Blocking the Sun
By Richard Wright
The warm days are getting hotter; the seasons (spring and fall) are getting longer, and the sun remains a ball of fire to be watched and avoided.
In Phoenix, Arizona, certainly one of the hottest places in the U.S., in 2019 there were 128 days when the temperature was over 100°F, including 29 days over 110°F.
Let’s face it, there’s a major need for shade.
Here’s the view from Chad Scheinerman, owner, CEO of Today’s Patio with six stores in Arizona and one in San Diego.
Hearth & Home: Are you selling more or fewer umbrellas now than you did, say, four years ago?
Chad Scheinerman: “We are selling a similar amount of umbrellas as four years ago. We may be slightly up, but not significantly in terms of total dollars.”
Is Climate Change (the Earth getting hotter) helping your umbrella business, or hurting it because people just don’t want to sit outside in the heat?
Scheinerman: “Arizona has always been hot, so even though the Earth is getting warmer, it’s not significant enough where it would affect our sales, i.e., 100°F vs. 103°F – hot is hot!”
Which are your best sellers: parasols, market, cantilevered, other?
Scheinerman: “Center-pole market umbrellas are by far our best seller, however, we have definitely seen an increase over the years in cantilever sales. The additional sizes and features over the years have attracted customers’ interest, which is resulting in more transactions for this type of umbrella.”
What umbrella brands are your best sellers?
Scheinerman: “Treasure Garden and Frankford.”
Anything else you want to say concerning umbrellas?
Scheinerman: “Umbrellas are, and have been, a great category for us. Being located in Arizona (with a store in San Diego) certainly helps; however, we display a lot of options in our stores which shows the customer we are in the umbrella business. It’s tough to be in the business if you only show 5 to 10 umbrellas. We usually will show anywhere from 3 to 5 cantilevers and upwards of 30 center-pole umbrellas per store.”
Starlux Collar Tilt umbrella from Treasure Garden.
In 2020, Treasure Garden introduced its 9-ft. Starlux Collar Tilt market umbrella as a complement to the extremely popular 13-ft. Starlux AKZ Plus Cantilever. It features sleek modern rib strip lighting and a USB port to charge electronic devices. The battery-operated umbrella features up to eight hours of mood lighting.
Treasure Garden also introduced the versatile 11-ft. Vienna Alu Teak market umbrella featuring a mirrored anodized pole, teak-look aluminum ribs, and a double pulley system with aluminum alloy locking pin. Canopies can feature elegant trim options as well as a choice of over 150 fabric options. This umbrella works perfectly in hospitality and/or in high-end residential applications.
According to Ben Ma, vice president, “Treasure Garden had a very good 2019, but 2020 has been a bit challenging coming off a short selling season due to extended inclement weather and the ever-changing tariff scenario. However, domestic sales are very brisk, further reinforcing the need for shorter in-season lead times and quick turnaround on our offerings.”
Climate Change is always a concern, said Ma. “Our product does provide much needed sun protection and, with the advent of the extended Outdoor Room time, shade is even more important in all sizes and shapes.”
In the past few years, Treasure Garden has seen an upsurge in its hospitality/contract business. “To this end,” he said, “we offer our Shademaker and Jardinico brands to capture our share of this ever-growing segment of business. Sales have grown substantially within these two brands over the past few years. Both lines offer superior workmanship and European-inspired designs that work well in contract, as well as in high-end residential installations.”
Aurora cantilever umbrella by Frankford Umbrellas.
For decades, Frankford Umbrellas were sold to the contract/hospitality channel. It was only in the past few years that the company began to target the specialty retail channel as well. That effort has already paid off.
According to Laura Dudley, National Sales manager, “Frankford exceeded its 2019 sales goal set for our team, and achieved an overall 2019 retail sales increase of 51% over our 2018 retail sales.
“The strongest area geographically for Frankford’s retail sales was the Northeast,” she said, “followed by the Southeast. We have the greatest opportunity for sales growth on the West Coast, followed by the South Central region.
“We are very excited about our new team members in those regions; the response we are receiving from existing retailers, and the new retailers who are joining the Frankford family, has been great. The potential for growth in these regions (and the rest of the country) is unlimited!
“Frankford continues to grow its retail footprint across the U.S.,” says Dudley, “increasing the number of retailers by almost 20% in 2019 (versus 2018). Consumers can now find Frankford Shade umbrellas in approximately 250 retail locations across the U.S.”
The company is also keenly aware of Climate Change, and is doing what it can to reduce its carbon footprint, from recycling its cardboard/paper/glass/plastic, to installing motion detector lighting in the factory (its electricity usage has been lowered by over 20%), to a solar panel project scheduled to begin this year.
“Frankford firmly believes that purchasing a quality umbrella – that will last – is a small, but clear way to help the environment. There are very few Frankford umbrellas added to landfills each year. Additionally, fabric production continues to be a large source of pollution across the world, and by using premium fabrics from Recasens and Sunbrella (with 10-year warranties) we are helping to ensure our umbrellas stay in service, in some cases for well over a decade.
“Frankford continues to benefit from the longer seasons in the Northern states – where, even though some private pools are closing, restaurants are promoting outdoor seating now more than ever. Due to overall warmer temperatures, demand for shade products has now stretched into more months of the year, as our clients continue to have ‘outdoor weather’ on their mind for much more than just the typical warm summer months.
“Over the past few years, outdoor living itself has proven to be an increasing trend. Consumers are investing both time and money into their outdoor living spaces, and shops are broadening their outdoor product offering as a result. This is, and will continue to be, a huge positive for Frankford and the rest of the shade/outdoor industry.”
Bravura mixed medium umbrella from Woodline Shade Solutions.
Woodline Shade Solutions
Woodline, a South African company, entered the U.S. market a few years ago, but the company is no neophyte when it comes to manufacturing shade products. It was founded in 1990 by Fritz Walter in South Africa, and has created private-label umbrellas for Gloster, Barlow Tyrie, Smith & Hawken, Country Casual Teak, and Williams-Sonoma, and many others throughout Europe.
Based in New Jersey, Kathleen Ferry is the U.S. Sales manager for Woodline. “We now have over 50 dealers,” she said. “It’s really a saturated market in our category. We have the product that people don’t know that they need – until they see it. Our market umbrellas are a bit nostalgic, and they’re coming back in style. We’re doing well; we’re hitting our growth markers that we set for ourselves, and we’re looking forward to a really strong 2020.”
Ferry says the East Coast is primarily where they have seen success, and that’s because they started there with a rep force. They went from New England, to the Mid-Atlantic, and the Southeast. Now they’re gaining momentum in the Midwest. Surprisingly, Ferry has found Texas, Florida, and California difficult areas in which to find reps.
Woodline has been making wooden market umbrellas for 30 years now, but Ferry says sales of the wood and metal umbrellas are “a nice mixture. We do make a quality, beautiful wood market umbrella, and we make it 52 different ways. It’s our number one selling umbrella. But we do have a considerable amount of business with our aluminum umbrellas as well.
“People are always going to need shade products,” she says, “it’s an important category. Consumers are getting more comfortable spending money on an umbrella to protect themselves and the investment they made in their furniture.”
At the past Casual Market Chicago, Ferry says they streamlined their product range, and only added a few items, one of which will be a mixed material umbrella, aluminum with wooden accents. “It’s very pretty, very elegant,” she says.
SheerWeave interior shading fabric from Phifer.
When it comes to shading fabrics, Phifer has the market covered, inside and out. Its SheerWeave brand of shading fabrics is designed for interior applications that not only offer solar protection, but provide decorative touches for homes and commercial properties.
Phifer’s SunTex brand of fabrics are engineered for exterior window shading, also for residential or commercial applications, providing benefits that range from solar protection to insect control.
“Innovation is helping to drive increased demand for shade products, including motorization, remote controls, sun and wind sensors, and zippered screen options that allow for insect proofing and increased wind resistance,” said Andrew Caldwell, Corporate Market manager for Phifer sun control products. “Energy saving is also an important advantage that shading provides.”
From creamy white and bone to darker charcoal and chestnut tones, SheerWeave fabrics can complement any interior design scheme. SheerWeave fabrics are available in a variety of openness factors ranging from 1% light filtering to 100% blackout, and come in wide widths to cover large window openings often featured in modern homes and commercial settings.
Simple, clean, and classic, SheerWeave fabrics can be fabricated into many different types of window treatments, from manual and touch-of-a-button motorized roller shades to Roman shades. The aesthetic quality of these fabrics allows them to pair easily with other draperies and window coverings.
In addition to their aesthetic qualities, SheerWeave fabrics enhance privacy while reducing glare and heat gain for interior spaces, resulting in reduced energy costs and helping to prevent the fading of interior furnishings while maintaining views to the outside.
Manufactured according to strict environmental standards, SheerWeave fabrics are GREENGUARD certified as contributing to indoor air quality. The fabrics also feature Microban antimicrobial protection that protects them from the growth of mold and mildew, making them ideal for healthcare settings and for areas of the home subject to moisture, such as bathrooms.
While SheerWeave fabrics provide shading from the inside, Phifer’s SunTex brand of shading fabrics provide sun and heat protection from the outside in touch-of-a-button motorized roller shade applications that block UV rays that increase interior temperatures and fade interior furnishings.
SunTex exterior sun control fabric from Phifer.
SunTex exterior sun control products are designed to absorb and dissipate 65% to 90% of the sun’s heat and glare before it reaches window or door glass. This feature results in a more comfortable indoor air temperature, more efficient air conditioning, and ultimately energy conservation. The products are easily installed as window and door screens, enclosure screening, or for use in retractable shades and systems.
SunTex fabrics also feature Microban antimicrobial protection and are GREENGUARD certified for contributing to air quality. Of particular importance for commercial applications, SunTex fabrics meet the strict California flame retardant standards and are printable for logo and other branding applications. SunTex fabrics come with a 10-year warranty and have the Seal of Approval from the Melanoma International Foundation (MIF) for effectiveness in preventing sun damage to the skin and eyes.
“We are seeing fast market growth for exterior shades,” Caldwell said. “Trends include wider width and lighter weight fabrics that can be railroaded across 15- to 20-ft. openings, designer patterns, and color choices, as well as blackout fabric options that appeal to landscape architects, designers, and consumers. Shade product manufacturers are featuring Phifer fabrics because of our multiple fabric options in terms of openness factors, colors, wide widths, composition, and value-added features such as Microban and GREENGUARD.”
Phifer was founded in 1952 as a weaver of aluminum insect screening, and today is the world’s largest manufacturer of both aluminum and fiberglass insect screening. Based on its expertise in weaving screening products, Phifer has also expanded steadily throughout its 67-year history to become a highly diversified, technically-based manufacturer.
Phifer’s engineered metal and textile mesh products are integral components for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. These applications include interior and exterior sun control fabrics for homes and commercial buildings, filtration, commercial and marine flooring, awnings, fireplace screens, ventilation, and reinforcement.
In 1980, Phifer entered the casual furniture market with the launch of its Phifertex woven sling fabrics. This new vinyl-coated polyester product, which drew upon the company’s strength in weaving engineered materials, was launched in two colors, yellow and white, and has since grown into an expansive offering that is considered an industry leader in innovation, style, and performance.
Phifer later added the GeoBella brand to its Designed Fabrics product line as an option for cushions, deep seating, and upholstery. Not only is GeoBella comfortable and stylish, it also has an environmental story, woven from recycled Olefin yarns. Both Phifertex and GeoBella are GREENGUARD certified as supporting indoor air quality, and feature three-year warranties. Phifer serves customers throughout the U.S. and also has international operations.