While you may not know Tom Steinke, chances are you’ve seen his work. Those signs out front of Hazellewood, Sunsets, Lord Fletcher’s and Maynard’s are all original Steinke creations.
Steinke designs and builds custom signs using various techniques like woodworking, neon, blacksmithing, metalsmithing, stained glass and iron work—all skills he acquired over the years as his customer’s requests and his own ideas modernized with what he refers to as “the evolution of custom signs.”
Growing up on a horse farm in Hamel, Steinke learned the importance of a good work ethic early on from his father and grandfather. Helping out on the farm, Steinke wanted to do things faster and better so he could work on his own projects. In addition to being passionate about creating new things, Steinke had raw talent. When he was just 15 years old, he was assistant teaching metal and woodshop classes through community education, and says in high school that woodshop projects that took students the entire quarter to finish took him only a week.
After graduating from Wayzata High School, Steinke studied technical illustration and commercial design at Bemidji State University and went to work as a carpenter. Driving past signs on his way to and from work, Steinke says he was inspired to design and build signs on the side. He eventually focused full-time on his sign business; that was nearly three decades ago.
To this day, Steinke continues working on signs and says about his business’s success, “If you have a good product you believe in, you can go anywhere.”