He Invented a Better Iron, Now He Makes Them in the USA

Farouk Shami decided he’d do even better business if he made his products in the US. So two years ago he decided to bring the manufacturing for his ceramic curling irons back from China to Houston, the city where he lives. Now he’s hiring 1200 workers to make the high-end curlers, but his biggest enemy are Chinese companies who are making counterfeit copies of his product.

The Palestinian-born Texan told the WSJ he spends $500,000 a month in legal bills to fight the fakers. He started his business, Farouk Systems, after years as a hairdresser, when he realized that metal heating elements could damage hair. Now his products are sold in 104 countries, but 60% of his business is in the US. Even though it will cost $2.50 more each to make the curling irons in his Houston factory, his niche, called the Chi, is priced three times the cost of ordinary curling irons, and has proven very profitable. This is what has encouraged so many Chinese companies to make knock-offs selling for as little as $50 apiece. Sometimes unhappy customers even send the fake ones in for refunds from him.

Shami’s lawyers chase down the fakers and then they pop up across the street. When he told his Chinese manufacturer, Fenda, that he was moving production to the US, they told his 16 engineers that they couldn’t visit some parts of the factory. But the company says “copies are a serious problem for Farouk Systems, and we’ve helped them stop some companies.”

For the 30 people a day who are being hired on his new assembly line, I’m sure they hope that people will continue to buy the real ‘Chi’ and not the dozens of fakes still made in China.