By Bryan Hacken and Mark Ellwood
In a world of manufacturing where machines are taking over, and it seems like everything has been outsourced, one man refuses to give in. His name is Barnett Brickner.
Brickner has spent over 40 years behind a nondescript building in Brooklyn, N.Y., focused on a single mission. To be the country’s leading umbrella man.
Brickner’s grandfather, Morris Brickner, immigrated to New York from Poland in the early 20th century became the first umbrella man in the family. Morris is the founding member of Embee Sunshade.
“When my father and uncle got into the business they wanted to expand the business and they wanted to make the larger beach-garden umbrellas. They wanted to have a real factory where they can actually produce everything themselves. So, they moved into this building where we are sitting right now right now in January of 1940.”
Though Brickner was the boss’s son, he wasn’t afforded any special treatment. “I started off at the bottom rung of the ladder. From sweeping up to putting bell caps at the top of the umbrellas. The menial jobs.” But it was those tasks that gave him the skills to become what he is today.
In his four decades as America’s umbrella man, Brickner has put every other manufacturer in the shade. He’s even supplied Hollywood staples like Woody Allen and Oprah Winfrey with the best of the best. You might ask, why? Well, that’s easy. It’s the quality.
“We don’t skimp on the quality. When other companies have reduced the raw thickness of the aluminum tubing, we kept it the same. Other people change the wire thickness, we kept it the same. We don’t skimp over here. The same quality that was 30, 40 years ago we still have now.”
Although Barnett isn’t a well-known athlete, celebrity or world-renowned doctor, he’s at the top of his industry and loving life.