Salon Success Academy: Three Generations of Vision
Richard Gross stepped out of cosmetology school in 1957 with a passion for the beauty industry, an entrepreneurial spirit and a vision for the future. By the time he opened his first campus in 1960 under the name Richard’s Beauty College in San Bernardino, Richard was already an award-winning stylist and local celebrity. His Los Angeles salon was attracting walk-ins and movie stars, alike, and he was the host of a local television show offering styling tips to the masses.
As Richard began expanding the school which would later become Salon Success Academy, he never lost sight of his commitment to his students or the industry they would serve.
“My grandfather really was a founding father in cosmetology instruction,” said Jeff Gross, Salon Success Academy Marketing Director. “He was a great advocate for the industry, but even more so for his students.”
Jeff’s father and Richard’s son Robert Gross, president of Salon Success Academy, agrees.
“My dad understood that if you were going to be a serious player in the industry you had to be willing to work with the legislature to effect positive change for your students,” said Robert. “He was instrumental in the founding of the Regional Occupational Program which enabled high school students to earn credit toward their diplomas at the same time they trained to become cosmetologists or work in other professions.”
Known today as the Regional Occupational Centers and Programs, the ROCPs serve more than 450,000 students each year and are considered a major resource in California’s workforce development system.
Like his father, Robert has also worked closely with the California legislature while at the helm of Salon Success Academy.
“We were the first externship program in the country,” said Robert, noting that the externship bill he helped introduce gives students amazing real-world experience. He’s also proud of the preapplication for examination legislation he helped pass that allows students to take their cosmetology licensing exams while the content they learned in school is still fresh in their minds, rather than waiting for months on end, as they were once required to do.
Robert is passionate about the education and service he provides at Salon Success Academy, but also about the cosmetology field, as a whole. He is active throughout the industry and helped found — and is a current board member of— the Professional Beauty Federation of California, and the California Cosmetology Coalition before that.
However, Robert’s path to Salon Success Academy wasn’t long-planned. He had graduated with a business degree from San Diego State when the brother who was helping his father’s blooming business — there were six schools by the time Robert came on board — took a position outside the school. Robert agreed to help his father with the business.
“But I wasn’t going to run a business that I didn’t know anything about,” said Robert, “so I went to beauty school.”
While attending beauty school 40 hours a week, Robert was also working weekends at the schools, taking inventory, ordering and delivering supplies and stocking shelves. Then, he worked at a salon for about a year to really learn the business from the ground up — so he could build it.
And build it, he did. Not only was Robert building a reputation and a solid student body for Salon Success Academy; he was also physically building the schools themselves.
“I was actually involved in all the build outs and remodels over the years,” said Robert. “At one time we had 14 schools in three states.”
For Jeff, the schools were like a second home. And from the time he was a little kid, he worked there, doing whatever needed to be done. Among the more recent roles he’s held are High School Outreach Coordinator, Facilities Manager and Director of Marketing. Jeff says he’s proud of what his grandfather and father have built and plans to continue their good work as he takes on even more responsibility.
“How could I not be proud of being a part of this legacy?” asked Jeff.
Jeff said his vision for the future is to hold steady to his grandfather’s principals of being a “people helping company” while staying relevant to “an industry that is always evolving.”
“My grandfather started Salon Success Academy with a mission to provide students with hands–on cosmetology training taught by faculty who really care,” said Jeff. “That’s something we’re never going to change — we really do care.”
Salon Success Academy is a family-run business with a three-generation history of excellence and commitment to cosmetology education. The school offers hands-on training in cosmetology and esthetics at its five locations throughout the Inland Empire of California in Redlands, Fontana, Upland, San Bernardino, and Corona. If you would like to learn more about training for a new career with Salon Success Academy, please call 877-987-HAIR (4247).