Celebrating Excellence: Richard Kowalski Wins Rising Star Award!


The stars of our sector were celebrated in grand style at glittering ceremony at London’s The Langham Hotel on November 24th – not least our own Richard Kowalski, Technical Manager for Doors. We are proud to say that Richard’s outstanding contributions and unwavering dedication were recognised as he won the Rising Star Award at the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) Awards 2023.

The BWF Awards, in their 15th year, are a celebration of talent, innovation, and expertise across the woodworking and joinery sector. Stairways is exceptionally proud of Richard’s win – a fitting testament to his commitment, expertise and impact within our organisation and the wider woodworking community.

Richard’s contribution

With an impressive 25 years in the sector, Richard’s journey began on the factory floor. His trajectory through commercial roles to technical management has been marked by a passion for innovation and knowledge sharing. At Stairways, he’s been the catalyst for positive change, introducing training tools, streamlining processes, and championing product innovation.

His contribution includes providing continuous professional development for colleagues personally authoring and delivering hundreds of hours of training, along with facilitating the organisation’s Employee Engagement Committee meeting.

He developed ‘Toolbox Talks’ to support carpenters and installers, along with a host of explanatory articles and videos, as well as the ‘Stairways Door installation guide’, and innovated luggage style door labels attached to all fire door sets indicating the correct undercut gap for the installer, with a QR code linking the correct installation instructions, to make compliant installation easier.

A well-deserved award

Managing Director Karen Wood, who put Richard forward for the award, expressed her pride in his accomplishments, emphasising his invaluable role within the team. In particular, she singled out Richard’s proactive approach, his contagious passion for the industry, and his pivotal role in enhancing colleague and customer experiences.

Reflecting on his unexpected win, Richard said: “I feel incredibly lucky to do a job I love, to have had fantastic support from my colleagues and managers at Stairways, and to have spent my career in a sector where there is so much talent and capability. To win this award was totally unexpected, but I am very pleased to see the work I’ve put in over the years valued and recognised in this way.”

Serving the wider sector

Beyond his immediate role, Richard’s involvement in industry includes being an active member of the Fire Door Alliance and the British Woodworking Federation Council, and supporting initiatives like the BWF Fire Door Safety Week. He also recently became a Go Construct STEM Ambassador, underscoring his dedication to transferring his knowledge and advocating for the wider construction industry.

At Stairways, we see Richard as an inspiration, showcasing where passion and dedication can take you. It’s individuals like Richard Kowalski who shape the future of this sector, pushing boundaries, and setting new standards of excellence. Congratulations Richard – keep up the great work!


Author: Stairways

Stairways, founded in 1989, has grown to become one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of carpentry and joinery products. Stairways now boast three state-of-art facilities that offer over 85,000 sq ft production capacity. Stairways goal is to raise their profile and brand awareness to become known throughout the industry as the UK’s leading staircase and door solution provider.

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As a highly reputable firm within the industry, Stairways are dedicated to meeting their client’s product and application requirements. All materials used are manufactured to the highest quality and meet the relevant standards achieving ISO9001, FSC®, and various product certifications, whilst their staircases and door solutions are manufactured with compliance to UK building regulations & legislative standards in mind. Using the knowledge, passion, and experience acquired across all team members over the past thirty years, Stairways aim to continue to be the best in what they do.


Stairways are continuously looking for opportunities to improve and expand their service offering; this includes the investment in new machinery to further enhance and innovate the manufacturing process, with the aim to shorten lead times and increase overall in-house capacity. The changes Stairways employ are always focused upon improving the customer experience, to ensure their process remains as efficient as possible from start to finish.


Privately owned and managed since it was founded in 1989, Stairways has grown to become one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of carpentry and joinery products. Starting as a small staircase manufacturer, Stairways now boast three state-of-art facilities that offer over 85,000 sq ft of bespoke and mass production capacity.