Being part of the Saginaw Valley State University Cardinal Formula Racing Team put Nevin Steinbrink on the start-up business fast track. He began operating as Steinbrink Engineering in 2008 to help pay college expenses, officially forming the company in 2011.
Two short years later, Steinbrink teamed up with fellow SVSU grads Nicholas Wilson and Michael Herbolsheimer to open Steinbrink Engineering on North Michigan Avenue in Saginaw, offering services from developing an idea to establishing and overseeing the entire build phase of various projects and products. “A client can come to us with a vague idea of what they want, and we help them develop that idea,” Steinbrink explains. “From the concept, we go through the design engineering of the project and develop a working prototype.”
Working without a marketing plan or investors, Steinbrink says the company took hold by word-of-mouth, involvement with Mid-Michigan Innovation Center and Michigan SmartZoneSM Network, and through exposure from the firm’s website, Facebook page, and LinkedIn account. Steinbrink adds, “On the Cardinal Formula Racing Team, there were sponsors that needed a project to be completed. They knew we were talented and knew how to build things. They came to us and asked if we would be interested in developing projects for them.”
With business growing, the three men now have a pool of 10 people to work with them on different designs and tasks. “Because we work on so many different types of projects, we can’t have everyone here at once. We pull people in on a per-contract basis, depending on what the needs of the project are,” Steinbrink says. The group of staff members includes graduates from SVSU, Purdue University, and Michigan Technological University.
The firm has also formed partnerships with companies around the state, including Pocketsquare Design in Royal Oak, which lends a hand with ideation and conceptualization, in addition to assisting with HMI design. Pocketsquare works with Steinbrink Engineering to evaluate market research and identify what features and outcomes customers are looking for, using the results in concept development.
The company is also fostering partnerships with some local manufacturers. “It’s important that we stay local,” Steinbrink notes, “but it’s also important to grow a company. We are lucky in Michigan. We’re surrounded by industry and engineering. It’s a good place for us. We are accepting work throughout Michigan.”
Growing the business is what it’s all about. “We want to be able to grow in the next few years to be an all-inclusive creative engineering and prototype environment,” Steinbrink explains. “We want to be able to accept a project and develop it 100 percent in-house. We want the latest gadgets, new 3-D printing methods, and whatever new technology there is to accelerate the project development.”
It’s also important for the men to give back. “I wouldn’t be where I am if people didn’t hire me,” Steinbrink says. “I was a machinist working as a designer and engineer for Ziploc®, and it got me where I am now. I have to be able to give students opportunities to learn what’s out there before they actually get out there.”
Find out more about Steinbrink Engineering at www.steinbrinkengineering.com, or call 989-474-4073.•
Photos by Doug Julian