Note: This is part of an ongoing series of community spotlight pieces where we feature inspiring stories of local entrepreneurs and community members. If you know somebody who should be featured, let us know!
When you first enter the office of Viking Forge Design, you’ll notice co-owners and brothers, Walter and Geiger Hansen hard at work behind their computers. What you might not initially notice is Geiger’s greyhound, Vega, snoozing in the background. While most dogs are teeming with excitement when visitors enter the door, Vega naps contentedly.
The brothers, born in North Carolina and raised in Iceland while their parents served in the Navy, enjoyed a nomadic existence before settling down and opening shop locally. For all that traveling, they both remain grounded and have forged a strong connection with each other, their family, and their new community. Geiger joined this community with his parents nearly six years previously, while his brother made the move to the area with his wife and two daughters about two years ago.
Viking Forge Design is a Business Built on Family Values
Before starting Viking Forge Design, Geiger spent his time working for Oryx Designs. Geiger landed this gig through a college internship. Geiger shared, “we had to do internships for the graphic design program, and my mom was just driving around during the summer and saw the sign for Oryx Designs, back when he was on Archer Avenue.” Taking his mom up on her suggestion to drop off his resume and ask for an internship, Geiger completed a two-week internship and was asked to stay on.
“I’ve always wanted to be in business with Geiger.”
When asked how Viking Forge Design came about, Walter was quick to admit, “I’ve always wanted to be in business with Geiger.” Smiling, Walter shared the secret to their success, “Geiger’s always had the talent, he’s able to draw and create these amazing things, and I’ve always had a passion to bring his creations to the community.”
Of course, things didn’t go smoothly at first. The brothers first considered going into business together when the original owner of Oryx Designs was considering selling. Going as far as getting a non-disclosure agreement and figuring out how the company was run, the idea eventually fizzled out. Walter commented, “the timing was wrong, and I was living in a different state.” While they initially passed on buying the business, neither brother could shake the idea of working together. Walter eventually moved into the area, and while they didn’t know exactly how things would work out, when there was another opportunity to buy the business, they both took a leap of faith.
Teamwork is the Glue that Holds the Business Together
Married for seven years to his wife Victoria, Walter has two daughters. Eleanor, the eldest, is five and Eliza
is a year and a half. Walter met his wife, who hails from Alaska, while studying Modern Advertising and Public Relations at Pensacola Christian College. Walter is two years older than Geiger, who is 25 and single.
“What I learned most was that I don’t have to be amazing at everything, instead I should focus on what I’m best at and turn that into my career.”
While Walter did minor in graphic design, he’s the first to admit that he doesn’t consider himself a great artist. “I am not a patient artist,” Walter throws out there. His passion is for business and building relationships, excelling at advertising and presentation. Walter feels most in his element when he’s handling the business side of things. He defers to Geiger on things that involve a heavy focus on design. “Geiger’s really the talent there,” Walter shares while beaming.
Geiger is quick to add, “I’m not drawn to traditional academics, so going to college was a struggle for me outside of the art classes I took.” He admits college was challenging but is thankful he got through it. Geiger thoughtfully shares, “What I learned most was that I don’t have to be amazing at everything and that I should focus on what I’m best at and turn that into my career.”
It’s more than evident that the brothers’ unique talents complement each other. The teamwork and encouragement they bring to their business is shines through in everything they do, from how they deal with customers to how they complete their projects. Even the types of projects the brothers take on demonstrates their admiration for each other and their community.
Viking Forge Design is About Serving the Community & Helping Each Other
The brothers endeavor to run their business with the integrity and consideration that aligns with small town values. Geiger sums this up best pointing out that, “Because we’re such a small company it gives the community a truly personal experience. For example, you can come to us with a little toy car your granddaughter got for Christmas and request to have her name put on it.” Walter and Geiger won’t turn customers away just because a project is small. He admits they’ve done small stuff like dog tags for a service animal. It’s clear the business is about serving the community.
“You may go to a bigger sign company that has better equipment or more staff, but they’re not going to stay until 9pm to get your work done the same day, which is something that we can do because of our size and our commitment to our community.”
The brothers have a strong work ethic. Walter proudly shares, ”we’re able to take your projects from a concept you sketched on a napkin, draft it on a computer, and make it a reality.” He also adds, “you may go to a bigger sign company that has better equipment or more staff, but they’re not going to stay till 9pm and get your work done the same day, which is something that we can do because of our size”.
Viking Forge Design handles everything from small jobs like yard signs to vehicle wraps and graphics. The brothers also do logo design from concepts to completed projects. Walter likes to refer to the business as a one-stop-shop from concept to print.
Like every family business, this business is built on tradition. In fact, the brothers admit to co-opting their business name from their grandfather’s blacksmithing business. What better way to continue on a creative family tradition than by passing down a business name? It’s clear to anyone visiting their shop that these brothers are creating something bigger than themselves. A true family-run business working hard to build something the community can be proud of.
We’re rooting for you Walter and Geiger.