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Ettore Steccone’s window cleaning roots began in 1932, ten years after moving from Italy to America and settling in Oakland, California. That’s where Ettore began his window cleaning business, traveling around town on his Indian motorcycle with a ladder on his shoulders and a bucket dangling from the end.
While Ettore loved the newfound freedom that his window cleaning business presented, he was unhappy with the available window cleaning tools of the day. At the time, the tool of the trade was the heavy, bulky Chicago Squeegee. The Chicago Squeegee was made from steel and used two heavy, red-rubber blades, which were changed out by loosening 12 screws.
Feeling certain there had to be a better way, Ettore began tinkering with new ideas in the garage behind his home. Eventually he created the modern T-type squeegee, which was made from brass and used a single precision rubber blade. In 1936, he patented his revolutionary squeegee as “The New Deal.”
After being turned down by several window cleaning supply companies, Ettore headed to New York City to meet with the largest supplier of them all – George Racenstein of the J. Racenstein Company, who had been selling window cleaning supplies since 1909. Like the other suppliers, Racenstein was not instantly convinced there was a need to change to the new lighter, smaller squeegee. But Ettore offered a deal that George Racenstein couldn’t pass up. Ettore bet “the finest hat in New York” that George would call Ettore within 30 days asking to put the new squeegee in his catalog. Racenstein took the bet, not knowing that Ettore had a secret plan. Ettore gave away his squeegees for free to window cleaners to try, and if they liked them better than the old style squeegees, they would call Racenstein and ask him to put the new squeegee in his catalog. Today, the “finest hat in New York” still graces the foyer of the Ettore plant.
Ettore continued to manufacture and ship squeegees from his garage until the early 1950s, which was when he and his five employees moved to his first real factory. That’s where his wife, and eventually his daughter Diane, helped in the nuts and bolts of the business. Diane, who is now Chairman of the company, grew up putting squeegees together and getting paid 10 cents per box of completed products.
The “New Deal” eventually was renamed the “Ettore Master.” Despite several challenges – including the loss of his patent, infringement of his name, and metal shortages during the war – Ettore’s squeegee took on global acceptance, changing the way windows were cleaned worldwide.
Ettore Steccone died in 1984 at the age of 87. Ettore is remembered for his hard work and his dry wit. He was often seen leaving his desk as company president to sweep the floors outside. Unsuspecting visitors would stop him and ask if Ettore was available. “What do you want him for?” he’d ask. If it was someone he was interested in talking with, he’d let him know his little secret. Otherwise, he’d tell them Ettore could not be reached.
Ettore lived to see his American dream fulfilled, his family prosper, and his company earn worldwide recognition for its quality window cleaning products. He died in 1984 at the age of 87, but his family continues his legacy.
Ettore Squeegee Makes History
On September 11, 2001, a window cleaner named Jan Demczur and five other men were riding up in one of the World Trade Center’s elevators when the car stopped suddenly, then began plunging downward until someone hit the emergency stop button. When the men pried open the elevator doors, they were faced with a three-quarter inch wall of sheetrock. Smelling smoke, they knew they needed to get out quickly. Demzcur started using a pocket knife to cut through the sheetrock until he accidentally dropped the knife and it slipped through the crack between the elevator and the wall.
Another man grabbed the Ettore squeegee out of Demczur’s bucket and used the handle to cut furrows in the wall, creating about an 18-inch depression in the sheetrock. Using that depression, the men were able to eventually kick through the sheetrock and escape to safety, minutes before the tower collapsed.
Today, Demzcur’s Ettore squeegee handle that saved their lives is on display in the National Museum of American History.
Today’s Ettore squeegees have not changed significantly from the original, which was designed over 80 years ago. They still feature Ettore’s t-shape design and specially-formulated rubber. Ettore’s squeegees are known for their quality rubber, which is supple and smooth with a razor-sharp square edge that consistently leaves glass perfectly clean and streak free. Even today, each piece of Ettore rubber is still hand checked by Ettore’s employees for any abnormalities.
Over the years, Ettore has created new products and made some minor adjustments, based on customer feedback. Today, Ettore offers a variety of traditional squeegees in both brass and stainless steel, as well as specialty squeegees. For example, the Ettore Backflip is designed to help window cleaners with those hard-to-reach windows, and it allows users to wash and squeegee at the same time. Ettore also now offers pure water systems and waterfed poles.
Ettore continues to be one of the top choices for professional window cleaners. Check out our wide selection of Ettore supplies and essentials, including channels, handles, sleeves, scrapers, belts, pole and much more.