Clippers make the cut

Wahl one of 16 finalists for ‘coolest thing’ made in Illinois

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STERLING – For nearly 100 years, one of the “coolest” things made in Illinois has come from Sterling.

Could Wahl Clipper’s signature product be the coolest of all that are made throughout the state?

Wahl’s clippers used for personal and pet grooming are in the running to be known as the “Coolest Thing Made in Illinois” in the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association’s first “Makers Madness” contest.

Nearly 260 unique products made in Illinois were nominated, including products from Facemakers in Savanna, Blount’s Woods Equipment in Oregon. They were put in a bracket-style tournament, and Wahl has made the round of 16.

Votes now can determine whether Wahl’s clipper is “cooler” than Orion spacecraft command module control switches made by Otto Engineering in suburban Carpentersville.

Voting in the round of 16 concludes Sunday, and the round of eight runs from Tuesday to March 22.

Possible opponents for the clipper in the final four are Sloan’s flushometer from suburban Franklin Park, Beer Nuts from Bloomington, Suncast storage sheds from suburban Batavia, and the Komatsu drive truck from Peoria.

Final four voting is from March 24-29, and a winner out of the four will be named in an awards ceremony April 1 at the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield.

Leo J. Wahl’s invention of the electromagnetic motor while a junior at Sterling High School in 1911 led to the manufacturing of barber products 8 years later. Wahl Clipper has seven plants worldwide, and one of its clipper lines is named Sterling.

In time for its centennial, the company recently added a line of wet goods branded “1919” – gels, styling creams, shampoos, shaving creams and beard balms to name a few.

Wahl’s Global Headquarters Museum, which displays the many products its made over the years, opened in May 2016 at 2900 N. Locust St.

Trim the field

Go to to vote in the “Coolest Thing Made in Illinois” contest, where Wahl clippers face a field of other Illinois products such as:

Spacecraft command module switches


Lux Blox


Beer Nuts

Suncast storage sheds

Komatsu drive trucks

Functional hands

Smart ventilation systems


Electrical cutout-mounted recloser

Ford Mustang headlights

Fisher oven roasted mixed nuts

Caterpillar mining trucks

Plochman’s Craft Beer Mustard