My First Job

By Hannah Wallace June 30, 2004

Doug Goodman is president and CEO of Biolife, the Sarasota-based developer and manufacturer of first-aid products such QRT powder, which stops bleeding instantly. Formerly, he spent 10 years in marketing at Proctor & Gamble.

I grew up in South America, first in Peru, then my father moved us to the jungles of Colombia where there weren't any schools. So in 1966, at the age of 16, I was sent to the U.S. to the Staunton Military Academy in Virginia. Every Tuesday we had a mandatory haircutting inspection. The school had 600 students, and between Monday and Tuesday they all had to go to the school barbers. There were horrendous lines and poor service, and they charged you $2, which in those days was a lot of money.

I went out and bought a pair of clippers, then I practiced on my roommate and on myself until I felt satisfied. I ended up giving 75 haircuts a week. Students would make appointments with me and come to my room any time of day or night. I'd try to put as much care into it as possible because nobody wanted to lose his hair. They got better haircuts, better service and I charged only 25 to 50 cents.

My business kept growing and growing and the school barbers started losing a major portion of their business. They were very upset. The word was out to find where the competition was coming from. But they were very slow about it; it took them almost to the last month till they found it was me. The commandant called me in and told me I couldn't give any more haircuts, but I still gave them to my roommate and myself.

That whole experience was the start of my business life. Most of the businesses I've been involved with have been consumer oriented. You really have to have a drive for customer care, value and real quality of product. The best part of it all is, after all these years, I still give haircuts to my nine-year-old son twice a week.

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