Livio Bootcamp: Beautiful Floating Staircases and more for Custom Homes

Join us to learn from Mark Slabaugh, Manager, Volume Builder Sales - ViewRails who will be sharing key insights about the stairs and the viewrails

Livio with Mark Slabaugh hosting a Webinar to help you build your custom Home


Mark Slabaugh


Rob Dowling: Hey Mark, how are you doing?

Mark Slabaugh: Here we go. Hey, my kids put something on my marker board, so I got to clean this off here quick.

Rob Dowling: No worries. No worries at all. Where do you live?

Mark Slabaugh: I live in Northern Indiana.

Rob Dowling: Northern Indiana, all right, cool.

Mark Slabaugh: Is my audio pretty good? You hear me all right?

Rob Dowling: Yeah, yeah. It's perfect.

Mark Slabaugh: Great.

Rob Dowling: All right, so let me run through. I was going to show you what we had today.

Mark Slabaugh: Great. And what's your role on the team?

Rob Dowling: I am the director of operations. So ironically, nothing to do with sales or marketing. I got sucked into this webinar series every week. So now, I'm the go to person from here on, I guess.

Mark Slabaugh: Okay. All right.

Rob Dowling: Oh, yeah. This is like our eighth or so webinar thus far? And yeah, essentially, it's a mix of, like I mentioned, I think on Tuesday to you, it's a bit primarily a mix of our current clients or clients who are our customers who are talking to us right now that we're trying to wrap up, like, maybe a design build contract on for a complete, all the way from... you know, we can do anything from just planning phase all the way through to turnkey, essentially, all the way through the process. Anyways, that's kind of the spiel. I'll jump into just introducing ourselves to start and then I'll give you five minutes or so just to introduce yourself, talk a little bit about Viewrail.

I have two slides like kind of for like overview purposes. I was thinking we could start here and you could just kind of run me through kind of, hey, what are the components of the stair? What are the components of a railing? Some of these I know that probably aren't applicable to your product line, right? But at least it will give maybe people a general sense of what makes up actually a stair and a railing. This one, I'll just ask you a couple questions. I just want people to know that there are code requirements that we also need to adhere to. So, certainly we can talk briefly about this, maybe some of the points that are a little bit more challenging or maybe some of the things that may affect maybe negative aesthetics as a result of having to or some people might consider negative aesthetics as a result of having to stay within code compliance. You know what I mean?

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah.

Rob Dowling: And talk a little bit about that. And then I'll ask you kind of what are your product offerings? Right? What do you guys do? What do you offer? And then I'll jump into floating stairs. I'll ask you a bunch of questions about your staircase line, what are the different options? What are the different finishes? How do you go about the design process? You guys can walk me, you can tell me about your online tool, kind of all that stuff. I'll ask you about lead times. And yeah, I can't think of really anything much else on that one. But this is probably the heaviest slide I have in here as far as like content goes. I was thinking that we could probably stay on here for like maybe five, 10 minutes or something and we could just talk about kind of the different options that are out there and everything else.

Mark Slabaugh: Great, cool.

Rob Dowling: Then railings. I've got I think, let's see, one, two, three, I've got four slides for here. Cable railing, rod railing, glass railing. I wasn't going to touch on handrails. I feel like you probably don't want to take up time in the webinar to talk about handrails.

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, handrails [inaudible 00:05:05] is glass and yeah.

Rob Dowling: Yeah, so some questions about glass that might come up, say, are there any safety concerns? What's the ease of installation? What about maintenance? Why do people choose glass? You know, kind of questions like these are the ones that I'll ask you kind of throughout for each one of these slides. And then lastly, I have kind of an intro slide to treads and risers and kind of walking through the construction of this. I'll probably ask you a little bit more about, I might go back to the construction of a stair for this one, so you can kind of walk me. I don't know, I'll see. I guess we'll see how much time we have and whatnot. But yeah, ask you a little bit about the different options that are out there. You know, it sounds like the only time you guys are selling... you guys do sell treads on their own but that's not really a main product offering that you focus on, I imagine, or is it? I don't know how much of your business.

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, we do. There's actually, StairSupplies, it's our parent company.

Rob Dowling: Oh, I know StairSupplies. Okay, I didn't know that was you guys. Okay.

Mark Slabaugh: And then Viewrail is like our brand of the floating staircases.

Rob Dowling: Got it. Got it. Got it. That's the Lexus to the Toyota sorta. Yeah, gotcha.

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, so three-inch treads, we're pumping those out all day long every day.

Rob Dowling: Got it. Got it. Got it. Okay. Awesome. I'll ask you why do people choose open versus closed stairs? What are the differences there? Are there any cost drivers to consider as you make your way from, let's say, the lowest end floating tread to the highest end? You know, what are we talking about here? You know, ask questions like those, ask you about some finish options that are available. You know, how you guys deal with like trying to match hardwood and kind of what's the process there? How do you make sure that ultimately the client gets what they need? And? Yeah, all right. That's just about it.

Oh, I have a railing restrictions on this one. Like, are there certain products out there that limit potentially your options? Different railing options limiting your trade options? So, I should say, and if there's any dependency there. And then I finish up with, I'm going to try to leave 10 minutes at the end for Q&A. I'll leave your contact information out during this phase so that if anybody has any questions that they're not able to ask at this time, either they'll reach out to you directly after this webinar or maybe whenever they watch this webinar or vice versa. If they reach out to us and have a question that's applicable to you, we'll pass your information along. But I try to give everybody like 10 minutes towards the end. If there's not a lot of questions out there, I'll probably just consume those 10 minutes by asking questions of my own. But yeah, that's it.

Mark Slabaugh: Great.

Rob Dowling: Cool.

Mark Slabaugh: And do you have any idea of your registration numbers for today?

Rob Dowling: No, I don't. Somebody else on my team kind of runs that like campaigns for these. I actually don't really even know if I have visibility into... I don't even think the give me that permission. I don't think I have admin access on that. Maybe I do. But even if do, I don't know where to find it. But yeah, we'll try to keep it... So, what we'll do after this webinar also is we'll make it live on our website. You know, just like I'm sure you guys have a lot of buzzwords monitoring. I'm sure if you type in modern stairs, you guys are probably somewhere up there on top of the SEO. We likewise post more of like a blog post sort of format on our website that will redirect to Viewrail as well and provide you guys some... so there's a bit of traffic that'll come from there as well. I don't know if the live viewership numbers, what those look like, but I'll definitely let you know.

Mark Slabaugh: Okay.

Rob Dowling: Yeah. Cool.

Mark Slabaugh: Out for curiosity and kind of reporting back to my marketing team, nothing else. I just got curious.

Rob Dowling: Yeah. No, I guess we'll see. I know it varies week over week. But I'm going to go grab some water really quick. I'm going to go on mute and then I'm going to start this thing and we'll dive into it. I'll give everybody just a couple more minutes here to trickle in. Hopefully grabbing lunch during this hour. A little bit of multi-tasking. We try to schedule these at an hour that hopefully convenient to everybody's work schedule, but we'll just give everybody a couple more minutes to join and then we'll get started. Mark, you said you're in Illinois. Is that right?

Mark Slabaugh: Indiana, Northern Indiana.

Rob Dowling: Oh, Indiana. Okay, there we go. Has the summer hit there yet?

Mark Slabaugh: Summer's hit nice and humid. We're about 90 miles east of Chicago, the top side of Indiana. So that's where we're at. Up at Notre Dame.

Rob Dowling: Very cool. Very cool. All right. Well, we'll give everybody maybe just one or two more minutes and then we will get started. Yeah, first of all, I want to thank everybody for taking the time to join the webinar series. If this is your first time to our webinar series, yeah, I really appreciate you taking the time to join us. And if you're somebody who's returning, likewise, great to have you back. We try to keep it strictly to an hour. And really the objective of this whole webinar series is to inform either our current client base, who are in the middle of building a beautiful custom home for themselves about any topic that might be out there. We're making our way through it. Building a home is a big topic, but we're cracking our way at it one by one to try to give our customers the information they need to make the most informed and educated decision as they go through and make that process. We firmly believe that information is one of the most valuable resources here when you're trying to go through and build a house.

We have a great guest with us today. Mark, who's taken his lunch. I guess it would be your late afternoon snack or something out of his day here to join us and talk about a really... well, I think what we've seen actually, even over the last few years has been kind of a transformed market. A little bit of transforming from what was once maybe more function to now maybe a little bit more style and options that are out there. And we're really lucky to have Viewrail join us and talk all about their product lines and everything they can offer our client base.

Just as a reminder, there's a couple different options. Throughout the course of the presentation, you can use the Q&A box at the top to ask any questions you might have. And I'll make sure to hit that at the end, the last 10 minutes. And besides that, you are more than welcome to raise your hand once we get to that Q&A section, virtually and I can call on you that way as well. And I'll also leave Mark's contact information up at the end of our presentation so that if there's anything at all that we weren't able to cover, since inevitably, we will not cover everything, only in an hour. But we'll cover as much as we can and if there's anything that we don't get to or any questions you might have even after the fact, maybe you're walking by a staircase at an open house or something and you see something and you're like, "Man, I wonder if Mark can help me out with that?" You can always reach out to them after the fact.

Anyways, moving on, we got a few different topics to cover today. I'll give an intro, I'll let Mark introduce himself, talk a little bit about Viewrail and everything they have to offer. Give a quick overview for everybody watching that'll include kind of what are the components of a railing? What are the components of a stair? I'll touch really briefly on maybe some of the more important code aspects and restrictions that there are with stairs since it is an item that maybe code will handcuff you a little bit about some decisions that you make. So, we'll touch on that quickly. We'll then jump into floating stairs. We'll talk about railings and the different design options that Viewrail has to offer. We'll talk about treads and risers, which if you don't know what treads or risers are now, hopefully at the end of the presentation, you'll be an expert. And we'll finish up with 10 minutes of Q&A at the end. Yeah, we'll keep it brief. We'll keep things moving and hopefully, you guys find this to be a really informative webinar.

First, is introduce us. For those of you who haven't joined us for previous webinar series, we're a custom single family home builder located in the Bay Area, really specializing in offering turnkey packages over to our clients. Just like this webinar series, we're here to guide you all the way through from the time that you maybe first submit planning documentation or maybe even you're just looking for a lot to develop, we can help during that phase as well all the way through handing the keys over. And it wouldn't be possible without a list of really accomplished subcontractors and vendors, one of them being Viewrail who's was able to join us today to make it all happen and to see all the way through from design to making it happen on the site.

We have a really unique business model. We have one office in Los Altos, we have another office in India. It enables us to have a really vertically integrated delivery to our customers. So, everything from really early engineering all the way through to, "Hey, here are the keys." Everything we do is in Revit, which is a 3D modelling software for our customers. And that enables us to provide the absolute best level of service and minimize the number of mistakes that ultimately may happen on site as a result of not having a coordinated delivery system. We're a small team, but we're really a powerful team as a result of that. Yeah, it wouldn't happen with everybody on our team, who's in the back right now probably cranking away on different projects throughout the Bay Area. Without further ado, I hand it off to Mark.

Mark Slabaugh: Our company, Viewrail, we specialize in floating stairs, which we're going to show you some pictures of in a little bit, and railing systems, which are typically with the infill of cable, rod, or glass. And all of those have great function and beauty to them as we'll see in a few moments. But part of our system that we have as Viewrail is that we can construct and manufacture all of our system in our production facilities here in Indiana and we bring them to you to wherever your home is. And they can be installed in most cases in one day. And which is really cool when you start thinking about custom staircases that typically, when you include a welder and steel and custom manufacturing, oftentimes that can take multiple weeks and can shut down all of your other subcontractors because this is taking up a central part of that home. So, we really can save you a lot of time by bringing that manufacturing that we do here and the customization to your home into your home installed in one day, is just really, really cool that we can do that. And our customers are always surprised of how fast these massive systems go up because we've engineered them, built them, and brought them to you wherever you are.

Rob Dowling: Sorry, go on.

Mark Slabaugh: I was just going to say, our company, Viewrail is really a sister company to StairSupplies, which Rob you had said a few moments ago as we were getting ready for this, StairSupplies as you know, that's where we started with iron balusters and newel posts, and tread replacements, all those kinds of things and now we have Viewrail which is primarily where we're recruiting those floating stair systems.

Rob Dowling: Awesome. The primary focus of today's session just for everybody's case, we'll probably be primarily focused on Viewrail, but certainly, I'm sure Mark is an expert on all thing, stairs and railings related can help you with any questions you might have. Mark, when we're talking about view rails, is it a modular system? Is it built to order? Can you tell us a little about that?

Mark Slabaugh: Every one of our stair systems is built to order. We don't have model stringers sitting on the rack that we pull down for you. We're getting specific jobsite measurements from you. We are engineering and design that system specifically for your space.

Rob Dowling: Got it. Got it. Okay. Most of the folks who are probably joining us today are likely in California area. Any limitations on where you can ship the product? You guys service all of the United States?

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, we service all United States. It gets a little tricky for us to ship to places like Hawaii and Alaska, but we have shipped to both places, to Canada. We've gone to a couple of the islands in the Caribbean. But again, it gets a little tricky. Lead times are obviously not the same in those instances. But yeah, that's where we're taking our products.

Rob Dowling: Awesome. Awesome. I guess we'll jump into it. The first image here, I guess is a really simple image. It doesn't capture everything that there is to building a stair. But Mark, I guess if you wouldn't mind, just kind of walk me through what's on this image and maybe some of the important terms that are out there for folks who are listening to understand.

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah. You know, a traditional staircase, like is in this picture here, you've got that stringer, which is going to span the entire rise and run of your system, you know, how you get all the way up to the top floor or to that second floor, it's because of that structure that's provided through that stringer. And so, that's going to be cut custom for each of your steps, which we would call your treads and your risers which go up. And then you've got newel posts, which kind of anchor both ends of that system. And within the middle of that, you're going to have balusters. Balusters need to be in a certain distance from each other, and that is going to be a four-inch sphere that you need there. Different places might have some different codes on the handrail height. Okay? So, if you're in California, we know that even on a level run, you've got a different height restriction than other states. And so, our engineers are all over that and they know what your code is in your state, so they'll work with you on that.

But just knowing that in each of your spaces you've got a handrail height that is likely code going on an angle is probably going to be 36 inches in most cases. And so, you'll have a newel post anchoring those, the nosing is kind of like what comes out over the riser and sometimes that's flat. But most of the time, you'll have an inch, an inch and a half that'll stick out as in nosing as you go up over each tread. I interrupted you there, Rob. What were you going to say?

Rob Dowling: No, I was just going to ask when it comes to, you know, a lot of folks I think are accustomed to, you know, if they were to walk into maybe a traditionally framed home, maybe 10 years ago or so or maybe what they have in their existing home, it's probably a wood stringer in all likelihood. Can you talk to me a little bit about how Viewrail differs in that respect?

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, so in Viewrail, one of our key products right now is these floating stairs that exists on a mono stringer. It is one six-inch by eight-inch stringer that we will build your system on whether it's straight or whether it's a right angle or whether it's a switchback or a U shape, and some pretty crazy systems in between. We did this install about a month ago, what's like a giant U shape around a palm tree inside a house. It was a massive, massive system. So that mono stringer or that 6x8 stringer that we manufacturer is going to be specifically engineered based on that rise and run that you give us. And so, if it's just a straight shot, we want to know how far to that top level and then what's the distance we are spanning so we can help calculate how many steps we'll have all the way up there. So that stringer is going to be cut at those angles so that it matches exactly what's going on in your space.

Rob Dowling: Got it. And yeah, obviously, this is generic image here just to give everybody a sense of some of the different components. But definitely, we'll get into maybe how your railing system differs a little bit from this image here, but hopefully that was helpful. Mark, you did touch a little bit about some of the code requirements that are out there. In California in particular, I know there's some important things to keep note of. Would you mind just reiterating kind of what are the things that you see maybe customers asking for that may or may not always be an option?

Mark Slabaugh: I think typically, when you see like the level run meet the angle run. So in your picture that you have there, the angle run is coming in lower than the level run. And so that level runs sits higher and some people don't really like that look. And so, when you understand kind of the code restrictions you have there, we would have a couple of different options on where we could put that post and kind of how it meshes in together on that. But just kind of knowing your own code will help you know what to expect. And so, sometimes people think anything is possible. But we do have those code restrictions for specific reasons and so in knowing that, it just helps manage the expectations of what we can and cannot do based on your code. You also had that minimum headroom. And so, if you have an older home, we have obviously come into some situations where that minimum headroom does not exist on older systems. And so, you're kind of like leaning your head as you're going up the steps and so we got to help people kind of think through some of those things.

So, knowing your code is key. Your contractor is going to know that. Obviously, the folks that Livio are going to know that. But if you're a homeowner trying to navigate this, these are some of the things you probably don't know by memory and so we just help people walk through that. The six-inch max opening as to where that bottom rail will kind of guide over exactly where it will guide over the nose of each tread. We need to make sure that we don't have more than six inches down there. And so, that dictates where like if you have glass, how far that glass really needs to kind of sit down close to that nosing so that we stay within those codes. Oh, you're muted, Rob.

Rob Dowling: Oops, sorry. All I was mentioning was that one thing that I know customers have asked us for before in the past, which is, inspectors are pretty sticklers of these days is that top rail returning back to the wall as opposed to kind of having maybe a more sleek, linear look to it. That's another one that I think we've had to unfortunately educate homeowners on. But definitely, with the help of Mark, with the help of Livio, we can certainly steer you in the right direction and make sure that what you're buying will ultimately pass code and be a successful implementation for your state and project. Mark, this is kind of an overview, but if you don't mind kind of running through the catalogue.

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, so the floating stairs really comes out of this idea of the open concept, right? Open concept is something that customers and designers enjoy producing and like living in. And so, with that, the floating stairs gives us aesthetically that opportunity as you can see even in that picture, to look up through it and see the glass, to see the light coming in from the outside. And that's just really the inspiration behind that floating stair is to allow that light to come in, to allow you to feel like you're in a bigger space as opposed to your stairs just taking up a giant section of your home and in some cases trying to hide the stairs. You know, maybe put it behind the living room so that we don't really see it as opposed to it being something that can be artistic and also allow you to feel like you're in a greater space.

The picture you have there is part of our glass railing. And so, that's become something that, quite frankly, our glass railing division is growing faster than our other railing divisions. It's of significant demand right now. We're also getting to a space where we can have frosted and solar grey, so it's kind of like a sunglass shade on that glass. I can't get there too far right now, but we're getting to some spaces where we can put some curvature to the glass. So, stay tuned, we may have some new glass products coming through in our railing options in the days to come. Our rod railing is going to be stainless steel. But we can also make that rod powder coated to an onyx, Black Onyx and it's beautiful. Particularly when you put it against some of the lighter treads like you have in this picture. The Black Onyx railing is just a super product. It looks really, really nice and it's so strong that it's not going to be scratched easily as well. So, the powder coating is a fluoropolymer and it really adheres well and is very, very strong in that way.

The cable railing is probably our entry level product in terms of the railing infill, but yet it has great durability and great strength as well. And the cable railing is something that will hold up for a long time. Hand rail, we can bring to you exactly the same kind of tread material, or we would have the black powder coat, so we could give you aluminium handrail so it would match your stringer. Those sorts of things we can bring all that into play because we manufacture all those pieces in our facilities. Treads and risers, lots of creativity and options behind that. Whether it be you want hard maple or you want red oak or white oak or ash, we can do all those kinds of materials for you. As we all know, the lumber availability is either, depending on the day can be a little tricky for us to make sure that we meet our demands. But when we have those supply chain issues, we're going to communicate with you on what that is and help guide you through what is most important for you right now? Is it speed or is it that particular wood product? And we'll let you know if there's any delays with those wood types.

Rob Dowling: Yeah, no, absolutely. I think you bring up a good point. And I'm sure we will talk a little bit more about lead times here once we get to the staircase tread, but a lot of important things to consider. This is a good segue kind of into the floating stair conversation and kind of the process that's there for your customers. Mark, if you don't mind kind of running through, what's your process from the very beginning? And if you don't mind educating folks on when would be the best time to start this process as well? Then we can go from there.

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, so you can begin the process of a dream or inspiration and design stage at any point where you're into like picking out finishes or those sorts of things. So, if you're in a design stage with Livio or even as a homeowner, you're thinking about your remodel, if you're thinking about colors, if you're thinking about those kinds of answers questions, it's a good time to start dreaming about what that staircase looks like. And then in the design, we have a couple of tools on our website, if you go to Viewrail.com, you can even get an estimate as to what your system would be. You can pick a straight system, you could pick a 90 degree turn, you can look at all those different options even the changing from rod to glass, and you can kind of get an estimate of what that pricing would be.

And then once we get to a place of engineering, so you've settled on what your finishes are going to be, you think we really like the Black Onyx rods, we want that and we know it's going to be a straight system like you have in this picture here. Then we can take that into engineering. When we go into engineering, we need measurements. And so, at that point, if you're not in framing yet for a new home, we need to wait till you're at that place so we have a very specific measurements. We can do it off of your floor plans, but then we're going to verify what are your onsite measurements before we go into production. And so that's something where we would communicate. If we're working with Livio, we're going to communicate with their onsite superintendent and say hey, here's what the plan says, here's what we've designed this for. We need on site measurements, provide those for us very simply by completing the form and giving us those measurements, and then we can confirm those back to you.

Once we have those measurements, engineering gets all of it, then the fun part starts and we fabricate all of that to your order within our eight buildings in Indiana. And once we can put that into production, we can produce the whole system in 11 days, and then shipping out to your neck of the woods. Rob, it's probably going to take five to six days for us to get shipping to you from where we are. We're having a little bit of problem with FedEx right now. But you understand the whole shipping situation right now. Logistics are just a bit of a challenge for everybody. We think that once we get that into production, 11 days, 11 business days of production, five to six days of shipping out to the West Coast, and you're ready to rock and roll.

Rob Dowling: Yeah, I mean, that's fantastic. From my perspective as a general contractor and running this into the traditional fashion, I'll give everybody kind of a brief overview of what typically happens in this case, right? If you're looking to fabricate a custom staircase, we're coordinating with probably a local, but who knows who it might be? But somebody who essentially fabricates the steel according to your job style, which inherently just right then in there slows down the process significantly for us as a builder. And ultimately, it affects your moving date. So, having a partner like Viewrail, who's able to really efficiently work through the design process to finalize those decisions early but still offering you a custom, not limiting your options to a modular solution is awesome. So, some great options there.

And one thing that I think, Mark, from your standpoint, as well, one thing that's really nice is by us actually modelling everything in Revit first and having a really well-defined model, and even more of prefabricating some components even, those tolerances of what you're designing to, during that process, hopefully, are spot on once it comes to actually manufacturing and making the whole process hopefully a lot more efficient for you guys, for us, and ultimately, for the owner as well.

Mark Slabaugh: We even manufacture in our facilities what we call the tension receivers, the hardware that goes on the end of the railing in the cable infill, we manufacture those within our own facilities. And those tolerances are at 3,000th of an inch. And so, we're just really proud of the stuff that we're producing. We're not going to the hardware store or getting pieces, marking them up and selling them back to you. We are producing everything for the specific purpose of it going in your home.

Rob Dowling: Yeah, no, absolutely. And you mentioned a really important piece, I think it's kind of shifted over the years, but kind of going from a staircase that you might hide to ultimately being kind of a focal point. I know certainly our architects, the earlier that folks who are listening can kind of think about, hey, do we want this staircase to kind of be more of a focal point? Where do we want it located? Ultimately, it does dictate a lot of the design decisions early on even from a floor plan standpoint.

Mark Slabaugh: And so, if you think about like the top of that stringer, what does it needs to hook into, and you see the guy that's measuring there, we need very specific material that we can hook into at the top of that stringer because that's several 100 pounds that has to be able to be managed by what that connection point is of that stringer into that header that's going in there. And so, we'll work with your team on making sure you've got the right amount of what we would call meat behind there, that you'd have the proper double LVL or we would have three strips of [inaudible 00:38:10] material that would be back there so we can lock into that and then we have a very, very sturdy system for you so you don't bounce. You don't want to bounce when you go up and down your stairs. You want it to feel firm and that it gives you a great just sense of sturdiness as you go up.

Rob Dowling: Awesome. And when it comes to the design options, when it comes to your stair line, we're going to talk a little bit about treads and risers. But in the traditional system, when we're framing out of wood, you've got on a wood stair, we're looking at maybe three stringers if you were framing to wood maybe. One in the middle, two on each end like we were talking about. The one on the image that I see here is obviously that's... is there any instances where a client comes to you where you're not able to accommodate just that one standard stringer or because of your material you're able to accommodate those needs?

Mark Slabaugh: Were able to accommodate those needs in any residential situation like that. I didn't even know that I'd come across anything where it's been a crazy number of feet up to the next stairs or to the next floor. Sometimes we had an intermediary platform that we've taken the stringer up to that platform and then turned off of it and another stringer go up to the second floor. There's a lot of ways. We cannot only be structurally sound but even artistic and give you some great form options in that design process.

Rob Dowling: Mark, you touched a little bit on the... you mentioned if you go to your website, there's kind of a design tool which in real time can give pricing feedback back to our client as well. Can you talk a little bit through that software? Are you able to actually define the shape and then as well as like choose materials?

Mark Slabaugh: Yes, absolutely. You can play around with what we call order entry, Viewrail order entry. You can begin to create a 3D image that you can just kind of navigate and say, okay, well, if we did this kind of a tread and it was with this stain, what would that look like? Obviously, I can't produce everything that's in your house, but it has just what that system would look like. And so, you can get a sense of the railing that you put on there, what the treads would look like, yeah, so it's a pretty cool tool on our website for that.

Rob Dowling: Fantastic. I would encourage everybody to definitely utilize that. One thing we hate to see it, but maybe some people make design decisions based on a particular system only to realize we've implemented the solution and maybe like more of a traditional Mark, fabricating system where the guy calls and comes out, he's not able to provide a price until after who knows, maybe after the whole house is framed to give us their real firm number. And ultimately, design decisions have to change as a result. That's a huge tool that hopefully can be really impactful and help influence the design early on.

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah. And one of the things is we want to be budget conscious for you. And so, they are constantly reviewing the estimates that come out of our website and then what is actual in terms of what we bring to customers. And so, they're constantly tweaking it so it's accurate. So that when you look at that and you design a preliminary system on our website, we're going to be pretty close to that when we get to the time of giving you the very specific designs you want, meeting your criteria and giving you a price that can help deliver that.

Rob Dowling: Mark, one thing actually we didn't discuss before, but it just kind of came to my mind as we were talking about it. Interior stairs only, or you are actually able to produce like deck stairs as well?

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, so when we get to the exterior applications, we obviously have some restrictions on what we can put outside because there's water, there's sun, there's all these elements that are there. And if you are within five miles of the Atlantic or the Pacific, we're going to also kind of guide you into these are the only materials we put out in your area because we want to make sure we give you something that's going to last. We want to give you that stainless steel, we're going to give you that 2205 stainless steel products. Obviously, there's a greater cost to that, but we want to make sure it lasts to your application. And so, if you are already in coastal, it's important that you let our team know so that we designed that with your application in mind. But yes, we can do. We can do a lot outside with our floating stairs and all of our railing can go outside. If you're coastal, we'll guide you into what those 2205 stainless steel options are for you.

Rob Dowling: Awesome. Awesome. That's about it. Yeah, it came to mind as I was as I was looking at this. I was like, that would look really slick off of the deck. Was there anything else Mark, before I jump over to railings that we may have missed during the floating stair conversation that might be a common question or concern that comes up from consumers?

Mark Slabaugh: No, I guess it's a great time to go to railing because you talked about the coast and the glass railing. Yeah, I love talking about glass because it is beautiful. We'll get to that in a moment. But this is something that really has inspired us to have view rail is so that you can look through that railing. So, you can look through and see what is there. Because often you're sitting on your back deck and you have a view but you can only see like that much of it, right? Because that fencing, that that guardrail is keeping you from seeing everything that's there. And so, we want it to be something that has beauty, but it also has safety. And there is a YouTube video of our owner standing on the cable railing system and it's withholding him. He's a big guy, he's about six foot three, six foot four. He's a big guy. And he's standing on that, it sags a little bit because it is weight. But when he gets off the system, it goes back into its form and it withstands the strength. And so, we're not only going to give you something that's beautiful, it helps you see that view. But we're going to give you something that's going to be safe and it's going to keep you and your family in a safe place on your deck particularly if it's high up.

Cable system is something that we're going to send you the amount of cable you need to go through the whole system, every post that you have. And it's super easy to cut and to install. The cable railing does take a little bit longer to install than maybe the rod. A system that we'll show in a little bit. But the cable railing system is really a great entry point for someone who's maybe a little bit more budget conscious than the rail or the glass. So, the cable railing is a great way to go.

Rob Dowling: And these two that we're looking at here, primarily it looks like those are kind of flat runs. But are you guys able to accommodate this type of railing system, let's say on a staircase as opposed to just flat back?

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, absolutely. And depending on as we talked about with that top post, when you have a level run that's coming into an angle run, depending on what that post is and what your height restrictions are, we can have a continuous run of that cable and it goes on to that level that you have there. Our engineers work with you on what's possible. Sometimes we can make that happen depending on what those measurements are and sometimes we can't. But your post placement, all of that will come into play on deck. But the cable railing, we can run a span of cable up to 80 feet. And we'll give you the hardware to tension that on both ends, and then it's going to be nice and strong for you all the way through.

Rob Dowling: Great. I know here we're looking at, I think, well, it looks like two of maybe the same post. But what post options are out there for folks listening?

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, we have several powder coat finishes that we can produce for you. Once we get into that stainless steel, again, we're going to want to make sure that if you're in that coastal application, we're going to make sure we want to give you a product that's long lasting. So, when you talk to our design guys, they'll walk you through what your options are if you're there. Black is our most popular by far. But we have white, we have a copper vein, which is beautiful. We also have some greys, we have a blue, this sort of thing. We have several different powder coat choices for you. But black is something that is by far our most popular.

Rob Dowling: Yeah, I mean the black looks phenomenal. Especially on some of those interior metal stairs where you're able to match that center stringer. Really phenomenal work.

Mark Slabaugh: Sorry to interrupt you. We just added some advancements to our powder coat facility and so we're doing all of that in house. It's really just quite amazing.

Rob Dowling: Awesome. Awesome. And what about, I know these two, to talk about it quickly, but by me asking I guess the question inherently, if you guys can do this at an angle, I imagine the same goes for both exterior application and interior applications as product can be used in both scenarios.

Mark Slabaugh: Absolutely. Yep.

Rob Dowling: And when it comes to top rail options, I see what it looks like anyway. A really cool top rail on left, in contrast to what looks like maybe a powder-coated on the right. What options that are out there for everybody and is there a difference, I guess between a top rail option for what I'd call a guard rail versus a handrail?

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, so go ahead and clarify for me what you mean between a guardrail and a handrail and then I'll and then I'll make sure I’ve taken you over.

Rob Dowling: I guess my first question is when somebody is looking at a guardrail system where there's no stairs or no grab or rail requirement, is there a difference in options that you're able to choose there versus if it's on a stair application in order to meet the code requirement for a grab rail?

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah. So, within different places you will have a graspable hand rail requirement that your codes are going to say, hey, it needs to be this. And so, we would obviously have handrails that would that would go for that. The picture on the right, that's a 1x2 aluminum that is powder coated the same as your posts. We've had some people who have powder coated the handrail different than the posts, but that's not very common. But we can do that. And so, that's going to meet that graspable... that's really a hard word to say.

Rob Dowling: No, it's a tough word to say. I'm glad you're saying it, not me.

Mark Slabaugh: ...code requirement. So, we have that for you. Now we do have a 1x4 Beverage handrail that we can produce it that can be powder coated in the same way. But because it is a 1x4, it's not going to meet your code and you as a customer need to figure out, can I sign off on that and be out of code? And will it pass my inspection? So that's where we can't necessarily answer that for you, but it is something that we sell a lot of. The picture on the left you're going to have… I suspect that is probably our Ipe handrail unless a customer has done their own wooden handrail option for them. The Ipe is something we know is going to withstand the elements of being exterior. And so, we can sell that as a wood product for the exterior application. But our selections are minimized when you go exterior because of the elements. And so, those would be a couple of things that you would have. In terms of like limits between a grab rail versus a handrail, sometimes a grab rail, sometimes it'll need to fit on the inside of your post probably because you have a 42-inch height. And so, we can do the 1x2 or we have a stainless-steel round handrail that we can offer you as well.

Rob Dowling: Awesome. At least from a construction standpoint, it sounds like there's at least a solution out there regardless of the application even if you wanted to stick with a consistent, maybe 42-inch railing option. This one's going to be pretty similar. But maybe you can just talk about maybe the differences between the previous slide we just looked at and this rod railing we're looking at here.

Mark Slabaugh: If you think about cable, cable is going to be several strands that are woven together. And they're going to be strung along at that maximum of 80 feet that you can put the cable railing on. Because it is stranded together, if you are within five miles of the coast, we're not going to recommend that. We're going to recommend a rod because those cables they'll capture the salt, they'll capture the dust. And if you're close to the coast, you're going to begin to see over time, it'll rust a little bit because that cable will catch it because of all the different strands that are in there. So, the rod railing is smooth, it's stainless steel so it's not going to have that rust that can happen in a coastal environment.

But the rod while a little bit more expensive, not much. In terms of like percentage wise, it is a little more expensive. It installs a lot faster than the cable railing because it's going to go in much more seamlessly and there's a few more things you have to do on the cable side than you do on the rod. But those are some of the key differences between those two. Rod is a little bit more expensive, easier to install. Cable a little bit less expensive, but takes a little bit more time to install. The common applications are just like what you see here with a deck being outside, interior applications as well. And that just becomes kind of your own preference of what you want in terms of cable or rod. Pricing. In most cases, I would say if you quoted your deck with cable or rod, rod is probably 10-12% more.

Rob Dowling: In non-coastal environments, why are you seeing maybe folks choose rod over cable? Is it just kind of a general kind of aesthetic preference or is there any other factors that folks might consider?

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, even within our own sales team, there's differing views. It's not uniform as to who likes what more than the other. And I think it's just kind of a personal preference. I like the rod because it's smooth and if I think of running my hands on it or my kids running their hands on it, it's just kind of like, I like it a little bit better. And we've even done the install training as a sales team, we've gone through much of the install training and I liked the ease of the rod a little bit better than I did the cable. So, if it were my house, I'd probably do rod.

Rob Dowling: Okay, cool. We're jumping into a topic I know you were excited to talk about which is the glass, right?

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah. The glass railing is just beautiful because you can see through it. You're not limiting your view. It gives you just this sense of there's nothing in my way. I'm outside and there is nothing here that's keeping me from that. We cut and temper our glass in our facilities. And so, as you see on the picture on the left, it's got those clips in between each panel. So, we're going to custom manufacture not only the size of the panel, we're going around the edge so that the harsh, like sharp edge is taken out. And we're also going to cut in those spots where those clips are going to come together and bring your panels to a place that's real smooth. We're going to design and engineer all of that so that it meets exactly what your specific application is.

Installation, these glass panels are heavy and so I would recommend... you know, it is glass and it can chip. So a couple of times where we practice on some installs, you think you are setting it down gently, and just that little bit of offset pressure on that corner and it cracks just a little bit because it's glass. And so, I would say glass, no, it is not easy to install in terms of a DIY. I would really recommend professional installers for glass, just so that if you have guys that know how to handle glass and put it in, you're going to eliminate a little bit of frustration. So, just be mindful of that in terms of installation. Safety, it's going to be tempered. We outsource our laminated glass at this point. We think that in the next, I don't know whether I can give you a timeline, but in the future, we will have lamination in our own in-house facility. But we can for those places where you require laminated, we can produce that from our network sources as well. Maintenance, it's like anything else, you just wash it. Just get a wet rag, wash it, dry it, you're good. It's not that hard.

Rob Dowling: I see. The image on the right is a pretty unique system where it looks like it's almost like a facial mounted or like a side mounted handrail systems. In this application, you're actually able to maximize your deck a little bit more maybe and yeah, certainly from our perspective as a general contractor to make that waterproof, you know, that deck that much easier and be able to withstand the lifetime of your railing, which is important when you're putting in the system as nice as this one.

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah. We can do the face mount. The picture on the left, you can barely see the talons that are surface mounted and holding that on both sides and keeping that upright. There's about four or five different mounting options you would have on glass.

Rob Dowling: Moving on to what's also an interesting topic is the options between treads and risers. A lot of times, and we talked about it a little bit, but if somebody is living in their house right now, in all likelihood, they might have maybe their hardwood material or their engineered laminate or whatever it might be running up their staircase. Certainly, what we're showing here is a much more solid option, things that will provide some more longevity. But if you don't mind, kind of just at a high level talking about what are the difference between these two offerings and what you guys are able to provide folks.

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, so historically StairSupplies, the tread replacements you would see on the top picture, that's what our company has done for 20 years. That's kind of where we made our bones and we still do that today. And so, for a homeowner who says Mark, I've already got a system in place like this, but this glass looks beautiful, I think we can do this. Absolutely. And we can help you. Everything you see in that top picture from the tread replacements obviously to the posts and the glass in the handrail we can help you navigate that. If you have, as you said, the flooring that you want to match it to, if something off the shelf doesn't match it, we can figure out a custom stain that we'll match what you have on your flooring. And so, those tread replacements can then match your floor throughout your house.

In terms of the risers, something cool that's coming through right now is we're developing some LED options not only for going underneath the treads, so on the bottom picture, we can mount some LED lights, soft lights so that at nighttime you have some cool steps we're going there. But on a system like you have on the top, we can do glass risers so that the light is coming from behind that glass and shining on that tread in front of you. So, a lot of cool lighting technology is helping us just add some beauty and function to our stairs.

Rob Dowling: A glass riser, that's pretty sleek. You know, ultimately, [inaudible 01:00:21] you're able to provide customers the option of having both. Maybe they need the space underneath their stairs for a powder room match or whatever else. And it's great that you're able to provide customers a solution for both. Moving on to kind of maybe more granular look at things, would you mind explaining to me kind of what do people mean when they say open versus kind of a closed staircase? And I'll go back to this one for that.

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, so your top system would be a closed stair system, where the stringers and the risers and the treads kind of enclose everything that you can't see through it. And so, the bottom system being that open one, that gives us the difference there. Now, the treads, the thick treads that we have on that bottom picture, we build those butcher block style for a couple of reasons. One, when we glue those three-inch pieces or four, however thick you have it, when we glue those together, we are giving you a significantly stronger piece of material to step on that if you were to try to cut that out of, you know, a full tree, if you will. I mean, in actuality, nobody does that because that wood does not stay like that over time. And so that's where we come, we rip it down to size, we glue that together, and give you a very, very strong material that structurally just gives you confidence as you walk on every day.

Cost drivers can be the type of wood. And I would say that's probably the number one driver of cost is the wood that you're selecting. You can choose a red oak or something that's kind of in our baseline. But we go up to things like hard maple, we also have this Brazilian Tiger stuff that is like it's beautiful, but I can tell you it's pretty expensive. The number one cost driver is going to be the type of wood that you select. And then we can finish it with a variety of colors we have in stock. If you have something custom you want us to match, we can work through a process of helping you with that. But we can also finish it clear. And so sometimes people just, I want my hard maple and I just want a clear finish on it because I love how that looks. And we can do that for you as well.

Railing restrictions really comes down to codes and your own personal preferences. And so, in some applications we'll put, like even on glass railing, we can do it with as you talked about a handrail that's inside mounted and can be like a very sleek round over that we have. Or we can put a wood handrail on top of that glass railing. So, really the railing restrictions have more to do with what's your code? How do we stay within your code inspection so that it gets passed? But also then, your own personal preferences. What do you want? How do you want this to feel as you go up and down your stairs every day? Those are really your own restrictions.

Rob Dowling: Now one question and I'll ask this here because I'm on this slide now. But are you able to provide physical samples of any of these looks? And if somebody is interested in getting a physical sample of one of these, how could they go about doing that?

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, absolutely. If you call in to one of our sales team, we can give you three or four different samples and ask you to make some selections. And usually in those cases, we just ask you to pay for shipping and we'll give you the samples. We can include in that not only the wood finishes, but we can also send you some sample tags of our powder coats so you can kind of see what would that look like if I chose the Apollo white or the speedboat silver. Or what would that blue look like against everything else that you have in your home? So, we can definitely hook you up with some samples.

Rob Dowling: Another question that came up is the difference between, I think this question is more alluding to one conversation that maybe we had may have already addressed, but what's the advantage of having a solid tread like we're seeing here versus maybe your traditional engineered flooring that maybe doesn't reach the whole span?

Mark Slabaugh: Oh, yeah. I think that comes to aesthetic. The slide that we had just before this, I mean, both of those are beautiful in their own right. And so, I think it comes down to aesthetics and what you want to do. With our floating stairs in the bottom picture, really, you need to make sure you have a tread that is engineered specifically for the application. And so, we don't really sell that bottom system without our engineered treads. Because we can't take any kind of liability for whatever you put on that system, right? I mean, if you put a 2x12 on there, that's not really going to cut it and it's not going to be up to the engineering standards that it needs to be. I think it really comes down to your budget and to your choices.

Rob Dowling: You mentioned lighting options, can you give everybody kind of a another...? And I'm going to go to the kind of the Q&A section since we're there and leave Mark's information up for anybody who has additional questions after today's webinar or maybe you're watching the recording and you can follow up with him directly. But Mark, you mentioned some lighting options when it comes to treads, on which treads are those available on?

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, so I hope my R&D guy is not watching here because I might be in trouble a little bit in letting the cat out of the bag here. Really, there will be some other questions we need to answer for your specific application before we can help you navigate that. But like the floating stair system, we have underside mounted that's probably going to be about 24 inches in its own span. And your tread is probably going to be what, 36, 38, 40 inches wide, right? And so, it's going to be kind of centered on that and that's going to give you the soft lightning on each thread as you step up. Where we have the lightning behind the riser, that is something again, where you'd have to have, like in the last picture that we had, the top system you'd need something more like that than if you had an open system. So that if we're going to put lighting behind the riser, the glass riser, it's probably going to be closed underneath it. So, we can work with you on what that application is.

And really, one of the questions we get is like, ooh, can it be different colors? If you know LED lighting, that has more to do with your controller, what are you wiring all of this into to control the lights than it does necessarily this specific apparatus you put behind the riser? It is something that is like, as a sales team, we're like pushing R&D, "We want this now. Our customers want this." And we're excited about it. It's coming. You probably won't find pictures of it on our website, but when you talk to one our sales team, just ask them, what are the lighting options? We're also working on a lighting option that's going reside underneath the handrail. So, as you as you have that, you're going up and down the handrail, it should sit up underneath there and give you another great finishing option.

Rob Dowling: You stole my follow up question.

Mark Slabaugh: Okay, come on.

Rob Dowling: That was going to be one of my follow up questions.

Mark Slabaugh: Hey Rob, I can tell you, that's one of the things that our customers are asking us for. And it's like we can't make it fast enough. We can't get it developed fast enough, but it's coming and we have it in a couple of applications now.

Rob Dowling: Awesome. This is more of maybe a design related decision. But it's something that a customer was, it looks a [inaudible 01:08:54] audience was interested in knowing. Risers versus treads, same color, different colors, does it matter? You see you sell them both?

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, I would say typically our risers are different colors than then your tread. So, whether it's glass or whether it's white or something that matches your other kind of accent colors, I would say in most cases, we have contrast between our risers and our treads than necessarily for the full same color.

Rob Dowling: Got it.

Mark Slabaugh: It's personal. You can make this as endless as your options. It's just whatever you want.

Rob Dowling: Got it. As somebody who obviously knows the product really well, what are you seeing as kind of the trend goes? What are you selling the most right now?

Mark Slabaugh: What we're selling the most of right now is kind of either a darker or brown which we call a Kona stain. So, if you go on our website and look through the stains there's like Kona. We're also selling a lot of, it's more of a midnight. It's a darker grey that in a home that is probably brighter, that that contrast of that dark grey midnight color on the treads is something that people are really attracted to. And it looks pretty snazzy. Yeah, it looks great.

Rob Dowling: Can you send out just your treads raw and have them stained or painted to whatever specification a customer might need?

Mark Slabaugh: Yeah, there have been times where we have sent treads to a customer who wants to stain and finish on their own. I would just make sure that they're doing an application that is going to be similar to ours. Ours is like a conversion and it's going to be heated up and fired and is durable. That would just be some of the questions they ask is, are you going to be able to keep that durability of what their finished process is going to do? But yes, we do send them out unfinished?

Rob Dowling: Yeah. That's something that we're obviously encouraging. Proponent behind is making those decisions early enough such that they can be done in a controlled environment, not open to elements, dust, human error, oftentimes whatever it might be and a real proponent of that up and down our food chain here as we get into a really advanced Revit models and fabrication so. Mark, I want to thank you again for taking the time to walk us through the vast and really cool product line that Viewrail has to offer. We're really excited to continue working on projects together. And I can't tell you how informative hopefully this... I know it was for me. I'm sure it was for everybody listening and I just want to thank you for taking the time.

Mark Slabaugh: My pleasure, Rob. Thanks for the invitation.

Rob Dowling: Yeah, of course. Well, thank you again. And yeah, like I said, if there was a question that we didn't get to that you're eager to ask, reach out to our information there on the left. Mark's information on the right. And hopefully, between the two of us we can answer any question that might come our way. Thank you again, Mark. And enjoy the rest of your Thursday afternoon.

Mark Slabaugh: All right. Thanks, sir.

Rob Dowling: All right, take care.