Springfield, MO

12 People You Need to Know in 2017: Mark Steiner

Posted online

If not for a musical, Mark Steiner would be in food.

Steiner had planned on pursuing culinary arts after high school, until he appeared in a production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Steiner dropped fancy food for acting, eventually combining both to co-found GigSalad.

The New Jersey native moved to New York City to chase his dream. But he had no interest in playing the starving artist, and he interviewed for an au pair job on New York’s tony Upper East Side. He didn’t get it, but his mother worked in movies and got Steiner his first gig.

Then the guy in charge of craft food service on “When Harry Met Sally” got fired, and Steiner took over. The “pizzazz” he showed led to more work, and he formed Steiner Craft Service.

The big break, however, eluded him. In hindsight, Steiner says he should have worked the waiter circuit while auditioning.

“I was looking to be discovered, because I was such a dashing young man with such great talent. None of those is true,” he says. “I did not become the Brad Pitt of New Jersey.”

Facing burn out, the now-married Steiner moved in 1994 with wife Allison, a Springfield native, to plant a church in Milford, Conn. eventually.

Steiner needed work. A friend with an agency offered him a job booking the Glenn Miller Orchestra. He stayed six years before launching his own outfit, Steiner Talent. In 2004, Steiner and his family relocated to the Ozarks.

Over the years, many performers called looking for help, and Steiner always offered free advice, because he remembered what it was like seeking the next gig. Eventually, event planners were contacting him, too.

“I just had years of relationships established,” Steiner says. “I was spending a whole lot of time trying to help people, and I was not monetizing it. I thought, there’s got to be a way to bring these two things together.”

Working with longtime friend and graphic designer Steve Tetrault, the duo dreamed up GigSalad, an online marketplace where service providers from actors to florists to limo drivers meet up with event planners across 600 categories. GigSalad officially launched in 2007 with its headquarters in Springfield and another office in Wilmington, N.C. Each month, 2,500 new members join.

Steiner is happy GigSalad has made the Inc. 5000 list twice, but he’d be happier with an Inc. 500 spot. His goal: a $100 million company.

“I’m the dreamer,” he says. “I’m the footloose, fancy-free guy. That’s where I live.”

It hasn’t been an easy place to inhabit. Steiner admits to a lifelong search for acceptance, one reason becoming rich and famous held so much appeal. Decades later, he now realizes he’s rich in ways that have nothing to do with money.

“I could die today and be really satisfied. And I haven’t made millions. I’m still not rich,” he says. “But how much better does it get?”

Even so, the performer lingers somewhere.

“I’m still very much a showman. I’m still a bigger-than-life kind of guy. I couldn’t shake that,” he says.


No comments on this story |
Please log in to add your comment
Editors' Pick

Crossroads in Republic ripe for industrial park

Two buildings in a budding Republic industrial park just might be the welcome mat officials need.

Most Read
SBJ Live logo
Training Bootcamp: Training Needs Assessment

All workplace problems have root causes. When will training be the solution? Sherry Coker, OTC Center for Workforce Development business development director, provides you the framework of a training needs assessment, which will uncover the root causes of a workplace problem and help you determine if training is the solution. A download is available at with a complete outline for an effective training needs assessment. This is sponsored content. Duration: 2:29

Don’t Micro-Manage Are you guilty of micromanaging your employees? “If we’re going to require them to be that educated when they come to work for us, should we not let them do their job? They should know so much …
Seek Wisdom from Many “My whole life goal is to change the world, one connection at a time,” says Keisha Mabry. Mabry, who is an author, speaker, and social entrepreneur, says she had a “quarter-life crisis” and …
DNA Uncovers Best Version of You A simple swab of the inside of your cheek can lead to optimizing your nutrition and fitness program, personal medication profile, in addition to your ancestry. According to Austin O’Reilly, owner …
Booked - Go Back to the Basics “You’ve gotta go back to the basics,” says Larry Peterson, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of Springfield Missouri. Peterson says he gains leadership advice from General Ulysses S. …