Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal
40 Under 40: Steele Smiley
By Mark Reilly. Steele Smiley started a home-fitness company in 2002 with the goal of being just that: A home-fitness company. But the business has grown much beyond that: Steele Inc. has since opened five fitness club locations, including one in a newly redeveloped block in downtown Minneapolis and another in Excelsior.
The business serves nearly 15,000 corporate clients and 7,000 private clients, as well as new business lines such as equipment and apparel retail. For the past three years, the company has also conducted a toy drive for Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Steele and his wife are also active in sponsoring children at the El Amor de Patricia Orphanage in Guatemala.
You didn’t start out with a retail business model — how did you evolve the business?
Revolution is part of my style and a part of good business; if you don’t evolve, aren’t you already dead?
What’s your favorite workout?
I work out with a trainer three times a week in our new downtown location off 12th & Hennepin. I also run at least three miles every morning.
If you weren’t in the career you’re in, what would you be doing?
I would run a private equity firm during the day and be an artist at night.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I love waking up executing on my vision. I don’t let restrictions, plans or rules get in the way; I dream something, and then I go build it. I am proud to be surrounded by people who let me dream, and only tell me I’m crazy every once in a while.
I know it’s a good day when:
I hear a story about another Steele client transforming themselves with our fitness service — it happens every day. I love it!
What’s something about you that would surprise people?
Being able to help better the community through our partnerships with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics and other child-related causes has meant a lot to me. As an organization, we are really proud of our charitable work. Someday I would love to work full-time with a nonprofit that benefits children.
I am, hands down, one of the best _____ that I know.
I am always fascinated by …
Why people continue to accumulate resources rather than opting to give back and help those in need. Making someone’s day is a lot more fun than checking your bank balance.
“Sailing” by Christopher Cross. Early in my career, I listened to that song every day before I went home, dreaming of a time when I could leave the company and start my own business. Little did I know that every day wouldn’t be smooth sailing, but it’s been fun nonetheless.
What’s your five-year plan?
I would like to continue to grow the Steele brand into other markets and allow thousands more to experience what over 20,000 people already participate in here in Minneapolis.