BRADFORD — To celebrate 89 years of continued business, Zippo, the world-famous windproof lighter manufacturing company, will celebrate “Founder’s Day” on June 5th, in honor of their late founder George Blaisdell.
Zippo is a staple of the Bradford community, as generations of workers from the town have worked at the company’s home base through the decades. And the beginning started at the Bradford Country Club in the early 1930s.
As legend would have it, Blaisdell was with a friend and noticed he was struggling to ignite an Austrian-made lighter that had a chimney to block out the wind. However, the product was not appealing visually and was made of a thin metal that dented easily. Also, a person needed two hands to work it.
So, in 1932, Blaisdell reconstructed that lighter on his own, using a lid with a hinge for the chimney design, and created what we know today as the trademark Zippo lighter. He moved on to make other products with the Zippo brand name, such as tape measures, golf balls and zipper balm, among many others.
Since Blaisdell’s death in 1978, the company has added apparel, outdoor gear, sunglasses and numerous other items, maintaining an iconic brand around the world.
“Every year, we look back and remember him and celebrate [as a company], so when we celebrate the founding of the company, we use his birthday,” said Lucas Johnson, associate vice president of brand marketing, who said the company doesn’t know the official day work first started in Bradford, so Blaisdell’s date of birth suffices.
Prior to this, Zippo celebrated internally, but this year, they are sharing the day with fans and collectors. The company will hold an all-day sale that day both in their store in Bradford and online worldwide. They will also be featuring two limited edition Founder’s Day collectible Zippo lighters, one exclusively online at Zippo.com and one exclusively in their store.
Shirley Evers, archive manager of the Zippo/Case Museum, said Blaisdell was always supportive of his employees, which is why personally, she has been with the company for 35 years. She said this day is an homage to a great entrepreneur and a great man.
“I think that as long as people are customers of Zippo, fans of Zippo, collectors of Zippo, there will always be a place in their heart for George Blaisdell because he was a larger-than-life individual.”