Topic: Every two story home has a stairway, and every stairway has a stair system. L.J. Smith Stair Systems has the easy, quick, on-trend solutions to keep your business, and your homeowners, climbing to the top!
Guest: Kelly Miller: Director of Market Development, L.J. Smith Stair Systems
Company Phone: 740 269-2221
3 Points for Success – Kelly Miller
- Value added over price
James [00:00:00] So good to have you with us for another episode of CareyBrosPros. I’m James.
Morris [00:00:04] And I’m Morris and as professionals we’re always looking for ways to give our pro listeners great information to help them work smarter instead of harder. On this edition of CareyBrosPros we’ll get you to the top of the class with some up to the minute stair parts smarts.
James [00:00:24] That’s right Our guest is Kelly Miller and Kelly’s the director of market development for a high end stair systems company they are L. J. Smith Stair systems. Welcome to CareyBrosPros Kelly.
Kelly [00:00:39] Thank you so much.
Morris [00:00:40] Kelly give us a little LJ Stair Systems history, would you?
Kelly [00:00:44] Absolutely. Well our company was started in 1885 and more than 125 years of stylish rail systems have been installed across America. We have four manufacturing facilities with eight distribution plants from coast to coast with a footprint in all 50 states.
Morris [00:01:03] You don’t sound that old.
Kelly [00:01:05] Well I mean I know I don’t lie I certainly look at I hope there’s no photo.
James [00:01:12] I understand that L.J. Smith is the largest stair parts manufacturing company in the country.
Kelly [00:01:19] That is absolutely true.
James [00:01:21] Now when we talk about stair parts let’s name names what is it that we’re talking about from soup to nuts stem to stern.
Kelly [00:01:30] Well every two story home has a stairway in it. Now some homes have may have a wall built with rail on the side of the wall a handrail or a wall rail. We like to call it. But if it’s an open stairway there is newel post there is a ballast balancers which are the spindle some like to call including the handrail on the top. So that is the components that we manufacture the newel post the balasters and the handrail including the treads. So that’s what we offer.
James [00:02:05] Including the treads?
Kelly [00:02:06] Oh absolutely.
James [00:02:07] OK. No risers though?
Kelly [00:02:09] We also do the risers.
James [00:02:11] Oh you do. OK.
Kelly [00:02:12] Yes, so we can manufacture the entire system as a domestic manufacturer.
James [00:02:17] I’m looking at your Web site that is L.J. Smith dot com and I see some beautiful product. And in one of the photos I see some like a mini raised panel at the end of the tread and riser at the end of the stairs and below the spindles and some decorative very ornate trim. Is that something that you manufacturer or is that a one off from somebody else?
Kelly [00:02:42] Yes our custom shop and we can manufacture anything. So if someone were to provide a drawing for us or we have our custom facilities throughout the country they can manufacture anything so I’m assuming that picture that you’re looking at is one that was a one off that we were provided a photo for some drawings that we actually made it from nothing.
James [00:03:04] I’ll be darned. That’s wonderful. We go in to a home and someone says we’re interested in remodeling our kitchen. Let’s do a bathroom remodel maybe they’re going to add some space but invariably one of the things they’ll add on is a new stair rail system. Sometimes they’ll change out the treads. Not often though. But they want a makeover on their stairs. They want to get away from what they’ve had. Often it’s wood. Often it’s a mix of paint and stain and they’ll want to go to the ornamental iron and you show a lot of that. But we go to these trade shows and we see so much of the cable rail and that’s becoming increasingly popular. Yes?
Kelly [00:03:52] That is true. There’s cable and there’s also panels so you know as you mentioned us being the largest manufacturer in the country. Yes. wood stair parts would over the years would components have been installed in just about every home in the country. And slowly that trend was to include metal balancers with the rest of the stair system remaining would the newel post and the handrail of course has the price of iron balancers went down and hit the production builders budget. They quickly became the go to. Today are production builders and high end custom builders. They want to steel fabricated system with wood elements. So still the feel of wood in our panel system which is priced for production builders as well as the high end custom builders gives them that look they bought they say it’s our LJ Smith linear metal panel system it’s a welded horizontal look that complements both modern and urban styles. It’s a pre assembled panel. It requires only a few screw holes for installation. So the fast installation is a big plus for any production builder so we have them in seven level run panels that meet all rail heights of three different sizes with five great panel widths available. These sizes along with potential space renewal or even a vertical balancer will achieve any frame stairway including a curved mount a flush mounted system or a new wall frame stairway.
James [00:05:25] Boy, you guys have thought of it all. It’s not only attractive but the fact that it can be installed expeditiously that’s what production builders are looking for. Speaking of which, are you folks doing more production work, more custom work, or do you find yourself doing a little bit of both?
Kelly [00:05:39] It’s a good mix of both. So we’re happy to say that we are very fortunate to have both. Where we could service and take care of both the production builder and the time needed for a production builder and as well as accommodate to your earlier point on any custom fabrication that we can do from a creative style. We have a some tremendous equipment that gives us the opportunity to turn just about anything which kind of separates us apart from the other manufacturers on being able to service that high end custom builder. Well the production builders. Yes I mean they they’re on their on a cycle time and our ease of installation on our components is what is so appealing to these production builders. So you had mentioned earlier before that when you go to these trade shows you also see the stainless steel cable system.
James [00:06:32] Yes.
Kelly [00:06:33] But with two we also have that our metal newels or for our cable are pretty tapped. In other words the holes are already tapped drilled and tapped to accommodate our fittings our stainless steel fittings to accommodate the fittings that we’ll take then these stainless cable. So again we thought about everything in the ease of installation as what we really really focus all of our time on not only the beauty and the elegance of the system itself but the ease of installation.
Morris [00:07:01] So what’s the trend? What is the trend in stairwell systems now what are most, not subdivision builders, all segments of construction, what’s most popular?
Kelly [00:07:14] Well most popular of course still is the the iron. There’s so many different styles and of the iron that are available now. It’s a simple installation. And as far as what we have found is over the years the wood components that have been installed. I’ll just say the ballisters. We also have created what we call iron pro and what I am pro can do is if you have a wood balustrade in your home today right the wood or prime the ballast is painted white. We have a system where you can cut out the ballisters and put iron in with our iron pro kit and it is a phenomenal system that again the the homeowner can do it themselves. You just remove the wooden ballisters you attach the iron pro fasteners you measure and cut the iron and you install it in the hardware we provide and it will cover up any of the footprint that the old wooden ballister left. So with not a whole lot of money and not a whole lot of work you can have an iron system if you were to be one that had a wooden system installed over the last 50 years.
Morris [00:08:31] And is that available in both internal quarter an inch and a half retrofits?
Kelly [00:08:35] Well I said the inch and a quarter is the majority of what we do now. The inch and a half. We have a color that will cover that footprint up. So it will still be the the three quarter inch ballister but it will cover up where the old inch and a half ballister was. We’ve thought it but we’ve thought all the way through it.
Morris [00:08:54] OK.
Kelly [00:08:55] And that’s our iron Pro System. So between the panel you asked about trends between the panel system the horizontal panel system I mentioned earlier and the cable system we also have a stainless tube system that people can take out their their current balustrade and put horizontal tubing in stainless to brush stainless steel tubing. So there’s a many things that people can do to retrofit their existing stairway with LJ Smith components.
James [00:09:23] How is your product accessed? Does a builder go to your Web site? Do you have regional sales people? How do you how do people get involved with your offerings and I recall one of the trade shows seeing that you guys do design work if if somebody gives you the rise in the run you’ll do the design.
Kelly [00:09:45] Absolutely yes. If somebody would provide plans a picture or we can We will help them all the way through from beginning to end. So from concept to creation so you can visit www.ljsmith.come What that will do is show you exactly what our offering is. We sell LJ Smith is sold throughout building material dealers across America. So again you want L.J. Smith you can get our Web site or contact us at 740 269 2221 and we’ll tell you exactly you tell us where you live and we’ll tell you that you can purchase allegation at once.
James [00:10:26] OK. All right. That’s great. Now at the Web site and I referencing the Web site because it’s really beautiful there’s so much terrific product to see there. You have an inspiration gallery for the different product offerings you have the cable tube and panel systems the iron ballister stairs and the wood ballister stairs plus your. We talked a little bit about your custom capabilities earlier but I want to circle back to the cable systems which are being used quite often at the interior of a home but you have product that’s available for the exterior as well for decks and and pro rather decks and patio overhangs and that sort of thing.
Kelly [00:11:12] That’s true. So in in our linear selection on the cable side of it are metal newels. They do have an exterior powder coat or paint if you will. So they won’t rust. So you could use the new opposed that again or pre-tapped for our stainless steel fittings and our stainless steel cable and then you could use you know exterior grade handrails or lumber that you can find whether that be Cedar pressure treated or whatever it may be. We don’t necessarily have a handrail that will hold up outside but we have everything else. We have the newel post and the cable and the fittings.
James [00:11:53] Wow. And I was looking at the Web site. Boy you sure have a lot of terrific information that pros can utilize. You’ve got building code information you’ve got finishing table you’ve got product drawings you’ve got installation information you really make it simple for anyone who wants to install your product.
Kelly [00:12:13] Thank you. We’ve we’ve we have a tremendous R&D team and a tremendous staff. We feel we are.
James [00:12:20] You’re the cat’s meow.
Kelly [00:12:21] J Smith Well we think we thought of it all. So you know we we’re still learning now like everyone else and we will continue to strive to do better for the for the end user the do it yourself or the pros the the contractor so that’s who we are always thinking of and we always love the feedback that they provide so we can even do a better job at what we do.
Morris [00:12:43] Kelly here on CareyBrosPros we like to ask our guests to share three points for success with our pro listeners. Could you share yours?
Kelly [00:12:53] Three points of success. I would say value added over price. I would say quality and honesty.
James [00:13:03] Boy I think that would be that would be three points for success in life in general. Not to mention in the business. Our thanks to Kelly Miller director of market development with LJ Smith Stair Systems. You can visit their Web site it is LJSmith.com and you’ll find product their inspiration all sorts of terrific information that you can utilize or call them at 740 269 2221.
Morris [00:13:38] And remember you’ll find our guest information as well as additional podcasts videos and articles on our Web site at CareyBrosPros.com.