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Buckeye Built: How Ashland-based Barbasol is overcoming the beard fad

Posted: 6:06 AM, Jan 24, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-24 19:50:07-05
Buckeye Built: Barbasol shaving cream

ASHLAND, Ohio — From Cleveland to Columbus and Toledo to Cincinnati, Ohio is packed with companies who call the Buckeye State home.

As part of the News 5 Cleveland Buckeye Built series, reporter Meg Shaw went behind the scenes at an Ashland based company: Barbasol.


Barbasol just celebrated a major milestone: turning 100 years old. The company got its start in 1919 in Indiana by a former MIT professor, Frank Shields. The product he developed finally offered men an alternative to using a brush to work soap into lather.

It didn't take long for the product to catch the attention of the rich and famous. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the shaving cream received endorsements from famous male celebrities like athletes, actors and musicians.

But it was in the 1950s when the introduction of aerosol cans prompted a change in the shaving cream formula from a thick cream into a foam similar to what is currently seen in stores.

Perio, Inc. purchased the company in 2001 and got to work. They developed new products and renewed brand awareness through advertising. Barbasol became the most advertised shave cream with television and radio advertising.

Then in 2010, Barbasol landed in Ashland, Ohio. Perio built a new manufacturing facility just outside Ashland's downtown.

Impact in Ashland

The 80,000-square-foot planted opened in the spring of 2010. Originally, Barbasol brought on 25 people to get the plant up and running. The plan was to keep the work force small, while producing a quarter of a million cans of shaving cream daily.

But, it didn't take long for the company to expand. Currently they employee nearly 70 people. Area community members working on the production line, inside the lab and beyond.

"To me, this part of the country is where you find the best, most motivated hardworking people," Brent Stine, the general manager of the Barbasol plant, said.

Stein said Barbasol couldn't have picked a better time to open their plant in Ashalnd. It came just shortly after the GM manufacturing plant closed in Ontario, Ohio, about 20 miles from Ashland. The closure of that plant put hundreds of families out of a job.

"I mean, I just think the environment is changing. Manufacturing is becoming more difficult to sustain, you have to be in the right market," Stine said.

Stine said while he hoped the opening would've put more people back to work, it's better than nothing at all.

“I think it's, it's difficult and it's really about surviving the tough times. You know, I think everything seems to be cyclical," he said.

Facial Hair Trend

For 100 years Barbasol has been successful in selling their shaving products across the country. But in the past few years, they've been rattled by a trend among men.

"I think it's definitely created some issues," Stine said.

More and more men are opting to grow their facial hair and beards, nixing the shaving cream and razors. Stine said while it hasn't created any major issues, they have seen a slight drop in sales.

"I think if you turn on the TV and are watching any sporting event, you'll see some of the major superstars with beard," Stine said. "Reality is, they are role models and kids look up to them."

But Stine and the management at Barbasol aren't overly worried. He believes it's a fad that will eventually fade into the background.

However, to bring people back to the iconic brand and in an effort to gain new customers, Barbasol is switching it up and offering new products.

"We're looking at different size offerings and different retailers and what their needs are," Stine said. "So that, you know, hopefully that will drive a successful increase to market."

Women's Shaving Cream

The Barbasol brand has such a rich history in the U.S., but did you know that Barbasol's parent company, Perio Inc., also owns and produces the Pure Silk brand as well?

Buckeye Built: Barbasol sister brand Pure Silk
As part of the News 5 Cleveland Buckeye Built series, reporter Meg Shaw went behind the scenes at an Ashland based company: Barbasol.

Pure Silk is Barbasol's sister brand and produces the women's line of shaving cream.

Between Barbasol and Pure Silk, more than 50 millions cans of shaving cream are produced each year inside the Ashland plant.

"A lot of women don't even realize that the Pure Silk brand is tied to the Barbasol brand, and it's made right here in Ohio," Stine said. "So I think there's obviously ways that you can promote and grow the business in other areas to make up for that."

For more information about Barbasol, click here.