Who’s There?: Tom Breigenzer
Breckenridge nail technician Tom Breigenzer thinks beautiful nails are based in science – not a surprising conclusion from a career electrical engineer who retired five years ago and wound up polishing nails part-time.Breigenzer used to make products for the biomedical industry, but now he does “mini-pedis,” acrylic nail fills and the like at Breigenzer’s Salon, owned by his wife and daughter since 1998.”I’m kind of a white elephant when it comes to this business,” he said, “but in reality, it’s not all that odd.”Nail work – painting, filing, building a base from artificial materials – involves small, fine work and attention to detail in the same way engineering does, Breigenzer said. “You have to be detailed if you’re going to do a good job,” he said.
His wife, Gloria, has been doing hair for more than 40 years. The couple’s daughter, Niki, is also a hair stylist who opened the Main Street shop. She talked her mother into becoming business partners when Tom and Gloria moved to the area from Minnesota in 2000.When the shop’s nail technician left, the Breigenzer women tried for some time to find a replacement.”One day, as a joke, I said, ‘Hey, I could probably do that for ya,'” Tom said he told his wife and daughter. And it was “put up or shut up” after that.Ten weeks of nail school in Glenwood Springs followed. Of course, Breigenzer was the only man in the class. He was also the oldest student and probably the only former engineer.
While detail work is a similarity in Breigenzer’s dichotomous careers, he draws the line there. Where does nail polishing diverge the most from engineering? Well, engineers are known introverts, he said, and “in this line of work that doesn’t work.” Like most hair salons, much gossip and girl talk flies around the Breigenzer’s shop, which is painted in lively colors from floor to ceiling.In tailored pants, dress shoes and a soft baseball cap, Tom looks just like an engineer as he sits at his wrought-iron working station with a glass top. He said he got used to the shop’s daily discussions that are much more colorful and varied than even the raciest water cooler talk he engaged in with fellow engineers.
In fact, he is becoming quite the conversationalist, even when the subject is over-the-top frilly. He named the social atmosphere – along with a flexible schedule – as a top reason he likes the new career. “This is the last job I thought I’d ever have in my life,” he said, “but it’s great for retirement.”Kim Marquis can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249, or at email@example.com.
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