Purchase photos

A spiral effect

4/22/2012

By KLINT SPILLER

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

LOGAN -- When Jerry Goddard started his spiral staircase business, he marked the buyer with a pin on a map of the United States.

He tracked his sales for 10 years, with much of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri covered in pins.

He quit because it became too much of a hassle to keep putting pins on the board, but he said if he would have kept doing it, then much of the United States would be covered.

"You wouldn't be able to see the map there would be so many pins up there," Goddard said.

Goddard started Goddard Spiral Stairs in 1978.

It is a small-town business in Logan, but it has become a national brand, selling stairs to places as far away as Alaska, the Virgin Islands, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Some of Goddard's stairs even are in Europe.

"I did not imagine anything like this," said Goddard's wife, Ruth. "I figured we'd be out working on the (family) farm."

Goddard Spiral Stairs makes customized spiral staircases.

A variety of options are available from wood to steel to a mixture of the two. The stairs can be made for interior and exterior, and each part of the stair can be constructed to the home's design.

Jerry Goddard said he saw a need in the market when he was remodeling the basement of his father's home during his senior year of college.

He thought a spiral staircase would be a good way for people to get to the basement, so he tried finding a place to purchase one. However, most manufacturers of spiral staircases were in bigger cities and not near Kansas.

Goddard, an industrial arts major at Fort Hays State University, decided to make his own.

Later, he got a job at Logan High School as the industrial arts teacher and worked after school at his auto body shop, which now is located in the same building as Goddard Spiral Stairs. Soon, he began taking orders for more staircases.

"We started off making one stair every two months," Jerry Goddard said.

It started small, but business boomed quickly.

Goddard purchased advertisements in newspapers, and as he sold more stairs, he just bought more and more advertising with the revenue.

He quickly became so busy with auto body repair and building staircases he had to resign as a teacher after only two years.

His spiral staircase business has grown through the years, and during the housing boom in the mid-2000s, he had as many as 10 employees and 75 to 80 staircases on a work order board at a time.

But after the housing bubble collapsed, business has slowed drastically, he said.

"With the housing boom, we were making three times as many stairs as we are right now," Goddard said. "The housing crisis really hurt us."

Goddard Spiral Stairs is an example of small-town ingenuity.

Ruth Goddard, who will retire this year from teaching kindergarten at Logan Elementary School, has done the accounting for the business since it started, and the workers share their time between auto body repair and building spiral staircases.

"It is a mom-and-pop kind of business with just a few employees," Ruth Goddard said. "We don't have huge overhead kinds of things like you would in a bigger city."

Though his stairs are in homes throughout the country, Goddard said he never considered streamlining and moving the business out of Logan.

"I like this little town," he said. "I am halfway between Denver and Kansas City. ... I like living on the river valley here in Logan."

For more information, go to their website.