Friday, October 27, 2017

We used to make things in this country. #276: Zippo Manufacturing Co. of Canada, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Family Circle, June 1974

In 1932, George G. Blaisdell of Bradford, Pennsylvania made improvements on an Austria windproof lighter.  Inspired by another recent innovation, the zipper, he called it the "Zippo" and gave it a lifetime guarantee.  Over 500 million lighters later, the original Blasidell design remains virtually unchanged. In 1993, Zippo acquired the W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company, and in 2010 they added Ronson Consumer Products to their banner.  They still uphold their lifetime guarantee, and repair any Zippo lighters, regardless of age or condition, for free.

According to their Canadian Website:

Zippo Canada opened in August 1949 and was the only place other than Bradford, PA, where Zippo lighters were ever produced. Operations included the fit-up of the lighter case and insert, surface customization, cleaning, repair clinic, and packaging. A final production run signified the end of an era with the closing of the Zippo Canada production plant in July 2002. Although Zippo lighters are no longer produced by Zippo Canada, we continue to distribute and promote Zippo products to retailers across the country.

During its run, the Canadian factory produced 500,000 lighters a year (vs. 16.8 million lighters per year for the U.S. plant), for a total of 13.5 million Canadian-made lighters.  The company decided that the Niagara Falls plant was to expensive to update, so consolidated production in Bradford, Pennsylvania.

To see pictures of the original Canadian plant, visit The Passionate Wick.  To view pictures of the products made there, go to Zippo Windproof Lighter.

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