A Brief History of Smartlouvre
Below is a timeline of events and key dates that have shaped the formulation of Smartlouvre.
In 1941 Walkley B Ewing was invited to demonstrate his new microlouvre solar screen to Frank Lloyd Wright, arguably the most iconic American Architect of all time.
Lloyd said: “Young man, the building industry is full of products but they are all essentially old. A new building material is very rare This is a new building material. It is more important than even you can realize. Not just windows, but entire walls and sections of buildings could be screened and protected from the sun’s hot rays”
The product, originally manufactured by Borg Warner, was moved to the US territory of Puerto Rico to benefit from US grants and tax incentives.
42 years later in 1983 Andrew Cooper and John Cooper, 5th and 4th generation British Blindmakers respectively, ‘discovered’ this new revolutionary product that had actually already been in existence for nearly 50 years!
Both Andrew and John recognized the potential of this incredibly clever product, not least because the weaving process used was brilliantly conceived and very unique and set about introducing it to the markets with good results.
Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport, Leon House and other landmark buildings in London and the UK all used the product, then known as Koolshade.
A good move commercially but unfortunately Mother Nature takes no notice of governments, at 9 a.m. Eastern daylight time on Monday, September 18, 1989, the eye of Hugo, the North Caribbean’s strongest hurricane (a category four on a scale of five) in a decade, struck Puerto Rico and the factory was flattened and although re-built production was thereafter plagued by the after effect of power-outs, staffing problems and continuity of supply.
Faced with a brilliant concept but no product to sell Andrew and John developed another of their ideas and they became one of the world’s leading Fire and Smoke containment companies with their products installed in iconic buildings all over the world.
Buckingham Palace, the Shard, Dubai International Airport, Sydney Opera House and many more.
In the late ‘90s the factory had to be re-located to Texas, which was supervised by Carter Gilbert, but in Texas, production never fully recovered from the trauma of relocation and the product all but disappeared with a history of stock shortages and poor product quality.
In 2003 Andrew Cooper partnered the American owner in Texas and the 70+ year old weaving machines were relocated to the UK, along with one Texan Engineer, Carter Gilbert, and the product was re-branded Smartlouvre.
Although focusing on the Fire and Smoke containment business Andrew Cooper never let the Smartlouvre product die and Carter and he gradually rebuilt, redesigned and modernized the wire weaving looms introducing new computerized drive systems, sensing controls and automated reporting systems.
In 2014 Andrew Cooper sold the hugely successful Coopers Fire company and in January 2015 was able to go back to his first love, Smartlouvre, and his very first career in sun shading, as he was a 5th Generation Blindmaker (Shademaker) with W Cooper and Sons Ltd (Established 1876) in the Old Kent Road, in London’s East End.
The process of separating his businesses continued into 2015 and the unique weaving looms, polyester powder coating line and fabrication facilities were moved in to their current home, where they are all once again are fully operational.
Andrew has continued with his belief in investing in the future and Smartlouvre; and that includes taking onboard the need for refreshing the brand and directing it into new market areas, whilst creating new products under the Smartlouvre banner. A new web site, new literature targeted for each new market and new research programmes are all taking the MicroLouvre product into its next life phase.