“Build your product with integrity …stand behind it 100% and success will follow.”
– George G. Blaisdell
Zippo was founded in Bradford, Pennsylvania in 1932 when George G. Blaisdell decided to create a lighter that would look good and be easy to use. Blaisdell obtained the rights for an Austrian windproof lighter with a removable top, and re-designed it to his own requirements.
He made the case rectangular and attached the lid to the bottom with a welded hinge, and surrounded the wick with a windhood. Fascinated by another recent invention, the zipper, Blaisdell called his new lighter “Zippo”, and backed it with a Lifetime Guarantee.
Zippo Canada, before manufacturing operations closed in Niagara Falls (2002).
The “Zippo Car” visits Niagara Falls Ontario, Canada.
Today Zippo has produced over 500 million windproof lighters since its founding in 1932. Except for improvements in the flint wheel and modifications in case finishes, Blaisdell’s original design remains virtually unchanged today. The Lifetime Guarantee that accompanies every Zippo metal product still guarantees that “It works or we fix it free”.
Although the windproof lighter is the most popular Zippo product, Zippo took its first step toward diversification with the introduction of a six-foot flexible steel pocket tape measure in 1962. The success of this product led Zippo to expand the line to its current product family of tape measures, pocket knives, money clips, writing instruments, key holders, ZipLight™ pocket flashlights and the Fixxit™ pocket tool. Today, all of these items can be imprinted with company logos or trademarks.
Zippo has expanded its sales operations nationally and internationally through a wide network of sales representatives. In more than 160 countries throughout the world, Zippo is synonymous with American made quality and craftsmanship.
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.
Zippo windproof lighters enjoy a widespread and enviable reputation as valuable collectibles. The company produces the Zippo Lighter Collectors’ Guide containing illustrations of the lighters and descriptions of the series, as well as an explanation of the date code found on the bottom of every Zippo lighter. Clubs for lighter collectors have been organized in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Japan and the United States.