The Family-Run Business That Changed the Barbering World Forever

The barbering industry is no stranger to change. From the crew cuts, pompadours and afros of barbering’s earliest days to today’s fades and custom blade designs, trends are constantly evolving. Yet, regardless of what styles come and go, one thing has remained constant: the need for quality products. 

In 1919, Leo J. Wahl heard that message straight from the source while selling a medical massage he’d invented for barbershops—barbers needed better, more efficient hair cutting tools. Fast forward to today, it’s been nearly a century since he applied for a patent on a newly- developed electromagnetic hair clipper and the Wahl Clipper Corporation came to life.

By the early 1940s, Leo had a plastic molding press installed at the company’s factory to keep up with production demand. This decision made it possible for him to constantly improve upon his designs and perfect the intrinsic value of all of his products—something other companies were unable to match. It also allowed the Wahl product line to expand to include things like hair dryers, shear sharpeners, shears and combs. Come 1948, the company added the Senior clipper to its lineup, which 60 years later continues to be a staple in barbers’ and stylists’ kits.

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Wahl Manufacturing Plant

Wahl's first manufacturing plant in 1923. 

When Leo passed in 1957, he had over 100 patents in his name. Motivated to keep the Wahl Clipper Corporation within the family, Leo’s three sons, Warren, Robert and Jack, took over the business. Under their watch, the company produced a collection of new products including the flexible-blade electric razor, the vacuum clipper, the first universal-type rotary motor clipper and the cordless/rechargeable battery-operated hair trimmer.

Years later, another generation entered the game. In 1980, Warren’s son Jim began the company’s first product division and in 1983, he formed the Wahl Education and Artistic Team (W.E.A.T.)—a way to educate barbers and stylists on the importance of using the right tools and techniques. Today, W.E.A.T. continues to shine light on rising barbers and stylists, giving them a larger-than-life platform to share their talents and hone their skills.

To commemorate 100 years and three-generations of a family-owned and operated business, Wahl combined a century of engineering advances into its newest product, the 100 Year Cordless clipper. The limited-edition clipper emulates the classic style of the original Wahl designs and an all-metal casing, but it’s equipped with powerful cordless technology and a lithium-ion battery.

What started with one man’s vision, a single patent and a small manufacturing plant in 1919 has evolved into a seven-factory business that spans four continents. Despite its growth, the core of Wahl has not changed since its earliest days: a focus on innovation, quality and efficiency, which has propelled Wahl to the forefront of the barbering industry and will allow it to so for years to come.

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