Shelta’s origins were in 1911 Sydney when three brothers William, Herbert and Alfred House with friend Ebenezer Phillips bought out the remains of a fire ravaged business, Excelsior Umbrellas. The name was changed and ‘Shelta’ opened for business in January 1911, in Kent Street, Sydney
Shelta prospered. In 1932, Herbert’s 16 year old son Ralph joined the firm as an office boy, and in 1937 Alfred’s son Douglas became Shelta’s suburban sales rep.
At Shelta we remember the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge – there had been a dire drought for 3 years and unsold umbrellas were stacked to the rafters. The rains came with the bridge opening celebrations, and all the stock was sold within
In the mid 1930s Shelta expanded into beach and garden umbrellas and in 1937 opened a second factory in South Brisbane. Following the move of Sydney manufacturing across the harbour to North Sydney in 1953, by mid fifties Shelta employed over 250 people.
In 1961 William, Herbert and Alfred retired and Ralph and Douglas took over, full of youthful energy and new ideas. Ralph was into the manufacturing and systems side of the business, Douglas sales and distribution.
The ‘60s and ‘70s were characterized by the boom in telescopic rain umbrellas (Shelta and Knirps) and floral printed and fringed vinyl garden umbrellas (remember Waikiki and Valencia). Then in 1981 everything changed with the start of the decade long boom in Textilene garden umbrellas. By 1988 we were making 150 thousand Airlites, Airstripes, Polynesians, Pagodas etc. a year – first at North Sydney, then Homebush – following the move there in 1985.
Ralph and Douglas retired in the mid 1980s and handed over to Ralph’s sons David and Anthony and daughter Julie. By the early 90s all three became enthused with the fabulously diverse range of outdoor furniture being manufactured in East Asia, so in 1994 we took our first steps into outdoor furniture importing. We learned fast, first slings were introduced in 1996, first synthetic wicker in 1998, deep seat settings in 2000.
The first decade of the new Millennium has been a dynamic and exciting time at Shelta with the launch of myriad new resin
wicker Modulars, Coffee settings, Deep Seat and Dining settings. Sales have more than doubled since 2000, and now approach 800 (mostly 40ft) containers a year, about 70% of this being furniture. Furniture expansion necessitated the move to much larger premises at Prospect, western Sydney in 2004 and already, 6 years later the new warehouse is stretching at the seams.
Despite success in outdoor furniture, Shelta has remembered its roots and its original heritage businesses – Rain and Outdoor umbrellas. We retain Australian market leadership in both these very different product ranges.