Behind The Brand

A recent edition of the youngest magazine for the tile industry "Tile and Stone," from the Networks Publishing stable, carried a special feature on Schlüter-Systems Ltd in its "Behind The Brand" column.

Here, we reproduce excerpts from the full page magazine article, which took the form of an interview with our Managing Director Elaine Stokes.

How did the company start?
Schlüter-Systems was formed in Germany in 1975, when tiling installer Werner Schlüter was tiling a bathroom with five doors. He realised there was nothing on the market to protect the edges of the tiles where they abutted the adjoining floor coverings.  He quickly came up with the solution - a profile that, when fixed into the tile adhesive, edged the tile, leaving the bathroom floor neat, tidy, and most importantly, protected from damage. From that creation of our first product, Schlüter-SCHIENE, the company has grown into the world's foremost supplier of tiling protection products.
Schlüter-Systems Ltd is the wholly owned UK subsidiary of Schlüter-Systems KG. Founded in 1993, the UK operation is based at Coalville, Leicestershire, where we provide full sales and technical support for customers in the UK and Ireland.

How long have you been with Schlüter and how has your career progressed?
I joined Schlüter-Systems Ltd in 1993. I did a bit of everything in those early days including administration, progressing to account managing, and then started working closely with the Managing Director. When he left, I was asked by Mr Schlüter to run the business.

Why did you join the company?
With a young son to bring up I just needed the money. After being promoted to Managing Director it was my original intention to make the company healthy and then leave to run my own business.  But I saw the potential of what Schlüter could offer to the UK tiling market, and decided I wanted to be part of this very exciting company for the long haul. And here I am, all these years later, with Schlüter going from strength to strength all the time.

How does the Schlüter of today compare with the company you joined?
There is no comparison. In those days Schlüter was almost unheard of in the UK, and now, as the world market leader in essential tile protection, we have become a generic term, with many tilers saying "I need to Schlüter this installation." And we are well down the road of achieving my long-term goal, which is for essential protection to be specified by all architects, recommended by all tilers, and left in the spec by all quantity surveyors. All of this was unheard of when I joined Schlüter.

What does working for Schlüter mean to you?
Absolutely everything. Mr Schlüter has probably had more influence on the success of the global tiling industry than anyone else in the world, because, thanks to him, tiles installed using the thin-bed method which became popular in the 1960s, will last, and not crack, split or debond. To work for a company whose founder had the far-reaching vision which led to the global development of tile protection products, is exciting and invigorating. I can't imagine doing anything else now.

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