GENT-L-KLEEN FOUNDER PASSES AWAY
YORK, PA – Claude E. Strickler, Jr. passed away on Thursday, April 28, 2011 at the age of 87. “Bud”, as he was known by family and friends, was the founder of Gent-l-kleen Products which he began in the basement of his family home in 1949. Memorial services were held on May 4, 2011.
Born on March 2, 1924, Bud was a World War II veteran, serving six years in the Navy in the Pacific area aboard the USS Electra. After the Navy, he was employed full time at New York Wire. Bud saw the need for a better hand cleaner and in his spare time, helped good friends make that hand cleaner. He took hand cleaner as wages and then sold it to his co-workers at the New York Wire factory. When the friends closed their hand cleaner business, Claude had co-workers continuing to ask for hand cleaner. So, he took his business sense and started a part-time manufacturing operation in the basement of his home using a crock and a bed slat. He called his product “Strick” and sold it to garages and service stations in the York area.
In 1953, the product name was changed to Gent-l-kleen and a full-time hand cleaner manufacturing company was born. Along with his brother Raymond, Bud made hand cleaner at night and sold it from his station wagon during the day. Claude’s wife, Betty, helped with the book work; and together, they ran the business with simple debit & credit accounting and a lot of common sense. Gent-l-kleen Products moved to their current, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in 1977. Claude retired from Gent-l-kleen in 1994, and his son, Jim, took the reigns as the company’s president.
Claude had great success in the hand cleaner business and grew the market from York County, Pennsylvania to a multiple-state region and also nationwide. From the United States, he expanded to Canada, Puerto Rico and eventually into 20 foreign countries. Bud saved the very first dollar he made selling Gent-l-kleen and it is proudly displayed in the corporate offices. Today, the company is managed by three of Claude’s children and the tradition of making better hand cleaners continues.
Bud enjoyed traveling and his favorite destination was Bermuda. He and his wife traveled internationally to Europe, Russia, Mexico and more. Later, they journeyed all over the country in their RV. Florida was home for many winters; and summer weekends were spent at Beach Harbor in the Chesapeake Bay area.
Claude also enjoyed flying small planes, scooter and motorcycle riding, country and western music and dancing. He was a regular at the local farmers markets and really enjoyed getting together with friends to eat hard shell crabs. Bud also walked ten miles a day to stay fit.
Claude is survived by his wife, Betty, four children, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
The impact Claude made on the hand cleaner industry and in the lives of all the employees at Gent-l-kleen, past, present and future is unmistakable and immeasurable. He was an innovator, a self-starter and a true inspiration. Claude Strickler will be missed.
Skilled hands deserve the very best… and Bud made sure Gent-l-kleen was the very best.
Fair winds and following seas…