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Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Make People More Important Than Cash

Founder Pam McNair  learned early that people are more important than cash.   More...

Key Question:


Pam got started in business by accident.  She jumped on an opportunity and she never looked back.

Q: What was Pam's start-up dilemma?

A: She had a group of colleagues who promised to work for her if she would take over an existing salon but she had no cash in the bank. The $500 she was given to repair her car was all she had at the moment the person they were all was working for decided to shut down the operation.

Rather than find another shop to work in, Pam took the helm as owner and we now know she made the perfect decision. The others in the shop believed in her which was all she needed to take on the risk of making the company profitable for everyone. Like all entrepreneurs, Pam has nerves of steel. She understood the business from an employee point of view and she felt it would be no harder to be in charge than it was to come in everyday and make her clients happy.

Think about it

What could you do if there were people lined up to help you achieve your goals?

Clip from: Gadabout Salon & Spa

Tucson, Arizona: Left with two young mouths to feed and never having worked outside the home, Pamela McNair-Wingate has created a new reality in the workplace where love and generosity abide. Today, from six locations around Tucson,  she and her team of over 200 professionals deliver the newest treatments from their spas and the freshest looks from their salons. 

The company, Gadabout SalonSpas, is recognized as a leader in the day spa movement both in customer care and in business practices.

In the typical spas customers check in for a week to be pampered, to eat low-fat diets, and to participate in endless exercise classes. Day spas are different! Here you'll find only the pampering part.  Pam has been a leader in this revolution from its beginning and she is helping to transform the salon business by setting an example for all. In recognition of her extraordinary leadership skills, Pam was named Salon Entrepreneur of the Year for the US at the Global Salon Business Awards presented in London in 2004.

Gadabout SalonSpas, Inc.

Pamela McNair, Chairman

3501 E. Kleindale Road
Tucson, AZ 85726

Visit our web site:

Office: 5203229434

Business Classification:
Personal Products, human services, beauty

Year Founded: 1976

Make People More Important Than Cash

HATTIE: Hi, I'm Hattie Bryant. This is the place to be if you want to understand how to start, run and grow a business. Each week, we bring you our Master Class. Men and women, who have taken their ideas and turned them into companies that create new products and put people to work, tell you their secrets.

Our teacher today is Pam McNair, a little woman with big ideas and an even bigger heart.

You may not think you have time to take care of yourself, but now you do. Pam told me the best way for us to understand her business is to experience what she and the Gadabout family do every day for hundreds of people.

You're going to spend the day here with us at the spa.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) I arrive at one of the five locations of Gadabout Salon and Spas in Tucson. Founded by Pam McNair in 1980, Gadabout provides a full range of hair, nail and skin care and spa treatments.

JENNIFER: Hattie? Hi. I'm Jennifer.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Jennifer Manns, the director of spas, gets me started.

JENNIFER: Good. I'm going to take you upstairs for your spa services.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) They plan a full day for me, which included microdermabrasion with Gloria, muscle toning and oxygen vitamin treatment with Georgia.

GEORGIA: ...feel the muscles...

HATTIE: (Voiceover) ...a seaweed mask with Pamela, stone therapy with Terry, a goat-butter soft pack with Alan, a pedicure with Dawn and Candy and a haircut with Laurie. Unlike the noisy salon, the spa is quiet and dimly lit. So the candles and the ancient water pitcher and the brocade couch, it's all about...

PAM McNAIR: Ambiance and feeling.


 (Voiceover) Gadabout is a day spa, the type of spa which is seeing the fastest growth.

PAM: When we started, we had just a full-service salon.

HATTIE: All right.

PAM: And over the years, we've moved into what you now refer to as a day spa, which tries to mimic itself by what the destination spas do.

HATTIE: Oh, it's what you call those destination spas. I couldn't think of what to call those. OK.

PAM: I think what's really restrictive is time because people don't have a whole lot of time and it's very hard for someone who has several children or is trying to hold down a job for them to find the time to go away to take care of themselves. And when they do that, when they come home, they don't continue necessarily to take care of themselves. That's one of the advantages of a facility like ours, is we can not only provide you with services in one day, but we are close at hand. So if you would like to continue the change of your lifestyle then you can connect with the therapists and the location and the people here so that you can continue it on a daily basis.

GLORIA: OK. So we're going to start right up here.

HATTIE: So when did you decide, `I want to be a hairdresser'?

PAM: Many years ago I was a single mother. And I needed to have a vocation, and I was given the opportunity to go to beauty school or nursing school. And nursing school took way too long and I had always messed with hair all of my life. So I took the advantage of going to beauty school.

HATTIE: So you had to make a living. That's what you're saying.

PAM: Yes. Absolutely. I was working for a woman who sold her salon, and the employees at that salon were very disenchanted. So, at that time, I had an accident; someone ran into the back of my car. The person didn't want me to turn it into the insurance company. So they gave me $500, and I put it down on my first salon. And I had people who wanted to work, and so I had a decision to make: Did I wait until I had the money to open up a salon and then hire people, or did I take the people that were available and try to find the financial wherewithal to have the salon be successful.

HATTIE: Wow. That is such a great situation because most people start a company, and they don't know where to get the people.

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