Steigerwald’s ethic: Work hard, play hard

Dave Steigerwald is managing director of Sparks Willson Borges Brandt & Johnson P.C.

Dave Steigerwald is managing director of Sparks Willson Borges Brandt & Johnson P.C.

Dave Steigerwald is not a man who sits still for long.

As shareholder and managing director of Sparks Willson Borges Brandt & Johnson P.C., Steigerwald stays busy working with clients, volunteering and with family time.

As an attorney, he enjoys helping clients put deals together at the 30-plus-year-old firm that specializes in business law for Front Range companies.

Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, he said he “took school and sports too seriously.”

That “bad work-ethic” was further cemented by his attendance at an all-boys Jesuit high school.

It’s not that Steigerwald doesn’t know when to quit working. It’s just that he plays harder than most people work.

During high school, he competed in swimming and ran the 400- and 800-yard events. He described himself as a “classic geek,” earning straight As.

English, writing and chemistry were his favorite subjects, but after taking four years of Latin and two years of Greek, he wanted to be an archaeologist. Perhaps the month he spent in Rome, during his junior year, visiting digs and sites with his classmates had something to do with that dream.

But during college, at the University of Notre Dame, where he earned a bachelor’s in English and economics in 1991, he volunteered for three years at Legal Services, a federally funded program. Steigerwald did a lot of writing to get people benefits.

“It’s fun to advocate for people — you feel good about it at the end,” he said. So he went on to earn a Juris Doctorate from George Mason University, in 1995. Now he helps clients realize and further protect the value of the businesses they’ve built, through financing transactions, acquisitions, and contract negotiations.

“It’s rewarding, for sure,” Steigerwald said. The tough part of his job is “assisting clients, who inevitably become friends, in the wind-up of unsuccessful businesses.”

Someday, he’d like to teach at the university level and travel to Asia and South America. Meanwhile, he volunteers with the Economic Development Corp.’s foundation board, the KCME 88.7 FM classical music station board, and the board of McKenzie Monks Foundation, which provides toys for children with cancer.

As for Colorado Springs, where he’s lived since 1995, Steigerwald hopes the city’s near future includes an increased number of anchor businesses headquartered here, a federal courthouse, a institutional investment community and a vibrant young-professional community to attract and retain talent.

Steigerwald wife’s name is Chrissy, and the couple has three children, Jack, 13, Sammy, 11, and Peter, 9, all of whom swim, study music and art, and compete in one additional sport.

His wife is earning a master’s in exercise science and has coached swimming for 15 years.

Steigerwald and his wife train together and compete each year in Ironman triathlons. Twice, during 2006 and 2008, he has qualified for and competed in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

Two years ago, he finished 200th out of a field of 1,700 competitors, which included 200 professional triathletes. Touted as the “toughest one-day event in the world,” the race includes a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.

This involves rising at 4 or 4:30 a.m. to train before work and before his children awake.

“It’s certainly a competitive outlet for me — so I’m not racing my partners for paperclips down the hallway,” he said, smiling.

“It requires a large amount of discipline (to train 14 hours per week), and not taking any shortcuts,” Steigerwald said. “So that translates to the business world — it’s good to be competitive in business.”