Steindler Signs & Graphix: Accidental internship turned thriving business

Steindler Signs & Graphix: Accidental internship turned thriving business
By: Stacey Kellogg Last Updated: February 5, 2019

Tom Steindler’s first official office was inside a spare bedroom at his house. His first workshop: the garage. Today, Steindler goes to work in a 6,000-square-foot fabrication shop at the rapidly-growing Steindler Signs & Graphix - an entrepreneurial success story he attributes to the trade education available right here in Porter County.

Steindler knew his senior year in high school that he had no interest in college, but he was no slouch.

“I knew that I would hustle and bustle immediately in the workforce,” he said.

That, he did.

Steindler opted to pursue a radio and communications program through Porter County Career and Technical Education (PCCTE), but was not able to find an internship in the field. Instead, he chose an internship at his dad’s sign company. It seemed a little disappointing at the time, because his initial dreams were getting blurrier instead of clear. But the decision ended up being the start of something much greater.

For sure, an entrepreneur was in the making.

“I think the center spun my life to follow my dad’s footsteps. I stayed with my dad for 10 to 12 years, but I wanted to see technological changes and new ideas on the table. It was time to go on my own and test those things.”

His home-spun office and fabrication shop evolved over time, and now Steindler Signs and Graphix serves more than 1,800 customers from their Wanatah base. The PCCTE, a division of Porter County Education Services, gave Steindler the foundation he needed to build a thriving business.

“The Career Center prepared me for everyday life after high school. It gave people like me the opportunity to learn from the real world. Some of my friends went to college, and went off to do different things. But everyone needs a different learning experience,” Steindler said.

He recalled a particularly influential teacher, Maggie, who would consistently follow up and encourage him. And, the programs have continued to evolve to meet the educational needs of today’s trade school dreamers.

“Now the PCCTE is a full gamut. They have high-tech computers, drafting skills, mechanical heating and plumbing. Everything is hands on,” he said.

Steindler’s experience with the PCCTE has inspired him to partner with other organizations to offer the same kinds of opportunities he had as a young worker.

“We had a partnership with Opportunity Enterprises to have a young student work with our designers here, side by side, for about four months. Every time I see him, he thanks me. He is still doing design work and is just as excited as he was the first day I saw him,” Steindler said.

He’d also be interested in partnering with the career center one day.

“As an entrepreneur you have to have good people around you to feel that energy, people who stand behind you. There’s a lot of technology we have used over the years to keep up with the times. Our foundation is built on our own improvement. We are always reaching towards growth.”

For more information about the Steindler Sign success story, visit them online at To get connected to all the programs through Porter County Career & Technical Education, visit