After 46 years as a leader of the family business, Jim Wahl, Executive Vice President of Wahl Clipper Corporation, has retired. Family, employees, and stockholders were present for a heart-felt sendoff July 9th at the Sterling, IL factory. “After 46 years, it is time to step back. I look forward to spending more time with my wife and visiting friends and family,” says Wahl.
The decision to retire came after much deliberation, according to son Lance, and comes shortly before the 100-year anniversary of the company, a milestone for which Jim is particularly proud since working for Wahl has been his lifelong passion. Except for a stint in the Army, Jim devoted his entire professional life to the company, beginning in 1972 as Marketing Service Manager for the consumer division, eventually finishing his career as the company’s executive vice president.
One of Jim’s most impactful contributions to the company’s success was to shift the focus of who Wahl marketed its products to and how. Jim made the decision to market directly to beauty and barber suppliers with a trained staff of sales representatives who knew the salon and barbering business. “He pushed true sales and marketing versus just being a manufacturer,” says Lance, who works as the company’s global vice president of professional products. “He also pushed to reach out to female stylists and barbers.”
Part of Wahl’s continued success is also attributed to what Jim envisioned for the company - quality products and caring for employees and customers remains a central theme of the company’s everyday operations. His motto has always been to treat all employees and customers fairly and avoid favoritism.
“We truly care about our products because we make them from scratch here in the U.S. and we back that up with great customer service. Jim pushed us to truly care about what the industry thinks of our tools,” says Lance.
Customer feedback has led to the creation of the 8900, the Peanut, and the 5 Star line - products that allow Wahl to appeal to stylists as well as barbers, thereby increasing the products’ potential customer base.
“None of that success would have been possible without the talented group of employees who have helped the company grow and become the leader it is,” says Jim.
“Our future is bright as long as we think about our employees, the stylists and barbers and their needs. We have my dad’s legacy of investigating their needs, our ability to dig deeper with our research and our desire to launch new innovations. We also have a ton of people rooting for Wahl and we need to make sure we keep that perspective,” says Lance.