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R.L. Triplett created more jobs than any person in Bluffton's history

Third in a series of famous Bluffton High School alumni

By Fred Steiner

Ray Leon “R.L.” Triplett
Nov. 13, 1883 - Oct. 25, 1977
Bluffton High School class of 1902

Call it small-town ingenuity. Bluffton’s favorite entrepreneurial son became a 20th century household name here.

R.L. Triplett, founded an industry, which became a leader in its field. And, his business model spurred the local economy crediting him with created more jobs than any other person in our village history. For nearly eight decades the Triplett company was Bluffton’s largest single industrial operation and employer.

As a family-owned business from 1904 until 1983, the Triplett Electrical Instrument Co., was affectionally referred to locally as “the meter works.”  Under its later ownership, the company eventually closed.

As a 19-year-old two years out of high school, Triplett took an idea, launching a company in a second floor back room of a Main Street building. There he created a “hot wire” meter, housed in a nickel pocket watch case. Triplett developed his own engineering prior to entering the manufacturing phase of the business, which was one of the first-ever products of its kind.

In 1905 Triplett moved the business into a small frame plant across from today’s Harmon Field on East College Avenue. He continued to grow the company and served as its president for 51 years.

During the company’s existence, many employees represented two and sometimes three generations of the same families, living not only in Bluffton, but also in Pandora, Columbus Grove, Mt. Cory, Rawson, Beaverdam and Jenera. When “the meter works” shut down for summer vacation, Bluffton’s pace slowed.

Here is his story
The son of Bluffton residents, Will and Mabel Spooner­ Triplett, R.L.’s father was Bluffton’s pioneer photographer. His career spanned one-half century from the 1880s to the early 1930s.

Upon  R.L.’s graduation from Bluffton’s three-year high school he worked briefly in Chicago with the Jewell Instrument Co. Believing he could create a better product than Jewell, he returned to Bluffton shortly after his mother’s death, making that decision Bluffton’s gain.

The rest of the story and several photos are HERE.


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