Striking Innovation

Sometimes innovation hits you right in the face.

Other times, you hit it.

On a stormy Buffalo night in 1916, a young John R. Oishei was driving his National Roadster down Delaware Avenue near Virginia Street when he struck a bicyclist. He never saw the man, as it was raining and his windshield was full of rain drops. Although both men walked away physically unscathed, Oishei was mentally shaken. With this incident fresh in his mind, he set out to ensure that such an occurrence would never happen again, and that motorists everywhere could maintain the clearest of visibility, even in inclement weather.

The result? A new company known as Tri-Continental Corporation.

Oishei founded in 1917 what is today recognized as TRICO. Together, they introduced to the market a revolutionary piece of equipment known as the Rain Rubber. This manually-operated windshield wiper, consisting of a rubber blade attached to a handle, was designed to fit the commonly-slotted two-piece windshields of the time. Shortly after the Rain Rubber’s introduction to market, automobile makers began installing a rubber strip between the upper and lower windshields to account for the wiper.

In a few short years following the introduction of the Rain Rubber, TRICO saw great success, as they went on to become a global leader in wiper technology. Today, TRICO is the most popular wiper blade company in North America. They have 8 facilities, 2,400 employees, 270 engineers, and a global output of 50 million wiper blades and 5 million wiper arms.

Oishei passed away in 1968, but his legacy lives on through the John R. Oishei Foundation, which is Western New York’s largest private foundation.

Photos courtesy of TRICO and PetroJoe