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Firm buys Duvinage Corp.

Spiral staircase maker started up in 1895

Spiral staircase maker started up in 1895

August 16, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

HAGERSTOWN - Duvinage Corp., the oldest manufacturer of steel spiral and circular staircases in the United States, was purchased for an undisclosed amount Wednesday by Key Bridge Partners investment firm.

The firm will not change Duvinage's product or fire any of the workers at its factory on Oak Ridge Drive, according to Key Bridge Partners Representative Robert Maruszewski.

"Nothing will change. The company will still build stairs. We are going to help Duvinage grow by bringing in capital and ideas," Maruszewski said.

The Washington, D.C., firm will replace Duvinage's current seven-member board with a four-person board that will include three Key Bridge representatives and Bill Sanders, Duvinage's current president. Five of the company's current board members will resign in December when the board is dissolved, Sanders said.

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Maruszewski said the firm will focus on sales and marketing in an effort to expand Duvinage's business nationwide, with an emphasis on Internet advertising.

"Customers like companies with great products, which is what Duvinage offers. It's a matter of connecting the business with customers across the country," Maruszewski said.

Duvinage, which has existed since 1895, has installed spiral staircases all over the country, including the White House and the National Gallery of Art. But the company has suffered from sluggish sales since the 1990s, Sanders said.

Sanders said the market for custom spiral stairs was "very depressed" through 2006. But even within that market, Duvinage was underperforming, Sanders said.

"This is a $260 million industry, and in 2002 we did a study that showed we only had 1 percent of that. And we're the oldest spiral stair builders in the country," Sanders said.

Maruszewski said Duvinage's sales have more than doubled since Sanders joined the company in 2001.

"He's done a fantastic job here. He's redoubled efforts to improve this company," Maruszewski said.

In 2004, Sanders upgraded the company's Web site, expanded the product line and increased the number of sales representatives throughout the country from 14 to 26.

"We posted a profit in 2006 after five years of losses," Sanders said.

Maruszewski said Key Bridge Partners wants to continue the progress Sanders has made.

"He's laid the foundation. We want to continue the work he started, and we're bringing in the capital to make that possible," Maruszewski said.

Maruszewski said he hopes to hire about five workers at Duvinage in the near future.

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