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Stepping up to the task

The Putnam Rolling Ladder Co., based in lower Manhattan, makes custom rolling ladders for homes and businesses in a variety of hardwoods.

The "Classic No. 1" is the most popular seller, a rolling library ladder offered in many different hardwoods and finishes.
The "Classic No. 1" is the most popular seller, a rolling library ladder offered in many different hardwoods and finishes.

“We have a little niche in the ladder business that we custom-make each ladder, and we custom-make and sell to homeowners and interior designers, architects, builders, cabinet shops throughout the country and the world,” says company president Gregg Monsees.

The business was founded in 1905 by Samuel Putnam. Gregg’s late father, Warren Monsees, purchased it from another owner and family member in 1946. Gregg’s son, Peter Monsees, has joined the family business as well.

Throughout the mid-1900s, the company catered to numerous commercial customers, phone companies and department stores. Today, it’s mostly homeowners and the occasional VIP, such as former President George W. Bush, who ordered an unfinished walnut ladder for the library at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

The most popular seller is the “Classic No. 1,” a rolling library ladder offered since Day One. Other choices include trestle ladders, step stools, pulpit ladders and steel ladders.

“We usually deal with people one at a time, whether it’s a homeowner, architect or designer,” Monsees. “We also sell our product to certain chain stores, such as Foot Locker. They buy our basic oak ladder with rubber on the steps to make it safe for their employees. If the ladder is for someone’s home, then we have a number of different woods to choose from. Red oak is our standard, but ash, birch, maple, cherry and mahogany are all very popular. Customers can order them unfinished or we’ll apply a Minwax interior finish. Some send a pint of stain to match what’s in the room.”

Hardware kits are available in many different finishes including black, polished brass, polished chrome, satin nickel, oil rubbed bronze, antique brass, antique bronze, copper, and more.

The ladders sell for an average of $2,000, but the price depends on size, materials, how much track there is and whether there are any curves.

Contact: Putnam Rolling Ladder Co., Inc., 32 Howard St., New York, NY 10013. Tel: 212-226-5147.

Bad hands needed

O’Keeffe’s Co., manufacturer of the Working Hands skin care product, is looking for a rough-looking pair of hands.

“Now through March 31, 2012, O’Keeffe’s is looking for a pair of hands that best represents the sweat and determination of proud, hardworking men and women as part of [its] ‘Hardest Working Hands in America’ contest. Spread the word or nominate a friend because the grand-prize winner will receive $5,000, a lifetime supply of O’Keeffe’s Working Hands moisturizing cream, and potentially be featured in a national advertisement for the brand,” according to a company release.

For information, visit

This article originally appeared in the March 2012 issue.

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