Press: Seattle DJC

Press: Seattle DJC

“Here’s how a Seattle company got into the business of making $2M custom staircases.”
— Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce

We had the privilege of sitting down with SDJC to reflect on the last 40 years and how we positioned ourselves in the market of building monumental, award-winning stairs. A wonderful nod to our history as Seattle Stair and Design and the ever expanding services we now offer as Gauge Design Group. 


In the late 1970s, Shawn Christman hauled his tool belt, Sears hand-operated miter saw and Craftsman drill in a beat up Ford to build stairs for houses.

He developed a following in a field that was ripe for custom design and craftsmanship. In 1978, he founded Seattle Stair & Design, which has gone on to create staircases in homes of the wealthy and celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey. It also has fashioned staircases for commercial projects, including the Barneys New York showroom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle.

“We sort of created the market,” Christman said.

The firm has a new name and new owners. This month it became Gauge Design Group. It is owned by Matthew Dekker and his father David Dekker.

The 16-person Gauge works with homeowners, architects, interior designers and general contractors. It has a 10,000-square-foot shop and a showroom at 3810 Fourth Ave. S. in Seattle's Sodo neighborhood.

Our goal at the end of the project is for the client to love what we built for them but maybe be a little sad that the process is over.
— Matthew Dekker

In 2014, Seattle Stair bought Thatcher Woodworks, a Seattle cabinet shop owned by Mike Zuber, who had collaborated with the firm. That gave it Zuber's experience and the cabinet-making machinery it needs to sell more interior packages, which can include custom cabinetry, metal work such as cladding and mantels, and custom furniture.

Buying the whole package benefits clients, said Matthew Dekker, the firm's principal and CEO, because the items are made in one shop and can be integrated the way the architects intended.

To broaden its customer base, Gauge also is working on a modern-style furniture line it expects to start selling in early 2017, and it wants to produce more high-end furniture designed by others at its shop.

The firm works mostly on the West Coast and in the Hawaiian Islands and is trying to break into the California market. In the islands, it works primarily on Maui, where it is considering opening a small shop, Matthew said. “We have joked that what we need is a very large boat,” he said. Ninety percent of Gauge's work is residential, primarily for $10 million and up houses. It also does work for corporate headquarters, hotels and department stores.

The privately held firm projects $2 million to $3 million in revenue this year, and $4 million to $5 million in 2017. “Business has always been good,” Matthew said. “The wealthy never stopped building homes.” Gauge Design Group has about 10 projects underway ranging from $12,000 to $400,000. Customers pay $10,000 to $15,000 for a piece of custom furniture or custom metal or wood handrail. Kitchen cabinets go for $20,000 to $70,000.

Matthew said great service is driving business.

Read the full article here.


Gauge Design Group Launches with New Offering

Gauge Design Group Launches with New Offering

Award: Pacific Northwest Design

Award: Pacific Northwest Design