Born out of Perfect Faith: The Beginning of Zippo

Born out of Perfect Faith: The Beginning of Zippo
By Michael Sisler

The Small Business Association states that over 90% of businesses fail within their first year of operation and a greater portion of those enterprises still in business unfortunately cease to exist within just three short years. The birth of the Zippo Lighter effectively summarizes just how hard business success is to obtain and George G. Blaisdell, the founder of Zippo can only be sumarized as a business inspiration for all entrepreneurs!

George G. Blaisdell’s adolescent years can best be described as alternative and strong-willed. Mr. Blaisdell absolutely hated school and decided in his 5th year of elementary school that he would no longer attend. George’s father however tried to force him in the right path by sending him to the military academy but unfortunately lost the battle just two years later when George Blaisdell was dismissed from the institution. Over the years that followed George Blaisdell would gain valuable traits that would aid him in his greatest accomplishment yet by eventually taking over the Blaisdell Machinary Company. In 1920 George made a very wise move and sold the company investing the money into oil booming success in the Roaring 20’s. Success however only lasted a few short years as the Great Depression annihilated the Oil Industry keeping the Blaisdell family holding on by a thread.

Torchured by the hardships of the depression George Blaisdell one day observed his friend awkwardly try to use an Austrailian-made lighter. George noticed that the lighter worked extremely well in windy conditions because of the design but lacked due to it requiring two hands to light up and an easily bended metal frame. George Blaisdell soon after redesigned the lighter making it rectangular with a chimney design easy to operate due to the cover being attached with a henge. Early in 1933 the first Zippo Lighter which is currently displayed at the Zippo Headquarters in Bradford, PA was born. Mr. Blaisdell decided to call his new design “Zippo” because he favored the variation of the word “zipper”. The first patent was applied for in 1934 and was obtained two years later followed by a second patent in 1950. Mr Blaisdell always stood behind the reliability of his lighters that began retailing at $1.95 each by offering his Zippo Lifetime Guarentee which to this day is still guarenteed with every Zippo Oil Lighter.

Zippo took a very rough start in the Depression but became an American Icon when the Military Black Crackle Lighter was taken up by millions of American Soldiers. From there on out Zippo became an American symbol and a darling to the entire nation. After the war in 1947 Mr. Blaisdell created the Zippo Car which to this day continues to be success as it travels around tour all over the United States. In 1962 Zippo created a special design modification of it’s original model that would be specially designed for woman called the “slim” Zippo Lighter.

Over the next few decades as the business passes from George Blaisdell down to his children Zippo will have collected some estimated four million collectors worldwide through different promotions and collections in music, sports, broadway, art, etc. Recent Milestones include the 1997 opening date of the Zippo Case Museum which is currently the most visited museum in Northern Pennsylvania and the 425th millionth manufactured lighter milestone in 2006. Zippo’s Success has become so widespread that a recent Awareness survey showed that 98% of the world is aware of the Zippo Lighter and with the company’s continued success no one has payed a dime as promised for the repair of any zippo lighter.

Owner/Distributor of MS Novelty Enterprises

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