HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan is known for its sandy beaches, but some homeowners have trouble getting to their waterfronts. A Michigan inventor decided to find a solution to get people’s feet in the sand.
Lisa Spaugh said she started working on her invention after her deck was destroyed by erosion in 2019.
“The lake came up and took away my deck and my beach stairs,” Spaugh said.
So, she drew up designs and brought them to her dad, who helped her find someone to build the adjustable aluminum beach stairs and docks that are able to be adjusted and changed based on the beach conditions.
“The beauty of EZ Beach Steps is that you can adapt to the changing dune, which is a crucial piece. Otherwise, you’re going to get buried in the sand and your $70,000 you just spent on wooden beach stairs is gone,” Spaugh said.
After she launched her business in 2020, it caught on. Now she has had thousands of customers, like David TenBrink, who has lived in Holland his whole life.
“We’ve been connected to the lakeshore for a long time,” TenBrink said.
He heard about Spaugh’s product through Waterfront Solutions, the company that installed his wood deck.
“It was the missing piece that allowed us to come up with a plan that we felt we could still deal with the erosion and get access to the beach,” TenBrink said.
His stairs, along with the installation, cost around $4,000, according to Spaugh. TenBrink said his favorite thing about the stairs so far is that they are adjustable and can be moved during the winter.
“If the erosion situation comes back, we’ve got a way to retract that stairway,” TenBrink said.
With the success of Spaugh’s product, she was named Lakeshore Innovator of the Year, through Grand Valley State University’s Innovation Hub.
“When I went to the event, and I actually won, there were tears,” Spaugh said.
She said it was very emotional because her father, who was a pillar of support in her life, died in November.
“He’s with me right now, right here,” Spaugh said. “He’s going, ‘that’s my girl. That’s my girl.'”
With her father’s spirit and her mother as her business partner, Spaugh wants to expand the business nationwide.
“Because I’m able now to grow the production, I am able now to grow the company,” Spaugh said.
She is working on expanding her suppliers and has already sold stairs as far as Puget Sound in Washington.