By Jennifer Higgins
Much like the high fashion world of human hair styling, the pet grooming industry demands quality and excellence in its artistry. This cross-species similarity doesn’t stop at the kind of work done on its four-legged customers. The tools used in creating these works of art mean the difference between a grooming job that is “just OK” and one that is award-winning and show-ready.
One need only look at the purpose for which these tools are meant to understand the importance of the craftsmanship and precision involved in manufacturing them.
What’s The Buzz?
Where tools of the pet grooming trade are concerned, clippers are one of the most essential, making for fierce competition amongst clipper manufacturers and distributors. This competitive climate is the driving force behind clipper manufacturers’ reliance on ingenuity, attention to detail and knowing how grooming industry practices and trends are evolving.
Competition, in turn, requires that manufacturers develop and offer new and/or improved products on a regular basis.
In its attempt to stay one step ahead of the competition, Andis has developed a few new clipper specimens. One of the newer models in the heavily populated ranks of Andis small animal clippers is the Pulse ZR II Cordless Detachable Blade Clipper.
“An extension of our Pulse ZR product family, the new Pulse ZR II features a removable battery pack, perfect for the high-volume groomer that needs battery reliability and desires a cordless tool,” said Allie Haen, public relations manager for Evoke Brands.
Also new are the Happy Hour 5-Speed+ Detachable Blade Clipper, the Endurance Brushless Motor Clipper and the Pulse Li 5 Cord/Cordless Clipper.
“The upgraded lithium-ion battery pack, found on the new Pulse ZR II Detachable Blade Clipper, offers up to three hours of runtime, an industry-leading feature,” Haen explained. “Andis also offers the Pulse ZR II as a Vet Pack with close-cutting size 40Ss blade for surgical prep.”
Haen’s recommendations for retailers, with respect to educating those looking to purchase Andis clippers, are intuitive.
“Helping customers understand the differences amongst clippers will ensure a more satisfied purchaser,” she said. “Simple additions like on-site product videos or sample products on display that customers can physically hold will make a big difference… to see an increase in the productivity of the category as well as a reduction in returns.”
Nikki Brillhart, floor manager of Amber’s Luxury Pet Hotel in Corona, California, has possessed the same two-speed Andis corded clippers for the 15 years of her grooming career. She prefers the corded clippers because there is no battery to charge. She goes on to praise her Andis tool of choice for its durability, long life and ability to be rebuilt with parts she can purchase and perform the work herself.
Another clipper manufacturer that holds a fair share of the market is Wahl Clipper Corporation.
“This year we have launched our brand new KM Cordless—Wahl’s first detachable blade cordless clipper that combines the KM10 signature Brushless Motor with Lithium Ion technology,” said Chelsea Compton, marketing communications coordinator for Wahl North America, Professional Animal Division. “Not only does a Brushless Motor run cooler than any other clipper motor, but it also has the longest life.”
To ensure its products are lightweight, balanced and comfortable to use when clipping all day, Wahl clippers are put through careful ergonomic testing. Compton assures that Wahl understands how important it is for cool-running equipment when grooming pets and take great care to offer products that are guaranteed to run cool throughout heavy grooms.
Finally, because it is imperative that proper care be taken when maintaining grooming tools, to ensure long life and durability, Wahl has provided videos on its website that “demonstrate proper maintenance techniques for those who aren’t quite sure what they need to do.”
Relatively new to the grooming game here in the United States is a European, family-owned company called Artero. Owned and operated by brothers Edu and Alex Artero, this company originated in Barcelona, Spain, in 1909. Though Artero manufactures an array of specialty grooming products, including quality, durable and versatile clippers, its original, flagship product is clipper BLADES.
“Artero Blades are made with a less porous, high hardness steel (61-62 HRC), which helps them hold a sharper edge better and longer,” Edu Artero said. “We ensure that every blade is properly set, oiled, and that every set of teeth on every blade is finished with smooth edges for ultimate safety from the very first use. [Artero prides itself on] paying close attention to what metal is used and how each blade is made start to finish.”
Before any clipping and other grooming activities can commence, a thorough bathing is in order. Once rinsed, these beasts of burgeoning beauty must be dried. Though the drying process in dog grooming may seem like a rudimentary step in getting to the final product, there’s a lot more than meets the eye. There are quite a few features to consider when purchasing blowers and/or dryers. Durability, high air flow, variable speed, non-heated air, easy-to-clean air filters, horsepower and cubic feet per minute (CFM) should all be taken into consideration when this equipment is being assessed. The breed of dog and kind of coat will determine which blower and/or dryer features are most appropriate.
MetroVac has been manufacturing pet dryers since 1986, and they are made in the USA. With emphasis on both efficiency and safety, MetroVac developed the Air Force Commander Color Pet Dryer, the world’s best-selling pet dryer for over 30 years, billed as “the safest and most efficient way to quickly dry all pets.” The Air Force Commande Color Pet Dryer is compact and lightweight, known for its durability and power.
“The variable control models are exceptionally popular,” said David Stern, vice president of Marketing at MetroVac. “Featuring two separate variable controls operating each of the motors independently, the variable control Master Blaster gives a groomer more control over the noise level and blowing power.”
MetroVac is also soon to reveal the new finishes on its Blaster and Master Blaster pet dryers and the variable control on the Air Force Top Gun stand dryer.
From Soup to Nuts
MetroVac isn’t the only blower and dryer manufacturer with the ingenuity and creativity to stay competitive. XPower, a leader in water damage restoration, janitorial, sanitation and more, took the pet grooming industry by storm with its innovation and spirit. Manufacturing every component of its products, from the ground up and all under one roof, XPower has been able to ensure consistency and precision in engineering and maintains an in-depth knowledge of every aspect of the equipment they produce.
John Edmondson, market consultant for XPower, expounds the features of blowers and dryers that are essential, yet mutually exclusive in the parts they play based on the drying task. He explains that Forced Dryer units rely purely on velocity and speed and are not meant for tough drying jobs like drying a poodle. Consideration must be given to the dog breed, type of coat, time allotted for each grooming job as well as staffing. From there, air velocity, force, heat/no heat, flow control, humidity and air cleanliness/purity come into play.
According to Edmondson, “XPower has the greatest versatility for handling drying” based on the use of pure speed, addition of heat and control of air flow, all of which can be mixed and matched when and where needed. The four main XPower pet dryer models are the B27, a two-motor high speed, forced dryer that requires minimum maintenance; the X800, a cage unit that operates at 3600 CFM and heat is not necessary; the B16, a finishing dryer that has the same motor as a Dyson and is used on the hardest breeds; and B24 which contains an air scrubber, Hepa filter and dehumidifier. Also available are scent machines which help to increase repeat customers in smaller grooming establishments.