In 1993, Steve Essig founded American Interiors in the laundry room of his condo. While he can no longer hear the washer and dryer as he makes calls, little did Steve know that 28+ years later AI would be servicing seven markets across the country and employee over 130 professionals.
Today Steve still is a constant and vital leader to the dna, success and vision of American Interiors. Over the years, Steve has built a team of cross-functional professionals bringing diverse insights and unique pre-fab interior construction solutions and contract furnishings to their client-base. It goes without saying that AI’s impact reaches beyond the physical environment by putting people first. Steve continues to carefully manage and reinvest resources by implementing best practices and strategically improving our people, services, processes, and product solutions.
When out of the office, you can find Steve at the closest driving range, practice green or golf course working on his game and soaking in some warm rays. Steve also enjoys spending time with his two sons, cheering for The Ohio State Buckeyes and investing in his fitness.
After receiving a scholarship to play baseball at Charleston Southern University, Steve earned a B.S. in Business Marketing and Economics. Following graduation Steve moved to Novi, MI. By 1996, a renowned furniture manufacturer, Knoll, selected AI as the Toledo, OH market dealer. American Interiors was also ranked #25; 50 Hottest New Small Businesses by Entrepreneur Magazine in 1996. By 1997, Steve Essig was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Entrepreneur Magazine.
In 1998, Steve made the strategic decision to purchase manufacturing property in Toledo, OH to begin remanufacturing office furniture on a larger scale. After renovating a portion of the property to become a working showroom for AI, the project won the 2000 AIA Toledo Design Award.
American Interiors was well on their way of growing their business and expanding into the Metro-Detroit market as the Knoll dealer in 2001 and into the Cleveland market as the Knoll dealer in 2003. Continually diversifying his business along the way, Steve decided to add DIRTT (Doing It Right This Time) Environmental Solutions to their portfolio, offering modular pre-fab interior construction solutions. Founded by AI friend and partner, Mogens Smed, DIRTT was a successful steppingstone for AI to branch out into the construction industry.
A handful of years later, American Interiors found themselves outgrowing their office locations and relocating as they updated their working showrooms to constantly stay relevant to the industry and their clientele. The Cleveland market relocated their downtown office to the North Pointe Business Building, with lakefront view of Lake Erie in 2015. Adding a tremendous amount of square footage and amenities for the employees and clients. Another 2015 business diversifier added under Steve’s leadership was the re/work360™ studio, a team dedicated to workplace research, change engagement and organizational needs assessment. In 2018, American Interiors completed their new ground-up, state of the art facility in Novi, MI, featuring a full solution to pre-fab interior construction, raised technology floor and first class furniture solutions.
With the turn of the new decade, 2019 brought Steve and AI much excitement with the addition of Falkbuilt as their sole and leading pre-fab interior construction solution. Offering a fresh perspective on innovating existing conventional construction methods by integrating technology into the process has made Falkbuilt a clear and graspable concept for all our client audiences. Falkbuilt has brought AI the opportunity of representing Columbus and Pittsburgh markets in addition to Cleveland, Detroit and Toledo.
To add to the Falkbuilt excitement, in July of 2020 American Interiors announced they were “Heading South” to the Orlando and Central Florida market as the Knoll, Falkbuilt and Mechoshade experts. This strategic decision was essential to the future success and longevity of American Interiors as they plow forward through the pandemic continuing to service their customer across the country. Fast forward 4 months, American Interiors is Growing Together again with addition of the Greater Tampa Bay market.
Steve has always made sure to focus giving back to his community and helping out those in need. American Interiors takes community outreach very seriously as many non-profits rely on the success of businesses throughout their community to support one another and make the world a better place. Over the years American Interiors has supported causes local to each office. Majority of that outreach is focused on local families in need and supporting our clients in any way shape or form that we can outside of our day-to-day business.
In 2018, Steve led the way on a new endeavor, hosting the first annual Patriot Golf day hosted at Inverness by American Interiors and the Folds of Honor Northern Ohio Chapter. As soon as Steve learned more about Folds of Honor and what the organization does for dependents of fallen and disabled military servicemen and women, it was undeniable, he was #ALLIN. Within the first four years of hosting the event the group has raised over $780,000, equaling 156 educational scholarships for deserving individuals. Each year the event has gotten bigger and better in every way. This past year we were honored to have Coach Urban Meyer speak at and participate in the day. American Interiors most recently has set up a new Folds of Honor chapter, American Interiors Chapter, representing all the market locations who are giving back to such a great cause. Steve has made it apparent that as a company and as individuals we must always give back how, what and when we can.