The New Deal: Inventors of the Industry

Ettore Steccone (1896-1984) immigrated to the United States in 1922 and chose window cleaning as his profession. Yet Ettore was unhappy with the poor quality of the tools that were available. He vowed to develop a better method for window cleaning, and over the next ten years he tinkered in his tiny garage until he developed the first single-blade squeegee in 1936. He patented it in 1937 and called it the “New Deal” squeegee.

On a visit to New York City, Ettore introduced his squeegee to the largest window-cleaning wholesaler at the time, the J. Racenstein Company. Unfortunately, Ettore was quickly turned away. But he was stubborn—before he left, he bet the wholesaler “the best hat in New York City” that within a few weeks he’d have an order for his squeegees.

The wholesaler took the bet, and the race was on. Ettore crisscrossed the streets of New York, putting his squeegee in the hands of every professional window cleaner he could find. By the end of the month, Ettore had a $2,000 order and “the best hat in New York City.” Ettore Products Company was on its way to success. (And the famous hat is still proudly displayed at the company’s headquarters in Alameda, California!) 

Diane Smahlik is the daughter of Ettore Steccone