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Peter Wendel & Sons Co.
Peter Wendel, 1888-1915; Peter Wendel & Sons Company, 1915-1938; Newark, New Jersey; 1938-1978, Irvington, New Jersey
 
Associated Builders
Wendel Industries, 1978-present; Union & Short Hills, New Jersey
     

Peter Wendel, Sr., was born on September 30, 1863, in the town of Rockenhausen, Donnersbergkreis, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany on September 30, 1863 to Peter and Philipina (Lymbacher) Wendel. He was a third generation wagon-maker and soon after the untimely death of his father he was apprenticed to a local master blacksmith and wagon builder. Shortly after reaching the age of 18 Peter completed his internship with his Rockenhausen master and embarked upon a year of travel throughout southern Germany and Switzerland, supporting himself by working at various vehicle builders as a journeyman. Within the year he decided to seek his fortune in the United States, boarding a steamship in the seaport city of Hamburg, arriving at Castle Garden, on December 31, 1881.

Soon after his arrival at the Port of New York Peter Wendel journeyed to Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, where he had a job waiting for him at the wagon manufactory of Joseph Haefle, where he worked as a journeyman for the next six years. In 1888 he went into business on his own account in a small shop on Waverly Avenue, in the City of Newark. The patronage for Wendel's wagons gradually increased and in 1910 he purchased fourteen or fifteen city blocks on Badger Avenue, Newark, where he erected a new modern factory whose address was 155-171 Badger Ave, Newark, New Jersey.

Peter Wendel married, at the home of his bride, in Belmont Avenue, Newark, April 18, 1885, Anna Stephan, who was born March 6, 1867, in the Village of Engelsbrandt, in the Court District of Neuenberg, Kingdom of Wurttemberg, Germany, where her parents, Georg and Margarethe (Meisenbacher) Stephan, had resided for many years prior to the family's 1881 emigration.

To the blessed union were born nine children: Adolph Gustave & Anna Marie (twins born Feb. 14, 1886-d. May 29 & 30, 1886); Edward C. (b. Mar. 31 1897-d. Jan 18, 1916); George H. (b. Mar. 14, 1889); Peter F., Jr. (b. Jan. 6, 1891); Bertha (b. Jan. 18, 1893-d. Aug. 16, 1910); Anna C. (b.  Jan. 3, 1895); Daniel C. (b. Sep. 13, 1897); and Karl Wilheim [William] (b. Jul. 13, 1898).

Four of the sons, Edward C., George H., Peter F., and Daniel C. joined their father in the family business which was incorporated as Peter Wendel, Sons Inc. in 1915. Peter F. Wendel Sr. became president, Peter F. Wendel Jr., secretary and treasurer. George H. Wendel served as mgr. of the woodworking dept. with Daniel C. Wendel serving in various capacities within the plant.

Edward passed away within a year of the incorporation, closely followed by the firm's founder Peter Wendel Sr. on January 17, 1920. Peter F. Wendel Jr. became president, and Daniel C. Wendel secretary and treasurer, while their younger brother Karl embarked on a career in dentistry.

By that time the firm had by and large abandoned the manufacture of wagons and was now concentrating on commercial bodies for motor vehicles, becoming Newark's premiere builder of truck bodies of all types.

While many other firms were floundering, a 1932 issue of Iron Age suggested that their business was expanding:

"Peter Wendel & Sons, Inc., 171 Badger Avenue, Newark, manufacturer of commercial wagons, parts, bodies, etc., has plans for one-story and basement addition. Cost about $25,000 with equipment."

By the late Thirties, business had grown to a point where a larger facility was needed and the firm relocated to the former Day-Elder Motors / National Motors plant on Coit St. in Irvington, New Jersey. By this time, some of the firms work involved installing ready-made bodies built by third parties as well as distributing school buses and delivery trucks in and around Newark. Custom-built bodies were still available and the firm became well-known for their impressive fire, ambulance and rescue squad bodies.

During the same period Peter Wendel & Sons branched off into the manufacture of steel and wooden showcases, tool boxes, partitions, shelving, cabinets, locker, doors and windows, eventually reorganizing as Wendel Industries, Inc. in 1978. Shortly thereafter the firm removed itself from Irvington, establishing two separate facilities, the first located at 33 Quaker Rd. Short Hills, New Jersey; the second at 1012 Greenley Ave. N., Union, New Jersey.

2004 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com

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References

Carl Schlegel - Schlegel's American Families of German Ancestry, pub 1917, 1924

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

   
 
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