The Schlüter Family Standing on Stage with Orange Roses

Tiling… it’s a family affair!

16 June, 2019 (06:00)


Aside from the longest day of the year, June is arguably most well-known for Father’s Day. So many tiling businesses are passed down through the generations! We thought what better to do than to pay tribute to the man who started Schlüter-Systems? His name is Werner Schlüter and here’s an insight into his story…

Early life

So many of our products began their lives with Werner Schlüter – but where did he begin his? The founder of our company grew up in a rural area of Germany, where, he says “reliability and neighbourly help were part of everyday life”. He had decided on his career by the age of 12, inspired by watching a tile installer working on a new house. As luck would have it, there was a tile installation company in a small town about 10km away that took him on as an apprentice. In a three-year apprenticeship, starting on 1st April 1957, he learned practical skills at the company’s construction sites, alongside taking half-day vocational school sessions once a week in the next town. All of which he biked to through rain or shine! Having passed his journeyman exam, which tested the practical skills he had acquired, he then worked for five years to qualify as a master craftsman.

Starting the company

Fully qualified, Werner Schlüter wasted no time in setting up his own tiling company; Fliesen-Schlüter was established just a month after he passed his final exam, in May 1966. Werner worked out on-site, whilst his wife Bärbel looked after the office side of the business. Some of the major buildings in Iserlohn benefitted from his talents, including the town hall, grammar school and the vocational training centre of the district craftsmen’s association. Fliesen-Schlüter still exists today and gives Schlüter-Systems direct insight into the problems faced by tilers in their practice.

Developing the company

In 1975, when trying to work out how to cleanly finish the edges of a thin-bed installation of Florentine tiles, Werner Schlüter came up with his first product. He sketched an idea for an L-shaped, metal profile with a flat, wide and punched leg for embedding in the adhesive bed and a shorter, thicker leg at the height of the tile thickness.  With the help of his toolmaker friend, Werner Thomas, a prototype was developed. Named Schlüter-SCHIENE (SCHIENE being German for ‘rail’), the product became popular quickly on its release, due in no small part to Werner Schlüter’s personal visits to tile wholesalers to present his new solution. Fuelled by the positive response to SCHIENE, Werner Schlüter began to think about the other problems that he had encountered on the tools. Devising solutions to these problems has resulted in over 10,000 products, each carefully crafted to help the tiler do his job well. The company even took its distinctive orange branding from the colour of the tape that Werner Schlüter used to wrap around his tools to distinguish them from those of the other tilers on-site – a nice little nod to his roots.

The second generation

Hearteningly, even though it has scaled into a multinational business, Schlüter-Systems remains family-run; in 2007, on his 65th birthday, Werner Schlüter transferred the management of the company to his sons, Udo and Marc, who had grown up as part of the company. The pair are currently at the helm guiding the company through its 6th decade and helping to bring you even more great products to support your tiling work.

Where did you get inspired to take up tiling? Do you work with your dad, children or any other relations? Share your story with us on social media using #SchluterTilingFamily.