Making of an Umbrella at Pompei Umbrella Manufacturing Company, a sister-concern of A R D’Souza & Sons:
Ever since the umbrellas first appeared over 3000 years ago, advancements in technology enabled manufacture of more and more sophisticated umbrellas. As time went by, new materials became available, more durable structures, intricate moving parts for opening and closing of canopy and many more new additions that all led to the current state of umbrella industry. Although the original design of ancient roman umbrellas still remains largely unchanged, modern umbrellas are made to be durable, lightweight and more usable in their job of protecting the wearer from rain, wind and sun, and also snow in some countries.
Basic components of all umbrellas are: Canopy – Fabric for umbrellas canopy changed dramatically over the ages. Initially popular linen, cotton, leather, taffeta variety of silk was replaced by Gloria (weave of silk and wool, or silk and cotton) and later on nylon and acetate. Modern umbrellas however use microfiber fabrics (nylon taffeta) that are coated with special water repellent finishes. Canopy cannot be created from one piece of cloth, because motion of opening and closing of umbrella demands movement that cannot be performed by single cloth. Machines cut each section of the canopy (usually eight) that can then neatly fold and unfold them when stitched together and attached to the ribs.
Ribs and Stretchers – They hold the canopy fixed to their structure and are responsible for process of opening and closing of canopy. They are usually made from steel or some other metal, and stretcher is most commonly connected to the shaft with plastic connector (runner).
Runner – This very important piece of umbrella is responsible for controlling the opening and closing mechanism of canopy.
Shaft – Most often made from wood, steel of aluminum, and sometimes from fiberglass or other plastic types. Collapsible umbrellas have a movable shaft that can telescopes into longer or shorter length.
A R D’Souza had started this company in 1908, where in the beginning only weaving was done- but in the year 1940, they switched to umbrella manufacturing. The company which was located at Bendore-well, was shifted to a different location near Marnamikatta in the City. Presently the company is owned by A R D’Souza’s grandsons Terrence D’Souza and Marian D’souza. At the company I had the pleasure of meeting Masood, the manager and Nazeer-the Assistant manger, both with over 25 years of experience, gave me a tour of the company and explained to me about the ‘making of an umbrella’.
In a year the eight employees at the company work only for seven months, and during that time they make about 24,000 to 25,000 umbrellas. Masood said once upon a time they used to make around 50 to 60 thousand umbrellas per year- but lately they make only the quantity as per requirements. Also they have cut down the production due other competitors-companies/brands being introduced in the market. Pompei Umbrella Manufacturing Company makes the famous ” Cow Brand” Umbrellas, which are exclusively available at A R D’Souza and Sons-market road, and also at other umbrella selling shops.
Under the “Cow Brand’ there are nearly 80 different varieties with names like Happy Cow, Monalisa, Selma, Tom & Jerry, Mickey Mouse, Kareena, Reena, Pompei-Queen, Cow Boy, King, Don, Aishwarya, Sweety, Rani, Super Max and many more. The prices for each umbrella range from Rs 180 to Rs 620 depending on the quality and variety. Garden umbrellas will cost from Rs 400 to Rs 1500.
To make one umbrella it takes about 15 minutes, which includes stitching, dye printing, framing, handle fixing and final assembly. Masood said that he inspects each and every umbrella for quality and perfectness before it is put out for sale. ” We feel proud of our work and the quality of our products. We see that each umbrella is made for the perfect satisfaction of our customers. We hardly get any complaints on our ‘cow Brand’ umbrellas for manufacturing defects, but for wear and tear, and rough use of the umbrellas by the customers we are not liable for that”.