Locally Made

By Kitty McConnell
From the March 2013 issue of Columbus CEO

Barbasol’s sponsorship deal with the Columbus Crew made the public aware of a little-known fact: The parent company of the iconic men’s shaving cream brand is based right here in Dublin, Ohio.

Invented in Indianapolis in 1919, Barbasol earned early endorsements from legendary sportsmen including Babe Ruth and Knute Rockne. Acquired by Pfizer in 1962, the brand was sold to Perio in 2001. Formerly Columbus Dental, Perio transitioned from dental hygiene products to hair removal lines before acquiring the crown jewel of its portfolio, Barbasol. Perio has since successfully launched five varieties of the shaving cream and reintroduced Pure Silk, Barbasol’s shaving line for women. In 2010, Perio opened a new Barbasol manufacturing plant in Ashland.

Here are some other familiar products made in Central Ohio:

  • American Whistles

The only metal-whistle manufacturer in the country is based in Columbus. Since 1956, the company has been manufacturing the brass whistles used by referees, coaches and police departments across the United States. American Whistles are the official whistles of the Boy Scouts of America. Factory tours give the public a peek at how American Whistle Corp. puts the cork balls inside the metal housing to deliver that signature sound.

  • Brillo

Patented in 1913, Brillo steel wool pads provided turn-of-the-century housewives a way to clean their new aluminum cookware. A new sensation that had replaced cast-iron cookware, aluminum pots and pans quickly blackened on coal-fired stoves. Brillo pads were soon in high demand. In 1921, the Brillo Manufacturing Co. moved to London, Ohio. Though the company was acquired by Armaly Brands in 2010, the scouring pads are still made in Central Ohio.

  • Elmer’s Glue

Polaris Parkway is more than just a popular shopping destination: It’s home to Elmer’s, maker of all-purpose school glue, the smell of which has been evoking elementary school memories for generations. Originally part of the Borden Co., Elmer’s hit the market as the first consumer white glue in 1947. Renamed after Elmer the bull—the spouse of Borden’s mascot, Elsie the cow—Elmer’s squeezable bottle debuted in 1951. The packaging innovation paved the way for the washable glue to become a classroom staple when Elmer’s School Glue was introduced in 1967.

  • Ensure, Pediasure and Similac

Though headquartered north of Chicago near the Wisconsin border, Abbott Laboratories manufactures several products in Columbus. Ensure adult liquid nutritional supplement, Pediasure and Similac formulas are produced in the company’s Steltzer Road plant.

  • Highlights and Zaner-Bloser

Highlights magazine has been entertaining children in doctors’ and dental offices and living rooms across the country since 1946,. Headquartered in Columbus, the magazine known for the “Goofus and Gallant” cartoon and “Hidden Pictures” feature celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006 with the printing of its one-billionth issue.

Since 1972, Highlights For Children Inc. has been the parent company of Zaner-Bloser, publisher of reading, writing and vocabulary materials for K-8 students. Zaner-Bloser’s Columbus roots stretch back to 1888, when Charles Paxton Zaner founded the Zanerian College of Penmanship. Zaner and business partner Elmer Ward Bloser began publishing writing manuals as Zaner-Bloser in 1904.

  • Pedigree and Whiskas

These billion-dollar brands are familiar to dog and cat owners alike. Both pet food products are manufactured in the Mars Petcare US facility on Fisher Road in west Columbus and distributed across North America.

  • Phoenix Bats

What began as a hobby developed into a major-league business for Phoenix Bat Co. founder Charley “Lefty” Trudeau. At the behest of the Ohio Historical Society, where he was a member of the 19th century baseball team, Trudeau began making old-time wooden bats in 1996. His baseball and softball bats were soon approved for professional use and can now be seen in the hands of youth, collegiate, minor and major league players. Phoenix’s claim to fame is being one of two models of bat favored by Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera.

—Kitty McConnell