Imagine growing up with a dad who’s not only a clown, but a professional actor too. Then your dad gets a job with the Lego company and ends up being one of only seven Master Builders in the country. You spend some time as a teenager helping your dad out at work, and before you know it, you’re a Master Builder yourself. No, this isn’t the story line for a Lego movie, this is Chris Steininger’s real life.
He and his dad Dan now hold two of the seven Master Builder titles in the United States and often travel the country (together and separately) for Lego events. I met up with Chris at the Lego Kids Fest in Denver recently and was just as impressed with him as I was with Master Builder Steve Gerling, a guy we love here at GeekMom. Lego, it seems, knows what it’s doing when it picks the guys who have the job millions of kids dream of landing.
Ironically, Dan didn’t play with Legos when he was a kid, but did find himself on the floor, snapping away, once he had kids of his own. When it was time for a career change, a friend told him about a position at Lego. After a grueling interview process, that included the task of creating a yellow trophy from Lego bricks, he was hired as a model gluer. A lot of his skills came from his creative past as an artist and a sculptor. Then, after 18 months of slowly moving up the ladder, he became a Master Builder.
And he became the coolest dad to come in on Parent Career Day at Chris’s school.
In high school Chris would hang out in the shop during school breaks, where he picked up a lot of building skills. After high school he spent a few years in carpentry but ended up back at Lego, helping out in the model shop. Eventually he became a Master Builder himself, and is the youngest Master Builder in the group of seven that work for Lego in the United States. (Legoland has its own teams of Master Builders)
In honor of Fathers Day this week I thought I’d throw a few questions their way, to give us all a peek into the world of being a father-son Master Builder duo. They are in the midst of travelling across the country for Lego events, so I’m deeply grateful for the answers they threw my way, answered while on one of their many flights.
GeekMom: I read in a past interview that you don’t really have that many Lego bricks at home, because if you want to build something, there is a much greater variety of bricks ‘at work’. But surely you still have all of Chris’ old Lego bricks.
Dan Steininger: Yes I do have a good quantity of Lego still at home, but some folks assume I have the house filled with bricks…not true.
GM: Did your other children also play with Lego? Did you keep their bricks?
Dan: Yes they all played with Legos, but Chris built the most. He loved technique. Chris was the only one to my knowledge that took his sets with him; all the others were put into general Lego boxes. My daughter Jessica, who also works at Lego, seems to still buy sets once in a while.
GM: Since all of your friends and relatives know you work for Lego, do you get all kinds of Lego related gifts on birthdays and holidays? Anything really fascinating or are they generally items you have access to at the office?
Dan: Not family but co-workers and adult fans of Lego (AFOL) have. I got a sweet old Lego refrigerator, and one of the first Lego sets packaged in Enfield, from co-workers. I also received some classic old pieces and a nice Lego belt buckle from fans.
GM: Which model are you the most proud of, that you’ve had a hand in building? Do you have an all time favorite model, like Steve Gerling’s octopus?
Dan: Erik Varszegi and I built a scale model of the Children’s Hospital in Denver. We met a boy named Colton whose love for Lego help save his life and forever influenced mine.
GM: Do you ever talk shop at home, over dinner or sitting around watching TV?
Dan: Yes, we do when we get together, but Chris and his wife and son have their own house nearby. My wife seems to like hearing about our day and work at Lego, for the most part. But my youngest only seemed interested when there was talk of a Lego reality show based on the Master Builders.
Chris: Does your family tire of hearing about it? (GM: touche’, Chris, touche’!)
GM: Do you enjoy travelling to the same events or would you prefer to do separate events?
Dan: I really enjoy doing events and working with Chris. (He better say the same stinking thing) But it did take me a while to get used to him addressing me as “Old Man” at work.
GM: Do your other children/siblings ever feel like you two have a special bond, because you have the same, unique job, or are they happy to go their own ways? Have any of them ever wanted to work for Lego also?
Dan: They have their own occupations and interests and all for have worked at Lego (part-time in the model shop). My daughter Jessica is a Order Management Specialist at Lego.
So there you have it. Life in the fast lane with two Lego Master Builders, who also happen to appear in family portraits together and share a lifetime of history.
Happy Fathers Day, Dan and Chris, from all of us at GeekMom!