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Dorothy & William Wagner
Dorothy & William Wagner

HOUSTONAfrican-American News&Issues presents the Acres Home College of Barber Designs as our business profile of the week. The historical Acres Home College of Barber Designs is located in the heart of Acres Home’s. It was established as a joint venture between a father and son team Willie D. McQueen (father) and William Wagner (son) in October of 1992. The Acres Home College of Barber Designs is the oldest Black-owned barber school with the same owners, in the state of Texas. Since its establishment the institution has graduated roughly 3,000 students.

Willie D. McQueen is a native of Camden, Tx who relocated to Houston in the early 60’s. He graduated from Tyler Barber College and initiated a career in the industry in 1963. He later became a professional truck driver. William Wagner hails from Houston and grew up on the South side. He graduated from Jesse H. Jones High School and attended San Jacinto Junior College. Once he completed his studies, he started a career in law enforcement. Following in his father’s footsteps, in 1993 he earned his barber’s license and received his teacher’s license in 1998 after challenging the board.

After McQueen and Wagner were successful in operating McQueen’s Trucking for over 15 years, they made a decision to open up a facility to teach students how to become professional barbers. McQueen went to Southeast Barber College and renewed his barber and teacher’s license and together they secured a SBA loan to get the school. According to William Wagner, “During that time, they would only give us the money to open up the school in the red tag part of Houston – and that’s how we ended up in Acres Home.” Nevertheless, once the school was opened it became the first vocational school in the community. “In fact, at one while, if you wanted to cut Black hair in Harris County, we were the only school you could go to after Ms. Johnson closed down the Southeast Barber School” Wagner humbly added.

Mr. William Wagner expressed, “We understand that everyone is not college material and there is nothing wrong with that. However, we are still advocators of our youth developing some type of trade that will assist them with supporting themselves and their families; and this is one of the best places to develop such.” For about eight years, William owned five barbershops at one time. He eventually, sold his shops to the barbers that worked in them to provide them with an opportunity to become entrepreneurs themselves.

He went on to inform that he suggests to his students, “When it comes to barber school, think past the barber chair and don’t focus on being stuck where you are.” Wagner makes it a point to share success stories and history with his students so that they know, a career can be made out of being a barber. He educates them on notable examples like, Madame C.J. Walker who has been regarded as, the first Black female self-made millionaire in America. “She made her fortune by developing and marketing a successful line of beauty and hair products for Black women under the company she founded, Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company.”

Another example is Alonzo Herndon, who was an African-American barber and entrepreneur out of Atlanta. He went down in history as one of the most successful Black-owned insurance businesses in the nation. At the time of his death in 1927, he was also Atlanta’s wealthiest Black citizen, owning more property than any other African-American. He was the founder and president of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, but he started out as a barber. Mr. Wagner stated that, “A student can come in with not one red cent to their name and attain enough knowledge and skills to end up becoming a millionaire or billionaire – that’s what I believe in and that’s what I teach my students.”

One of the best attributes of the Acres Home College of Barber Designs is that only a small down payment is required to enroll. Upon completion of the required courses, a student will have totally paid off any tuition related expenses. So ultimately, there is no debt from the school itself once a student graduates. Currently, the college is offering affordable reduced rates for the season.

Dorothy Wagner remains an integral part of the college. She boasts greatly of the success that the school yields. Her words are not complimentary to the school merely because she is the President of Operations and Student Affairs Community Outreach Coordinator. But, from the experience of being a graduate of the college herself, she is very sure of the divers benefits that the institution entails. She and William Wagner have been married 13 years and work together side by side at Acres Home College of Barber Designs.

During an interview she stated, “We really encourage high school students that are not sure of what they want to do, to enroll and attend the college.” Students are accepted into the school as early as the age of 16. Mrs. Wagner said, “We have some students that have started while they were in high school and were completed by the time they graduated.” She mentioned one student in particular who remains a success story of the school. This student enrolled at the college while in high school and received a partial scholarship to Morehouse College, he was able to pay the rest of the way through by the finances he made from operating as a licensed barber.

Although many people think that there is just one aspect in the world of hair care, there are several occupations that one may consider in this profession. A few of them are securing credentials to become: a barber stylist (self-employed or otherwise), teacher, haircare product salesperson, manicurist, technician and demonstration specialist of hair care products, just to list a few. Wagner explained that there is, “No difference between a barber and a cosmetologist, except a cosmetologist can not use a razor below the earlobe.” Accordingly, the Acres Home College of Barber Designs believes strongly in the education of a professional student. Furthermore, it strives to develop curriculums that allow each student to achieve his/her goal or maximum learning in the required time, while maintaining quality instruction enabling students to successfully pass the licensure exam and acquire entry level employment within the field of barbering.

For more information/details stop by the college at 2306 Ferguson Way at West Montgomery Rd., 77091 or call (281) 931-5591, fax (281) 931-6669 Email School hours are: 8:00am – 5:00pm Tuesday-Friday and Saturday’s with the exception of holidays. The college is open to the public during the following days and hours, Tuesday – Friday 9:15am – 7:00pm
and Saturday’s 8:00am – 5:00pm.