Kirkcaldy Guardians: Dom Panetta and Ronnie Marshall – a duo at heart of our town

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Every Monday you’ll find Dom Panetta and Ronnie Marshall having a wee natter at Cupcake Coffee Box. As well as being ‘well-kent faces about the toun’ they have been pals for 39 years.

They met at a Simple Minds gig, when Ronnie, then 17, found himself sitting next to Dom, who pulled the gig programme from his pocket to read. Two years later, Ron began to work for Dom. “We’ve had Migele Experience for,” Dom takes a breath, “52 years,”.

Dom came to Kirkcaldy High Street in 1986, via Buckhaven and Glenrothes. “I was 19 and gave it a bash. I had jobs where I wasn’t paid correctly or trained, that’s why I’m so passionate about training,”.

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Ronnie came to Dom as a stylist, “I had basics skills and was threatened with the sack in a roundabout way. I wanted to improve so I wasn’t going anywhere. I became salon manager for Kirkcaldy, so it all worked out in the end,” Ronnie laughs and Dom joins in, “I was wrong,” he shrugs.

Dom Panetta and Ronnie Marshall (Pic: Lisa May Young)Dom Panetta and Ronnie Marshall (Pic: Lisa May Young)
Dom Panetta and Ronnie Marshall (Pic: Lisa May Young)

At 26, Ronnie decided to spread his wings, keeping Dom updated on his plans.

“He’s a gentleman,” Dom smiles. “It was time to do something else,” Ronnie admits, “My intention was work abroad in Tokyo, too far away, then I got the opportunity to open the salon,” Byron Hair opened in 1992. “There were challenges, one of the neighbours said, ‘I’ll give you nine months’, and I thought I’m proving them wrong,”.

They both share a professional ethos.

“We share resilience, Dom says. “We have different opinions,” Ronnie shares, “The big picture is always the same, we were at an event recently and the host spoke about a mentor to drive and develop you and I see that in Dom,” he smiles.

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Offering advice to fellow entrepreneurs, Dom observes: “What I’ve have noticed is the interest in making money.”

Ronnie agrees: “Ambition and development come with money as a by-product. It is really about the people you develop and your customers.”

Asked about Kirkcaldy’s retail trade, Dom says plainly; “I don’t think Kirkcaldy makes it easy for people to do business with you with pedestrianisation and now a physical barrier. The powers that be, I wonder if they have the resilience we have had to have to run a business for as long as we have. I doubt it. Why are they not speaking to traders?”

The most important people are the customers.

“We would not have the businesses we have without them,” Ronnie says, “They have been extremely loyal, and supportive,” Dom adds shown by the constant stream of people walking past the window and waving hello to them.

They both offer practical suggestions.

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“We need to focus on what we can do. Just as we were ambitious for our businesses that’s what we need,” Ronnie says. “Parking comes up because it is important to people.”

Dom says, “It’s not the local economy.People have the money to go to the retail park with no struggle to park their car - isn’t that making it easy? Why are we punishing people for coming to the High Street just when we need more support?”

As I leave them to their natter, they tell me they went to another Simple Minds gig a month ago and I cannot help but think of it as a full circle moment. How lucky Kirkcaldy is to have these two lovely souls and the best of friends, looking out for us.

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