Strategies Corporate Staff
Neil Ducoff | CEO and Founder
Over the last 38 years, Neil Ducoff has coached countless businesses on how to achieve the highest levels of success and profitability, while creating a positive, rewarding workplace.
Over the last 38 years, Neil Ducoff has coached countless businesses, including Aveda, Gillette, Proctor & Gamble, Planet Wings, Canmeng International Taiwan, Profound Beauty Products, Kerastase Paris, EvelineCharles Canada and L’Oreal, on how to achieve the highest levels of success and profitability, while creating a positive, rewarding workplace. He has led seminars throughout North America and in such countries as Taiwan, Spain and Mexico – as well as served as a presenter at major health- care, computer, manufacturing and franchise conferences, including Jack Stack’s National gathering of games, the 2011 Quality Conference and the inaugural Esthetics China Exhibition and Congress. Neil has gained international respect as the guru of team-based compensation. As well as the award-winning No-Compromise Leadership: A Higher Standard of Leadership Thinking and Behavior, he is the author of Fast Forward Second Edition, the salon and spa industry’s only business reference manual, and the newly released Wake Up!.
He has been honored with the 2005 Art of Business Award, named one of 12 business “Legends and Icons” by the annual Serious Business Conference in New Orleans in 2006, and invited by the B.E.S.T Foundation and the Anderson School of Business
If Neil is speaking or writing about it … it matters. He takes on the issues that seldom get discussed in business that hold leaders back from having the companies they desire. He’s brave enough to shine a light on the areas that many would prefer to leave alone -- like holding leaders accountable is tougher than holding employees accountable. He’s not afraid to stir the pot. The question is, “Are you ready?”
So…when good is no longer good enough…it's time to listen and learn from Neil Ducoff.
Bruce Hourigan | President, Sales
Bruce was named President in 2012, and has over 30 years of leadership and management experience and most importantly, real-life in-the-trenches business experience.
Bruce has over 30 years of leadership and management experience and most importantly, real-life in-the-trenches business experience. He is responsible for leading a number of company-wide processes designed to drive a seamless operation and execution across the organization.
Bruce was named President in 2012, and previously served as VP of Business Development, strategy and financial planning.
His personal passion is to see the fulfillment of Strategies Corporate Purpose: To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Strategies.
Eric Ducoff | Vice President
Eric Ducoff is the Vice President at Strategies, and a Certified Digital Marketing Professional. His passion, lies in digital marketing and using technology to drive sales and leads.
Eric Ducoff is the Vice President at Strategies, and a Certified Digital Marketing Professional. Throughout his 21-year history with Strategies, Eric’s wide array of responsibilities have included content development, strategic planning, online education, internal operations and event coordination. His passion, however, lies in digital marketing and using technology to drive sales and leads.
When not working, Eric enjoys spending time with his wife, Krista, and two children, Lillian and Wesley. He’s also an obsessive guitar geek, and has performed across the US and Norway.
Favorite food: Raisin Bran
Favorite show: That Pedal Show
Person he’d like to meet: Keith Richards
Joanne Davies | Vice President, Administration
Joanne comes to us with 23 years of finance and banking experience, a degree in Business Administration and certification from the Connecticut School of Finance and Management.
Joanne comes to us with 23 years of finance and banking experience, a degree in Business Administration and certification from the Connecticut School of Finance and Management.
Joanne’s years of customer service, handling of finances and attention to detail were the perfect mix for the position of V.P. Administration. She is the "behind the scenes" person who wears many different hats here at Strategies.
Joanne is the person who will register you for a class, help you with directions and hotel recommendations, make sure that the caterers are here for the events, process your website orders and makes sure they are shipped to you in a timely manner, orders our supplies and last but not least makes sure we pay the bills!
Shannon Gates | Membership Coordinator
Shannon has been a part of the Strategies team since 2014, progressing from a part-time intern to a full-time team member as our Membership Coordinator.
Shannon has been a part of the Strategies team since 2014, progressing from a part-time intern to a full-time team member as our Membership Coordinator. She is our go-to Command Center guru, class coordinator, registration, and renewal processor amongst many other duties. Her passion is the mere reflection of her work and the time spent with both her husband and two children.
When outside of the office, she enjoys boating with her family and working around the house.
Person she’d like to meet: Kenny Chesney or Dierks Bentley
Heather Palmieri | Director of Business Development
Heather has come full circle from the start of her salon/ spa management career to Strategies. She first realized her path while working for a 4-chair salon in Harvard Square.
Heather has come full circle from the start of her salon/ spa management career to Strategies.
She first realized her path while working for a 4-chair salon in Harvard Square. This is where Heather found her passion for the beauty industry. During this time, she was obtaining her degree in Business Administration at Northeastern University and learning the skills of the service industry as a licensed Nail Technician.
Loving all things beauty and wellness, she continued to grow within many different avenues of salon and spa. She moved back to CT working as a salon manager. While there, the salon transitioned from commission to Team-Based Pay with Strategies guiding the way. This was her first introduction to a team atmosphere, which she adopted as her management style throughout her career.
After experiencing the dynamics of a small business, Heather was ready to take on a new chapter with Bliss Spa’s in NYC. She worked as a Front Desk Supervisor at multiple Bliss locations in Manhattan, and advanced to Operations/ Retail Manager at Bliss 57. Excelling in inventory management (which assisted in maintaining profits), she also empowered her Front Desk Team by supporting them to execute five-star customer service.
Knowing she was ready to share her experiences with others, Heather took on a Senior Business Consultant role with Glo Professionals in the New England area.
Heather’s passion for this industry, and desire to help others in business, led her to Strategies. She believes in a collaborative community, and is eager to connect with others in the industry to help grow together.
Michael Yost | Director of Education
As a part of the beauty industry since 1991 and a business owner for 16 years. He first found Strategies as a new business owner, attending Incubator in the Fall of 2001 in Chicago.
Michael is our Director of Education, a lead presenter, and coach for Strategies. He believes that, ’There is no magic pill or easy fix. However, a willingness to work hard and stay true to the systems that drive your business will allow you to reach the goals you have set."
Michael has been involved in the beauty industry since 1991, and was a business owner for 16 years. He first found Strategies as a new business owner, attending Incubator in the Fall of 2001 in Chicago. The information he heard as an attendee changed his view on his business and how to move forward for the future.
In his years of ownership many things changed around him, but the foundation that was built in that first class stayed the same. Quite simply, it fundamentally changed his approach to our industry. That one class opened up a relationship with Strategies that has lasted ever since.
Michael now has the privilege of teaching , mentoring, and coaching others as to how to reach their business goals using the solid business principles that Strategies teaches.
Daryl Jenkins | Director of Coach Development
Daryl has been a Certified Strategies Coach since 2002. Additionally, Daryl is Strategies Director of Coach Development and lead educator at Strategies flagship Incubator course and others.
Daryl has been a Certified Strategies Coach since 2002. Today, in addition to coaching salon/spas... Daryl is Strategies Director of Coach Development and lead educator at Strategies seminars including our flagship Incubator seminar. Daryl describes his coaching style as "tough but compassionate".
"Business is fun and exciting," says Daryl. "I like helping people and businesses reach their goals, and get great satisfaction in helping people realize their potential. That doesn’t mean it’s always going to be an easy ride. If you are looking for accountability, be careful what you wish for. I will certainly deliver it,"
Christine Yost | Finance Director
Along with her Degree in Accounting, Christine’s work experience includes, previous salon owner for 16 years, Director of Finance for an NBA G League affiliate which required reporting directly to the NBA corporate office.
Christine brings 20+ years of business experience to the Strategies corporate team. Along with her Degree in Accounting, Christine’s work experience includes, previous salon owner for 16 years with her husband Michael, Director of Finance for an NBA G League affiliate which required reporting directly to the NBA corporate office. Christine has also worked as a physician recruiter which required a completely different set of skills. Creating a great experience for the physician candidate was of the utmost importance.
As a part of the Strategies team Christine looks to marry the best of both worlds from her past experiences. Her business organizational skills combined with creating a positive experience for those she comes into contact with through the outlets that Strategies provides.
When she isn’t crunching numbers, or doing whatever it takes to support the Strategies team, she enjoys a healthy addiction to Starbucks and all things related to fashion and home decor.
Barbara Pierce | Associate Director of Education
Barbara’s career began in education. Her love of learning and educating others quickly became her passion. As a Certified Strategies Coach, she faces every challenge with a positive outlook.
Barbara’s career began in education. Her love of learning and educating others quickly became her passion. In 2001, Barbara joined the beauty industry when she met and married Brett Pierce, who along with his family owns a successful salon in Huntsville, Alabama. Since then, Barbara has come to admire and embrace the beauty industry, and has combined her respect and knowledge of the beauty industry with her passion for education to help others develop growth and performance in their own company.
Whether teaching or working in the salon, Barbara lives by the No-Compromise Leadership principles. As a Certified Strategies Coach, she faces every challenge with a positive outlook. “I just want everyone to know the joy of setting goals and reaching them.” Barbara believes the systems and methods taught by Strategies will empower business leaders and equip them to overcome any obstacle. “Our introduction to Strategies all those years ago was a turning point for our company that sparked a period of positive change and growth for us.” Now enjoying the challenges that come with opening a new salon location, Barbara is excited to bring her educational skills and salon management knowledge to businesses seeking to achieve their maximum potential.
Certified Strategies Coaches
Andrea has worked in the beauty industry since 2002. She and her team at Glance Spa & Salon were the recipients of the 2017 TBP No-Compromise Business of The Year and the 2018 Profitability award.
Andrea Birst has been working in the beauty industry since 2002. She has been the owner of Glance Spa & Salon in Bismarck, North Dakota for the past 10 years.
In 2015 Andrea found Strategies as she was on a quest to transform her company. Her desire was to learn a new business method that would develop teamwork to grow her salon to the next level. She began coaching and Glance became a team-based salon in 2016.
Strategies was the answer she was looking for to transform her company. "‘Strategies has grown my company to not only being profitable, but to a place of true teamwork full of no-compromise leadership," she says.
Andrea and her team were the recipients of the 2017 TBP No-Compromise Business of The Year and the 2018 Profitability award.
Seeing the success of her company after being dedicated and working hard to implement all the systems and Strategies teachings Andrea became a Certified Strategies Coach. "The transformation and growth that I experienced through this Strategies process, is what I want to help guide other salon owners to experience. I believe we as salon owners owe it to our staff/teams to provide a healthy and fun work environment that allows continued growth opportunities. And I believe salon owners deserve to reach the goals and dreams within their companies."
Kim DeLisa’s passion for the beauty industry began as a young girl in her grandmother’s salon learning all the techniques of creative design.
Kim DeLisa’s passion for the beauty industry began as a young girl in her grandmother’s salon learning all the techniques of creative design. Kim remembers giving a permanent wave to her grandmother at the age of twelve. There was no instruction as to what to do with a business, like many entrepreneurs.
Kim has been in the beauty industry as a licensed professional since 1978 in many different roles, as an employee, a manager, and an owner of her own Team-Based Salon for 15 years.
Kim’s experience in the teaching, coaching and mentoring world include working as a platform artist for various distributions and brand companies including Aveda.
In 2009, Kim discovered Strategies by enrolling in the No-Compromise Boot Camp facilitated by the one and only Neil Ducoff.
Kim believes that the No-Compromise Leadership principles taught by Strategies should not be kept a secret.
Since 2013, as a Certified Strategies Coach, Kim has been realizing her own personal mission to "Pass It On." With a true Servant’s Heart, she shares her experiences with those that have the dream of building not only a great business model, but building and growing people within our industry, bringing it to its next level.
"Knowledge is lost, unless it is shared," says Kim. "Strategies will not only change the way you look at your company and at yourself as its fearless leader, it will change YOU. No-Compromise!"
Nate has been a leader in the industry for over a decade. In 2011, his talent and thirst to share his knowledge led him to the prestigious Warren Tricomi Salon in the Plaza Hotel in New York City.
Certified Strategies Coach, salon owner and career colorist Nate Flick has been a leader in the industry for over a decade.
Nate began his career in Omaha, NE, quickly opening his own business, James Harris Salon. His desire to inspire others prompted him to become an educator and mentor, where he could share his passion on a larger platform.
In 2011, his talent and thirst to share his knowledge led him to be recruited to work at the prestigious Warren Tricomi Salon in the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Through his years in NYC, he was inspired to get back to his roots and relocate to Omaha, NE.
In 2017 he opened his first team-based pay company, CRAFT Salon. Nate continues to own and operate CRAFT Salon while sharing his knowledge and experiences with salon owners and stylists throughout the country.
Dennis Gullo hails from the great state of New Jersey. He's been recognized nationally by countless publications for his unique and innovative business practices.
Dennis Gullo hails from the great state of New Jersey, home of the Boss, Tony Soprano, and Frank Sinatra. He began his professional career as a salon owner and stylist in 1978, operating several salons over the ensuing years, and has been recognized nationally by Entrepreneur Magazine, Day Spa Magazine, Salon Today Magazine and the Philadelphia Inquirer for its unique and innovative business practices.
In 2004, Dennis formalized his love of teaching, coaching and consulting by proudly completing a three-year, advanced training program to become a Certified Strategies Coach.
As a Certified Strategies Coach, Dennis is about helping salon owners to bring stability to their business and growth opportunity to their staff through the Team-Based business model. His approach to understanding business numbers has helped many salon owners reach their profit goals – while building a healthy business culture.
Dennis speaks “salon owner” as fluently as he speaks “accountant” – allowing him to teach business information that is readily understandable and accessible. His passion is to bring sound business principles – including integrity, excellence, and profitability by design - into the world of salon and spa owners.
Stacey's success with Strategies guidance led her to become a coach. Her mission for coaching is to guide salon owners that it is possible to love their business as they have loved their craft.
I always loved the idea of cosmetology and the business of beauty since my mother and sister both went to cosmetology school. However, instead of heading into the beauty business I began my professional career in banking and insurance. I learned the value of a brand, consistent care and performance standards.
After ten years and being terminated twice for "being too social" I realized that I had more to offer the world. I love to network, I love to learn and share and my passion is to make the world a more beautiful place.
I began my cosmetology career as an assistant to five master stylists, I had a high focus on elevating the perception of the beauty business. Unfortunately, I worked in a typical commission salon that consistency and performance was not measured or valued. After five years and doing quite well, I became so valuable to the salon that I couldn't get a day off or have any flexibility so I left to rent a chair.
I quickly realized that the flexibility and pockets full of cash had a price. I again became valuable to the demand and was getting burned out quickly.
I opened my own salon in 2000. I was inspired and renewed to change things from my previous experiences, I too struggled like my previous owners. I finally googled "salon leadership" and found Neil's book "No-Compromise Leadership", I watched a few videos on the Strategies website and knew that it aligned with my professional foundation for the salon world.
I began with Strategies in 2011 with Incubator, it was hard work but it was the right hard work. I watched my company succeed and become successful.
I was able to grow as a person when there was a business model to follow. I became a certified lifestyle coach and health coach. I wanted to inspire others to feel better, to look in the mirror and feel beautiful.
In 2016, I expanded and relocated my company to The Urban Salon Team & Gift Boutique with a large boutique and Nourish Center.
I have experienced success professionally and personally with Strategies guidance which is why I became a coach. My mission for coaching is to guide salon owners that it is possible to love their business as they have loved their craft.
The 2015 Team-Based Pay Award Winner for Profitability, Jason Hoopiiaina is the former General Manager of Brick Canvas in Lehi, Utah, running both their Vivesque Salon and Sage Leaf Spa.
Jason is the former General Manager of Brick Canvas in Lehi, Utah, running both their Vivesque Salon, and Sage Leaf Spa. Prior to his employment at Brick Canvas, he received his MBA from the University of Utah, and his Bachelors Degree from Westminster College majoring in Business Marketing with a minor in Aviation.
Jason was first introduced to Strategies in 2014, and attributes the success of Vivesque Salon and Sage Leaf Spa to the tools and coaching that he learned from being a Strategies coaching client. In 2015, he received the Team-Based Pay Award for Profitability at Vivesque Salon. After demonstrating a thorough knowledge of the Strategies teachings and what it takes to be a No-Compromise Leader, Jason was invited to join the Strategies team and became a Certified Strategies Coach, where he now uses his skills and expertise to help others reach the same levels of success that he did in his own company.
Melanie McCain Loboda has been a leader in the industry since 1987. She earned her Certified Strategies Coach designation in 2013.
Melanie embarked on her journey in the salon industry in 1987, working many aspects of the business as a service provider, technical and guest care trainer, leader, and as a 17-year owner. In searching for a better way to do business and develop a team culture, Melanie discovered Strategies. "The team-based business model immediately made so much sense to me – it was more exciting the more I learned. Embracing the numbers and separating them from the emotions of the business was a true epiphany for me!"
Melanie earned her Certified Strategies Coach designation in 2013; with compassion and integrity, she is committed to helping others achieve their personal best and meet their business goals. In addition to business operations, Melanie excels at identifying communication styles and facilitating communications between those with vastly differing approaches. Her extensive experience in this area also lends itself as a foundation for leading the Strategies Internal Training Program, which helps owners in communicating with and training their teams to deliver their company’s unique service brand experience.
"I thoroughly enjoy helping others discover how they can reach their full potential in business and relationships simply by looking through a different lens. Being open to new ways of thinking is the first step to success."
For over 20 years, Shelly has been paving the way for emerging stylists and aspiring business owners in the Chicago-land area. Her award-winning establishment, Allure Designs, opened its doors in 1996.
For over 20 years, Shelly has been paving the way for emerging stylists and aspiring business owners in the Chicago-land area.
Her award-winning establishment, Allure Designs, first opened its doors in 1996, and it has since grown into a thriving salon & spa. Shelly is passionate about the beauty industry, and she believes that success requires true professionalism, advanced artistic skill, and continued education. She works tirelessly to promote a team-based approach to her business, ensuring that every member of her staff feels supported and valued. She became a Strategies coach with a mission to help other salons see the benefit of the team-based business model.
"Strategies helped re-engineer my company in 2008. Now, I am able to pay it forward and help other companies achieve their goals. Strategies taught me how to lead a successful company and be profitable!" she says.
In addition to being a renowned member of the Chicago Cosmetology Association and the Professional Beauty Association, Shelly is also involved with many networking groups for salons and small business owners, and she serves as a co-chair for the Libertyville Economic business group. With her years of experience, and a proven business model, she strives to be a guiding force for other business owners who want to create a culture of accountability, adaptability, and success.
"At Strategies we teach how to work on your business not In your business. Accountability is key. Leaders need to be accountable to themselves, their vision and their teams. Who better to help owners do this than a Strategies business coach!"
Brett Pierce is President and CEO of The Masters in Huntsville, Alabama. Brett grew up in the salon industry, with his earliest influence being his parents, Ann and Gary Bray.
Brett Pierce is President and CEO of The Masters in Huntsville, Alabama. Brett literally grew up in the salon industry, with his earliest influence being his parents, Ann and Gary Bray, a pair of artistic icons who competed globally and built loyal local followings through excellent customer service at home.
In 1995, Brett’s father passed away. As the mentor and leader of The Masters, Gary’s passing rocked their foundation and left them without a path to follow. With this loss, they allowed themselves to rest on their laurels, and eventually they found themselves struggling to survive.
“I began searching out help for The Masters. I knew that I needed someone to guide us and to provide us with the tools and knowledge to change our present condition as well as create a future for The Masters.” Brett says, “I found everything that I had been looking for when I found Strategies”.
Because of his commitment to the teachings of Strategies, Brett was able to lead his company out of the depths of darkness to create a healthy and viable business that is able to provide a stable work environment and regularly rewards their team while delivering extraordinary customer service everyday.
Since 1992, Brett had been a service provider at The Masters. In September of 2012, he followed a new direction by relying on the skills and resources provided to him by Strategies. Brett dedicated himself to system integrations which allowed for development of a strong team environment, a client-centric atmosphere and a profitable company.
“Becoming a Certified Strategies Coach was a natural progression for me”, says Brett. “Above all else, I love to help others realize their true potential. I encourage business owners to always strive for increased performance. It was ingrained in me at an early age that good enough is seldom good enough. Always fight hard for constant and never-ending improvement!” “Change is inevitable,” continues Pierce, “make sure that you have the tools to be able to react and control that change. The key to my success is my ability to be honest and to deliver on my promises. This allows for the development of fairness and trust.”
After years in the salon industry, Heather bought a used copy of Neil Ducoff’s Fast Forward. "The moment I heard the concept of a Team-Based business model, I was sold".
Heather Strock is a salon owner and a Certified Strategies Coach.
After years of working in every kind of salon you can think of, Heather bought a used copy of Neil Ducoff’s Fast Forward. "I couldn’t afford to buy a brand new book, but I had this wild idea that I was going to move to a big city and open a killer salon" says Strock. "The moment I heard the concept of a Team-Based business model, I was sold. Everyone deserves to be paid fairly, regularly, and predictably--team members and owners, too. Our industry has an unattractive history of treating this as negotiable."
In 2013, Heather opened Canary Salon in Seattle, WA, to create an environment where teamwork and cooperation could thrive. "I spent months hustling behind the chair to pay for that first Strategies Incubator ticket," says Strock, "because as small business owners, we know the meaning of ‘blood, sweat, and tears’ too literally to risk steering our companies by trial and error. Working with Strategies has bolstered my business against storm after storm. Turning around to share that information with other owners who all face their own unique circumstances has been such a beautiful privilege."
Steven Swanson thrives in helping business owners develop, maintain and achieve their goals. He will assist you every step of the way — becoming the voice and accountability of your company.
Steven Swanson is a Certified Strategies Coach who thrives in helping business owners develop, maintain and achieve their goals. Whether those goals include being a better leader, refining best business practices, overcoming/managing cash-flow challenges or driving sales, Steven will assist you every step of the way — becoming the voice and accountability of your company.
Steven has been the owner of Taylor Stevens Salon & Spa in Algonquin, Illinois since 2000. In 2004, Taylor Stevens became a Team-Based salon. “I’ve experienced all the challenges my coaching clients see. I don’t just talk about the systems; I work them every day in my company,” says Swanson. “I know because I’ve been there. I built my salon with my two hands and made my share of mistakes. Strategies was there to guide me and provide me with the tools I needed to help me become the leader and coach I am today.”
Steven joined the Strategies Coaching Team to pay it forward with all the systems he has learned. “I owe it to the salon/spa industry to help make it stronger,” says Swanson, “and I owe it to the salon/spa owner who works hard every day to make others happy — staff, clients and families. Owners matter to me, and I will do everything I can to help them achieve their goals.”
Let’s get started!
An esthetician by trade, Alayne has been in the beauty industry for over thirty-five years and a successful client of Strategies for almost twenty of those.
Alayne White is a Certified Strategies Coach who has been a lover of all things beauty and business for most of her life. An esthetician by trade, she has been in the beauty industry for over thirty-five years and a successful client of Strategies since she opened her two successful skin spas almost twenty years ago. She has a positive upbeat energy and a personal mission to upgrade the image of the beauty industry and feels that leadership and culture is the root of everything that makes a business a great one.