Recently we had the pleasure of interviewing the owners of Parker Safety Razors, Deepak Grover and Howie Woda.
If you have ever looked into the topic of safety razors you would surely have come across the name of Parker as they are one of the world renowned manufacturers of high-quality safety razors. Founded in 1973, Parker Safety Razor has become a leading name brand within the wet shaving industry with their products being sold in over 50 countries.
Deepak Grover & Howie Woda
Owners of Parker Safety Razor
As Howie and Deepak are leaders and experts in the safety razor industry, there is no better resource for obtaining a thorough understanding of safety razor design and manufacturing.
The following is a list of questions and responses from the interview.
Questions and Answers
Q1. What are the properties/traits considered when designing a safety razor?
A. Parker has always aimed to deliver high-quality products at a fair price.
This has been the backbone of our philosophy since day one. We try to create a variety of razor styles that appeal to all wet-shavers.
Our customers consist of wet shavers that want to try a double edge razor for the first time and thus want an entry-level product.
As well as those that are committed to “double edge” shaving and want the best of breed razor that might cost a bit more (like our Parker Variant).
As a result, we have created a range of products for every need.
When we create a new model of
Q2. Safety razor aggressiveness and safety razor efficiency are two terms that seem to be constantly debated over in terms of their true definitions and what determines the level of such metrics.
Can you please explain how you define these terms, what characteristics of a safety razor you believe drive the level of aggression and efficiency, and how these elements are considered in the design of your safety razors?
A. We’ve found that the different members of the wet shaving community will describe a razor as aggressive while others in the community will describe the same razor as mild.
Most people define the aggressiveness of the safety razor as the blade gap between the head and safety bar.
However, there are many other factors that come into play that could explain why two different people would have the same razor and one will find it aggressive and another will find it mild.
Some of the most important factors that are often overlooked in determining the aggressiveness include:
1. The brand of blade used – Some blades are just more aggressive than others. A super aggressive blade in a mild razor can turn a sheep into a lion!
2. The angle of the blade in the razor head – Some razor brands do not angle the blade as precisely as others. There is an optimal range of the blade angle, but many are too flat which creates an overly aggressive blade that is highly conducive to cuts and nicks. I’ve found this to be especially true in some of the “no-name” razor brands that are low quality.
Q3. How do you consider weight and balance when designing a safety razor?
A. Parker has
It is our philosophy that a moderately heavier razor shaves better because you get a higher quality shave when you can let the weight of the razor do the work for you.
Additionally, if you so desire, you can always make a heavy razor feel lighter by holding the razor higher up on the handle.
Did you ever play baseball?
As a kid, sometimes we only had one bat and that bat was too heavy for the smallest player.
We would tell him to “choke up” on it to make it feel lighter. You can do the same with a razor- just “choke up” on the handle.
Q4. How do you approach the design of the safety razor handle including texture/grip, length, and diameter?
A. Wet Shavers traditionally have wet soapy hands so the texture is important.
The vast majority of our razors are designed with a textured grip so the razor can be held securely, even when shaving in the shower.
We’ve focused on handles about 4 inches in length because our market research has indicated this is what most wet shavers like.
We frequently talk to our customers about preferences when designing a new razor because our best ideas come from our customers.
We encourage our retailers to come to us with their suggestions based on what their customers are asking for.
Once we launch a new product, we also have many customers, vendors, friends and wet shaving aficionados test our products before we bring them to market.
Q5. What do you consider when determining the type of material to be used in the design of a safety razor?
What are the pros and cons between such materials?
A. Parker Razors have traditionally had handles made of brass.
Brass is extremely corrosion and rust resistant. It holds up extremely well.
Our butterfly razors are all brass and our 3-piece razors have brass handles zinc alloy head.
We like using the zinc alloy because it can be molded with extreme precision in an injection mold.
We typically electroplate our razors with the appropriate chrome finish, except for some of the colored razors which have a powder coating.
Safety Razors have been made with these materials for decades because they hold up.
Q6. What are the pros and cons of an open comb vs closed comb razor and how should one determine which is right for them?
A. This is a great question. We spent several years developing our Open Comb head.
When we considered an open comb design, we were not fans of the open comb razors we had tested because we found them really aggressive.
As a result, we took the open comb style razor back to the drawing board to make an open comb that was a mild shaver.
This sets the Parker Open comb razor apart from our competitors.
The benefit of an open comb razor is that it can stretch the skin a bit more than a closed comb when shaving, resulting in a closer shave.
It is worth noting that Parker’s open comb head is actually our least aggressive razor head.
However, it delivers a very close shave because it does have the advantage of the traditional open comb razor.
We recently launched a razor model that has both the open comb and closed comb plates – the Parker Convertible.
It’s a great option if you are on the fence about which type of safety razor is best for you.
Q7. Have you ever considered designing a slant safety razor? Why or why not?
A. We generally don’t like to pre-announce our products in advance, but since you asked we are planning on launching a Slant Razor over the next few months as long as our product testers give us a thumbs up.
Q8. What is the primary inspiration for the design of a new safety razor?
Do you identify a specific niche or need in the safety razor market and design a safety razor based on that need?
A. Our best ideas for new products come from our retail partners and our customers.
We solicit our retailers for input as to what products they would like us to offer.
We are very collaborative with our retailers and they often have amazing ideas.
Q9. How do you view your product line of safety razors and its completeness?
A. When we first started selling safety razors in the USA many years back we offered 4 models that were all had the Twist-To-Open (TTO) head (22R, 90R, 60R and 22R).
We then found we had customers that wanted more variety.
We introduced 3-piece razors, then open comb razors and then finally our adjustable razor, the Variant.
We also have many other products besides safety razors under the Parker Safety Razor brand we would like to discuss but that’s for another interview…
One thing we’ve learned about shaving is that many people have different preferences.
We believe our line has something for everyone.
A. Yes. We now have a total of 4 unique razor heads in which we pair with a wide variety of different handle designs that make up our expansive product line of safety razors.
This includes our Butterfly Razor or TTO head, our 3 Piece Closed Comb head, our 3 Piece Open Comb head, and our Variant adjustable razor.
Q11. What is the general process of designing and manufacturing a safety razor from start to finish and how long does that process take on average?
A. The process we use is a bit proprietary, but I will tell you it is not as simple as most people think.
Some simple products can come out in just a few weeks or months.
Complex products can take from 3 weeks to 5 years depending upon the complexity.
Our Variant adjustable razor took us over 4 years from the time it went on the drawing board to the time we started delivering it.
Some products we work on never make it out the door if we’re not satisfied.
It’s disappointing when this happens, but we would never sell a product we don’t feel great about.
Once we have the product in hand and we’re satisfied that it something we want to release, we send it out to a test group for feedback.
If we don’t get overwhelming feedback, we don’t go live with the product.
We have a group of testers that are usually very on-point and in consensus with their feedback regarding a particular product.
Q12. What should someone consider when determining which is the best safety razor for them?
A. This is a loaded question. If we took a vote of the wet shaving community, we would find that there are so many different answers as to what is the best safety razor.
We have a local barbershop that has 5 barbers in it. I often have these 5 gentlemen test new products and compare them.
I’ve learned that these 5 gentlemen all have different preferences.
If you are new to wet shaving, I’d suggest one of the Parker open combs or our Variant Adjustable Razor. If you like the convenience of a butterfly mechanism, I’d go with any of our butterfly models.
If you want a fairly aggressive razor, our closed comb 3 piece razors could be a good fit.
Don’t underestimate the value of good prep before shaving as well.
If you prep your face correctly, you will improve the performance of any razor you use. The Prep is just as important as the razor.
Last but not least, the blade chosen is very important.
There are many different brands of blades out there and here’s another case of where personal preference kicks in.
Q13. How have you seen the wet shaving industry change over the last 5 years and what are your thoughts on how it will evolve going forward?
A. The last 5 years have been really interesting and for wet shaving vendors, the competition has increased.
This is great for the consumer.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen a lot of vendors come and go.
Some of the pioneers in the wet shaving industry have really taken a big hit or even closed
10 years ago, there were 4 or 5 brands of safety razors available in the U.S.A. Now there is a myriad of options.
The best news for the consumer is that new products are coming out at a torrid pace.
We don’t see an end to this coming soon as all the vendors and manufacturers constantly strive to invent the next “big thing”.
History of Parker Safety Razors
Parker Safety Razor was formed in 1973 by Mr. Jagdish Grover. Since then, every Parker Safety Razor has been assembled by hand.
Jagdish’s son, Deepak Grover began working at the company in 2003.
In 2006, Howie Woda formed Howi Inc. in Yorktown Heights, New York.
Howie and Deepak Grover formed a partnership to create a line of safety razors for export to the U.S and European markets as well as to increase product offerings.
In addition to offering one of the largest varieties of Double Edge Safety razors available,
Parker Safety Razor products are sold in over 50 countries worldwide.
Howie Woda, President of Parker Safety Razor USA
Howie Woda is the President of Howi Inc which owns Parker Safety Razor USA, Taconic Shave and SuperSafetyRazors.com.
Howie spent over 25 years in the software industry and started wet shaving as a hobby almost 15 years ago.
Noticing that he could not find a double edge razor he liked, he launched Parker Safety Razor in the United States in 2006 and Taconic Shave shortly thereafter.
The business started in his basement and quickly grew as most of the leading wet shaving vendors quickly embraced and offered the Parker Safety Razor and Taconic Shave products.
“It’s pretty amazing that we’ve built this brand out of a basement business,” says Howie. “I never saw this coming, but we had high quality products and the brand grew organically.”
Howie is proud of his team, Parker’s reputation, quality and value of the products offered, and the ease of working with his company.
“Our retail partners are primarily smaller family-owned businesses, and many of these partners have become friends too,” boasts Howie.
Deepak Grover, President of Parker Safety Razor India and Europe
Deepak Grover is the proprietor of Deepak Enterprises which owns Parker safety razor India and Europe.
Deepak holds a master’s degree in international business and joined his father business of shaving products in 2003.
The Parker safety razor business was started by Deepak’s father, Mr. Jagdish Grover in 1973.
His dedication built the brand from scratch to a well-known and respected wet shaving brand in India.
After working with his father for 2 years, Deepak identified a huge potential in the premium wet shaving business and started searching for a reliable partner.
He met Howie in 2005 and since then, “it has been a wonderful journey,” says Deepak.
Deepak and Howie consistently collaborated in upgrading the quality of products resulting in the successful launch of several high quality and innovative designs.
This would not have been possible without the experience, expertise and hard work of Deepak’s father, Mr. Jagdish Grover.
Jagdish’s 40+ years of experience in traditional wet shaving has lead Parker safety razor become one of the leading safety razor brands in the world.
Our most recent razor, the Parker Variant Adjustable Razor which is highly regarded is the result of Mr. Jagdish Grover, the founder of Parker Safety Razor.
After 40 years in this industry, he still innovates new product ideas and is extremely hands-on.
In fact, he personally assembled every one of the first 3,000 Parker Variants in order to ensure the product quality was unsurpassed and that the assembly process flawless.
Deepak is proud of the team that works for Parker safety razor – many of his employees have been with the Parker Safety Razor company for more than 20 years. “The team is dedicated to offering the finest quality products with top-notch service,” says Deepak.
Ben Rose is the founder and senior editor at Prim&Prep, the definitive guide to male grooming. He is a wet shaving expert, body grooming aficionado, and skincare guru. His work has been featured on many other prominent men’s publications including AskMen, Men’s Health, and GQ.