The Unelko Company begins in 1971 in Chicago, Illinois when Howard Ohlhausen invented and patented one of the first “invisible” coatings for glass and a method for rendering nonporous surfaces water, soil and stain repellent and remarkably corrosion and scratch resistant.
Howard Ohlhausen and his sons trademarked Repcon®, a rain repellent and surface conditioner for aircraft & military vehicles, and Rain-X®, a glass treatment & rain repellent that “Improved Visibility and Driving Safety” in inclement weather. Rain-X® first becomes commercially available in 1972.
In 1981, Howard Ohlhausen relocates the family business to Scottsdale, Arizona where he and his three sons continued to commit their lives to building the new family business and the Rain-X® brand.
Notable product innovations during this period include Rain-X Anti Fog for interior glass in moist/cold weather conditions, a Glass Scrub and stain remover as a pre cleaner and treatment for auto glass and a premium Windshield Wash with Rain Repellent.
Rain-X begins its storied history in sponsoring motorsports, a marketing partnership that proved instrumental in helping The Unelko Company grow the business. Notable sponsorships during this period included famed racing drivers Scott Sharp, Mario Andretti, and the Newman/Haas team.
Unelko sells its world-famous Rain-X® to Quaker State Co. in 1997. Today, Unelko continues to be a leading manufacturer of specialty cleaners, protective coatings and “microbe-resistant” treatments under their Invisible Shield®, Repel® and Sani-Shield® brands within the household, commercial cleaning & glass industries.
In November 1997, Irving, Texas based Quaker State Co. acquires Rain-X® which joins a portfolio of well-known consumer brands such as Blue Coral, Slick 50, and Black Magic.
The Blue Coral–Slick 50 Division of the company owns its manufacturing and headquarters facilities in Cleveland, Ohio.
In December 1998, Quaker State Co. merges with Houston, Texas based Pennzoil to become Pennzoil-Quaker State Co., while the Blue Coral–Slick 50 Division remains in Cleveland, Ohio.
The company continues to expand the Rain-X® brand through product and category extensions, and in 2001 launches the first-ever Rain-X® wiper blade, the Rain-X® Weatherbeater® after market research identified high potential in the category.
In March 2001, Houston-based Shell Oil Co. announces its intention to acquire the Pennzoil-Quaker State Co.
In August 2001, Pennzoil-Quaker State Co. consolidates its consumer products Divisions, including the Blue Coral–Slick 50 Division into one centralized organization in Houston, Texas.
In October 2002, Shell Oil Co. completes the acquisition of the Pennzoil-Quaker State Co. for $1.8 billion in cash.
By May 2003, Pennzoil-Quaker State Co. begins doing business as SOPUS Products (Shell Oil Products US). Combining Shell Oil Co.’s lubricants networks and infrastructure and Pennzoil-Quaker State Co.’s leading motor oil brands, portfolio of car care brands, and Jiffy Lube stores, the new company becomes a leader in the U.S. lubricants and car care business.
The Rain-X® brand continues to expand its products offerings with glass cleaners, glass treatments, washer fluids, and wiper blades.
Notable marketing efforts during the period saw the launch of curved wiper blade packaging, identified through market research to confirm the benefits of beam wiper blade technology with packaging that accentuates the blade shape. This period also saw the introduction of “Seemore the Safety Groundhog”, a Rain-X® mascot that reminds consumers to change their blades on Groundhog Day.
In March 2011, Illinois Tool Works Inc. acquired SOPUS Products’ Car Care business, a leading automotive aftermarket consumer products portfolio, which includes well-known brands Rain-X®, Black Magic® and Gumout®, among others.
Rain-X® pushes the envelope of innovation, with the launch of Rain-X® water repellency wiper blades in 2015 and silicone wiper blades in 2018, and Rain-X® appearance products with ceramic and graphene technology.
Rain-X® celebrates it’s 50th anniversary of being on the shelves, having become a worldwide automotive brand known for safe driving visibility. Here’s to another 50 years!