Ten years ago, Steve Strombeck, a real estate developer from Northern California, found himself pulling into a gas station to use the bathroom. When Steve entered the bathroom, the grubby floor was the least of his worries. Another man was exiting the stall. He DID NOT wash his hands. At all. Instead, he walked around Steve, grabbed the door handle, and walked out.
Steve was horrified. He glanced into the stall and around the restroom. There weren’t any paper products to be found. The door swung inward on its hinges. There was no way for Steve to get out without touching the handle. Steve stood in the bathroom for 10 minutes before the next customer opened the door. As Steve squeezed through the door without touching the handle, he kept thinking, “There’s got to be a better way…something to grab onto that protects you.”
This thought was about to change the trajectory of Steve’s life. How do you navigate life in a world full of dirty door handles? How could that gas station give safe haven to its customers? You can’t clean every door handle each time a person walks through the door. Or can you? Steve was about to turn the cleaning world on its head and develop the world’s first ever self-cleaning door handle cover. He didn’t just want his own life to be changed. He wanted to change the lives of the people around him.
Over the next 8 years, Steve Strombeck and his extraordinary team of engineers did just that. With product manager, John Bergenske, leading the charge, they harnessed the power of an EPA approved antimicrobial technology embedded in a heat shrink sleeve. This self-cleaning cover allows a door handle to continually clean itself for up to 6 months! This germ-killing technology gives you a clean handle that you can grab onto. SafeHandles™.
Steve and his SafeHandles™ team didn’t stop there. They developed doorknob and lever covers, elevator button covers, shopping cart handle covers, push plate covers, and even a clean pen. Each SafeHandles™ product is embedded with this revolutionary technology that cleans itself. SafeHandles™ keeps common everyday touchpoints– from toilet levers to ADA push plates–germ-free. SafeHandles™ is on a mission – to see SafeHandles™ on every doorknob and lever from California to India, creating self-cleaning facilities – schools, offices, stores, and of course, gas station bathrooms – all over the world! Choose a better way. Stick with SafeHandles™ and STAY CLEAN!
Steve Strombeck, the Founder and CEO of SafeHandles™, is changing the world one doorknob at a time. A problem-solver with a passion for helping people, Steve has built his eight-year-old company with an eye for excellence and integrity. With the goal of creating self-cleaning facilities, he has led his creative and talented team in developing a superior product that does just that.
Before Steve began developing revolutionary cleaning products, he began developing real estate. When his father passed away suddenly at the age of forty-three, Steve’s life pivoted. A high-school football player with hopes of attending college, Steve knew he needed to help his mom and three siblings. At seventeen, using his birthday money and savings, Steve made his first real estate purchase: a four-plex rental unit. That was just the beginning. With the help of a family friend, he purchased his second unit six months later.
While launching his business, Steve attended Humboldt University and graduated from Sacramento State with a B.A. in Business Management. His personal faith, his love for his family, and his drive to help others launched his career in real estate development. For the past thirty-five years, Steve has led two thriving companies, Strombeck Properties and Strombeck Construction.
Steve’s passion for helping others has led him to partner others that do the same. He is the current Chairman of the Board for Redwood Teen Challenge and is a founding director of Redwood Capital Bank. He partners with multiple non-profits around the world, including Bulembu Ministries and Abide Well, raising young people and building homes in Swaziland, as well as Fellowship of Christian Athletes, investing in the lives of young people.
As Steve’s businesses and charitable pursuits have flourished, so has his greatest passion: his family. Steve and his wife, Tina, reside in Eureka, California, and enjoy spending time with their four children and seven grandchildren.
John Bergenske, Product Director at SafeHandles™, has a keen interest in consumer products and product development. Creating meaningful products anchored in value and accuracy is his passion. These core values partnered with John’s strong work ethic continues to yield transformative products, including SafeHandles™ self-cleaning sleeves and adhesives.
As a leader, John believes in establishing a communal vision and strategic plan while working alongside his team to achieve success. John’s team player strategy was shaped coming up in the trades and construction: Supporting everyone in pursuit of their common goal led to success.
John further honed his focus and persistent attitude as a Category 2 road cyclist and cross-country runner for Humboldt State University. Graduating with a B.S. in Industrial Engineering, John joined Yakima, which became part of WaterMark, a multi-brand outdoor sports company. Over the next decade, John worked his way up from project manager to their Director of Product Development. John and his team developed over a hundred products. These creative products ranged from industry-leading automobile racks to self-inflating life jacket technologies with a water-sensory device, that are still used in the bass pro industry today.
John’s business management journey continued as he partnered in co-ownership with LACO Associates Consulting Design and Engineering. John earned his Executive MBA with the Aji Network and built out his business portfolio in real estate development. While at LACO, John met Steve Strombeck, a real estate development client with a big idea: SafeHandles™ self-cleaning doorknob covers. This idea struck a chord with John. Within ten days, he had pulled a team together to begin exploring the possibility of turning this idea into reality.
In 2012, John’s focus shifted fully to SafeHandles™, the perfect synthesis of his love for consumer product development and producing value for communities. He continues to serve as a Director on LACO Associates Board of Directors, as well as a Director on Eel River Brewing Company’s Board of Directors, the first certified organic brewing company in the United States. John is an avid supporter of North Coast Big Brothers Big Sisters. He helped launch Arcata Citizens for Responsible Housing in pursuit of responsible housing development in his hometown of Arcata and served on the Arcata Transportation and Safety Committee.
The only thing that John enjoys more than developing game-changing cleaning products is spending time with his wife of over 20 years, Liz, and their 14-year-old son Charles. They travel the Western U.S. and Canada in their 22-foot-long Sprinter van accompanied by their chocolate lab/shepherd mix pup, Kay.