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At Ratner Companies, It’s All About the People

Ratner Companies, the largest family-owned and operated chain of hair salons in the country, is ISBN’s newest member. Dennis and Ann Ratner, who co-founded the company in 1974 and are also hairstylists, lead the company, with family members Warren, Kelly, Gary and Lauren serving in positions, ranging from licensed stylist to Resource Center leaders.

Earlier this year, Phil Horvath, an ISBN past president, was named president and chief operating officer of the family-owned company. He brings more than 25 years of beauty and salon industry leadership to his new roll. He will draw upon his experience in leading aggressive growth in both the service and retail sides of the hair salon business, to help Ratner Companies maximize their numerous growth opportunities.

With nearly 1,000 locations operating in 16 states and the District of Columbia under the Hair Cuttery, Bubbles, Salon Cielo and Salon Plaza brands, Ratner Companies employs more than 11,000 licensed stylists. The company also offers its own product brand, Cibu.

  • Hair Cuttery is a value-priced salon chain offering a full menu of cutting, coloring, waxing and texturizing services with no appointment necessary.
  • Bubbles is the salon choice for the fashion-forward. Its stylists are highly trained to provide and set trends in hair design, color and texture services.
  • Salon Cielo offers exceptional hair and spa services in a serene, relaxing atmosphere. Expert stylists create timeless, classic styles, and spa locations provide a convenient respite to the hectic pace of everyday life. Clients leave feeling pampered and renewed.
  • Salon Plaza provides private salon suites for stylists who want to fulfill their dreams of owning a salon with a minimal investment. Franchise opportunities are available.
  • Cibu shampoos, conditioners and finishing products are inspired by the ancient secrets of the Far East. Each product is infused with Cibu’s Hydradralphatine Asiatique, a patented blend of bamboo, lotus flower and water lily extracts. They’re available at Hair Cuttery, Bubbles, Salon Cielo and online at

Because Dennis and Ann believe in investing back in the industry, Ratner Companies has partnered with Paul Mitchell in opening Paul Mitchell The School in Tyson’s Corner, VA, Woodbridge, VA and Jacksonville, FL. The schools offer advanced classes to educators in the field to enable them to enhance their professional knowledge and skills.

A people-first business

“The culture here is so phenomenal, because people always come first,” says Phil. “The average employee stays 15 years, and we have stylists who have been with Dennis for 20 and even 30 years. We’re evolving to serve modern-day employees and help Millennials stylists feel like they are part of our stylist community.”

Adds Phil, “Ratner Companies is in a growth mode. First and foremost, our goal is to grow stylist earnings and provide a great career and career path for them. To do that, we’re working with Peter Mahoney, an ISBN board member, to create a level system for stylists at every brand—even at our value-priced business—to help them earn a great living. As a company, we’re focused on key behaviors—such as ensuring that everyone is rebooking clients and recommending retail products—to drive results that grow earnings, and then tie those behaviors to compensation.”

Phil says the company is also focused on growing its hair color business at all price points.

“We’ve become known as offering the best in hair color for a value-priced business,” he says. “That provides huge growth potential.”

Retail also offers great opportunity. “We are looking at how to re-invent retail,” explains Phil. “Currently, we’re a 90% service company. We’re asking, ‘How do we become more relevant and increase our product sales through a robust loyalty program, stylist career-path incentives, e-commerce and focusing on Cibu, our exclusive brand?’ We are working on educating our stylists to make retail a part of their process when communicating with their guests, both to grow their income and to help retain the guest.”

Finally, Phil is focused on growing each of the company’s brands. “Positioned at the high end of the value market with a sense of quality and approachable fashion—think H&M—Hair Cuttery offers big growth potential,” he explains. “Even though we have more than 900 locations, we’re in fewer than 10 states. We’re creating a consumer-centric approach that will allow us to become the go-to place for on-trend cuts and color at a value price. In addition, 50% of our clients are men, and we have huge room for growth there, as well.”

Positioned at the mid-priced level, Bubbles and Salon Cielo serve a fashionable clientele at a higher income. “For these brands, we’re figuring out who our consumer set is,” says Phil. “She wants to spend more on hair color and values quality with a fashionable sense.”

Finally, Ratner Companies differentiates itself through technology, interweaving the super guest experience and the stylist culture. The company’s stylist app allows the company to communicate with stylists, educate their team and recognize successes. In addition, the built-in compensation programs turns the app into a personal coach for stylists, so they know exactly how much they’re earning and how close they are to moving up on a real-time basis.

“Where we are at Ratner companies is so exciting to me,” concludes Phil. “I love the hair industry and this is a natural role for me. I came from a family of hairdressers, so the connectivity Dennis and I have is very synergistic. That will guide us to making the best plans and delivering on the results. Here, hair is the business. When we enter a new market, we can grow with all three brands. Our stylists can also work at all three brands, if they desire. We want to help them own their careers from start to finish. We are poised to help the company and its people grow together.”

Reach Phil at Learn more at

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