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How Leo J. Wahl Changed the Appearance of History

From crew cuts, pompadours and afros to today’s fades and custom designs, history tells us the one constant in hairstyles is change. Yet regardless of what styles come and go over the years, Wahl Clipper Corporation has remained the leader in pioneering and refining the world’s best electric clippers. For the past 100 years, the company has continued to innovate and create the tools that make cutting the hairstyles of the past and future possible for barbers and stylists all over the world. But despite its global leadership position, the company remains family-owned and headquartered in the same town where it began.

While selling a medical massager that he’d invented for barbershops, Leo spoke with and listened to many barbers and recognized their need to have better, more efficient hair cutting tools. He began to focus his efforts on building an efficient and high-quality clipper, and on October 14, 1919, Leo J. Wahl of Sterling, Illinois applied for patents on his newly developed electromagnetic hair clipper. As a result, the Wahl Clipper Corporation was officially born.

The company grew over the next 20 years and by the early 1940s Leo Wahl had plastic molding presses installed at the company’s factory to allow for control over the production process. This decision also made it possible for Wahl to constantly improve upon his designs and perfect the intrinsic value of all his products – something other companies’ barber tools were unable to match. It also allowed the Wahl product line to expand to include hair dryers, shear sharpeners, shears, combs and much more. In 1948 the company launched the Senior clipper which, 60 years later, continues to be a staple among barbers’ and stylists’ tools.
In 1957, Leo J. Wahl passed away with over 100 patents in his name. Motivated to keep the Wahl Clipper Corporation a family business, Leo passed the company on to his three sons: Warren, Robert and Jack. Under their leadership the company produced many new products including the very unique and innovative flexible-blade electric razor, the vacuum clipper, the first universal-type rotary motor clipper and the cordless/rechargeable battery-operated hair trimmer changed the barbering world forever.
In 1980, Jim Wahl, a third-generation Wahl and Warren’s son, began the company’s first official professional product division and in 1983 formed the Wahl Education and Artistic Team (W.E.A.T.) as a way to educate barbers and stylists on the importance of using the right tools and techniques. In 1992, the versatile Peanut clipper was introduced and in 2002 a barber-oriented line of 5-Starproducts was launched. Nearly 20 years later, the 5-Star line continues to be some of the company’s most popular clippers.
Today, Wahl has a wide variety of clippers, trimmers, blades and accessories to help barbers execute the cutting techniques required to create the styles their customers want. The Wahl Clipper Corporation team continues to listen to barbers, just as Leo J. Wahl did, to understand what they need to keep providing their customers with stylish, quality haircuts and trims.
In celebration of 100 years of business, Wahl has combined a century of engineering advances into its newest product, the 100 Year Cordless Clipper. The finest professional clipper to date, it’s a physical embodiment of 100 years of Wahl innovation and tradition. The 100 Year Clipper has the classic style of the original Wahl designs and an all-metal casing, but with powerful cordless technology and a li-ion battery. Only available in a limited release, the 100 Year Clipper is sure to sell out quickly.
Wahl Clipper Corporation started with one man’s vision, a single patent and a small manufacturing plant. Today, it’s grown to seven factories on four continents, 26 sales offices around the world serving over 165 countries, and over 274 patents related to the barbering, salon and pet grooming industries. However, the core of what makes Wahl what it is has not changed since the days of Leo Wahl. The focus on innovation, quality and efficiency have helped the Wahl Clipper Corporation become the leader in its industry and will allow it to continue as the leader for years to come.
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