The Emil J. Paidar Company has been manufacturing barber chairs since the 1900s. The Chicago-based company was one of the two largest domestic manufacturers of barber supplies in the United States during that time period. The other is Koken Barber’s Supply Company based in St. Louis Missouri. Paidar also provided a slew of other hairdressing supplies, including barber poles, mirror cases, wall accessories, work cabinets, manicure tables, shoe polish stands, and coat racks.
As its name suggests, it was founded by Emil J. Paidar. According to records, Emil died on May 7, 1950 due to a car accident. He was supposed to go to his summer home on Little Traverse Bay when the incident occurred. Paidar was 74 years old.
The company had some interesting hairdressing equipment in its catalog. One in particular was their Duo-Hydraulic barber chair product line, which was labeled “The Chair with the Longest Service Life.” It is actually a variation of the Koken hydraulic chairs with different improvements. Koken pioneered hydraulic lift technology in barber chairs which he patented in 1892.
The Great Depression of the 1930s was a major challenge for the barber supplies business in the United States. Despite declining orders, the top two companies were still going head-to-head, competing for customer loyalty and the most seats sold. Various financing schemes have been announced to make bulk ordering quick and convenient. Also, diversification became a necessity to stay alive. During World War II, the demand for barber equipment soared not because the military needed haircuts, but because orders for tool boxes and cartridges increased.
In 1957, a new competitor entered the domestic market. Japan-based Takara Company sold barber chairs in the US, which they called Belmont. They were affordable and stylish at the same time. They were actually by-products of Emil J. Paidar barber chairs that had reduced prices. The dealers couldn’t help but swap out the newcomer, who had a more modern look. Ultimately, this led Koken and Paidar to appeal to the government to increase the import tax on Belmont barber chairs, as it was originally from Japan. However, the appeal was not fully granted, and Koken was eventually bought by the now called Takara Belmont Company. As a result of the acquisition, Paidar was surpassed as the leading manufacturer of hairdressing supplies and equipment in the US.
Emil J. Paidar barber chairs are now considered antique and are priced heavily on auction sites.