Setting Creative Solutions in Stone
Versatile, durable, and sustainable, concrete allows for creative freedom in hardscaping while remaining impervious to the elements. Providing this flexibility is part of the core philosophy of Stepstone. The company handles all operations, manufacturing, and shipping from its two facilities in South Los Angeles and Gardena, California; from here, Stepstone develops its own molds and an array of finishes ranging from "sandblasted" to "stippled." The result is a widely varied product line that allows customers to choose the ideal shape, finish, and size for their project. After over 40 years in business, Stepstone has nurtured a unique culture of personalization and experimentation, expanding its products to include pavers, wall caps, stair treads, and pool coping.
"We promote a culture of saying yes by removing fear of failure," says a spokesperson from Stepstone. "We already know some things won’t work, but you have to try new concepts, ideas, and methodologies. We recognize innovation comes at a price, and that’s an investment we willingly make."
In such an entrepreneurial environment, the product life cycle begins with simple trial and error. "We usually start with an idea for a new shape, size, or color, identify a reliable material source, and then we start pouring," reveals the spokesperson. Employees then analyze the results and tweak the process—altering the shape of a mold, using a different finishing agent—to achieve the desired look. Then, Stepstone tests the product in a real-world setting, monitoring installations to see how well they perform over time and under diverse conditions.
"We promote a culture of saying yes by removing fear of failure."
Because Stepstone’s personnel specializes in working with different types of clients like architects, landscape designers, engineers, suppliers, and homeowners, the company is often exposed to new ideas. It was an architect’s vacation in Barcelona, Spain that gave rise to the wave paver, inspired by the undulating pavers found there. These new pavers by Stepstone are now at the Colorado Esplanade in Santa Monica, California, a promenade that extends from the light rail station to the pier.
Stepstone’s products have graced other iconic locations such as Ghirardelli Square and the Golden Gate Plaza and Conservancy in San Francisco, California; all University of California campuses; and the USS Intrepid and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. Whether residential or commercial, large or small, each project poses design challenges that lead to new methods and products. Creative solutions include the false joint paver, which is easier to install, and connecting pieces that fill in edges and corners. Says the spokesperson, "From concept to reality, making people’s visions in concrete is what Stepstone does best."