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Barber shop owner opens their doors with the support of the West Virginia SBDC

Barber shop owner opens their doors with the support of the West Virginia SBDC

Walking into the Rugged Gentleman Barber Shop, you’ll step on classic black and white checkered floors and sit in 100 year old barber chairs. In this familiar atmosphere, you’ll find children getting their very first haircut and old friends laughing together. 

The Rugged Gentlemen’s Barbershop, prides themselves on providing an authentic barbershop experience. They are a family-owned and operated shop, run by a father and son team who are passionate about the craft of cutting and styling hair. They believe that getting a great haircut is an art, and want to share that experience with their clients.

You’ll also find Austin Hale, owner of Rugged Gentlemen, who was sweeping hair at the barber shop as early as seven years old. Hale, a third generation barber, believes the barber shop is more than just a place to get a haircut. It’s a time honored American tradition and should serve as a pillar for the community.

“What’s really enjoyable about owning our own shop is getting involved with the local community, creating bonds with our customers that come in regularly, asking them how their day’s going and what’s going on in life,” Hale said. 

However, traditions don’t survive through the generations without people who care about passing them on. To pass along the business of barbering to his children, Hale found that he needed more than just passion – he needed funding. 

Going to banks on his own, however, didn’t yield the results he was looking for. He was frustrated, feeling like he was wasting his time. After all, he’s an expert in running a shop, not necessarily in finance and lending. Before turning him away, one bank advised Hale to get connected with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and that changed everything.

“Austin wondered in one day… he was discouraged. He had been to several banks trying to get a loan to start this business,” SBDC Business Coach, Michael Boyd said. “We started from zero, created a business plan and did some financial projections and then we found a lender.”

Hale and Boyd sat down to clarify the business’s plan, goals and objectives. That creates the confidence that leads to success in getting a loan. 

And eventually, Hale and Boyd were indeed successful in finding and securing private equity funding, and Rugged Gentlemen Barber Shop became a reality. 

With the help of the WV SBDC Hale is able to continue barbing in his family. Hale said, “Because of the SBDC we are able to keep barbing in our family for a third generation with me and will hopefully continue on with a fourth generation with my kids.” 

The Rugged Gentlemen Barber Shop offers a range of services that cater to your grooming needs, book now!

WV SBDC, is an accredited partner program with the U.S. Small Business Administration and a division of the West Virginia Department of Economic Development, helps small businesses at all stages of development by connecting owners to programs, resources and coaches. 

For more information about WV SBDC services and WV SBDC coaches, visit

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