Last weekend I went to Las Vegas for the annual Stairway Manufacturers Association Conference. This is when the leaders in the industry throughout North America get together and talk stair codes and design and enter completed stair projects in the annual awards competition. I appreciate this opportunity to hang with the old timers and hear about their decades of being in business in this niche industry. Stairs are a unique calling within the contracting and design world full of talented, fun, and knowledgeable people. When I go to these events and experience the camaraderie I feel like I am pulling my head out of my own fish-bowl and swimming in the sea again.

This year I was honored to win 5 of the 7 categories we entered plus 2 People's Choice Awards. This is another record-breaking number of wins for NK Woodworking! The support from the SMA members was phenomenal. Before and after the awards, many people pulled me aside to tell me that what we are creating is unlike anything anyone else has done with stair design, to keep doing the work and continue to be an inspiration to them.  To hear these sentiments from other master stair-builders and people who understand this medium is a real honor; sometimes awkward or ego inflating; mostly encouraging. I continue to feel motivated and impassioned to push the boundaries of what’s possible within the world of stairs.

After the awards ceremony my wife and I and some friends from the SMA walked the strip, went up and down a few flights of a floating curved escalator in a nearby hotel, went on a boat ride on the second story of a surreal hotel, and then it was onto a night of "high-stakes" gambling. Come Sunday morning I was back in Seattle with $40 more than I started with and seven awards in my suitcase.  

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