All Gendron bikes and trikes have an important pedigree – Peter Gendron was instrumental in the development of the metal wheel, and the company’s brand name ‘Pioneer’ was therefore apt.
In the late 1890s Gendron was a big exporter to France, and his machines were sold there until France established its own cycle industry, after 1900.
This is one of the earliest styles of Gendron velocipede tricycle, described by the company as a ‘truss frame’ and easily distinguished from the more refined versions of the 1920s-1950s by the cruder rear end:
‘A velocipede is always welcomed by any boy.’
1914 Gendron Pioneer Standard Truss Frame Velocipede Tricycle
This Gendron Pioneer Truss Frame is an interesting relic of the early era of children’s riding toys. It was found in a barn, where it had been stored for over 50 years, often the fate of childhood toys once their owners have grown up. It is complete except for the solid rubber front tyre, handlebar grips and leather cover for the saddle, and the front wheel requires re-spoking. Though these poor-quality photos don’t show it, the head badge is intact and just about readable.
Early tricycles such as this ‘truss frame’ are much harder to find nowadays, 21st century collectors mostly preferring the dynamic streamlined styling features of 1930s tricycles and the space age designs from the 1950s.
1914 GENDRON RANGE OF RIDING TOYS
This example is illustrated, below, second from left
“Toledo, thanks to Peter Gendron, has become prominent throughout the world for its development of the manufacture of metal wheels and for the quantity and quality of its output of that class of products. Mr. Gendron came to the city at the age of twenty-one and found employment as a pattern maker in the Toledo Novelty Works, then conducted by Russell & Thayer. In 1871 he went to Detroit as a pattern maker for the Detroit Safe Company. As a boy he had worked in his father’s wagon shop and while in Detroit he conceived the idea of a wire wheel. In 1875 he returned to Toledo, perfected his invention, first using the wire wheel on children’s carriages.
In 1877, with three associates he began the manufacture of wheels, but the company lacked sufficient capital to put the product on the market and consequently failed. Mr. Gendron did not lose faith in his invention, however, and after three years of persistent effort established a market for his wheels.
The Gendron Wheel Company was incorporated in 1880 and a small factory was started at 218 Summit Street. Within three years the business increased to such proportions that larger quarters became necessary. A site at the corner of Orange and Superior streets was purchased and a four-story building 100 feet square was erected. In 1890, the capital stock was increased to $300,000 and a few years later it was increased to $500,000.
This company was not only the originator of the wire wheel, but it has always been the recognized leader in the manufacture of goods of that class. It makes bicycles, tricycles, invalid chairs, go-cars, baby carriages, doll carriages, coaster wagons, toy wheelbarrows, etc.
. . .By the year 1890, the company had added 120 feet to their plant on Superior street, employed some 300 men, and was capitalized at $300,000 – no small concern at that time in the rapidly growing Western town. Additional ground, adjoining the company’s plant, was purchased from time to time and buildings were erected thereon until to-day  it owns the greater portion of the block bounded by Orange, Jackson and St. Clair streets, having a floor space of over 250,000 square feet.
The plant is modern in every respect, fully equipped with automatic sprinklers and the very latest fire-fighting apparatus. Power is supplied by thirty-five electric motors, having an aggregate of 500 horsepower. The company was styled the Gendron Iron Wheel Company for several years, but some years ago the name was changed to The Gendron Wheel Company. The company was not only the originator of the wire wheel, but it has been the recognized leader in goods of that class. Many of the machines used in the manufacture of the company’s product are the direct invention of Mr. Gendron or his mechanics. As a result of this, the company is the possessor of some for the most perfect electric welding, rim-truing and wheel-making machinery in existence. The concern has a capacity of 2,500,000 steel wheels, annually, all of which are required to equip articles of their own manufacture. The company has long since been recognized as the largest manufacturers of children’s vehicles in the world. . .The company is still a large factor in the manufacture of bicycles, having been one of the pioneers in that industry.”
Compare Gendron’s primitive wagons in 1904, above, with their range of ride on toys in 1934, below
Gendron info with thanks to – [Toledo and Lucas County, Ohio, 1623-1923 by John M. Killits, Chicago, 1923, p. 425. Website – http://www.toledosattic.org/]