Mayor drops in at his local Barber’s on official business
Barber’s shop manager, Dave Phipps, had the shock of his life when one of his regular customers suddenly turned up without an appointment.
For the customer who walked unannounced into Kents Hairdressers in Poplar Road , Solihull , was none other than the Mayor of the town, Councillor Joe Tildesley, who was there in his official capacity to make a presentation to Dave when he became the first employee of the company to complete 50 years’ service.
Dave of Wagon Lane, Olton, started working on 14 July, 1963, two days before his 15th birthday, for Kents Hairdressers which was founded with just one shop by Vic Kent, the grandfather of the current proprietor.
Since then, Dave has risen to the post of general manager, the most senior employee in the firm which now owns 15 gents hairdressing salons across the West Midlands , Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.
The company, whose lead salon is one of the last privately owned, independent shops in Solihull town centre, even still has a copy of his three-year indentures which were signed on 6 March, 1964.
When he first started work, the company still owned a fishing tackle shop next door and so, in addition to cutting hair, Dave was sometimes called upon to serve someone to a pint of maggots used for fishing bait.
“Apparently, he dressed a bit like a mod back in those days and later on he became even more dapper with a rolled up umbrella and a bowler hat,” said Antony Kent, the proprietor of Kents Hairdressers and UK Barber Shops.
“My grandfather had died two years before he started with us and my father, David, and my late uncle, Eric, were just beginning to build up a chain of shops. Dave has stayed with us throughout virtually the whole of that process and has played a vital part in our success.
“In doing so, he has become like an extended part of our family. I was a young man when I started work alongside him in the family firm and, whenever problems have arisen for me, he has always been there to give me his support and advice.
“Staff like Dave are really important, especially at a time when the trading climate is tougher than it has ever been and when reputable companies like ours have to fight for custom against outfits which try to undercut us by being less scrupulous about paying VAT and tax.”
After getting over his surprise at Councillor Tildesley’s sudden appearance, Dave received a presentation from the Mayor on behalf of the company watched by his wife, Angela, and members of the Kent family.