Now known as Typhoon International and located in the North of England seaside town of Redcar, E. T. Skinner was registered on 6 December 1948 as a limited company in London by directors George Suppancic, consultant engineer, and Nora Gugen, housewife. Nora’s husband Oscar Gugen became the manager and secretary of the E. T. Skinner & Co. Ltd. woodwork jigsaw puzzle business founded by Eric Skinner, who later moved to Canada. George Suppancic and Oscar Gugen’s Austrian citizenship had resulted in their internment as “enemy aliens” in Camp Hutchinson on the Isle of Man during World War II and both men became naturalised British subjects in 1951.
Oscar Gugen was a competent long-distance swimmer who crossed open water to board the last British destroyer evacuating British troops from France during World War II. Released from internment, his aquatic prowess secured him a position as a swimming pool attendant. His swimming skills, business acumen and knowledge of foreign languages qualified him to turn E. T. Skinner into a water-sports gear importer and manufacturer after he saw public demand for swimming goggles and fins exceeding foreign and domestic supply during the early 1950s. As a consultant engineer and a patentee of an aircraft control mechanism, Skinner company director George Suppancic collaborated with Oscar to patent designs for swim fins, diving regulators, dry suits and face masks from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s. .
While most of the firm’s periodical Skinner’s Handbook for Skin Divers was devoted to descriptions and pricing of Typhoon-branded underwater products marketed by the company, the closing pages gave detailed information about their use.
The first products under the Typhoon brand
As a stickler for underwater safety, Oscar co-founded the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) in 1953, “the largest and most successful diving club in the world”, to provide divers with theoretical and practical training.
By 1979, E. T. Skinner had relocated to Redcar with a company name change to Typhoon International, now billed as “the world’s largest manufacturer of drysuits”.