Marketing Maneuvers

ZipJack: A Testament to Entrepreneurship

Who would think that a simple umbrella repair, made almost 60 years ago, would result in the formation of a prominent company in the outdoor-living industry? That’s exactly what happened when Manny Dubinsky (a tailor and handyman) repaired a friend’s broken umbrella.

Dubinsky’s visionary moment came after he fixed the umbrella and recognized the need for a business that could repair umbrellas and other consumer items. Founded in 1950, Elmsford, N.Y.-based ZipJack has evolved from a repair shop fixing umbrellas and zippers, including zippered jackets (hence the name ZipJack), to a leading manufacturer of custom-made and handcrafted market, patio, beach and café umbrellas.

Martha Dubinsky Witkowski, ZipJack owner and president, says, “The company is a testament to my father’s true entrepreneurial spirit, a strong work ethic and the American dream.” Witkowski took the helm of ZipJack after Dubinsky’s death in 2006.

ZipJack is noted throughout the outdoor-umbrella industry for its many product innovations. Many ideas came from Manny Dubinsky’s own customers. “My father believed that you listen to your customers, ask them what they think, ask them what they need and then respond to it,” Witkowski says. “That’s the business philosophy I was raised with,” she adds.

ZipJack created the EZ-Open™ market umbrella in response to the needs of customers who desired an easier way to open and close umbrellas. Using a patented counterbalance system, this innovative mechanism allows the user to open or close the umbrella with one touch. The EZ-Open market umbrella also features another ZipJack advance: the patented Aero dropped-canopy design, which adds stability and ventilation by allowing crosswinds and updrafts to pass through a two-layered canopy.

The Aero market umbrella also came about from a customer’s requirements. A restaurant client in Chicago needed outdoor umbrellas for a terrace and asked ZipJack to design one with an extra-large air vent. “They wanted something that would be functional, but would look nice at the same time,” Witkowski says.

ZipJack accomplished the client’s request by inventing the Aero umbrella, which features a clean, contemporary look (offered in a variety of fabric choices) and a snap system that allows for easy cleaning and maintenance.

Witkowski created the KidBrella after a friend who designs playgrounds needed a stand-alone shade product to incorporate into her playground designs. The trick was to make a product that was functional, yet appealing to children. The KidBrella is a patio-style design that not only serves as an umbrella, but also has a play space. It comes with an array of appealing silkscreened animal illustrations.

“When erected to its full height, it’s an umbrella that goes over a table,” Witkowski says. “When you subtract the bottom extension pole and place it lower to the ground, it becomes a small playhouse for kids,” she adds.

Witkowski notes there are many market applications for the KidBrella, including the casual-furniture industry, day-care centers, schools, playgrounds and outdoor camps and recreation areas. Perhaps the most important benefit of the KidBrella is the sun protection that it provides.

ZipJack also carries patio, beach and café umbrellas with custom logo printing available. The company has a full cleaning and repair service for umbrellas, outdoor furniture and cushions, in addition to offering the restoration of antique umbrellas. With the exception of its rain and golf umbrellas, all ZipJack products are made in the United States.

ZipJack will also make custom umbrellas using a customer’s own fabric and design specifications. “While we do mass production up to a certain point, our niche is truly custom-built, custom-designed umbrellas,” Witkowski says. “We can produce 101 or one; we’re happy either way.”

Dubinsky started ZipJack with a simple umbrella repair over 50 years ago. Now, his daughter is forging ahead with the company, streamlining production and operations in an effort to provide even better service to customers. No doubt ZipJack will continue as a renowned leader in the outdoor-umbrella market. “My father always said he wanted ZipJack to be a 100-year-old company,” Witkowski says. “We’ll see if we can go another 50.”


Subscribe now!


EditCal 2018

EditCal 2017

Facebook Logo

copyright 2011 peninsula media. All rights reserved. | privacy statement