Under Greg Wahl’s leadership, the company sets its sights on Leading with Vision, a new philosophy for the 21st Century. “To maintain our leadership position in the personal care categories we serve, we must have vision. Vision to continually improve our existing products. Vision to bring new products to market which meet the wants and needs of consumers. Vision to stay innovative and ahead of our competitors, and vision to support our customers, the retailers, with sales and marketing programs that make it easy, fun and profitable for them to sell more Wahl products. Leading with Vision means constantly being alert to new opportunities. By sharing the vision, we can make tomorrow absolutely extraordinary.”
1911 The road which lead to the creation of the Wahl Clipper Corporation began when Sterling High School junior, Leo J. Wahl, experimented with a vibrating electromagnetic motor. Later as an engineering student at the University of Illinois, Leo Wahl designed a vibrating medical massager for his uncle J. Frank Wahl, who began manufacturing the massagers ina small plant in Sterling, Illinois. Leo spent his spare time selling these massagers to barbershops, where he recognized the need to improve barber tools. When his uncle was called into service during the Mexican Revolution, Leo Wahl took over the manufacturing business and began experimenting on a new electric hair clipper.
1919 On October 14, Leo J. Wahl applied for patents on his newly developed electromagnetic hair clipper, and manufacturing began at the Wahl Manufacturing Company. It was the first practical clipper with the drive motor in the hand, rather than connected to a separate motor through a flexible shaft. By the end of 1920, his factory had manufactured and sold thousands of clippers to barbers all over the United States. In these early years, Mr. Wahl concentrated on working directly with barbers to improve the efficiency and convenience of his hair clipper.
1921 On February 2, Leo J. Wahl, having received a patent on his new hair clipper, purchased 100% of the Wahl Manufacturing Company stock and renamed and incorporated the business as the Wahl Clipper Corporation. Growth was rapid, financed from manufacturing earnings and patent royalties.
1940 In the early 1940’s the company installed its own plastic molding presses and continued to expand this important manufacturing capability. At one time it produced hundreds of thousands of micro-size electrical switches. With the addition of various manufacturing technologies, the corporation grew as a vertically integrated manufacturer with almost every product component produced in the Wahl plant. The product line for professional barbers and beauticians was expanded with items such as a professional salon hair dryer, shear sharpeners, shears, curling brushes, combs and attachments for hair clippers. For customers, a very successful hand-held Silent Dryer was produced, with production approaching 2,000 per day. New products for the electromagnetic motor were investigated – even an electromagnetic milkshake mixer.
1950 With the realization that Wahl barber clippers would be in worldwide demand, the company began an export effort, building products in the voltages and frequencies required for international use. Over the years, Wahl has developed a prosperous network of sales and service representatives throughout the world. In the early 1950’s the company opened its manufacturing facility in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
1957 Leo J. Wahl passed away on May 20. During his life he had applied for over 100 patents on his various inventions. That same year the Company completed the move from its 407 E. Third Street location to the spacious new plant on North Locust Street in Sterling.
1960 In the mid 60’s, the company developed and produced a very unique and innovative flexible-blade electric razor.
1965 Typifying its innovative spirit, the Company pioneered another advancement in the industry. Trade show crowds were impressed when they watched a man get a full haircut without a hair touching his suit. This was the introduction of the Vac Clipper, a clipper with a vacuum hair pickup.
1966 The Company began manufacturing its first universal-type rotary motor clipper. Within a year, the motor was converted to the permanent-magnet type and incorporated into a powerful new animal clipper.
1967 The Company designed the first cordless/rechargeable battery-operated hair trimmer and marketed it to professionals.
1970 A series of labor problems remaining from an eight-week strike in 1965 erupted into a 26-week strike, culminating with decertification of the union. During that same year, a new variable-speed, rare-earth, permanent-magnet motor clipper was introduced.
1971 Using its rechargeable battery technology, the company invented and produced the world’s first successful cordless/rechargeable soldering iron, creating a new Electronics Division. Within two weeks, this tool captured 90% of the United States market.
1975 The company began manufacturing a full line of foot and back massagers with controlled vibration and heat, using Wahl’s very efficient electromagnetic motor. In 1977, Wahl also introduced another totally new product concept: the hygienic, battery-operated nose and brow trimmer.
1984 The company capitalized on its wealth of research and experience from professional trimmer sales and developed the Groomsman, th world’s first battery-operated facial hair trimmer. This product created a new and exciting consumer category. New products and sales growth created the need for a series of building expansions, starting with the purchase of a 17,500 sq. ft. school building. By 1992 over 150,000 sq. ft. of space had been added. The Professional Beauty and Barber Division continued its lead as the #1 supplier of electric haircutting machines and began the development of other tools for salon use, including a line of wet goods under the name of VISIONS.
1987 In August, the Company introduced to the professional market another truly innovative product, the ZeeCurl. This unique, flat-barrel curling iron gave stylists a tool to create new hairstyles with Z-shaped curls, adding texture and body to all types of hair. In 1988, FrenZee, the consumer version, was added.
1989 New products included: a rechargeable wand massager, a magnifying extension mirror, the Sterling line of professional hair clippers, electronic drill tools, a specially designed shaver for black men, the “Stubble Device” to keep facial hair cut one to three days long, and a bikini line shaver.
1990 The personal care line of Groomsman Beard and Mustache Trimmers had been expanded into a full line of battery and rechargeable products. Creative hairstyling trends of the 90’s led Wahl’s Professional and Consumer Divisions to develop tools for cutting and maintaining special shapes and designs in the hair. These products were known in the trade as Hair Doodles and Cool Cuts. Wahl made a serious step into the electric shaver business with the purchase of tooling and technology for a world-class Austrian shaver, which joined Wahl’s men’s and Lady Wahl shaver lines. In 1991, using its recently invented DynaFlex Cutting System, Wahl began mass production of three new electric shaver models in its Sterling plant.
The International Division accelerated its growth with foreign trade shows, increasing sales to almost 20% of domestic sales. The company made a major commitment to international business with the 1987 incorporation of Wahl Europe, Ltd. as a wholly owned sales/service/distribution center, including a bonded warehouse for V.A.T. and duty savings located in Herne Bay, Northern Kent, England. In 1990, the Company purchased and moved into its own 20,000 sq. ft. building. In 1989 and 1990, Wahl employees recieved “Illinois Exporter of the Year” awards from the Small Business Administration. In 1991, the company was awarded the coveted Presidential “E” Award for excellence in exporting, followed by the Presidential “E Stair” Award in 1994.
1993 This year saw the first marketing of the Custom Shave System, allowing the user a choice of three foil heads for varying degrees of shaving closeness and comfort. Many new corded and cordless haircutting and trimming products for both the professional and the consumer were brought to market as shorter hairstyles continued worldwide.
1996 With the goal of achieving a 100% service level, the company converted to a computer-aided inventory control system at its Sterling plant. At the same time, plant expansions were completed, adding over 130,000 sq. ft., a 40% increase in capacity. Later in the year, the Company acquired Moser Elektrogerate GmbH, an international manufacturer headquartered in Unterkirnach, Germany. Moser’s Hungarian production plant, Kuno Moser Kft, and the shares of Ermila GmbH, a distributor of professional hair clippers, were also included in the acquisition. All activities of the two companies were merged into a global personal care organization. The synergistic effect of combined research, development, production, logistics and marketing resulted in a more extensive global presence for both companies. Founded in 1946, Moser is recognized as a leading international manufacturer of products similar to those of Wahl, including hair clippers, massagers, shavers and pet trimmers. Moser’s product line also included oral hygiene appliances.
1997 Gregory S. Wahl was elected president of Wahl Clipper, USA, succeeding his father, John F. (Jack) Wahl, who continues to serve as CEO. Commenting on the future of the company in the 21st Century, Greg Wahl reiterated the company’s drive toward globalization and its commitment to serve consumer and professional customers wherever they are located.
1999 Wahl Clipper Corporation is an international industry leader in the manufacture of consumer personal care appliances and products for the professional beauty and barber salon trade. The company currently employs over 1,500 people worldwide in Australia, Canada, China, England, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Japan and the United States.
2001 Wahl Clipper introduces the remarkable Trim N Vac – the first beard and moustache trimmer that collects the trimmings using a patented vacuum system. “Neat Beard – Clean Sink”
2009 Wahl Clipper Corporation introduces the first Lithium Ion Trimmer and celebrates 90th anniversary.