How did Maly start in the professional-beauty industry? He had a huge head start in his phenomenal career: He was raised in a successful family business that started in the early 1950s, and was mentored by an industry legend—his late father, Ken Maly.
Ken worked during high school in the warehouse of a Grand Rapids, Michigan, distributorship, and after graduating from high school was offered a sales position calling on salons in the area. After just a few short years, he was made the sales manager. Then after 15 years working for the company, Ken believed that he had been misled by the ownership. So with his wife Marlene and five kids at home, he quit his job.
Three months later he bought a small barber distributorship. He changed the name to Maly’s and went back on the road. It was truly a family affair with older sons Mike, Ric and Craig helping out in the warehouse, then one by one taking sales positions after completing high school. John’s sister Michele also sold for the company, then helped establish the nail- and skincare businesses for the distributorship.
By 1988, the business was recognized nationally as a well-run, sales-oriented distributorship. Redken founder Paula Kent Meehan offered Ken her company-owned distributorship in the Los Angeles area. He agreed. And John, the youngest of all of his children, was asked to move out to Southern California.
John moved to the large Southern California market with his wife Judy and two iconic brands—Redken and Paul Mitchell—to run what started out as a $2-million distributorship. He had the building blocks for a thriving distributorship. And with his financial background—he had graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Indiana University Bloomington and then worked as an auditor—he was ready. With 25 employees and a huge territory, it was off to work to make his own impact in the salon business.
Taking the philosophy he learned from his family, Maly soon provided an efficient operation with customer-focused salespeople, and began to make inroads against the two large, established distributorships, State and Paris Ace. Those distributorships had all the big lines and large store operations. Sam Licursi and John Tobias were also co-starting their own distributorship Innovations/Cosmoprof at the same time. The two companies took large chunks out of the giants.
As business grew for Maly’s West, Maly says he realized in 1997 that it was coming to a crucial crossroads. The company had grown in sales from $25 million to $50 million over the previous three years—but made less money, according to Maly. The company was growing itself out of business, he explains.
So the next year, Maly began building a professional management team. Starting with a CFO, John hired Ron Hock (who is currently running SalonCentric West). Maly’s West then hired Mike Seiser (who is currently running operations for SalonCentric nationally) to run operations. In the next year the company made more money than the four previous years combined, according to Maly. Rounding out the all-star team was IT director Mike Cassidy, director of stores Wayne Taylor, director of sales Glen Pacek (who is now executive vice president at Sweis), HR director Jackie Hartman and director of marketing Colin Walsh (who is now president of the Matrix haircare brand).
With his team, Maly grew the company to be the largest independently owned distributorship in the West and the second-largest in the country. His team helped acquire 18 other distributorships, and grew to 110 professional-only stores, 200 salespeople and 1,000 employees.
[Image: Courtesy of Mirabella Beauty Products]