by Fred Hendricks
The Gendron Wheel Company is not only credited with developing the wire wheel, but the company also manufactured children’s toys. Gendron toys included bicycles, tricycles, go-cars (pedal trucks and pedal cars), coaster wagons, toy wheelbarrows and more.
The mastermind behind the Gendron Wheel Company was Peter Gendron. At the age of 21, Peter Gendron moved to Toledo, Ohio, and found employment as a pattern maker at the Toledo Novelty Works, located in Toledo. He went on to work as a pattern maker for the Detroit Safe Company of Detroit, Mich., in 1871. These employment opportunities resulted from experience he gained while working in his father’s wagon shop as a boy. While working in Detroit, Peter conceived the idea of a wire wheel. In 1875, Peter returned to Toledo, where he perfected his invention. He then utilized the wire wheels in the building of children’s carriages.
The Gendron Wheel Company was incorporated in 1880 with production of the wire wheels in a small factory located in Toledo. Within three years, business was booming and larger facilities were required. By 1910, the company had grown, with manufacturing capabilities consuming the majority of a city block.
Many of the machines utilized in the manufacturing of Gendron products were invented by Peter Gendron or his mechanics. During this time period, the Gendron Wheel Company was recognized as the largest manufacturer of children’s vehicles in the world.
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