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.
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.
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.”
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!
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