L.J. Smith’s heritage of American craftsmanship reaches far back in time.
We are honored to have this opportunity to share with you a little bit of our history, as well as some information about the quality and craftsmanship we build into our products every day.
It all began in 1885, when a gentleman, by the name of L.J. Smith, began making stair parts and staircases in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1911, he moved his family to Conotton, Ohio, to continue the stairway business as “L.J. Smith and Son.” L.J. Smith and his son, along with seven other craftsmen, were very busy keeping up with the demand for their meticulously crafted circular stairways that were going into large homes throughout the south.
Following the death of L.J. Smith, in 1942, the company continued to thrive under the leadership of his son until, in 1977, the Smith family sold the business.
The following decade offered tremendous growth opportunities for the company. The rising demand for our circular stairways and stair parts lead to the construction of a new and much larger manufacturing facility located near Bowerston, Ohio, in 1989.
The new facility was utilized for the manufacturing of stair parts, while the original structure was renovated to accommodate the custom stair division of L.J. Smith, Inc.
In 1991, we acquired Morgan Stairways, a major competitor in the eastern U.S. This brought us excellent employees, new ideas, and an entirely new group of customers.
The autumn of 1992 brought yet another opportunity with the purchase of Challis Stairways, Inc.—an innovative competitor located in Utah. This acquisition brought some unique products to add to our offering and provided a strategic location from which we could better service our western customers.
In 1993, we purchased a Texas stair company—Woodsmiths Design & Manufacturing. This company manufactured stair parts & custom stairways, and was well known for their advanced manufacturing technologies and unique ideas. This acquisition also provided us with another facility through which we could better service our customers.
Since 1993, we have made other acquisitions and established other facilities throughout the country so that we’re able to meet the needs of our valued customers.
Today, L.J. Smith is the largest stair parts manufacturing company in the country. Our continued growth over the past several decades is clearly a result of our leadership role in developing and taking to market new and innovative products & techniques. We have patents or patents pending on nearly two dozen products and processes.
The time line below illustrates the many unique ideas that we’ve developed into products or marketing tools. Many of these creations were designed to provide stair installers with alternative methods for building stronger stairways. Others were developed to broaden our product offering, providing unlimited design possibilities for any stairway.
L.J. Smith's Timeline of Stair System Innovations
L.J. Smith literature features the "systems" concept that makes selecting compatible stair parts easy.
Pre-primed wood balusters were first offered to the market by L.J. Smith
We introduced a pre-assembled, adjustable railing system that has since been discontinued. Also, our full line of stair parts were offered in cherry.
L.J. Smith publishes a comprehensive and systematic step-by-step stair system installation guide designed to be specific to the user's stair design, unlike others that contain just general information.
Introduction of a complete line of stairway installation tools and hardware designed specifically for stair system installers.
AccuStair design and takeoff software was made available to provide efficient and accurate stairway installation.
This was a big year for us. We introduced our Patented line of Conect-A-Kit Handrail Fittings and completely re-engineered our entire stair parts offering for improved stair system installations.
Introduced Climbing Volutes to create a sweeping and elegant beginning to over-the-post stair systems.
Added 32 styles of Ornamental Iron Balusters to our product offering.
Began offering a new line of box newels consisting of fluted, raised and recessed panels — designed to match the millwork theme in many homes.
We introduced a new tool for stair system installers — Stair Wizard. As with all of our stairway installation tools, this tool was designed to make stair system installations much quicker.
Our BalconyPro tool was introduced to assist in speeding up installations for stair system installers.
L.J. Smith furthers its leadership roles combining common sense with innovation.