Ray & Mary Lou Barton in a salon

Great Clips, Inc. was established in Minneapolis, Minnesota by founders David Rubenzer and Steve Lemmon in 1982, a time when most people received haircuts in one of three ways: in full-service salons, from barbershops or at home. The first Great Clips salon was in the Dinkeytown area near the University of Minnesota campus.

As a stylist and businessman, David could see that the industry was changing. Customers were looking for a salon service that could fit their busy lifestyles and desire for value. In an effort to be part of that change—rather than find themselves competing with it—David and Steve developed the concept of a walk-in haircare salon with weekend and evening hours, offering customers a select list of services, and providing benefits for stylists. This then-radical concept ultimately helped revolutionize the industry.

After the founders had opened several successful salons, Ray Barton joined David and Steve as an owner in March 1983. With Ray's help and expertise in franchising, the trio set about growing the Great Clips salon brand. The first franchised Great Clips location opened on July 16, 1983.

In 1984, David and Ray recruited Rhoda Olsen, Ray’s sister, to work for Great Clips part-time as a training consultant. She joined the company full-time as the vice president of human resources in 1987. That same year, Steve and David named Ray company president. Ten years later, in 1997, Ray bought out his partners to become the majority shareholder.

After serving in multiple executive leadership positions for almost 30 years, Ray became chairman of the Board in 2011. Rhoda, who had served as president since 1998, was promoted to CEO. Charlie Simpson, former executive vice president and chief operations officer, became president.

In 2014, when Charlie Simpson retired, and Steve Hockett became company president.

In January 2018, Steve Hockett became CEO and Rob Goggins became President when Rhoda Olsen moved to vice-chair of the board of directors.

The company grew from 150 franchised salons in 1988 to 1,000 by 1997. The 2,500th salon was opened in 2006 and the 3,000th in 2011. In 2016, Great Clips celebrated its 4,000th salon location. In December 2017, Great Clips Canada celebrated the opening of its 150th salon.

Today, more than 4,300 Great Clips salons dot the landscape across North America.

Watch this video of Great Clips corporate and franchisee leaders talking about how working together and building strong relationships has made Great Clips the successful brand it is today.