Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
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Custom grandeur

Staircase

The elegance of a gorgeous staircase conjures up images of Hollywood mansions and movies like Gone with the Wind.

And since 1989, a small PEI company has been doing its part to add a bit of hand-crafted magnificence to homes all over the world.

Best known for its made-to-order wooden spiral staircase kits, Ravenwood Stairways of Alberton also produces “silent stairs” ― squeak-free staircases ― and other stairway components for use in homes across the US, Japan, Germany, the UK, Ireland, Iceland and the Caribbean.

“Our spiral staircase units are easy to order and easy to install,” says Ralph Clark, Ravenwood president and founder.

“We take photographs of the unit as it’s installed, so a person can see and number all our parts. It’s something that a 10-year-old could probably put back together again.”

After working for many years as a general contractor, Ralph established his stair company in 1989. He soon began working on a special spiral staircase kit ― a vertical, space-saving unit that employs wooden treads that wind around a center post.

Now with five full-time employees, Ravenwood sources wood from all over the world to create its products.  They recently completed a staircase using nearly 60,000-year-old kauri (cow-ree) wood that had been exhumed from a swamp in New Zealand!

Regular participation in trade shows and missions has helped Ravenwood carve out a niche in the export market. Networking with an Irish delegation in 2010, for example, during one International Builder’s Show in Las Vegas, landed a beautiful curved staircase project for a new build in Ireland.

ACOA has been a significant source of support for Ravenwood, contributing to the establishment and growth of the PEI company through building expansion, equipment and software development.

In addition to helping them establish themselves in Atlantic Canada, Ravenwood wouldn’t have been able to pursue exporting as aggressively without ACOA funding, says Andrew Garth, Ravenwood’s export marketing specialist.

“They do a lot of work with match-making and setting up meetings, transportation, etc., things that really take a lot of time—time that we may not have been able to give otherwise.”

Always on the lookout for more distributors, Andrew will be keeping their international sales efforts focused on the contacts they make at such trade shows.

“We are a small shop, able to fill a lot more custom orders, and our turnaround times are fairly quick,” says Andrew.

Just goes to show how superior quality, craftsmanship and flexibility can help a home-grown company step into the global marketplace.

Published April 15, 2013