The trained umbrella maker Albert Glatz is still under 25 when he founds his own umbrella shop on 1 April 1895 after working as an assistant in Lyon, Lausanne and Basel. In his workshop, he manufactures and repairs umbrellas, ladies' sunshades and costume parasols. LP’s success was heavily aided in 1898 by his marriage to wife Christine Luise Lätsch, an accomplished and dedicated umbrella seamstress
The family grew along with the business. Albert Jr. was born in 1899, followed by six siblings over the course of the years. Although he would have preferred to become a mechanic or a surveyor, young Albert learned to make umbrellas once he had completed schooling and accepted the firstborn’s responsibility for the family business. In subsequent years, his proclivity for technical details was pivotal to the direction the company took.
Prior to his wedding in May 1926 to Frieda Spahn, who was trained in business and foreign languages, Albert Jr. already set the course for their future. While he took over the business in Frauenfeld, his father and two of his daughters moved to the branch at Steinenvorstadt 51 in Basel, which was established in 1923 with Albert Jr. A year after the wedding the young couple purchased a factory and residential building at the Schlossmühle near the Glatz store in Frauenfeld. The generous space available in the “Friedheim” property proved to be very beneficial for the company’s developments. While Frieda was responsible for the store and the accounting and worked with the French and Italian merchants, Albert Jr. concentrated on streamlining the production, on the development of additional types of umbrellas and on technical perfection.
The family of the Glatz-Spahn couple soon began to grow. Son Heini-Albert was born in 1927, followed a year later by his sister Rosemarie-Lydia and by brothers Gustav-Adolf (Dölf) and Peter-Rudolf in 1931 and 1939. All four of the children eventually joined the company. The oldest son had a certificate in mechanical engineering and became Chairman of the Board of Glatz AG. Daughter Rosmarie worked as a trained umbrella seamstress before she joined the Salvation Army, and Gustav-Adolf (known as Dölf) became Managing Director after he had completed his business education and technical training. The youngest son was the company’s Operating Manager and later became city councillor of Frauenfeld.
While daydreaming about the career he really wanted to pursue, Albert Glatz-Spahn tinkered with a surveyor’s umbrella and invented a multiple adjustable and foldable gear joint of extremely resistant nickel-plated brass. Known as the “Alexo gear joint“, it still forms the basis for the classic Alexo umbrella design, which has been produced for 90 years now. At that time, it caused a sensation and set new standards in umbrella making: The Alexo surveyor’s umbrella became the first Glatz export and was an absolute hit. In cooperation with the manufacturers of surveyor’s instruments - Kern (Aarau) and Wild (Heerbrugg) - the umbrella was supplied to every corner of the world in a standard or anti-magnetic version.
Near the end of World War II a shortage of supplies left the company’s German suppliers unable to deliver. As a result, Albert Glatz-Spahn ventured into a risky project: he built a costly strut profiling, tempering and processing facility and added manufacturing equipment to make other parts of the umbrella frame, plus an in-house tool shop. During the start-up phase, Albert Glatz was actively supported by his son Heini, although at that time Heini was still in training as a mechanic at Jenni-Hydraulikpressen AG.
In 1957, Adolf (Dölf) Glatz married Anne-Marie Hausammann. Before the wedding, the young woman thoroughly prepared herself for her future role in the Glatz company. In one of her earlier jobs, she was a secretary at the Federal Insurance Company 8 Eidgenössische Versicherungsgesellschaft). But initially her priority was the family and the couple’s three children, Markus (1958), Brigitte (1959) and Yvonne, the youngest (1966).
The fact that Glatz had been innovative since day one was proven again in 1959 with the market introduction of the Pendalex, the first free-arm sunshade. While it feels as if the sunshade is floating above the seats, the roof is mounted to a pillar with a side-arm and a ball-and-socket joint and can be tilted in all directions around the pole. It is height-adjustable and can be set to accommodate any tilted position. It took Glatz years to explain and demonstrate until the industry accepted this type of umbrella and its price. At the same time, the Pendalex was the company’s primary cost unit and a door opener for international exports. At the same time, Glatz discontinues its manufacture of ladies’ and men’s umbrellas and focuses solely on the development and manufacture of garden parasols.
The company continued to grow and the product range was expanded model by model. With demand and name recognition rising, the production increased, both in volume and in time. The workforce also grew, and it felt like the Schlossmühle facility was bursting at the seams. The newly built factory provided more space and so did the large hall with its high ceilings, where oversized products could be completed. In 1968, Glatz moved into the company’s current headquarters at Neuhofstrasse 12 in Frauenfeld.
The “Albert Glatz” company was changed into a stock corporation with a share capital of CHF 700,000, renamed “Glatz AG”, with Albert Glatz-Spahn as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Gustav Adolf (Dölf) Glatz-Hausammann as Delegate of the Board of Directors. Other members of the Board included Heini Glatz-Fritzsche, Peter Rudolf Glatz-Rutishauser and Walter Zurbuchen.
With the giant sunshade models from Pergola to Palazzo Glatz broke into a new market segment. In addition to the option to motorise the giant sunshades and provide them with lighting, all of them are equipped with a sophisticated opening and closing mechanism. The counter-rotation of slide and crown makes it easy to operate, provides broad roof support and the sunshade can be closed without touching the chairs underneath. In 1972, a patent was filed for this invention and so far, it has been integrated in the models Castello, Fortero and Fortino.
After completing his studies in Business Management at Kaderschule Zürich (KSZ) and subsequently acquiring practical experience in the financial industry, Markus Glatz decided to join Glatz AG in 1988. Initially he was in charge of sales and finance. That same year he married Christa Maurermeier, a trained Business Economist (KSZ). In 2002, she also joined the company to strengthen the accounting department and continuing the tradition of spouses contributing to the family business. Five years later, Gustav Adolf (Dölf) Glatz stepped down and his son Markus Glatz took over the role of CEO. With this, the father handed over the reins with full confidence in the 4th generation of the family-run company.
Its reputation as a leading sunshade manufacturer was preceding Glatz far beyond the Swiss borders across Europe and the world. In addition to the unflagging commitment and the creativity of the entire staff as well as the focus on design, functionality and Swiss quality, international patents and protected designs, partnerships in the USA, Canada and China are further proof of this, not to mention the company’s own sales in Germany, Austria and the Benelux countries and importers in France, Italy, Spain and Great Britain.
The launch of the free-arm model, Sombrano, has made further optimisation of shading possible thanks to the installation of a cantilever that can be rotated around its axis to tilt the parasol roof sideways. This patented principle is used in the Sombrano and also Sunwing models. Today, the successor model Sombrano® S+ is one of our best-selling products.
Suncomfort by GLATZ was launched as a second brand in the mid-price segment with a focus on the construction and DIY markets. With an independent design and range, it was therefore possible to offer superior product quality and functionality at a competitive price.
With the Palazzo giant sunshade family, comprising the models Palazzo Noblesse (2013), Palazzo Royal (2014) and Palazzo Style (2015), Glatz ushered in a new era in the giant sunshade segment. Each model has its own attractive features and meets every need a hotel or restaurant may have. With its compelling design and excellent functionality, the family of giant sunshades can optionally be equipped with a multitude of extras, such as heating or lighting, and much more.
In addition to the company’s headquarters in Frauenfeld, Glatz opened the “Glatz France” subsidiary in Lyon in 2013 with an extensive Glatz product range, including accessories. The subsidiary is responsible for the support and consulting of existing and new customers in individual shading solutions for outdoors and the cultivation of business relations with the partners.
"Tradition is not to preserve the ashes, but to pass on the flame."
With the groundbreaking for the new production and administration building in Frauenfeld, Glatz is committing itself to the Frauenfeld location in Switzerland and is preparing for high turnovers in the future – far beyond the Swiss market.