“The Profit” traveled to Greensboro, South Carolina to meet the owners of Ashtae Products, a regional player in the hair-care world. Its multi-cultural line grossed more than $1 million a year with sought-after products. Salons were always asking for more, but sometimes they had to wait, which was only one of the challenges faced by Marcus Lemonis.
Ashtae is a family business owned and run by husband and wife Michael and Ramona Woods along with daughter Taylore. Their debt was minimal, when compared to other businesses Marcus reviews for investment and turnaround, but it didn’t mean they weren’t on the brink of falling apart.
The tension and stress of Ramona and Taylore was all from Michael’s free-spirited ways. He had fleeting interests and a lack of focus that sent profits off to new worlds of endeavor. He owned a huge building that housed not only the company but a dozen or more other businesses. There was also a chapel for a church and a space meant for a future manufacturing plant that would bring the Ashtae line in-house.
Ramona and Taylore were at the breaking point because of a process that was non-existent. The potential to make Ashtae more than a local provider to salons was there and Lemonis saw the fit with his other hair product company. He did have a lot to learn about the African-American hair business, because he hadn’t heard of and didn’t understand the importance of the Bronner Brothers trade show.
When he arrived he’d never seen anything like it and was bowled over with its scope. By that time he had agreed to invest $300,000 in Ashtae for 25% of the equity. It was the first time in forever on “The Profit” that Marcus Lemonis didn’t take a majority stake and announced, “I’m 100% in charge”. With Michael’s lack of focus and the need to turn things around before young Taylore flew the coop, you would have thought Marcus would have set the tone with a show of force.
He didn’t, and yet the turnaround worked. He convinced Michael, after some light arm-twisting to use a decent co-packer for the line, along with rebranding the packaging and expanding to other markets outside the Greensboro areas. He was forced to delegate his landlord duties that included fixing someone’s air-conditioning.
What Michael demonstrated was his salesmanship and winning ways with customers. While there was pushback it was not anywhere close to what you thought would happen when the two strong-willed men came face-to-face.
The photo above of Marcus Lemonis in a hair cap under a dryer represented only part of him asking for the full treatment to test the products on his hair. It was comical, since Marcus’ hair is almost nonexistent, yet he proclaimed it much smoother after all was said and done. The guy is willing to do whatever it takes to feel good about his investments.
“The Profit” airs Tuesdays on CNBC Primetime, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT Image credit: CNBC, used with permission