.”

Ackerie is a stayer, a rarity in an acquisition and corporate takeover landscape.

“If you walked down Queen Street you would be lucky to find 1 per cent of businesses that are being run by their original founder over the last 40 years. Wallace Bishop is another great example although ‘Wal’ has been at it longer than I have.”

Diversifying business interests to include the 410-seat restaurant Jo Jo’s overlooking Queen St Mall and vested property and offshore powerboat investments, the colourful businessman does not plan to expand anytime soon.

“The restaurant was an extreme decision, but it’s the most amazing restaurant in Australia. It’s a big call, but it really is quite incredible. It has doubled turnover in the last two years but we have spent ‘a lot of money’ on a mega-refurbishment.

“I have 50 stores now and I don’t want anymore. My next challenge is to race (offshore powerboat) from Cairns to Brisbane, Sydney to Brisbane and then the Bass Strait for which I hold the record.”

Ackerie is passionate about Brisbane and its culture. Following Expo 88, he bought the landmark 88m Sky Needle so that it would remain in his beloved city. The structure has since become heritage listed.

Ackerie told Brisbane Business News that a book about his ventures is also on the cards. The title? ‘Never, never, never, never, never quit’ emblazoned across the six colour bands of the Stefan rainbow.

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