Blue Bendix Automation bandana

Dorri Partain

Colorful and practical, bandanas can be used as a fashion accessory or simply to wipe one’s hands or brow.

Typically red, blue or black with a white paisley design, in recent years this 22-inch square of cloth has taken on a wide variety of designs. The bandana shown was designed specifically for the Bendix Corporation as a gift for employees or customers and features the company’s logo in the center and each corner of the design.

Bendix operated a facility in Kansas City for over 40 years, but the company’s history dates to the turn of the century. Victor H. Bendix (1881-1945) was a Chicago engineer and industrialist who began building Bendix Motor Buggies in 1907. After two years his company failed, but he designed and patented the Bendix Drive in 1910, as well as other contributions to the development of the automobile. In 1924, Bendix began producing automotive brakes and expanded into aviation in 1929, forming the Bendix Aviation Corporation.

In 1947, Bendix expanded its operations by adding a manufacturing site at 1500 Bannister Rd. The location had been built during war-time to manufacture Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines, specifically the R2800 Double Wasp. The plant closed in 1945, but was taken over by Westinghouse Electric, who subleased a portion to Bendix. In turn, Bendix took over the entire site in 1957 when Westinghouse built a new facility in Lee’s Summit.

As graphically illustrated on the bandana, Bendix manufactured and provided a wide variety of industrial components and operations: R/O positioning, disc grinding, autometrology, crush grinding, coordinate inspection, transfer machines, laboratory inspection, abrasives, process control, jig boring, cutting tools, automatic assembly, environment control, optical projection, and machine accessories.

In an attempt to buy out Martin Marietta, Bendix ended up being purchased by the Allied Corporation, and the company name was changed in 1983. By 1999, the company, then known as Allied-Signal, merged with Honeywell International, which continued to use the Bannister Road complex until 2013, when a new National Security Campus opened in south Kansas City.

Since 2002, the Bendix Commercial Vehicle System, a subsidiary of Knorr-Bremse, has manufactured a line of air brakes for trucks, buses and heavy vehicles. Victor Bendix was entered into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1984 and the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1991.