Prominent industry figure Eric Blancato has passed away this week at the age of 69 from heart complications, leaving a family who was devoted to him, friends who revered him and an industry that admired him, all in mourning. Struggling with health issues for many decades, Eric was a fighter in every facet of his life, not just surviving, but flourishing both personally and professionally.
After coming to Australia from Italy as a young man, Eric forged an impressive career in the Australian hair industry. An award-winning competitive hairdresser, successful salon owner with establishments in the Western Suburbs of Sydney and dutiful educator, Eric held many significant positions and was involved with a myriad of organisations through which he was able to better the industry. His major role was as the President of the Professional Hairdressing Association (PHA, now known as the Hair and Beauty Australia Industry Association), a role in which he was described as a uniter, bringing industry members together to pioneer industry initiatives and make long-lasting changes.
“Eric was a very good trainer of people, he had a very good sense of business, he was a very hardworking person and he had a wide group of friends. He was a very respected person and he cared about the industry, and that’s something that was one of his strongest features, he had a real care for the employees, clients and everyone else,” said good friend John Shields, who acted as Eric’s successor as President of the PHA.
John fondly remembers his warm nature and strong organisational capabilities, a temperament and professionalism that made him a natural leader. He was involved with organisations such as the International Hairstylists Society (I.H.S.), multiple levels of state-wide and international competitions and, of course, the PHA. He drove and expanded these organisations, taking on important issues such as superannuation, education and manufacturing during his tenure as PHA President.
“He fought for a better industry, one that was about apprenticeships and employing people,” shared close friend and eventual PHA President Mario Nasso. “The apprentices that he trained all became good business people and salon owners and they’re still in the industry, and that’s from his logic, morals and love for the industry. It was never about Eric, it was about the industry, it wasn’t selfish, when he spoke it was to better the industry.”
A prominent industry figure for over four decades, Eric built many businesses, drove multiple organisations, won several titles and changed the industry irrevocably – however, many are left mostly with more personal memories of his enduring kindness, inspiring strength and overwhelming friendship.
“He was unconditional with his friendship,” John remembered fondly. “There were no expectations, it just existed. It was a very beautiful thing, which is why we’ll miss him so much.”
He will be remembered by so many. Rest in peace.
Eric will be laid to rest at Our Lady of the Angels at Rouse Hill at 11:30am, this Saturday, October 22nd. A service will follow at Castle Brook Cemetery.
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