There’s been a noticeable change to Norm’s Barbershop at its West F Street location in Oakdale.
The address remains the same. The building is still intact and the hours still customer friendly. For the first time in four decades, however, customers will no longer walk in and be greeted by Norm and Ramona Morgan standing by their chairs. They will now be greeted by three generations of Morgan men when they walk through the door of the modest wooden building.
On Dec. 20, 2014 grandson Brian Morgan completed his education with Paul Mitchell School in Modesto, as a student of their Barber program. He earned his license in early January and began working alongside his father and grandfather by the middle of the month.
“I was the fourth to graduate,” he said of the fairly new Paul Mitchell program, “and the first to receive my license.”
The barbershop has proven to be the same transition spot for this third generation as it did for its founder Norman Morgan in 1968. For nine years the elder Morgan worked two jobs, hair by day coupled with a night shift, earned him the ability to buy the business they were leasing from its previous owner.
Son Randall joined the husband/wife team of Norm and Ramona in 2008 as a result of job elimination with Hershey’s in late summer 2007.
Grandson Brian touts his career change as a ‘family decision.’
“In other words, he cares,” dad Randall stated.
“My grandma and grandpa know their business will keep going,” Brian added.
Prior to attending Barber College, the youngest Morgan was a delivery driver with Lowe’s Home Improvement.
Dad Randall recalls the day his son shared his thoughts on returning to school and joining them at the barber chairs.
“I asked him why?” Randall said. “He said, I can’t think of anything better to do than work with my dad and grandfather all day long.
“The funny thing is,” he continued, “five years ago I had the idea.”
For his part, Brian said it made sense previously to do something outside the barber realm.
“The reason I never considered it before, was that I thought I needed to find my own way,” Brian shared.
“When I was at Hershey’s for 27 years people would say all the time, why aren’t you at the barbershop?” Randall chimed in. “So, I get it. In a way, Hershey did us a favor.”
“This makes it lighter on me,” Norm, now 80, chimed in.
The shop remains a true family business, with contributions from all sides.
“I can’t retire,” Ramona added of her near 40 years working alongside her husband.
“People want just her to cut hair,” her son said. “She’s now a fill-in, a substitute.”
“She’s the manager,” Brian said of his grandmother.
“She’s in charge,” Randall agreed.
Norm’s Barbershop maintains its original 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday hours, but don’t tell Norm.
“He’s here every morning at 6 a.m.” wife Ramona shared.
“Some of the doctors would come early in the morning,” Norm said. “Some still do.”
Norm has been cutting hair professionally for 61 years, and he has no plans to retire.
“I’m not gonna die, I’m gonna chip away,” he said with a chuckle. “This is where I belong. You’ll know I’ve retired when you see my headstone.”
“He’s not happy unless he’s down here cutting hair,” Ramona said.
At that, dad Randall prompts Brian to share his Google finding about his grandfather.
“A Google review said, If there was a Greek God of flat tops it would be Norm at Norm’s Barbershop,” Brian chuckled.
“It’s fun,” Norm said of his career and now sharing it with more family members. “I feel great about it. I feel great to work with my son and my grandson.”
It also has been a good fit for the youngest member of the hair-cutting family.
“The levels of stress that I felt,” Brian shared of his past job compared to his current one, “I don’t feel stressed out here at all.
“It’s all that I expected if not better,” he continued. “The first week I figured I’d be doing good if one person gave me a shot and let me cut his hair. People have just come in and sat right down. It’s been great.”
And while it may be a job, it’s also a passion.
“I told him early on, I didn’t come here to work; I came here to have fun,” Randall said of first joining the shop in 2008. “It’s been fun ever since.”
Adding the family angle on top of it makes it that much sweeter.
“I never thought it would happen,” Randall said of the new barber trio. “I never thought I would be here.”
“I love it,” Brian confirmed. “Spending time with my dad and grandfather every day.
“It hardly feels like work.”