March 15, 2014

After 95 Years, Wahl Proves American Manufacturing Still Makes the Cut

STERLING, ILL. (March 15, 2014) – Wahl, a leading manufacturer of grooming and personal care products worldwide, is proving that American manufacturing can and does work. This year, the still family-owned company celebrates its 95th anniversary, a feat Wahl attributes in large part to its thriving American workforce. After another year of consecutive sales growth, a new 124,000-square-foot expansion to its Sterling, Ill. manufacturing facility and a growing domestic operation that now exceeds 800 employees, Wahl may just be hitting its stride…   

“This is an exciting time for the Wahl brand and our family of employees, who are the reason we’re here today celebrating our 95th year in business,” said Steven Yde, director of marketing for Wahl Clipper Corporation. “We may be a global company, but we’re also a family-owned business that hasn’t lost sight of what got us here. We believe manufacturing in the U.S. has and will continue to be our defining advantage as we move through the next 95 years.”

Wahl’s dedication to quality and service is a big reason why its U.S. manufacturing operation is alive and well 95 years after founder Leo Wahl developed the vibratory electromagnet motor, a technology that remains the foundation of many Wahl products today. To this day, 70 percent of Wahl’s hair clippers—the company’s signature product—are still manufactured in Sterling Ill. Quality control is also why the company has maintained a policy that all customer service calls are answered by a person rather than an automated system, which has helped Wahl earn excellent customer-service ratings year after year.

Wahl’s “home-court advantage” is why the company continues to invest in domestic operations, including recently completing the second largest plant expansion in its history. The additional space is allowing Wahl to meet increasing production and workforce demands while furthering its commitment to U.S. manufacturing operations. 

For Wahl, investing in its U.S. operations goes further than quality control. The company’s strategy has long been to innovate at home—that is to develop core technologies domestically; which keeps its American workforce working and produces products that demand precision. This approach began with the company’s proprietary blade design nine decades ago, which the company continues to manufacture domestically for every hair clipper, facial hair trimmer and pet clipper it sells. 

Today, Wahl’s innovate-at-home approach is responsible for the Lithium Ion Trimmer and Lithium Ion Clipper becoming among the most successful product launches in the company’s history. In 2009, Wahl developed the world’s first Lithium Ion powered facial hair trimmer, which became the number-one-selling facial hair trimmer on the market almost overnight. This technology is now the centerpiece of a family of grooming tools that offer three times the run time and twice the power of standard rechargeable options.

Wahl’s commitment to American manufacturing after 95 years is especially timely, given the rising cost of labor overseas and the continued interest among consumers and retailers alike. A 2013 study conducted by Boston Consulting Group revealed that 80 percent of Americans would pay a premium for products made in America. This pro-American-made sentiment has led major retailers to commit to stocking more American-made products.

“We’re excited to see the rededication from consumers and retailers for products made in America,” said Yde. “It’s a testament to the quality of U.S. manufacturing. Wahl is living proof that it can be done and that it can be sustainable.”

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