By Jenna Lippin | Photography courtesy of Phifer Incorporated
+ Evolution + Evolution | Phifer
Here Comes the Sun
From making aluminum-based
products early on, Phifer has evolved
into a leader in sun shading.
Founded in 1952 and family-owned and operated ever since, Phifer changed the face of solar screening as the industry knows it. Started by J. Reese Phifer and a small team in his garage in Tuscaloosa, Ala., the manufacturer evolved from a weaver of
aluminum mesh for protective screening against insects to a top producer
of sun-screening products that are available today in 100 countries.
FAR LEFT J. Reese Phifer
Incorporated as a weaver
of aluminum insect
LEFT Phifer’s first solar
screening was developed
in 1963 using tightly
woven aluminum wire.
Phifer was an attorney by education but always wanted to work in
manufacturing. When he decided to start a business, he planned to
produce insect (or window) screening. Prior to his developing the
screening from aluminum, it was made of steel, which would rust
and therefore wouldn’t last long. Aluminum was a high-demand
metal for making planes and weapons during World War II, but
when the conflict was over there was an abundance of the material.
That is when Phifer began experimenting with aluminum wire for
window screens. Because most of the competition at the time was
in the Northeast, he had an edge to deliver to the Southern market
where insect screening was a necessity.
The next product developed by Phifer was aluminum drawn wire, followed by aluminum nails
in 1956. In 1963, he created an aluminum solar screening to help control heat absorption at
windows and doors. Solar heat control with aluminum was quite innovative at the time.
As technology and materials continued to advance, in 1970 Phifer started weaving vinyl-coated
fiberglass yarns into insect screening. This was a significant step in product development because
fiberglass is less costly and easier to work with. In 1974, Phifer developed the original fiberglass
sun-screening called SunScreen®, which quickly expanded the company’s sun control fabrics
business. That same year, the Phifer team moved into its current headquarters, also in Tuscaloosa.
By 1981, Phifer developed and started producing and selling Phifertex®, a woven mesh
made with vinyl-coated polyester yarn for furniture. It is often called “sling fabric”and is
used on outdoor pieces as it is exceptionally weather-resistant.
4/2/18 8:29 AM