It takes a lot of hard work, intelligence, and a little bit of luck to create and build a successful company. No matter what industry you’re in, there is going to be competition, pitfalls, and bumps in the road.
For Dan Steiner, and Steiner Homes Ltd., navigating through the ups and downs of home building amidst the 2008-09 economic collapse that severely impacted his industry, in particular, was essential in creating the environment and ultimate successes that Steiner Homes is now enjoying.
“I just refused to quit,” Steiner said when speaking about working through the economic downturn.
“I had every reason, and everyone I knew had told me to declare bankruptcy. I thought, ‘No. I’m not doing that.’ We had a good product that people loved and my wife and I had developed this, and we loved doing it. This was our lives so we thought, ‘Why would we quit?’”
At a time when similar home builders were going under left and right, Steiner weathered the storm.
“It was hard, I’ll tell you,” described Steiner. “For three years it was really painful. We worked with a lot of trades and we really had to fight and fight until we were able to get out from under things. Going through our toughest times, there was nothing that told us, ‘We’re going to get out of this.’ ”
For Steiner, building relationships and trust with local financiers, tradesmen and suppliers was an integral part of staying afloat when times were toughest.
“My brother-in-law is a banker and when it all fell apart he said, ‘Dan, you need to go into every bank, every title company, and every major supplier and look them in the eye and let them know you’ve lost everything. But I’m going to do everything I can to pay you back.’ I did that and it saved my life.”
“Building is my life and I’ve done it all my life,” Steiner said. “We felt like we put out a product out there that nobody else put out. We really care about what we put in a house and, from day one, I said that I was never going to build ‘cookie-cutter’ homes. If I had to build ‘cookie-cutter’ I’m getting out of the business.”
Around the region, Steiner is known for producing aesthetically pleasing and unique ‘Arts & Crafts’ style homes that set them apart from other builders, but that wasn’t always the case.
“First, we set out to build the six different styles of the east coast,” he said. “We ended up building one ‘Arts & Crafts’ and people exploded over it. So we dumped the rest and it’s gotten huge for us.”
Going through that massive downturn had a tremendous impact on the way that Steiner operates. He’s got an incredible desire to learn as much as he possibly can, share that knowledge, and get input from the team which he has surrounded himself with.
“The biggest thing that I’ve probably learned through all of this is that I’m never going to be highly organized,” commented Steiner. “It changed my life and I figured out that I’m going to hire people who can be highly organized. I make the decisions but the people I have running the company run a tight ship. You hire the people that are going to fill in your weak points.”
“I try to teach all of my people to read and learn things. We’re always going and sending our team to conferences because we want them to learn and come back smarter than they were. We really try to be open to hear, listen and change the way we do things. We want people who care about what they do and even when things are successful we change the fundamentals. You’re always looking for what motivates people to grow.”
This willingness to get out of their comfort zone and do things differently has had a huge impact on Steiner Homes in the nine years since the housing market plummeted, and it’s part of what’s made them Northwest Indiana’s most sought after, premier home builder.
To take a look at what makes Steiner Homes Ltd. special, check out their website at: steinerhomesltd.com/