All day today WSBT is showing you some of our area's best kept secrets. The Bendix Corporation is a big part of South Bend history, but did you know its creator has something in common with a comic book crime fighter?
Founded in 1924, the Bendix Corporation began making brake systems for cars and trucks. Five years later the company branched out into aeronautics, and in the 50's made radios and televisions. But you probably knew all that.
But what about the man who started his business in a Chicago hotel room?
“Vincent was born in Moline, Illinois in 1882. He was christened Vincent Hugo Bendix," said Pete Leatherwood, former director of communications for Bendix.
Have a question about Bendix – Leatherwood is the guy to ask. He spent 33 years with the company.
"Vincent was a very prolific inventor. He had many, many patents."
Arguably his biggest success was the development of brakes for automobiles. But what sparked his interest in the product?
Bendix shares a similar story to that of comic book character Bruce Wayne. Bruce became the crime fighter Batman after his parents were murdered.
Like Wayne – Bendix drew inspiration from tragedy.
"His father was standing on a corner in Chicago and a car with faulty brakes jumped the curb, struck him and killed him," said Leatherwood.
But instead of donning a cowl, cape and fighting crime – Bendix revolutionized the auto industry.
"From then on Vincent was very concerned with the safety and brakes on your vehicle."
From one tragedy Vincent Bendix undoubtedly saved the lives of countless people with his inventions – and that qualifies him as a superhero in our book.