Seventeen-year-old entrepreneur Steven Siomiak has a lot going on trying to finish high school, pursuing a career in law enforcement and managing his thriving family business making Tahoe-centric wooden keepsake ornaments that are flying off the shelves.
In 2016, on a quick trip in Reno with his parents, Greg and Lynde Siomiak, Steven became fascinated by a 3-D printer. Later that year, on his birthday, his parents gave him a router machine, instead, which turned out to be his first business investment. Designed to cut steel and shape materials through a computer, the router and the software that went along with it, allowed Steven to create tangible, fun and useful items.
“I liked the idea of having a 3-D printer. I thought it was cool that it could make things,” Steven says. “But I got the router instead, which was better to learn on.”
One of his dad’s friends, Jana Spano, owner of On Tahoe Time, asked Steven to make her a Lake Tahoe keepsake ornament. Steven realized that there had to be a better way to create a detailed product without using a router.
“When you make something out of a piece of wood, you put the design into the computer and it generates a path for the machine to follow. The router cuts the material while a laser burns it. With a router you have to use clamps to hold the material down and the router would push the wood off the table. Therefore, you can’t do super detailed work with a router and you’re changing bits all the time,” he says.
Lasers are known to be faster and more efficient, especially for engraving and creating lines, logos and other designs into a hard piece of material.
“It turned out that lasers were the way to go for what we were trying to do,” Steven says. He upgraded to a laser machine and made phone stands and a chess set with a wooden/glass base accompanied with all the pieces.
After he gave Spano the ornament, he made, she placed an order for 20 engraved wooden keepsake ornaments. His business, called About A Boy…, took off from there.
“Once we delivered that first order, then we made more ornaments, more designs and began getting more refined,” Steven says. “It took a lot of work to get to that point.”
After that first order, more stores started carrying About A Boy… ornaments; today they are sold in 23 gift shops throughout the Tahoe Sierra and as far as Genoa, Nev.
However, Steven’s heart lies in becoming a police officer after he finishes school. Currently, About A Boy… helps pay for the cadet program he’s enrolled in.
“I’ve been doing the program for 3½ years now and it’s not the most-loved profession, but I really like helping people and it’s taught me a lot about how to deal with everyday situations. I was kind of shy before, but the program has taught me to be more comfortable with talking to people,” he says.
Even though Steven expects that he’ll finish school and dedicate his time to pursuing a law enforcement career, he believes that About A Boy… will keep growing and thriving.
“Now it’s a family thing and the load is shared. We make stuff and we deliver the orders and we get paid and then start the process over again. My parents can run it without me when I become a police officer. I taught my mom how to use the software so she can make ornaments on her own,” he says.
The Siomiak family has also reinvested the money back into the business by purchasing more laser-cutting machines and finding a 1,600-square-foot building in which to work.
“Honestly, I thought we would maybe do one order and then the machine would just sit around. I never expected to use it as much as we have,” he says.
The Tahoe-centric wooden ornaments are sold at On Tahoe Time, the Welcome Home Shoppe and Camp Richardson General Store in South Lake Tahoe; The Potlatch in Incline Village, Nev.; Robin’s Nest in Kings Beach; and Cabin Fever Tahoe and the North Lake Tahoe Visitor Center in Tahoe City. | [email protected]