Mario Argenti is a veteran salon industry leader who has been instrumental in the building of numerous brands. He recently joined Keratin Complex as president of Keratin Labs, a new company division poised for growth and expansion. Argenti spoke to MODERN SALON about the opportunities that attracted him to his new venture.
MODERN SALON: YOU HAVE A LONG HISTORY IN THE PROFESSIONAL SALON INDUSTRY. WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO KERATIN LABS?
MARIO ARGENTI: With the one-time exception of following my entrepreneurial instincts, I have spent most of my salon industry career in positions at large corporations. Keratin Complex is a smaller company and different environment. I was impressed with its standing in the market and its excellent opportunity for growth. The company has grown from a start up five years ago into a market leader in its category—a huge and impressive accomplishment. The smoothing category is large, popular and growing, but is still small when compared to other markets in the professional beauty industry. This means there is a great deal of room for exploring new areas and creating opportunities to expand into other categories. When I met with the Keratin Complex team, I loved their entrepreneurial spirit and innovative ideas.
MS: WHAT IS THE ROLE OF KERATIN LABS?
MA: Keratin Labs is a new division of Keratin Complex with a primary focus on new opportunities in the marketplace. Keratin Complex has a great structure and foundation and it was decided that the company could more fruitfully grow, expand and pursue these opportunities if there was a separate organization with this focus, and that is Keratin Labs. I joined as president of Keratin Labs and I also sit on the board of Keratin Complex to help maximize the work that has already been accomplished. The focus will be on product innovation and new categories. The keratin category has displayed great product innovation and there is a real pressure on companies now to comply with ingredient regulations and new technologies. There is also a great push for products that offer rejuvenation and anti-aging benefits since today’s population is aging but wants products that help create a youthful appearance.
MS: HOW ARE YOU BUILDING YOUR DISTRIBUTION NETWORK?
MA: There have been so many mergers and acquisitions in the manufacturing and distribution segments of the professional industry and I think salons require and are looking for more individual service and independent distributors are poised to make many contributions. The right distributors are key to the success of an organization and brand. Keratin Complex has nearly 20 distributors and all are independents. I want to capitalize on the resources of the company to support our distribution network and build on the relationships that the Keratin Complex team has already established. MS: WHAT IS ON YOUR IMMEDIATE AGENDA? MA: I will be putting together market strategies to get in place for the next few months and then move forward with new product launches. I see it as crossing a river. It’s too wide to take in one step, so we need a stone in the middle to step on. I’m excited to be working with the Keratin Complex team all of whom have such passion and drive in serving the salon industry.
We will also put aggressive programs in place to combat diversion. When a company’s products are as popular as these, it is inevitable that we will encounter diversion, but we will set protocols in place to combat that. I am excited also to make the transition from the large corporate environment to a smaller company. It is something of a risk to take the corporate philosophy to an entrepreneurial company where the culture is so defined and so vital. There is a real family feeling at Keratin Complex and it is a challenge to achieve a balance between a more corporate mind set and the unique identity and vitality of a smaller organization.
For me, the move to an independent company like this means a commitment to serving the industry and being part of creative new programs and products, being part of the passion this team has for what they do and working to both protect and add to the accomplishments that the Keratin Complex team has already achieved.