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 mom-and-pop barbershops, or at home.

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 revolutionized 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.

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.

The company recently announced an executive leadership transition. In January 2018, Rhoda Olsen will become vice-chair of the board of directors. Steve Hockett will be promoted to CEO, and chief operations officer Rob Goggins will become president.


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