For 16 years, the grooming product company Wahl has announced a “Man of the Year” to reward men “who are doing good, while looking good.” This year its Benevolent Beards Contest identified five men across the country who “exemplify what it means to be charitable”—and one of them runs a nonprofit right here in North Texas.
Ben Davis, co-founder and CEO of Dallas-based Operation Gentleman, supports three primary causes through his nonprofit: collecting suits and business attire for donation to the Fort Cavazos Soldier Recovery Unit; providing monthly pop-up barbershop services to the homeless population in Dallas; and feeding veterans in need.
Davis and four other finalists nationwide who’ve founded or supported nonprofits will now be the focus of a public vote—with the winner being named Wahl Man of the Year and getting $20,000 for himself and $5,000 for his charity.
The other four finalists are Christopher McNeil from Kansas City, a former elementary school principal who started his program “Books and Barbers” to provide haircuts, books, and mentorship to elementary school students within the Kansas City Public School District; James Gottry from Colorado Springs, who’s been supporting UMOM New Day Centers in Phoenix for decades; Yuri Williams from Los Angeles, who founded A Future Superhero for disabled and seriously ill children; and Shawn Standley, a professional artist who supports an arts charity in rural Alaska.
Davis also co-founded The Gents Place, with Emmitt Smith and Jerry Jones ties
Davis of Dallas’ Operation Gentlemen is also the co-founder, president, and chairman of Frisco-based The Gents Place, a collection of “ultra premium men’s grooming and lifestyle clubs.” Founded in 2008, his company operates 11 upscale barber shops in Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Nevada, and Illinois. Each shop serves as a gathering place for conversation and drinks while offering luxury grooming services.
Davis founded The Gents Place with his wife, Lauren Davis, in the midst of the Great Recession. “While Ben worked on the financing and legal paperwork required to get their business off the ground, Lauren cast a vision of what The Gents Place would look and feel like for their guests, including the intricate details of design, space planning, and construction budgeting and management,” the company says on its website. “Then, they were off to the races with the opening of their flagship club location in Frisco.”
In 2016, Davis brought on former Cowboys Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith as a co-owner of The Gents Place, to help drive franchise growth. The company also received an investment from brand management and development company Elevated Brands
In 2017, The Gents Place got “a substantial investment” from Blue Star Innovation Partners, an investment venture for growth-stage companies founded by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, the Jones family, and entrepreneur Rob Wechsler.
‘Giving dignity back’ to people experiencing homelessness
Besides his gratifying work on behalf of veterans, Davis is particularly proud of his work providing barbershop services to the city’s homeless population.
“This is what we’ve been doing the last five years for our homeless community in Dallas, making sure that they’re well taken care of,” Davis said in a video. “We’ve had people show up with matted hair—no clippers could cut it, not even the Wahl clippers. It took kitchen scissors and two and a half hours to cut. So we’re doing a service that really gives dignity back to people and not just a haircut.”
Steven Yde, VP of North America Consumer for Wahl, said there were so many inspirational entries, “it was incredibly difficult narrowing down the finalists to just five.”
“The men we landed on are great examples of the widespread impact just one person can have,” Yde added in a statement. “It’s our hope these men will inspire others to serve their communities; because no matter your talents or interests, there are so many charities that need help.”
You can vote for the Most “Benevolent Beard” in America by October 1 by going here.
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