Industry Leader Bob Peel Sr. Passes Away

MODERN was saddened to learn of the recent passing of Bob Peel Sr., a true industry leader, at 89.  

 Since 1938, four generations of the Peel family have shipped professional beauty products to their customers.

“He was an absolute pioneer and a huge figure in the development of the beauty business during the past 50 years,” Howard Hafetz of Art of Business, says. “He leaves a strong legacy and an incredible fan club who loved and respected him so!  We are a better world because of Bob Peel.  He was one of my true heroes!”  

Please see more tributes to this beloved man below the following write up, shared from the Professional Beauty Association (PBA): 

Robert “Bob” Peel passed away peacefully on Tuesday, December 6, 2016. Bob was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on January 14, 1927. He was the only child of Robert Henry and Lillie Mae Peel. The family moved to Hutchinson, KS. in 1938. His mother died of bone cancer when Bob was 18 and his father died of a heart attack three years later. 

 Bob worked for his father while still a student at Hutchinson High School. He would go to school until noon, when he would be excused to go home and do chores on the family farm, run errands and fill orders for the beauty supply. While balancing work and school, Peel also pursued his dreams of playing professional baseball and began dating his future wife, Esther Lou Benson. 

 In 1944, like most young men, Bob joined the war effort as a member of the U.S. Navy. Bob remained in contact with Lou throughout his service. The war ended before Bob was deployed overseas, but he remained in service after the war to help with the decommission of equipment and planes and reassignment efforts for those who had fought in the war. After his discharge, Bob returned home where he bought out his father’s partner and became the owner of Peel’s Friendly Supply.

 He married Esther Lou Benson in January of 1947. Bob decided at that time he wanted to see if his dreams of professional baseball were possible, so the newlyweds moved to Chanute, Ks where Bob played in the same Class D professional league as Mickey Mantle.

Tragedy came to the Peel home shortly after that, as the couple tragically lost their first child and Bob’s father, Robert, on the same day. In the midst of his sorrow, Bob decided at that point to rededicate himself to making Peel’s the best beauty supply company he possibly could.

 In the early days, the company sold a line of beauty products by Ellen Kaye along with sundry items like rollers and brushes. When the Ellen Kaye line of products was sold to Bristol Meyer, 

the Peels were the first Distributor in the U.S. to take on an unknown line called “Redken”  Working with Jerri Redding and Paula Meehan, Bob and Lou would revolutionize how beauty products were sold, not just in Kansas, but nationwide. Over the next 10 years, Peels would gained market share and became one of the top distributors for Redken. 

 It was that achievement that brought another life-changing experience to Bob and Lou Peel. In 1985, Bob and Lou and Bob Jr. and Kris, were winners of a six-day cruise from Redken for outstanding sales. 

 While returning home from the cruise, the four were on a flight from Athens, Greece, they were taken prisoner by Lebanese Shia extremists who hijacked the airplane. All family members survived the ordeal, but changed their lives forever. Helping local and national charities became a focus for the Peel’s.  The Peel family has raised millions of dollars for multiple charities and still remains a focus.

Bob Peel then became the first Distributor to take on Matrix Hair Care Line. The Peel family and owners of Matrix, Arnie and Sydell Miller, had a great working relation and again became one of the top Matrix Distributors in the country.

During this time, Bob Peel worked hard to become one of the largest Salon Equipment suppliers in the country. His strength was providing exceptional service to clients during and after the purchase of their salon equipment.

 Peel’s Salon Services was a family business. Over time, the Peel’s two sons, Bob, Jr. and Bill, became Presidents of the company. In addition, Bob and Lou also gained two other employees, as Bob Jr. and Bill’s wives, Kris and Susan joined the company. Each of the grandchildren also joined the company, with Erin Kooiman and her husband, Bart Kooiman; Erika Barnes and her husband Darren Barnes, Lindsay Marquardt; Eric Peel and his wife, Michelle; and Evan Peel all taking key roles in the company. Bob and Lou, with their family behind them, built one of the top Distributors in the country. 

 When the company sold to L’Oréal, Inc. in 2010, Peel’s Beauty Supply had a staff of more than 700 employees, 100 professional sales people, and 59 stores and annual sales of more than $100 million dollars each year. The Peels also enjoyed a loyal and professional staff, with many of them working more than 40 years for the company at the time of the sale.

Bob was an Icon in the beauty industry and touched the lives of many people with his passion for the Industry. He served two terms as President of the Beauty Barber Institution and received many awards from industry partners.

Bob worked till he was 86 and suffered a stroke that took his eyesight. His wife of 66 years, Lou, passed away July 15, 2013.

 Bob will be forever remembered by his family and friends. Survivors include both sons Bob and wife Kris of Hutchinson, KS. and Bill and wife Susie of Omaha, Neb. Five grandchildren, Eric Peel, Lindsay Marquardt, Erin Kooiman, Erika Barnes, and Evan Peel, and great grandchildren Ryland, Cael, Lincoln, Tate, Henry, Cooper, Jordan, Beckham and Hensley.  

Special thanks to all his caregivers, Mary Wells, Debbie Baughman, Carolan Tolbert, Morgan Blackim, Kerri Linder, Doris Bruce, Darla Wyler, Francis Rump,  Jessica Lucas, and Trey Diggs who allowed him to stay in his home of 50 years. Also special thanks to Chris Rodgers, M.D. and all of his doctors.

 Viewing for friends will be Sunday, December 11, 2016 from 3:00-6:00pm at Elliott's Mortruary, 1219 N. Main, Hutchinson, KS.  Following the funeral services, we will “Celebrate Bob’s life” at the Hutchinson Town Club at 200 East Sherman Street, Hutchinson, KS.  A memorial for Hutchinson Community College Endowment Association has been set up in lieu of flowers. For online donations go to or send a check to Elliott Mortuary.

 Funeral Services

Monday, December 12, 2016 - 3:00PM

Park Place Christian Church

2600 N. Adams St., Hutchinson, KS 67502

Remembering Bob Peel

“Peel Sr…what a man," Sara Jones, Joico senior vice president and general manager, says. "Not only the leader of one of our industry’s most innovative distributorships, he had one of the best instincts for the beauty business we’ve ever seen. He had a touch and feel for salons, that translated into a powerhouse business. All of us who were blessed to work with him learned valuable lessons that we carry with us today. I am so thankful to have had Bob Sr and Lou, along with his sons Bill and Bob Jr, as valuable relationships in my career.”

"One great conversation that I was privileged to be to be a witness to was when Paula and I were invited to join the Peel family for Lou's memorial service. Bob and Paula were standing together when she said to him, "YOU changed the beauty business" to which he responded, "No, YOU changed the beauty business." Then in one glittering moment they said in unison, "WE changed the beauty business." All of us are the beneficiaries of their genius, their respect for each other and their supreme respect for salon professionals.  I am forever grateful to Bob Peel. I believe he simply wanted to be Home for Christmas with Lou."--Ann Mincey, former VP of Redken

"Bob Peel was one of those special people who touched so many lives, through his constant and selfless generosity. I have been told so many touching stories of him reaching out into the beauty community and offering help. He was a pioneer, a man of values and a difference maker in so many lives. He will be missed by many."--  Steve Sleeper, executive director, Professional Beauty Association

 "If you thought you knew everything you could possibly know about the professional salon business, make a sales call on Bob Peel would find out quickly that you really did not know much at all,"  says Jeff Schwartz, VP US Sales and Distribution, Olaplex LLC

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