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Ask The Expert

Stairways Group Neil Stevens, Karen Wood and Garry Clark of Stairways Group explain how the the group is able to cater for house builders and developers through to the higher end residential market


erving both residential and commercial sectors nationwide, Stairways Midlands, trading as Stairways Group (SWG), is privately owned and has been privately managed since it was founded in 1989. Starting life as a small manufacturer of staircases, hence the name, the company has experienced rapid growth due to their success & product demand, quickly resulting in the innovation of manufacturing internal door sets as well as staircases, some 18 years ago. The Stairways Group operates with three Midlands-based factory units, offering over 100,000 sq. ft. of bespoke and mass production capacity and allowing for a nationwide

Neil Stevens, MD, Stairways Group 18 |

delivery network. The Stairways management team consists of six team members, all offering a wealth of experience within the industry. Stairways are a market leader, and it’s hard to pinpoint just one factor that contributes to their success. The Group takes significant steps to stay ahead of their competitors, to maintain their business relationships and to constantly improve their products and services. As Neil Stevens, Joint MD for Stairways, explains: “At Stairways Group, we have a constant investment programme to keep up with market trends, improve efficiencies, reduce lead times and delivery of product

Karen Wood, MD, Stairways Group

developments. Our products are designed with British Standards & Building Regulations in mind at all times. Our aim would always be to design and manufacture a product that exceeds British Standards & Building Regulations as the product sells itself. A great example of this is our SecurDor, a Secure by Design internal door set, its popularity has enabled us to research the market and client requirements to extend our certified portfolio.” As the name suggests, Stairways Group manufacture Staircases, but don’t be misled by the company name, Stairways Group also manufacture a number of other leading carpentry and joinery products, such as Internal Door Sets & Joinery items.

Garry Clark, Non-Executive Director, Stairways Group


The Stairways Group offers a range of staircases from a host of products including all species of timber, glass and stainless steel, with a unique Supply & Fit service setting them apart from many of their competitors. The group is able to cater for the volume house builders & developers through to the higher end residential market. The high-end residential market is a hard market to pursue and maintain; yet the Stairways Group seem to have achieved just that. This is probably due to their bespoke surveyed, designed and fitted staircases service, currently used by some of the country’s leading premium developers. This bespoke service has proved extremely popular since its conception several years ago now. Equally as extensive as their staircase choice, the group offers a solution to all needs, designs and requirements with their internal door products. From the revolutionary RapiDor, a door kit with machined components, nonhanded and fully interchangeable latch & privacy ironmongery, internal door and lining, delivered flat-packed for site assembly), to popular ResiDor (an assembled door set, with machined and assembled components delivered

volume door leaves machined into its portfolio assists the client with generic specification whilst delivering the solution required. Latest investment has provided the Group with a competitive advantage, in-house door manufacturing services, using Halspan and Falcon products of all weights, sizes and ratings. This service includes various primed finishes, foils, veneers and laminates, fully finished to clients’ RAL specification, all produced in house. Pushing the need for innovation, and addressing the needs received from industry, Stairways developed ‘Simple Fit’, a fixing clip solution provided to brand RapiDor and ResiDor, eliminating the need to face fix linings to the internal partitions. These are also fully fire tested and NHBC endorsed. The ‘Simple Fit’ solution improves installation by reducing skills required on site, speeding up fixing and offering an accurate, durable fit. The vast internal door solution portfolio sets them apart from other generic manufactures and only leaves the clients imagination to do the work. The Stairways Group’s skills & manufacturing

“Our commercial team offer a fully managed service... We are all experienced experts, and really care about our products, services and clients...”


capabilities stretch even further to include bespoke joinery items. Working closely with each client to determine the specific design requirements of the products whilst using their expertise and vast skills. The group has achieved accolade for their work, including Austin Healey dashboards and their fully finished hardwood glazed screens for residential care homes. Karen Wood, Joint MD of Stairways, tells us: “As a Group, what sets us apart is that we offer a wealth of carpentry & joinery products, resulting in the client placing one order and managing one supplier. Our commercial team offer a fully managed service from tender and enquiry through to the delivery of products and after sales care. We are all experienced experts, and really care about our products, services and clients.” Keeping up with market trends are at the heart of the group’s work ethic, and the trends for 2015 are imperative in their day to day business success. The dedicated team are following market trends for staircases, offering clean lines, with consideration to allowing natural light to flow, and a contemporary and modular design. The specification of timber & glass is often a popular theme at moment. And on the door front, the group tells us that there is an upward trend to specify white finished doors, doors with or without a feature to the face, a groove to face in either horizontal or vertical direction, a service that Stairways can offer in house.

as a single assembled unit for site installation at 2nd fix stage). Also on their manufacture list is SecurDor, the security focussed Secure by Design door set and EcoMerical, a performance door set, produced for the commercial construction sector, specifically with design and performance qualities in mind. Finishing off the portfolio is a market favourite with residential developers and house builders alike, the Pocket door set, a solution offering a bespoke design service with integrated lining, designed to suit individual specifications. Offering a wide range of door faces, from primed for paint, through to scheme matched veneers, and glazing configurations from simple Part M compliant styles to typical industry standard configurations. Partnering with various UK and European door manufacturers to provide | 19



Chrome ironmongery remains in demand, and will continue to stay for some time. Over-height doors as features to properties are commonly seen now, along with clean simple architraves and skirting. If any design detail is required for these, it is predominantly a groove or step feature. SWG feeds us more on-trend information: contrasting doors to linings and architraves are very sought-after, but interestingly not all one finish – for example an American Black Walnut door with white painted lining, and architrave. The team are seeing an increase in the use of pocket door sets in confined or minimalistic space and designs. Neil Stevens explains: “The higher end of the market generally uses concrete staircases, something we are keen to explore with the specifies. Developers tend to specify concrete stairs for a number of reasons, such as providing early access to upper floors, health and safety, stability and longevity. However, these are often more expensive and we can work with developers to offer a solution to the majority of the common issues and dispel some of the common myths.” Karen Wood adds: “Being an active member of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF)

we would always support the use of timber, providing the evidence to support our proposal. This sector of the market has also previously used marble to clad staircases, but we are seeing more orders to supply American White Oak and Black Walnut to the treads and risers. The market trends change so often, and not only do we maintain our interest in this important information, we ensure supply of these.” The Group’s updated knowledge of products and trends is staggering, the management team provides a wealth of experience, and their individual advice, skills and ideas set them apart from their competitors. The group introduced Non-Executive Director, Garry Clark, earlier this year. Garry joined the group from supplier of performance door sets and architectural ironmongery Leaderflush Shapland Laidlaw. Joining Leaderflush in 1974 as an Estimator Contract Surveyor, Garry has since gained an enormous amount of experience over 40 years within the industry. This brings an alternative approach to the dynamics at SWG, assisting with strategy realisation. Garry says of his appointment with Stairways: “It’s a great opportunity to work closely with the owners of Stairways, Karen and

“The market trends change so often, and not only do we maintain our interest in this important information, we ensure supply of these...”

Neil. I hope to help move the business towards bigger and brighter things.” Employee numbers are growing with Stairways’ success, and all employees are benefitting from significant training investment. This training is in line with the business ambitions and strategic direction as it strives for improved efficiencies. This training is also supported by various funding streams in addition to the company’s own investments, including the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). The Stairways Group expect more success in the future, which highlights the necessity for them as a group to forecast the market condition. The group also looks to continue to deliver significant investment over the next 24 months, with extended manufacturing facilities and state-of-the-art machinery, as well as boasting about their use of renewable energy by heavy investment into recycling wood waste at another of their manufacturing sites. Karen Wood states: “The market is buoyant, although still challenging, with plenty of opportunities to come. We have worked hard to maintain our position in the market, and will continue to improve all aspects of the business.” Karen continues: “We know that we will be at an advantage if we harness our relationships, and communicate well. This has always been the practice within our business but has perhaps now become paramount as clients themselves battle to offer something different and align their businesses to include revised strategies of growth in the current climate of demand. Early specification is paramount to success of delivery, and we are achieving that goal.”

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Ask The Expert August 2015  

Neil Stevens, Karen Wood and Garry Clark of Stairways Group explain how the group is able to cater for house builders and developers through...

Ask The Expert August 2015  

Neil Stevens, Karen Wood and Garry Clark of Stairways Group explain how the group is able to cater for house builders and developers through...