Special to California Business Journal.
Curved, straight or twisted. If you have a stairway system and live in Southern California, chances are very strong that Martin Stairways was your installer.
Tackling up to 125 different stairway installations every year, the father and son team at Martin Stairways have installed more than 1,700 stairway systems in the last 15 years.
“I started this business three decades ago,” says Martin Crandell, owner of Martin Stairways out of Santa Ana, Calif. “Then my son, Darren, joined in 2005.”
All the company does is stairway installations for residential remodel projects. “In Orange County, there are many houses from the 1970s. We get calls every day from people wanting to upgrade to a more contemporary stairway system or get rid of carpets on their stairs. Many younger couples buy an older home in this marketplace. Then they decide the railings are placed too far apart and could be a hazard for their children. They call us to upgrade the stairway systems for the sake of both style and safety.”
Throughout the years, Crandell has relied primarily on just one company to supply him with all his stair parts and materials — L.J. Smith® Stair Systems.. Its plant in Corona, Calif. delivers to Martin Stairways twice a week. “The service levels at L.J. Smith are impeccable. There’s simply no reason for me to use any other manufacturer.”
Martin Stairways stays on top of design trends by installing several stainless steel interior architectural stair systems available in the Innovative Architectural Metal (IAM) Design line from L.J. Smith. The striking stainless steel tube, cube, cable and glass systems are designed out of Malo, Italy by the Gonzato Group.
“These elegant stainless steel stairway systems are definitely catching on in our area,” Darren Crandell says. “Once people see the streamlined look, they’re hooked. It’s exciting for us to work with metal and combine it with wood.”
Modern, sleek looks are exactly what’s popular in stairway systems on the West Coast right now.
“We used to do lots of rail systems with scrolling,” Martin says. “That’s been replaced now by people looking for more simplistic styles.”
Plus, they’ve also witnessed the popularity of white oak skyrocketing in the past few years.
“White oak combined with stainless steel creates a beautiful stairway system. Another great marriage is walnut and stainless steel. These are popular trends on the West Coast that we believe will migrate east in the very near future,” he adds.
To keep up with the newest styles, the Crandells and L.J. Smith often brainstorm. “For us, L.J. Smith is the very best option we have to offer customers,” Crandell says. “We appreciate the quality of its product along with the variety of customization opportunities.”
Finding Their Calling
A licensed general contractor for more than 30 years, Crandell “stumbled” into his career specialty of stairways.
“I was on a job decades ago where the stair guy quit,” he says. “The contractor pointed at me and told me to finish the stair job. That was my start. I learned to do curved stairs, which everyone likes. Then I just kept fine-tuning my skills and getting better at my job. When you’re on a jobsite, the stair guy is seen as an artist. Other contractors always stop to watch what we’re doing because it’s such a specialized skill.”
As his business grew, Crandell welcomed his son to the company. “I helped train Darren and he learned on the job,” Crandell says. “Stairway creation is craftsmanship at its finest. We understand that each system we create becomes a physical feature of a home. That’s an important responsibility that we take seriously.”
L.J. Smith, a Novo Building Products Company, offers a wide variety of products including wooden and ornamental iron balusters, metal panels, stainless steel cable and tube infills, newel posts, hand rails and accessories. All products are defined by their unique designs, uncompromised durability and good looks. For more information, visit http://www.ljsmith.com or call 740-269-2221. For more on Martin Stairways, visit http://www.martinstairways.com/.