Schaefer Founder Retires After 44 Years

Schaefer celebrates a retirement! Steve Schaefer retired on December 31, 2020 after founding the firm in 1976. He led the firm as president until 2006 when he transferred leadership to Jim Miller, who was succeeded by Greg Riley in 2017. Steve transitioned into a principal role, engineering some of the firm’s most unique projects and often collaborating with its young engineers. Besides being an incredible engineering resource, the newest team members had the opportunity to learn Schaefer’s values right from the source.

In retirement, Steve plans to volunteer weekly for Working in Neighborhoods (WIN) and People Working Cooperatively (PWC), two organizations in which he’s actively participated for decades. Also, the many people who know Steve should expect a few motorhome vacations.

“It’s hard to imagine Schaefer without Steve Schaefer,” remarked Greg Riley, Schaefer President. “In my 25 year tenure, I’ve watched Steve lead as president and transition into a role focused on what he loves to do – engineering. He has been an exceptional resource from the technical + business perspectives for all of our team members, as someone who always made time to share his knowledge when asked. He’s passionate about the industry and the part we can play in enhancing it, and he set a foundation that guides us to continuously improve by empowering our people to deliver creative + innovative designs.”

Over his forty-four years, Steve has been an active member + leader of various professional organizations, enhancing the contemporary engineering community. He’s been honored with awards such as University of Cincinnati College of Engineering Distinguished Alumnus Award, his alma mater for a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineering. He has also received the Southwestern Ohio Building Officials Association Presidential Award and Ohio Building Officials Association Associate Member of the Year Award. He has also been inducted into the LaSalle High School Hall of Achievement.

Steve has been published as well as been a frequent speaker to Ohio building officials and local architects on the design + business practice issues for structural engineering firms. He’s recognized as an expert in the community as a member of the Hamilton County Board of Appeals and served as a construction arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association. Steve has volunteered for the Council of American Structural Engineers, Structural Engineers Association of Ohio, American Council of Engineering Companies + Structural Engineering Institute.

Most may be surprised to learn that Steve never planned to start his own firm. After his employer closed in the summer of 1976, Steve started Steven Schaefer and Associates, a one-person structural firm, on the second floor of his two-family home. As the firm grew, it expanded to offices in Cheviot, Northside + Evendale before moving into its downtown location in 2018.

Steve’s professional legacy is a firm focused on its people + communities. He set the expectation of transparency and open communication. He always looked at projects as if he were the owner, looking for efficient + economical designs that led to innovation. He offered stock ownership to employees early in their careers, something still not popular among the industry, to not only attract talent, but to let his team invest in the value and future of the firm. While he never had goals to reach the 80+ person, three-office firm it is today, his intent to always do a better job than competitors and to help + grow with clients developed the reputation that set the firm on the trajectory on which it continues.

We thank Steve for the incredible firm he cultivated, and the values that have continued since the beginning. We wish him luck in retirement, and that we see him again soon.



  • Congratulation Steve Schaefer! What an amazing career you have had as an engineer who has influenced so many. It was a pleasure to work with you over the years on many, many projects – you were always the true professional, seeking the best solution…
    Wishing you the very best in your new adventure!

  • Back in 1976, I was a co-op with Hefley Stevens, and was sent to drop off drawings to the “structural engineer”. Obviously, this was long before GPS, so I used my paper map and found my way into a residential neighborhood. I was somewhat confused when the address I was being sent to was a house in a cluster of other home, but I rang the doorbell. Steve’s wife answered the door and escorted me up to the “office”. As I remember, Steve spent a few minutes reviewing the drawings, was pleasant and straightforward. He walked me down the stairs and that was my first time meeting Steve.

    Since that time, Steve and I worked on many, many projects together. You will seldom if ever meet a more unassuming, caring and talented man. My firm has worked with Steve and the rest of the SSA, then Schaefer family for years, and in the tradition of Steve’s founding ways, always with great professionalism.

    Always thinking beyond the limits of the standard solutions, there were times that I was almost certain that Steve was the Architect as well as the engineer on the project.

    A man of his word, and a man with a moral and ethical compass that is not the norm in many other offices.

    I am honored and blessed to be able to say that I am a better professional and person for having driven up to his home office that day in 1976.

    Good fortunes and blessings to Steve.

  • Congratulations Steve! We worked on many projects together going all the way back to when you started your firm and I always enjoyed working with you and with the people in your firm. And I enjoyed the backpacking trips that we did together. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement.

  • Congratulations Steve for a well earned retirement! They forgot to mention your contribution to the Boy Scouts as scoutmaster of T-24, St. James.

  • Congratulations Steve, 44 years as a dedicated worker the the construction industry solving countless problems and always a gentleman. Enjoy your retirement to the fullest

  • Congratulations Steve. I heard that you retired, but just saw this nice tribute. It is well deserved. I am forever grateful for all that you taught me in my time working for you and wish you all the best in your retirement.

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