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Zippo makes 500 millionth lighter

Zippo Manufacturing Co. in Bradford, Pa., produced its 500 millionth lighter today.

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A woman holds a Zippo lighter for sale at Wimbledon car boot sale and market in London, UK, on Feb. 15, 2009. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Zippo Manufacturing Co. in Bradford, Pa., produced its 500 millionth lighter today, the Associated Press reported.

Unlike the 60,000 lighters that roll off the assembly line each day at the family-owned firm, No. 500,000,000 was passed along in two pieces by each of the company’s 620 employees and assembled by CEO Greg Booth, according to the AP. Owner George Duke, 59, the grandson of Zippo’s founder, then lit the lighter – which is engraved with today’s date – with a click.

While the lighter won’t be sold – it’s been added to the company’s on-site museum – all other lighters produced today will be replicas stamped with today’s date and available for $50 to $100, the AP reported.

(Other artifacts in the museum include lighters the company has replaced at no charge, even though they’ve been run over by vehicles or chewed up by heavy equipment, the AP reported.)

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The manufacturing milestone “spells success in really, really big letters,” Greg Booth told Fox News. “It says that American workers can, in fact, manufacture in the US and can compete successfully globally and we’ve done it and done it well.”

It took Zippo, which started in 1932, 10 years to reach its 1 millionth lighter and 37 years to produce its 100 millionth lighter, Fox News reported. Production increased when the US Army issued Zippos to soldiers in World War II.

These days, Zippo sells its lighters in 160 countries, Fox News reported. Its biggest overseas market is China. But the owner is committed to keeping production in the US.

“A lot of companies have had opportunities to go overseas and take advantage of lower labor costs and gain more profit, but I’ve said we’ll go out of business before this factory makes a Zippo pocket lighter anywhere but Bradford, PA,” George Duke told Fox News.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120605/zippo-makes-500-millionth-lighter