by Bob Schutte, SMA Member, Schutte Stair Company
“You’ve got to buy this place, it’s time for me to retire.” Those were the words spoken to me over 40 years ago by my friend Clarence Reeve and that is what started my adventure into the stair business. I didn’t buy Clarence’s business but he did light the fire that led to a lifelong passion of designing and building some of the finest stairs in Cincinnati.
When I started Schutte Stair Company I knew nothing of designing and building stairs so I scoured the libraries for stair building information and found nothing. There was no Google, YouTube or internet at the time, I was on my own. I looked everywhere to find like-minded people in the business and that’s when I came across the Stairway Manufactures Association. In 1992 there was an SMA meeting in Columbus, Ohio that I attended and thus began my association with and membership in what I think has been the best education I could have had in the industry.
Those early years of the SMA were endless meetings about the building code; meetings I thought were so boring but in hindsight were so important to the industry. Attending code hearings and doing handrail testing was the glue that held the SMA together. We were not only colleagues but we became friends.
Involvement with the committees and being on the Board of Directors helped me understand the commitment everyone made to better the association. We were eventually able to turn the focus from codes to education where we shared common knowledge, not only stair knowledge but also business knowledge. These were the tools I was looking for as I sought out information in my early years in the stair business, tools I needed to run my company.
My involvement in the SMA led to an amazing transformation from knowing the others in the association as “members” to realizing they became my “friends.” The years have led to shop visits, social gatherings, zoom calls, and camping trips. Now we talk about families and grandkids as well as new stair designs, handrail height, and headroom clearance.
Life is full of change, and so it is for the SMA. It no longer is the Stairway Manufactures Association, it’s the Stairbuilders and Manufactures Association. The association is an all-encompassing organization of stairbuilders, manufacturers, suppliers and support companies that will continue promoting beautifully designed, safe stairways while also continuing to build close friendships and lasting bonds.
I look back over the last thirty years as a stair builder and realize I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my “friends” in the SMA and I thank you for all you’ve done for me, my family, and my business. Without you this adventure wouldn’t have been possible.
As my friend Clarence said, “it’s time for me to retire”. That being said, I’m announcing the closing of Schutte Stair Company effective August 2, 2022, 32 years from the date we started. There are grandkids that need to be played with, fish that need to be caught, traveling with my wife in our RV and not only seeing the country but also seeing the world.
Thank you everyone for all you gave.
For you who are to young to remember, this ad slogan for auto tires indicates where the true test of successful achievement would be determined. If we had been texting back then it might have simply been WRMR. We do like our abbreviations and acronyms.
The Public Comment Hearing (PCH) is the place where proposed codes meet the true test of successful acceptance. I reported on the Committee Action Hearing (CAH) in the last newsletter article “Live From New York”. Since then, the building safety community has been busy submitting public comments on the proceedings of the CAH. The deadline was June 20th. The International Code Council (ICC) is now compiling them for publication on August 4th. Those proposals that did receive public comments will go to what is called the consensus ballot for approval of the action taken at the CAH. If a public comment was submitted the issue will be on the agenda of the PCH for further debate and consideration to be approved as submitted, approved as modified by public comment, or disapproved.
One of the comments supported by the SMA offers a modification requested by the ICC committee that approved the original proposal by a vote of 5-4. The original proposal was developed by the Post Connection Task Group as organized by the SMA from all sectors of the industry with a stake in a prescriptive code for “hardening” the edge of floor systems where guards are installed. Although the SMA was the “sole proponent” listed on the original proposal the public comment will be submitted with the inclusion of many of the key participants from the Task Group as proponents in addition to the SMA. The modification for the most part addresses improvements suggested at the CAH.
The second proposal is a modification of the definition proposed for “Landing” by the SMA but disapproved. The committee agreed there is a difference between a landing and a floor and such a definition would improve interpretation of the code especially where the code uses the term “floor or landing” leaving too much to interpretation.
Following the ICC’s publication of all the Public Comments received the SMA Code Committee
will meet to review them and establish positions and talking points for testimony at the Public Comment Hearing to be held in Louisville, Kentucky, September 14-21. As with all ICC code development processes anyone can participate, attend a code hearing, anyone can testify and be heard.
If you are looking for a better understanding how and why regulations affect your business, job, community, family, wallet, and how you might have an impact, you will find this to be an eye-opening learning experience. This hearing decides the national model code and attracts experts from across the country, but a similar public process occurs in every local jurisdiction having authority when the model is adopted and modified. In that forum you will be listened to as the local expert authority, a stakeholder in the safety and economy of the community. Will you let it happen around you or consider attending the hearing as on the job training from experts in every field in how to impact the codes that regulate your products and services. How will your tires do on the bumps ahead?