Austen Geist

Journeyman Austen Geist never really thought much about signs before he worked in a sign shop.

“I looked at them, but never wondered how they are made or what do they cost to make,” said Geist.

Since joining the U of M Sign Shop in 2005, Geist has become well-versed in the creation of signs. He has learned that it takes a lot of people and planning to create signage for a new building.

Recently, Geist led a team that created all of the signage for Hanson Hall, the new home for the Carlson School of Management’s undergraduate program. He met with the occupants to find out their needs, figured out logistics and kept each sign up to U of M standards.

Signs need to conform to the standards set by the university’s sign committee which meets every other month. Geist now uses a standards manual created in 2007 by the signage committee, which details everything about the different kinds of signage, including where they go, what their function is, how they should look and what they are made out of.

Taking charge of a project from beginning to end is something that Geist likes about his job. He gets to take part in a wide variety of tasks along the way to completing the project. Since the sign shop has many different products, Geist also takes many different kinds of projects, from name tags to banners to classroom signage.

Before becoming an apprentice at the U, Geist learned many of the individual skills involved in sign making at the Arrow sign shop in Ham Lake. Throughout his progression from apprentice to journeyman, he has learned each piece of the sign making process and enjoys utilizing this wide range of skills when managing a project.

Born in Michigan City, Mich., Geist’s family moved to the Mora, Minn., area when he was five years old. He attended Mora High, but also spent some time homeschooling, as well. After high school, Geist worked in a coffee shop, for his parent’s cleaning company and washing windows before landing a job at Arrow Signs. He even started his own business making signs for a little while.

Geist also began dating his wife, Jennifer, after high school. They have been married for eight years now and have a daughter (Anna, 6) and son (Collin, 5). The family lives in North Branch and are currently building a home in Harris.

The couple met at church when Geist was eight years old. They both grew up as Jehova’s Witnesses and still devote several hours each week to their church.

Another passion of Geist’s is working on cars … especially the ones he doesn’t have to drive to work. Right now, he is working on a Volkswagen Dune Buggy, but he also likes to work on Snowmobiles, Dirt Bikes and other recreational vehicles. He recently built a go kart for his kids.

Usually, Geist restores the vehicles he works on and then sells them. Chances are, his FOR SALE signs are the nicest ones in the neighborhood.

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Austen Geist


Hometown: Michigan City, Michigan

Hobbies: Restoring Automobiles, Church