Sunbrella Smarty Swers Saluted

Allen Swers, considered by many to be the father of today's outdoor decorative fabrics business, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Apollo Awards dinner held here last month during the Summer and Casual Furniture Market.

Swers, a 29-year executive in the decorative fabrics industry, came across a sample book for awning and marine fabrics from Glen Raven in 1982. He saw the potential for decorative fabrics of solution dyed acrylic fibers with a five-year warranty in a market that then only used vinyl and woven PVC for outdoor furniture. A meeting with Glen Raven executives in 1982 led to the development of Sunbrella fabrics, now used from the mainstream to high-end decorator market for both outdoor and indoor uses, and in fabrics designed for window coverings to furniture.

As Swers recalls, he and his wife Renee designed stripes to correlate with the Glen Raven solids at the 1983 Casual Furniture Market, and he and his son Arthur dressed in suits made from Sunbrella “and we would smear mustard, ketchup and butter to show that the fabric could be easily cleaned …put a piece of fabric in a jar of Clorox” to show that the colors would not fade. By the mid '90s the business had exploded and now includes a full range of fabric constructions.

Swers retired in May 2004 at the age of 82.

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