Do you know The Drill?
Popular Gowrie barber opens shop on Central
Life, sports, kids and the wife are just some of the topics of conversation at The Drill Barbershop in Fort Dodge, 1302 Central Ave., No.100.
The barbershop, which first opened in Gowrie in 2014 before expanding to Fort Dodge in late 2016, is a place where men can be men, according to owner Phil DeCastro.
“A barbershop is a place where men go and it kind of becomes a guys’ thing,” he said. “As soon as their son is old enough or dad stops cutting their hair, they bring them to a barber.”
At The Drill, almost nothing is off limits conversation-wise, DeCastro said.
Recently, Ron Hedeen, of Fort Dodge, and DeCastro were talking about their picks for the Super Bowl.
Some of the more interesting conversations though, are ones that have no particular direction or subject.
“By the time the haircut is over it’s like an inside joke,” DeCastro said. “Someone would walk in and wonder what we were talking about, and it’s like ‘don’t worry about it.'”
Including haircuts, DeCastro offers beard trims, shampoo and the signature straight razor shave.
“When kids are old enough and they can sit still, they can get that straight razor shave,” he said. “It’s like a rite of passage.”
Hedeen certainly appreciated the smoothness of the straight razor shave.
“I haven’t had one of these since I was a kid,” Hedeen said. “It’s nice to have another barbershop in Fort Dodge.”
DeCastro said barbershops are a special place.
“Not necessarily just mine, but the barbershop in general is your home away from home for a lot of guys,” he said. “I have guys that just come in and shoot it with me. It’s a lot different. It’s something a lot of people notice. It’s kind of one of those things you just feel it.”
DeCastro, an Oklahoma City native, met his wife, Tiffany DeCastro, of Gowrie, while in college at Oklahoma City University.
It was also at college where DeCastro earned the nickname Phil “The Drill.”
“It was a nickname given to me by one of my wife’s friends before we were even dating,” DeCastro recalled.
He said the first time the nickname was uttered was the same day he met his wife.
“I was the fraternity house handyman and one of my wife’s friends called me and asked if I had a drill to come take apart her bed,” DeCastro said.
It was at the end of the semester, he recalled.
“After that they called me Phil ‘The Drill,'” he said.
Later at a party, others piped up and called out Phil “The Drill.”
“It just stuck,” he said.
DeCastro said the name is a fit for his business as well.
“It works in the fact that it’s a drill,” he said. “You know, the drill when you come in and get a haircut.”
He and his wife would later move to Los Angeles, California, where DeCastro would embark on a career as a barber.
“It kind of started when I got a management job at Bolt Barbershop in L.A.,” he said. “I had been cutting my hair four years prior to working at the shop, so after about a year of working there and watching the other guys cut hair I had been thinking about going to barber school.”
Throughout his time in Los Angeles, DeCastro said he has had some odd requests from customers.
“I had one guy ask for an MPB,” DeCastro said.
MPB is male pattern baldness, he said.
“You shave everything so it looks like you have a massive receding, thinning hair on the top,” he said. “Then there’s the U-hawk, which is a haircut in the shape of a U. It’s like an MPB, but backwards. Like if this guy bent down, it just looked like a U.”
DeCastro said he is open to anyone’s unique style.
“It spices things up,” he said.
By the time DeCastro earned his barber’s license in California, he and his wife were considering leaving the busy city life for his wife’s hometown of Gowrie.
“We were just ready to move back closer to family and everything,” DeCastro said.
While still in California, DeCastro had developed a relationship with Darrel Mischke, who owned Darrel’s Barber and Styling Shop in Gowrie.
The opportunity eventually came for DeCastro to take over for Mischke, who had cut hair in Gowrie for 45 years.
DeCastro purchased the business from Mischke in July 2014, carrying on a 100-plus year run of barbers who have operated out of the 1122 Market St. building in Gowrie.
“With the history already being there with the barbershop, that’s something I wanted to continue because a lot of small town barbershops are kind of a dying breed,” he said. “In L.A., New York, even Des Moines, they are starting to pop back up. They are more trendy, if you will. People are realizing that they are missing that atmosphere and want it back.”
DeCastro credits the people of Gowrie for helping him establish his business.
“The town of Gowrie is pretty solid as far as supporting local businesses,” DeCastro said. “Darrel had developed quite a loyal following and they were willing to give me a shot as well, even after he left.”
He said some of his customers encouraged him to expand the business to Fort Dodge.
“It wasn’t until I saw the spot here (on Central) and I did the math and realized I could split my hours up in the short term and in the long term get another barber in with me. That way we can have both shops running five days a week.”
DeCastro said he has been impressed with the people in the Fort Dodge region.
“I love the people of the Gowrie and Fort Dodge area,” he said. “They are strongly committed to making their area awesome and that goes a long way. Despite being a small town, per se, it’s not a small town attitude.”
DeCastro works in Gowrie on Mondays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.
He works in Fort Dodge Monday mornings, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.